What Is a Financial Analyst?

Being a financial analyst is one of the most popular career paths in finance. This is largely because analysts can work in a range of industries and also because the field has some great benefits, including a high earning potential. If you’re a business or finance major, a financial analyst role is definitely worth considering. Even if you’re not currently majoring in a related discipline, you might be interested in finding out more about this role and deciding whether it could be a good fit for you.

Here are some of the key things you need to know about being a financial analyst.

What is a financial analyst?

A financial analyst is someone who makes business recommendations for an organization based on analyses they carry out on factors like market trends, the financial status of a company (or companies) and the predicted outcomes of a certain type of deal. Analysts typically have academic backgrounds as business, finance or accounting majors and are numbers-driven individuals who are comfortable interpreting data and making recommendations based on that data.

What do financial analysts do?

Financial analysts are primarily responsible for creating financial models that can predict the outcome of certain business decisions. In order to do this properly, they need to aggregate a large amount of financial data while also taking in account factors like financial market trends and past transactions of a similar nature. Because the role can be quite different depending on where an analyst works — for example an analyst at an investment bank will be much more focused on assisting with deals and mergers that one working for an insurance company — the industry an analyst chooses to go into defines their day-to-day responsibilities. Overall however, analysts play a significant part in providing decision-makers with the information they need to increase revenue and manage assets successfully.

What are the challenges of being a financial analyst?

Finance is a very data-driven industry and one of the challenges of working as an analyst in being able to analyze and interpret financial statements, market trends and microeconomic conditions in order to offer recommendations on potential business deals and decisions. In addition to the technical challenges involved in aggregating and interpreting this complex data, one of the other challenges analysts face is the fast pace of the finance industry. Fortunately, by knowing what to expect and getting the right training, these challenges can be overcome.

What are the benefits of being a financial analyst?

Although working as a financial analyst does present some challenges, it’s also a career path filled with opportunities, particularly when it comes to having your pick of industries. This is because financial analysts play a necessary part in almost every area of business so whether you’re passionate about music or interested in technology, you’re likely to find an opportunity that’s right for you. In addition to having flexibility when it comes to industries, you’ll be playing a crucial role in pulling together the information required to make these decisions and to develop new strategies. In addition to learning new skills like how to create models in Excel and participating in exciting business processes, being an analyst will also offer you the opportunity to develop a strong professional network, an asset which you can continue to nurture throughout your career.

What is a typical financial analyst salary?

Entry-level financial analyst salaries start at $55,500 (including bonuses and commission). For analysts working in investment banking and asset management, starting salaries can be much higher, typically between $100-$125,000. Irrespective of what field you choose to go into, being a financial analyst is a lucrative career with more senior analysts earning anywhere from $90,000 to $150,000.

Although being a financial analyst comes with certain challenges, it’s also a great opportunity to work in an exciting field and play a key role in the decision-making processes of an organization. If being a financial analyst sounds like it might be for you, consider taking on a summer internship and getting a hands-on feel for the position.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as the Top 10 Things You Should Look For in a Company and find answers to common interview questions such as Are You Willing to Travel?

How to Become an Auditor

If you’re a business or accounting major, or just someone who’s interested in the world of finance, you might be considering a career as an auditor. And with its reputation for stability and high projected growth rates, the field of auditing has a lot to offer students and recent grads. To get the inside scoop on auditing, we sat down with the team at the CAQ (Center for Audit Quality) to find out what it takes to get started in the field.

Here are the steps you need to take if you want to become an auditor.

1. Earn an undergraduate degree

The first step toward becoming an auditor is to earn a bachelor’s degree in business, accounting, economics, data analytics or other related subjects. Since auditing is a technical field that requires a solid understanding of accounting principles, taking on a major that will help you develop this knowledge is a great way to set yourself up for success.

Pro Tip: If you’re passionate about more than one academic subject, a double major or minor is a great way to explore different areas of academia, while still building the skills you’ll need to be an auditor. You should especially consider computer science and data analytics if you want to get an edge on the auditing profession.

2. Develop your knowledge of accounting and auditing

In addition to taking relevant classes during your time in college, it’s important to develop your business and industry knowledge by staying on top of the latest financial and business news. A good way to do this is by reading major news publications like the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, and keeping track of new and ongoing financial trends. If you want to get even more specialized in your knowledge, you can check out publications targeted specifically to those who want to learn more about auditing such as the CAQ’s Discover Audit initiative.

3. Intern at a public accounting firm during your college years

Although college classes and individual research are a great way to learn about the field of auditing, there’s really nothing better than an internship when it comes to getting hands-on experience in the profession. By interning with a public accounting firm during your college years, you’ll be able to get a sense of everything involved in the audit process (from researching the financial history of a particular company to evaluating financial reporting risks) and to find out whether the role is a good fit for you.

Pro Tip: Since many accounting firms hire full-time auditors directly from their intern pool, an internship is also the perfect way to get noticed by potential employers and see if that firm is a good fit for you.

4. Be CPA ready

Although a Certified Public Accounting (CPA) license is not required in order to start your career as an auditor, many firms — especially large public accounting firms — require their employees to obtain their CPA license early in their career, especially for individuals who want to continue to working on public company audits. Developed by the American Institute of CPAs, the exam consists of four parts and covers topics such as financial accounting, regulation, and business concepts. According to the CAQ, even if your particular firm doesn’t require a CPA license, passing the exam is a way to expand your career options and to get recognized in the field. It will also increase your earning potential throughout your career.

Pro Tip: Licensure requirements vary by state and understanding the requirements for your state should be the first step you take when preparing for the CPA exam. Also, many accounting firms provide training and assistance to employees when they are preparing for the exam.

By following these steps and developing your knowledge and skill set, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an auditor.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Be a Team Player and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

What Does a Day in the Life of an Auditor Look Like?

From learning about new industries to traveling around the country, auditors enjoy a lot of variety in their day-to-day work. If you’re thinking of becoming an auditor, you might be wondering what a day in the life looks like: Is it mostly travel and meetings with financial executives, or do auditors mainly spend their time assessing a company’s financial reporting risks? To find out the answer, we asked the team at the CAQ (Center for Audit Quality) to share some insights into the key parts of the job.

What we discovered is that the tasks may vary from one day to the next. In fact, no two days are quite alike in the auditing field. Most auditors do a combination of the following things:

1. Team with peers to establish a game plan

While audit testing can be done autonomously, many auditors tend to work closely in teams so that they can cover as much ground as possible and check each other’s work. This work requires professional skepticism, objectivity, and good communication. Many auditors say this is the reason they enjoy their work so much. Rather than sitting behind a desk all day, they are working with their peers as a team to provide accurate financial information to investors and build trust in capital markets.

2. Meet with financial executives

Meeting with financial executives and assessing their needs is often the next step toward establishing a relationship. Once that relationship has been established, ongoing meetings allow auditors to understand how the companies they audit operate and get updates on important financial developments. In return, auditors assess financial reporting risks and develop audit strategies to mitigate those risks. The work of the auditors helps to build confidence in the financial information presented by companies.

3. Research a company’s financial history

In addition to meetings with financial executives, auditors spend a significant amount of time researching companies’ industries and learning about their prior audit history. For example, when working with a company in the tech industry, auditors are responsible for understanding current financial trends and knowing how the company they are auditing fits into the broader landscape of the industry. Prior to starting the audit process, auditors must also get a sense of how the company has performed in previous years to understand the financial challenges it has faced. In order to gain this knowledge, auditors will typically review public audit records from previous years (how many depends on how long the company has been in business) and make note of any red flags that come up.

4. Conduct site visits

Visiting the physical location of the company is another key part of an auditor’s job and usually one of the reasons why auditors travel so frequently. These site visits can be carried out for general meetings or as part of inventory observations required during the audit process. According to the CAQ, the visits can vary widely depending on the company that you are auditing. For example, they can include touring lab facilities for pharmaceutical companies or visiting warehouses owned by retailers.

5. Assess financial reporting risk

The final and most important part of an auditor’s job is assessing the risk of misstatement in the company’s financial statements. This includes evaluating and documenting their risk assessment of the company based upon meetings, research, and site visits. Auditors will then develop audit procedures to address those risks.

According to auditors interviewed by the CAQ, the profession offers two important things: variety and work-life balance. “One thing I love about public accounting is that each week is different,” explains Ben, an auditor from Chicago, who spoke to the CAQ about why he chose to become an auditor.

A diverse but stable career path, auditing offers a lot of opportunities for continued learning and growth with enough flexibility to develop a schedule that works for you.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Things to Do in Your First Week at a New Job and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

Top 5 Misconceptions About Being an Auditor

An exciting and growth-oriented career, auditing offers recent grads an opportunity to learn about new industries like media and tech while also developing their knowledge of accounting and business operations. Despite the fact that it’s a stable career with high earning potential, there are some common misconceptions about auditing that seem to keep popping up. To set the record straight, we sat down with the team at the CAQ (Center for Audit Quality) to find out what it’s really like to be an auditor.

Here are the top five misconceptions about being an auditor.

1. Auditing isn’t a very exciting career path

If you’ve ever heard a joke about accounting or auditing, you know that the punchline is almost always about it being a boring profession. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, being an auditor gives you exposure to a diverse range of industries and companies, meaning you’ll always be learning about new business trends and meeting with leaders in almost every industry – all while working in a collaborative team environment made up mostly of your peers who often become your friends and colleagues for life.

Added bonus: According to the CAQ, auditors who work for public accounting firms get to work on a variety of cool projects including counting votes for popular award shows like the Oscars and the Grammys.

2. Auditors spend most of their time crunching numbers

Another common misconception about auditing is that it’s mostly about analyzing financial statements. Although this is definitely a part of an auditor’s job, it’s not the only part. Auditors also spend time meeting with company executives, conducting site visits, and learning about the company’s particular industries. This background knowledge helps auditors understand how the company they are auditing carries out their day-to-day business activities and makes auditing a well-rounded profession that is about much more than number crunching. Auditing also requires a questioning-mindset, objectivity, and judgment skills.

3. Auditing is mostly a desk job

The idea that auditing is mostly a desk job goes hand-in-hand with the notion that auditors spend most of their time working alone analyzing financial statements. In reality, the opposite is true. Because auditors attend frequent client meetings, they often travel to company sites all over the country (and sometimes the world). And because some auditing work can be done autonomously, auditors are also able to work remotely. “One great thing about this job is that my desk is in my backpack. I can basically set up wherever I want,” explains Jesse, an auditor from Atlanta who spoke with the CAQ about his decision to go into auditing.

4. You need a CPA license to be an auditor

One of the biggest misconceptions about being an auditor is that you need to pass the CPA exam before you can get started. In fact, many auditors are not CPAs, and having your CPA license is not a requirement for the first several years at the job. However, the experts at the CAQ recommend taking the exam for two reasons: 1) It will increase your earning potential, and 2) It will help you stand out from the crowd when it comes to finding new opportunities.

5. Auditors do not have a lot of work-life flexibility

The final misconception about auditing is that employees do not have work-life flexibility. While there may be less flexibility for some auditors during busy season (when companies are filing their annual financial statements or 10Ks), for the most part, auditing offers a lot of flexibility and a well-balanced schedule. “Auditors work hard but we also have a pretty good work-life balance,” says Ashley, an auditor from Miami who refers to that balance as one of the key benefits of the job.

Although auditing is sometimes jokingly described as a not-so-exciting career involving a lot of long hours, the truth is that it offers both variety and opportunities for continued development. By knowing what to expect, you’ll have a clear understanding of your potential career path and you’ll be able to decide whether auditing is right for you.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Be a Team Player and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

Top 4 Tips for Landing an Auditing Job

If you’re interested in auditing and considering becoming an auditor, you might be wondering what you can do to land a great auditing job. Should you intern at a big accounting firm? Take classes on financial regulation? Or is it more about knowing what to expect and being able to plan your career path accordingly? To find out the answer, we recently spoke with the team at the CAQ (Center for Audit Quality) to find out what steps you can take to find a job that fits your skills and lifestyle.

Here are the top four tips for landing an auditing job.

1. Take relevant classes during your time in college

Since auditing requires an understanding of financial regulations and accounting principles, developing this knowledge as an undergraduate will get you one step closer to finding the right job. The best way to do this is by taking business and accounting classes as part of your major and using these classes to establish a solid knowledge base. At the same time, you can develop your skills by taking specialized electives such as data analytics, business ethics and accounting information systems.

Pro Tip: If you want to really stand out from the crowd, supplementing your knowledge by learning about auditing through sources such as the CAQ’s Discover Audit initiative is a great way to do so.

2. Intern with an accounting firm while in college

If you’re not sure about what auditing career path to choose (or even if you are but want to build your skills and experience), a great way to gain exposure to the profession is by doing an internship with an accounting firm during your sophomore of junior year of college. This will give you hands-on experience while teaching you the type of skills you’ll need to succeed in the profession. As an added bonus, you’ll expand your professional network and will likely open yourself up to new job opportunities after the internship is over. Plus, many public accounting firms hire directly from their intern pools.

3. Start networking

It’s never to early to start networking and the best place to do so is right on your campus. This is because audit professionals from large accounting firms often spend time on college campuses networking with current students. In order to make the most of these opportunities, take advantage of the chance to meet these professionals and hear from them about their experiences. As an added bonus, these might be the same professionals you’ll get to work with someday if you decide that a career in auditing is for you.

4. Study for the CPA exam

Although a Certified Public Accounting (CPA) license is not required in order to start your career as an auditor, many firms — especially large public accounting firms — require their employees to obtain their CPA license early in their career. According to the CAQ, even if your particular firm doesn’t require a CPA license, passing the exam is a way to expand your career options and to get recognized in the field. It will also increase your earning potential throughout your career.

By following these tips and knowing how to position yourself as a competitive candidate, you’ll be setting yourself up for success and getting one step closer to landing a great auditing job.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Things to Do in Your First Week at a New Job and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

What is a Finance Major and is it Right for Me?

Are you intrigued by the mathematics or statistics courses that you’ve taken in the past? Do you feel like you solve problems in creative ways, with a numbers-driven approach? Would you be interested in helping companies plan for how to grow their revenue or maintain profitability in both the short and long term? If so, a finance major might just be for you.

What is a finance major?

Financial planning, investment decisions and analyzing/limiting expenses are all various aspects of what you can and will learn as a finance major. As a finance major, you will study how companies have performed in the past to predict how they will perform in the future, and learn how to communicate information that will drive strategic changes. Many of your assignments will be project driven, whether they be individual case studies to enhance your problem-solving ability, or group presentations to practice the way you interact with others. Typical classes in this major include accounting, economics, math and psychology.

Is it right for me?

Finance is an exciting major with plenty of career opportunities. Contrary to popular belief, it’s also a major that requires both analytical skills and a healthy dose of creativity. Above all, it will help you develop multiple skill sets at once, offering you a great chance of success in several industries after graduation.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding if a finance major is right for you:

  • Am I interested in math and statistics?
  • Am I a creative problem-solver who is able to overcome challenges by coming up with innovative solutions?
  • Am I interested in figuring out how to help companies increase their revenue?
  • Am I a good communicator who is able to express my ideas clearly and effectively?

If you responded “Yes” to all of the above, then being a finance major might just be for you.

What can I do with a finance degree?

Finance as an area of study is fairly broad and offers plenty of career options. These include:

  • Investment banking
  • Management consulting
  • Investment management
  • Corporate Finance
  • Accounting
  • Risk management
  • And more…

If you’re interested in how companies should allocate financial resources, corporate finance may be your calling. If you’re more fascinated by financial markets, how people construct investment portfolios, wealth creation and preservation, investment management could be the route for you. And if you want to learn about probability and statistics and how they correlate to business decisions, then risk management might be the right path to pursue.

What do finance majors earn?

The salaries of finance majors vary widely depending on the careers they choose to pursue. While accountants earn an average salary of $63,000 per year, management consultants earn an average of $86,000 and investment bankers can earn upwards of $250,000.

Next, learn more about this college major such as Accounting and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Answer: What Motivates You?.

What is Investment Banking?

If you’re a business or finance major, chances are you’ve considered a career in investment banking. Even if you’re not currently majoring in a related discipline, you might be interested in finding out more about investment banking and the types of career options available for recent grads.

Here are some of the key things you need to know about working in investment banking.

What is investment banking?

Investment banking is an area of the financial services industry that focuses on managing and increasing the financial assets of clients. What does this really mean? It means that investment bankers help companies invest their assets with a view towards increasing the value of their portfolios. Investment bankers essentially act as advisors and brokers, helping their clients identify and capitalize on great opportunities.

What do investment bankers do?

The primary responsibility of investment bankers is to advise their clients on investments and help facilitate those investments. This means that investment bankers essentially act as advisors and brokers, assessing the needs of their clients and then finding the right solutions to meet those needs. Once the client has decided how they would like to proceed, it’s up to the bankers to negotiate deals and mergers, ensuring that they are keeping their client’s best interests in mind.

What are the challenges of working in investment banking?

Investment banking is constantly in flux and deeply impacted by changes in financial markets. This can be quite challenging for those who work in the field because it requires them to be quick on their feet and adapt as needed. In addition to fluctuations in the markets, investment banking also presents other challenges such as the ability to manage client assets effectively and to ensure that the worth of those assets increases over time. As a result of the many demands of the industry, investment banking often requires long hours, particularly for those who are just starting out as financial analysts. However, by knowing what to expect and learning how to handle the challenges that arise, this field can be a very exciting one to work in.

What are some of the benefits of working in investment banking?

Although working in investment banking presents many challenges, it also presents many opportunities, particularly for recent grads. For example, because of the fast pace of the industry, employees can build their knowledge bases and skill sets quickly. This will help them advance quickly in their careers and develop transferrable skills. Another great benefit of working in investment banking is being able to build a solid and long-lasting professional network, an invaluable asset which will be useful throughout one’s career.

What is a typical investment banking salary?

Investment banking salaries are some of the highest in the world and this holds true even for entry-level positions. For example, entry-level financial analyst roles typically start at $100,000-$125,000 (including bonuses), while associates with two to three years of experience can earn anywhere from $150,000 to $250,000. Investment banking salaries increase significantly with each year of additional experience, with more senior bankers such as vice presidents and managing directors earning upwards of $650,000 and above.

Although investment banking is certainly a challenging field, it’s also an exciting one that presents many opportunities for recent graduates. The best way to find out if working in investment banking is a good fit for you is to intern at a bank and get a hands-on feel for the role and the culture of the industry.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Things to Do in Your First Week at a New Job and find answers to common interview questions such as If You Could Invest in One Stock, Which Stock Would it Be?

What Types of Skills Are Best for a Finance Major?

Studying finance is both challenging and rewarding and when preparing to do so, it’s important to assess your skill set and understand whether the major is a good fit for you. You should also ask yourself these important questions: What types of abilities will I need to possess to be successful if I pursue a finance degree? Are they inherited or acquired? Can I get better at these skills through time?

Here are some of the most common skills you’ll need as a finance major:

Problem-Solving Skills

As a finance major, you’ll constantly be asked to change the status quo of a situation given a set number of variables. Companies often ask, “How do we enhance performance and minimize resources within this period of time?” To answer these questions, you’ll need to assess what can be done differently, spot trends within industries and evaluate potential opportunities.

Quantitative and Statistical Analysis Skills

Finance is driven heavily by numbers. If math and statistics have been areas of strength for you in the past, you’re likely to thrive as a finance major. In order to understand and analyze data, link concepts and derive conclusions based on these findings, you will need a strong mathematical foundation.

Microsoft Excel Skills

Having strong Microsoft Excel skills goes hand in hand with analyzing data. This is because working in finance involves putting together financial models that can be used to test out an investment strategy or financial decision. To build up your Excel skills, you’ll need to spend time learning the various features and functions of the program and then practice creating models, charts and pivot tables.


Creativity is often an underrated skill when it comes to finance. This skill is often thought of as something that’s prominent in the arts, but it’s also a common trait of those who succeed as finance majors. In your classes, you’ll be asked to come up with unique solutions to problems or even implement proven solutions in unique ways. You’ll showcase your creativity through how you report the data you study and how you answer any pushback you might receive on concepts your present.

Communication Skills

The ability to communicate your analysis, findings and conclusions is really important as you head toward a career in finance. This is because in any finance-related position, you will need to effectively talk through complex data to show how various aspects of the business may be impacted. As a finance major, you’ll be put through a series of different projects, both individually and in group presentations, to hone your communication skills and prepare you for a potential career path within the industry.

While there are other traits to being a successful finance major, these are a few that you will need regardless of what specialization or industry you end up pursuing.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What is a Finance Major and is it Right for Me? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as Top 10 Things You Should Look For In An Internship.

How to Become an Investment Banker

If you’re a business or finance major who is interested in investment banking, then you probably already know what investment banking is and are curious to find out how you can get your foot in the door of this exciting industry. Although investment banking is certainly competitive, it’s also filled with rewarding opportunities, especially for those who are curious about market trends and passionate about helping clients meet their financial goals.

Here are the steps you need to follow in order to become an investment banker.

1. Know the investment banking career track

One of the keys to developing a successful career in investment banking is knowing the path to follow and making the most of each step along the way. Although most entry-level investment bankers start as financial analysts, the investment banking career track really begins with an internship. In fact, both large banks and smaller boutique banks recruit entry-level employees from their yearly crop of interns, so securing an internship during college is key to setting yourself up for success. This will typically be a summer internship during your junior or senior year and (if successful) will lead to an offer for a full-time financial analyst role. Financial analyst roles are typically two-year positions that provide you the with the bulk of your investment banking training. During this time, you’ll learn about financial markets and the factors involved with advising clients about potential investments. After this two-year period is up, you will likely move on to an associate role for another two to three years before becoming a VP and eventually a managing director.

Pro Tip: In addition to knowing the career track you’ll be following, it’s also important to know the timeframe for hiring in this industry. For those not going directly from an internship into a full-time position, the application process for a full-time role typically starts in early September of your senior year and takes anywhere from six weeks to two months. Throughout this time, you’ll be invited for a few different rounds of interviews (between two and three) and, if successful, you’ll receive your offer by the end of October.

2. Develop your knowledge of the financial services industry

Having a solid understanding of the financial services industry will benefit you not only at the start of your career but also as you move up the ladder into your next role. This means knowing all about past and present market trends and also having more specialized knowledge such as understanding how new generations of investors differ from previous ones. For example, having some great insights into investment trends for millennials is likely to impress potential employers and show that you’re well-informed about changes in the industry. The best way to develop this knowledge is by reading trade publications like DealBook and MarketWatch and keeping up-to-date on emerging trends.

3. Take relevant classes

Taking a broad range of business, finance and even math classes during college can be a practical way to build your knowledge base. This is especially true if you’re coming to investment banking from a non-traditional major like English or history. To find out which classes would be most helpful for you, talk to your academic advisor and ask for recommendations based on your interests and your goals.

Pro Tip: Although doing a double major or minor in one of these subjects isn’t necessary, being able to show recruiters that you’re a well-rounded candidate is a great way to get noticed.

4. Know what recruiters look for

Although traditional recruiting for investment banking typically focused on business and finance majors from top-tier schools, in more recent years the recruitment process has become increasingly focused on diversity and on finding talented candidates from a broad range of schools and majors. That said, candidates still need to be able to demonstrate both a solid interest in financial services and a thorough understanding of the field, so your resume will need to reflect classes or projects you’ve worked on that would be relevant to an investment banking career.

Pro Tip: When talking to recruiters, don’t be afraid to highlight areas of your background that are unique and show that you have a well-rounded background. For example, if you don’t have internship experience in the financial services industry but you interned in the finance department of a startup, you can mention what you learned from the experience and how your skills could transfer to investment banking.

5. Take on an investment banking internship

Although knowledge and direction are both key parts of starting a career in investment banking, having experience on your resume is even better. This is where an internship comes in. An internship is a fantastic opportunity to build your skill set and get on-the-job training. This is especially important in a field like investment banking which is both technical and specific. By taking on one or more internships during your time in college, you’ll gain exposure to many facets of the industry and be able to find an entry-level investment banking job that’s right for you.

6. Build your network

Investment banking is as much about who you know as about what you know so building your professional network is crucial to landing a great job after graduation. An effective way to do this is through internships and networking events, particularly those aimed at college students and recent graduates. Attending recruiting events can also be particularly helpful since you’ll be able to meet with recruiters in person.

Pro Tip: Reaching out to members of your school’s alumni network is another effective way to build your network and this is an especially common networking strategy in the financial services industry. As an added bonus, you might come across a professional opportunity you weren’t even aware of or get a personal recommendation from someone already in the field.

Becoming an investment banker might seem a bit intimidating at first since the field is notoriously competitive and fast-paced. However, by following these tips and building up your experience and your network, you’ll be sure to find an opportunity that’s right for you.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 7 Phone Interview Tips That Will Land You a Second Interview and find answers to common interview questions such as Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

Top Investment Banking Interview Questions

If you’re interested in a career in investment banking, then you know that it’s a competitive field with plenty of challenges and opportunities. In order to prepare yourself to become an investment banker, it’s important to know not only what your career path will look like but also how to prepare for the interview process. The hiring process for investment banking typically consists of two to three rounds of interviews, with each round focusing on both technical questions and cultural fit questions.

Here are the top questions you’re likely to encounter during an entry-level investment banking interview.

1) Tell me about yourself.

This is often the first question in any interview and one you should always be prepared to answer. When interviewers ask this question during an investment banking interview, it’s because they want to know that you’re passionate about the field and that you can bring something unique to the table. The key to answering it well is to talk about your academic and personal background in a way that shows that you’d be a good fit for the position. For example, if you’ve been interested in finance for a long time and have been reading The Economist since middle school, you should mention that. Or, if you’re an English major with a newfound passion for financial markets and a minor in business, you should talk about how your diverse skill set can help you succeed in the industry. No matter what your background, being able to present yourself as a well-rounded individual with a genuine interest in finance will go a long way towards impressing the interviewer and helping you stand out from the crowd.

Pro Tip: Since banks are increasingly interested in hiring candidates with diverse backgrounds, don’t be intimidated if your background doesn’t include a business or finance major. Instead, focus on the skills and experience you can bring to the position and demonstrate how these will make you stand out.

2) Why do you want to work in investment banking?

When an interviewer asks this question it’s because they want to find out how passionate you are about becoming a banker. Since investment banking is a notoriously fast-paced and challenging industry, showing that you’ve done your homework and are truly interested in the field is a crucial part of convincing the interviewer that you’re aware of the challenges and willing to meet them. One of the keys to answering this question well is to show that you have a working knowledge of financial markets and a genuine interest in how deals get done. For example, if you recently read about an interesting technology merger in DealBook, be sure to mention why the merger piqued your interest and how that specific deal fits in with your more general interest in finance.

Pro Tip: Knowledge of financial markets and trends is particularly important when answering this question so being up-to-date on industry news and having two to three examples of relevant deals will show that you’re genuinely curious about the industry and well-prepared for the interview.

3) Why do you want to work for our bank in particular?

This question is designed to test your knowledge of the company you’re interviewing with and its position within the industry. The key to answering it well is to show that you know general financial information about the firm such as where their stock price is trading and what industries they focus on. The best way to find out this information is by reading through marketing and press materials on the company’s website and then doing additional research in trade publications such as American Banker and MarketWatch. If you’re interviewing for a position within a specific division, such as the natural resources group, it’s also important to talk about past deals that the firm has done and to mention how these deals have impacted the industry as a whole. Trade publications like the ones mentioned above will also come in handy here, helping to spotlight relevant deals that you can use as examples.

4) Where do you see yourself in five years?

Another question you’re likely to encounter in almost any interview, this question aims to find out more about your career plans and to determine how committed you are to a long-term career in banking. When preparing to answer this question, focus on how the role you’re applying for aligns with your future goals and explain why becoming a banker is a crucial part of your career path. For example, if you want to continue on the investment banking track and become a VP or managing director, talk about how the entry-level role you’re applying for will offer you the opportunity to advance in your career and achieve your goal within five years.

5) What are the ways of valuing a company?

This is one of the most challenging questions you’re likely to encounter during the interview process because it’s designed to test your technical knowledge of the field. In order to answer this question successfully, it’s important that you have a working knowledge of banking and understand valuation methodologies. The best way to develop this knowledge is by taking a business or finance class during your time in college and doing additional reading on sites such as Investopedia. By showing the interviewer that you understand the technical side of the position, you’ll also be demonstrating a willingness to learn and to become an integral part of the industry.

6) How many golf balls can fit in a Boeing 747 jet?

Another type of question you’ll encounter during the interview process is a brain teaser.
These questions are designed to test your critical thinking and problem-solving abilities and are often unrelated to the actual field of banking. In order to ensure that you’re not stumped by any of the brain teasers a hiring manager might throw your way, it’s important to practice several of these as you prepare for the interview. Luckily, sites such as Investment Banking Brain Teasers offer sample brain teasers and tips for coming up with solutions.

Pro Tip: Hiring managers are less interested in the answer itself than they are in seeing how you think through a problem. To demonstrate that you approach problems thoughtfully, be sure to ask follow-up questions and to “show your work” as you come up with your answer. For example, when answering the golf ball question, you could ask the interviewer whether the 747 is empty or full, or whether the cabin is pressurized. By showing that you’re able to come up with thoughtful solutions to problems, you’ll also be demonstrating your ability to understand complex ideas and business models, a crucial skill in any investment banking position.

Although the interview process for investment banking can be a challenging one, it’s also a wonderful opportunity to show potential employers that you’re enthusiastic, curious and knowledgeable about the field. By knowing what questions to anticipate and preparing your answers, you’ll be sure to impress the hiring manager and get one step closer to landing the job.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Ways to Impress Your New Boss and find answers to common interview questions such as Tell Me About Yourself.