WCM Educational Recap #12: Behavioural Interviews

Welcome to the Western Capital Markets blog! This week, we dive into behavioural interviews and the techniques and preparation required to succeed.

Week-In-Review: Potential Acquisition of Peloton

Peloton, an exercise equipment, and media company, recently released an earnings report on January 20th that underperformed compared to the market expectations, causing the stock to fall further below its IPO price of $25.24.

Activist Concerns

  • Blackwells Capital accused John Foley, ex-CEO, of mismanagement
  • Low demand, mismanaging supply chain, and overpaying for offices
  • Paves way for talks of potential acquisition

Potential Buyers and Benefits

  • Nike: Would represent Nike’s shift towards hardware, and also enhance its existing Nike Training Club ecosystem
  • Apple: Would be a selling point for the existing Apple Watch and Fitness + platform, and allow Apple to collect data for health initiatives
  • Amazon: Would become a flagship product for Amazon’s health ecosystem, and give it a greater proportion of subscription-based products

Introduction to Recruiting & Behavioural Interview Questions

Job Selection Criteria

  1. Enjoyment (Will you value it? Does the work interest and excite you? Are there personal growth/learning opportunities?)
  2. Culture (Do you fit with the people and culture? How well did you connect with firm reps? Can you see yourself working with the people every day?)
  3. Quality / Exposure (Is the firm highly regarded? Where have previous employees gone afterward? Do they invest in the quality of their internship program?)

Third-Year Recruiting Process

  • Opportunities released on a rolling basis beginning second semester of second year and ending halfway through first semester of HBA1
  • More structured than first year, but opportunities are still limited
  • WIC/WCM postings through mailing list
  • LinkedIn job postings and portals
  • Network and leverage your personal connections
  • Typical recruitment process: Application Request (Resume Drop) → Coffee Chats, Mocks, and Preparation → First Round Interview with Previous Interns → Final Round interview with Firm Management → Offer

For more information on recruiting, read our 5th Educational Recap on the topic.

High-Level Overview of Finance Interviews

Behavioural: The goal is to better understand you as a candidate.

  • Qualitative: “Tell us about yourself.” “Why investment banking?”
  • Fit: “What did you do in your last job?” “How would your boss describe you?”
  • Company-Specific: “Tell us about a recent deal we worked on.” “What industry group are you interested in?”

Technical: The goal is to ensure you understand financial concepts.

  • Market-Based: “Where is the stock market going?” “What is happening to interest rates currently?”
  • Technical: “Walk me through a DCF.” “Walk me through $100 of depreciation.”
  • Brainteasers/Other: “What is 17 x 22?” “What angle is formed by a clock’s hands at 1:45?”

Introduction to Behavioural Questions

While technical questions can lose you the opportunity to get the job, they also can’t get you the job.

Behavioural questions are the differentiating factor that helps to determine fit, your reliability as a coworker, the relevance of your past experiences, and your takeaways.

Behavioural Questions Strategy

  1. Reflecting: Think back to previous and current experiences (in work & life), understand what you did and learned, and “what differentiates you”
  2. Crafting: Create logical, yet compelling stories that are detailed and specific. Be honest and consistent.
  3. Practicing: Practice out loud, focusing on being clear, concise, and confident.
  4. Mocking: Practice with your friends, first, then with upper-year students, to receive a variety of opinions in a candid, judgment-free environment.
  5. Getting feedback: Understand where you went wrong and tailor your answers in response to this feedback. Remember that practice makes perfect.

The Most Important Questions

Tell Me About Yourself

This is the first impression of yourself — project confidence, interest, and capability.

  • Be conversational — do not memorize + regurgitate a script
  • Include actual experiences that genuinely shaped who you are
  • Roadmap: Background → Business Interest → Active Experiences → Tie it All Together to Why You Are Here Today

Why Banking/PE/Finance?

Potential Answers:

  1. To make an impact
  2. An environment of unparalleled learning
  3. Opportunity for a variety of experiences

*It’s important to prepare for potential follow-up questions, typically “Why not x industry?”

Why Are You Interested In This Firm?

The best answer is a genuine answer; be extremely specific and address unique aspects of the firm. Use this as an opportunity to leverage insider knowledge from networking; this also helps you stand out. Firm websites typically include information on culture and reputation.

Potential Justification: firm structure (Ex. Very lean, so more responsibility), responsibility level, culture, deal flow

Personal and Interest-Based Questions

Strengths Questions

Prove your statements by providing concrete and specific examples and linking them to your statement. It’s okay to pick common strengths as long as you have solid examples and can prove that you’re a harder worker than the other candidates. Remember to keep the job position in mind when crafting your answers as employers want to know whether you have the skill set, experience, and attitude necessary to get the job done.

High-Quality Answer: The reason why I’m the best candidate for this role is because I know that investment banking is a demanding job that requires you to be highly analytical and collaborate closely with others [intro strengths you plan on talking about] … These are traits I have exhibited in similar situations. For example … [proof for 2–3 relevant strengths]. Given the opportunity, I would similarly be someone that’s [restate strengths] which would allow me to excel and provide value to your firm.

Weaknesses Questions

Every weakness must be spun as an improvement story, where you are cognizant of your limitations but also taking steps to improve They are looking for honesty, self-awareness, and your ability to learn from mistakes. Weakness should be related to the job but not to a core function & won’t inhibit your performance.

High-Quality Answer: My greatest weakness is I have a tendency to get lost in details in my work. I sometimes get too focused on answering each specific question rather than understanding how my work ties into the bigger picture. An example of this is when …

Core of Who You Are

Example Questions: What motivates you? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years? Who’s your greatest role model? On a scale of 1–10, one being the most hardworking, ten being the smartest — where do you stand? What are your goals?

High-Quality Answer: I’m motivated both intrinsically and by my external factors. I value my personal development, as such, I was motivated to [example] to become well-rounded. I am also motivated to support those close to me which has significantly influenced my decisions thus far. Lastly, I am motivated to positively impact my community, [example].

Why This City?

  • Factors to consider: Family and Roots (Especially in your hometown), Alumni Network & Support, Lifestyle Fit (Activities, food, climate), Other Personality Quirks (Sports teams, theater, arts) (Ex. New York — Broadway)

Airport Test

Example Questions: What do you do for fun? How would you describe the perfect day? What’s your favorite college memory? What do you see in this painting and how does it relate to banking? Sell me this TV.

High-Quality Answer: One of my interests out of school is painting. I’ve been painting since I was 6 years old and for me, it’s been a way for me to conceptualize abstract ideas and share how I see the world with people. Since coming to school, I try to paint once every few weeks since it’s a way for me to slow down when everything around me is moving so fast.

Experience Questions

How to Prepare

  1. Print a copy of your resume and review it line by line: Make a list of potential questions an interviewer could ask you relevant to your previous experiences
  2. Ensure you can respond to general questions regarding each experience: What were your main contributions in this role? What did you learn?/What were your takeaways?
  3. Group similar experiences to incorporate in various questions: Ex. Leadership opportunities, accomplishments

Example Questions

What would your boss at X say about you? What’s the most valuable piece of work you did at X? Walk me through the model you built. How did you form your assumptions? What decisions did it help support? Why did you decide to work at X last summer?

Aspects of a Strong Response

A strong response is structured (STAR method) and concise, specific (potentially quantify your data through statistics), and relevant to the role you are interviewing for.

Conclusion

General Advice

  • Always remember to smile — it will help you relax
  • Speak slower than you think you should — You will likely speak quicker due to nerves
  • Try to keep one hand on the table at all times — This will help to steady yourself and prevent excessive hand movements
  • Use enunciation without being over the top- stay “natural” without drifting into casual
  • Don’t lie on your resume!

Key Takeaways

  1. Be conversational and show your personality throughout the interview
  2. Structure your response and answer the question directly
  3. Reflect on your previous decisions and be genuine
  4. Smile and be excited

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WCM’s mission is to educate, develop and provide real-world opportunities for members of the Western community to explore their interest in finance.

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Western Capital Markets

Western Capital Markets

WCM’s mission is to educate, develop and provide real-world opportunities for members of the Western community to explore their interest in finance.

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