MBA & MS Finance Recruiting: Alumni & Recruiters Share What You Need to Know

This post is part of a series featuring some of the best virtual sessions from our annual RelishConnect Virtual Career Conference. Each post will summarize one of our presentations and panels from the event, and written summaries are accompanied by select, easy-to-watch clips from the recorded broadcast.

Want to enter into the world of finance after graduation? Sara Moir of Harris Williams, Bryce Bergman of Equity Methods, and Zhiyu Jiang of Wells Fargo are here to help give insight into the recruiting process and provide advice on how to nail both the case and technical interviews.

Understanding the application and interview process

When applying for positions at these companies, candidates are taken through an extensive interview process. Oftentimes candidates must participate in a technical interview, case interview, and behavioral interview in order to get the job. Some positions require three separate interviews while others condense elements of these three interview styles into a shorter interview process. For example, Jiang explains that for Wells Fargo’s summer internship, candidates only participate in one one hour phone interview, but full time opportunities require multiple rounds of interviews and an in person visit. Typically, candidates will have a case interview to analyze a business issue they might encounter in the real world and display how they would go about solving this problem. Then they may have a technical interview to assess the skills they would need to perform the job well (ex: coding, programming, mathematics, etc). Lastly there’s the behavioral interview which focuses on qualities you possess as an individual and as a worker that would be beneficial such as time management, leadership, teamwork, ethics, etc.

How to stand out during the interview process

Before the interview, do your best to network with alumni and try to form a connection with someone working in your desired role or familiar with the role/ company you are applying to.

If you can’t seem to make a connection, Moir suggests reaching out to the recruiter and asking if they can send you the email of someone who would be able to provide insight into the role. Make sure to have multiple connections or “data points” so you have some familiarity with the company before going into the interview. Bergman says this is also helpful for interviewers because this helps the candidate stick in the interviewer’s mind and sets you apart from candidates who have no connection to the company or role.

Preparing for case interviews

When you are given case interview material ahead of time to learn and present, it is important to not only study this material but also study the company you are interviewing for to better understand how the company would approach a specific situation based on their values, business model, etc. When answering interview questions, listen to the question carefully and take time to think of a clear answer.

It’s better to pause and think through the question than immediately answer in a rambling sentence. Also, stick to the big picture when answering questions and avoid spending too much time on details that don’t matter.

Mistakes to avoid during your case interview

In addition to analyzing technical skills and case studies, it’s also important to demonstrate some soft skills throughout the interview process. For the case interview at Equity Methods, this includes focusing on how the candidate starts to break down the problem, think about it, and work through it with the interviewer.

Another important skill is presenting, specifically when handling new details you have not had the opportunity to prepare for. Quality presenting includes being able to “roll with the punches” and be flexible and calm when given new information. Bergman says that it’s not about being skilled in every area, however if candidates demonstrate they possess skills in at least one area and they have the potential for growth and desire to learn more in other areas, this is a positive sign.

You’ll want to avoid a basic major pitfalls too, like not being prepared and/or being disorganized. Set yourself up for success by putting in the work ahead of time, organizing your materials. Its okay to take time to pause and think. It’s not okay to be using that time looking disorganized. 

Putting it all together – don’t forget the soft skills

When entering the finance industry, it is important to understand what is required of you in the interview process and make connections with people at the company (and/ or familiar with the role) before your interview. When interviewing make sure to come prepared, take your time to answer questions, and stick to the big picture instead of harping on details. Finally, keep soft skills in mind by thinking critically about the case interview and being flexible and calm when presenting. Implementing these tactics before, during, and after the interview will allow you to prove that you are a strong and thoughtful candidate to the interviewer and give you a better chance at getting your dream finance job.

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