I’m sitting in an interview and they ask me why should we hire you, but what do they want to hear? What if I have no experience? Whether sitting in an interview or writing a cover letter, this question needs to be convincing and well-articulated.
I recommend structuring your response into 3 bullet points and including specific examples from your past experience to demonstrate you match the job description. For example, point 1 might be that you’re a fast learner, as proven when moving from the beginner group to the university Squash team at university within 3 months. Point 2 might be that you have a strong work ethic, demonstrated when overhauling the debating society’s marketing strategy and increasing membership two-fold. Finally, point 3 could be your positive attitude, which ties in with your motivation for the role – reinforced after you spoke with someone from the firm.
These are just some examples, but formulating your response is like painting a picture. Everyone has a different paint palette, so I have included more ideas you can choose from below.
Why do they ask this question (knowing this helps answer the questions well)
‘Why you’ appears throughout the application process, from a paragraph you should include in your cover letter all the way to the assessment centre when faced with the ‘MD discussion’ interview. Interviewers ask this to see if you have the skills and mindset to thrive as an analyst and overcome the initial investment they’ll pour into you.
This post will provide you with the tools for tackling how to answer the various forms of this question such as:
- Why should we hire you for investment banking
- What makes you a good fit for this internship
- What makes you a good fit for investment banking
- Why are you suited to investment banking
- What is your greatest strength for this banking position
- What are your top 3 strengths that would be of benefit for this banking role
Proving you fit the job description
Depending on your portfolio of experiences and extra-curriculars, one of the points could showcase specific skills you have that make you a good fit for the job description.
Experience: Perhaps you have experience specific to investment banking if you did a spring week or work experience in the field. While you may not have had extensive deal exposure in these insight weeks, you can say you gained a deeper understanding of how deals work, what the role entails and how the bank functions.
Technical skills: When trying to differentiate yourself from other candidates, undertaking an Excel modelling or M&A-related module can give you credibility when claiming you have the technical skills to succeed in the role. During my second round Evercore interview, I was even specifically asked whether I have done an M&A course in the past which shows the importance of doing one. If you are applying to spring weeks and will have a gap between the internship application cycle, you can plan to do a more extensive course on modelling that is over 100hrs long, however, if you are at the beginning of the internship application cycle you need to be efficient with your time so I would recommend a shorter course less than 30 hours long e.g. on Coursera or Udemy.
Soft skills: While soft skills are more relevant for senior roles, being able to work well under pressure in a team environment and handle conflicts is a core pillar for doing well as an analyst. You might be able to talk about a client-facing experience you’ve had in the past, where you instilled positive energy into the team and motivated them to push through difficult challenges when holding a leadership position in a university society you were been part of.
10 strengths you can talk about
Asking ‘Why You’ is similar to asking what your strengths are. When preparing how you want to answer this question your points could centre around three strengths you have. You should match the strengths you have (i.e. ones you can prove with past experiences), with ones the company specifically mentions in the job description. I always found it useful to save the job description as a pdf or offline webpage (by clicking ‘cntrl s’ on your browser) so you can have it to hand even after they take it down from the web.
But what strengths do you need for investment banking? Here are 10 you can choose from, with examples that might be relevant to you when proving this quality in the interview:
Strong work ethic: being able to work harder and longer than what might be expected of you, managing your time well and meeting deadlines.
E.g. balancing a part-time job with your studies or attending x number of practice sessions per week for a competitive sport you play, alongside your studies.
Attention to detail: thoroughly checking your work and having a high standard for completing tasks.
E.g. noticing and fixing discrepancies between your society’s historical finance spreadsheet and online system or noticing and rectifying an inconsistency in the sponsorship pack made by your society’s treasurer.
Analytical thinker: thinking in a structured way and being able to deconstruct complex sets of information into smaller chunks.
E.g. researching to write a report about a particular stock and connecting the dots to realise the company is pivoting to a strategy of emerging market expansion, based on recent hires and company acquisitions.
Fast learner: the ability to harness feedback loops through reflecting on your mistakes and taking a process-oriented approach to mastering tasks.
E.g. you started debating at university and within 3 months was attending tournaments up and down the country through leveraging advice from more experienced debaters and creating a learning process that shortened your learning curve.
Fast worker: being able to focus on tasks at hand and work through them quickly, overcoming complexities and challenges that arise.
E.g. leading a group project where you finished your section of the report a week before the deadline others were working towards, meaning you could support a team member that was struggling.
Positive attitude: not letting negative thoughts overcome you and focusing on your circle of influence rather than your circle of concern to change a situation.
E.g. being disappointed with performance at a tennis tournament you took part in, so you doubled down on training sessions, targeted shots you were weakest at and sought players much better than you to upskill.
Adaptable: the ability to change strategies when new challenges arise.
E.g. 5/10 of the previous year’s company sponsors for your finance society pulled out, so you became more determined to not just recover the ‘losses’, but double the previous year’s funding, which you did through targeting FinTech start-ups that had just secured Series B and C funding.
Organised: managing your time, prioritising the most important tasks and the ability to balance multiple projects at once.
E.g. perhaps you created a system for coordinating events different teams were planning within your university society, ensuring they were strategically spread out across the year to focus marketing efforts and hit attendance targets.
Communication skills: communicating clearly and across different members of the team to resolve a stressful situation.
E.g. realising there was an inconsistency in your Stata code for an econometrics project, so bringing the team together to work through who would tackle which section and how to collate the updates in time before the deadline.
Commercially aware: having previous internship deal experience or keeping tabs of the key trends across a number of different sectors, including the main ones relevant to investment banking (M&A trends, current economic forces at play, ESG).
E.g. writing about industry trends for a society you’re part of leveraging consulting reports and company investor relations materials. Be sure to check out the post on how to develop commercial awareness for more tips on this.
Motivation for the role
You can also include the fact that you are motivated for the role and have a strong interest in the work an analyst carries out. You’ll need an answer for ‘why this role’ regardless of whether you include it in the ‘why you’ question. If you do not have prior experience to serve as evidence of your interest in the role, it is important to be resourceful with answering this question, for example through talking about the following:
- Your interest in the sector if it’s a sector-focused boutique
- Previous experience / extra-curriculars that showcase you’re motivated for the role e.g. taking an exec role in the finance societies
- The fact you’ve already reached out to people from the company – see networking post
- The fact you match the company’s culture based on people you’ve spoken to
How long should it be and how should you structure it?
I recommend structuring this response into three main points, each point with concise evidence based on your past experiences. Aim for a 60-90 second response time. To get really good at answering this question and at avoiding mannerisms, it is best to practice speaking it. The best way to practice is to form an interview group with 1 to 3 people you trust and then test each other. Having an interview study group has many other benefits too e.g. accountability and ensuring you apply early enough through creating a healthy dose of competition.