So, why investment banking?
If you ever hope to enter the field, you’ll need to have a great answer to this question – because it’s something that every single interviewer will ask you.
But other guides do a poor job of guiding you on how to answer this question.
-You want to learn a lot.
-You like finance and accounting.
-You like a fast-paced environment.
None of these is “wrong” – the problem is that they’re too generic, and they don’t set you apart from other prospective bankers.
So if you want to succeed in interviews, you need to be more personal and give answers that make an interviewer remember you and more likely to “go to bat” for you in the future.
You should use either the “Big Picture” or “Slice of Life” method to accomplish this.
“The Big Picture” method is more appropriate if you’re a career changer, a non-finance or accounting major, or you can’t think of a specific incident that made you interested in finance.
The formula is: Background in One Field + Experience in Finance = Long-Term Success.
Maybe you’re a healthcare policy analyst and you want to combine your industry knowledge with investment banking so you can advise companies one day; or maybe you’re an engineer who wants to go into venture capital, combining technical knowledge with finance.
You can make up and modify your “long-term goals” as necessary to fit the situation – just make sure you’re consistent.
If you’ve had solid finance experience, the “Slice of Life” method is your better bet.
With this one, you start off with the event that made you interested and then explain how that interest developed over time.
-You saw your parents day-trading when you were younger, so you then decided to start trading your own account, following the market, and doing a few investment internships.
-You went to a summer leadership camp and met top female executives at investment banks, which sparked your interest in the field.
You can combine these methods as well – but keep your story short if you want the interviewer to listen.
Aim for a 20-30 second elevator pitch and you’ll be ahead of 90% of prospective bankers.
Riyan Richter blogs about the job search system, how to successfully network, and how to break into the finance industry at Mergers & Inquisitions, the internet’s top website for investment banking and answering the why investment banking question in interviews.