Bank of America Merrill Lynch | Company, Interview, Assessment Centre Reviews and Salaries

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Bank of America Merrill Lynch

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VP Global Banking
I interviewed recently as a lateral hire in the Global Banking division.
It was a long process. It felt like the organisation was trying to have a very detailed but fair overview of who the candidate is, seen from as many angle as possible, both professionally and on a personal level. Contrary to what I had heard it felt quite humane: no one tried to fault me with trick questions.
Here’s what I learnt:
Prove your capacity for team work as frequently as you can.
For a lot of questions, it felt like the interviewer wanted to know if he or she could work with me, rather my technical skills. Being too self-centred or openly competitive will set you back in the process. There’s no room for rockstars. So prepare to give examples of where you disagreed with a colleague, or pushed a project that did not go through, and how you reacted. I know it sounds a bit wishy washy, but it makes sense that the bank focuses on this: if you have come this far in the process, you’ve probably given enough proof of your technical proficiency. Clearly you know your stuff. In summary: the team is the ’superstar’, not you – you can gloat at family reunions that you work for a top investment bank, but internally the team always comes first – something I don’t think a lot of people realise before interviewing.
You won’t meet arrogant ‘masters of the universe’ – so don’t behave like one.
Everyone was mild mannered. Except perhaps for quant or trading, it seems consultant-style brainteasers (think ‘How many golf balls are there on the Moon?’) were rare. Real work situations made up most of the interviews. So if you join as an industry specialist in a given asset class, expect a conversation like you would have in real life, as part of the team.
Questions like: What would you buy? What’s your In? Your Out? Your stop loss? And deep, deep drilling on smaller and smaller details. It’s harsh, sure, but not meant to put you off balance – more as a way to test how thorough you are, and what type of investor you are.
Someone explained to me that, the day I’ll present an idea to the group, I will have questions from everyone, each with their own perspective and style. So just imagine the toughest pitch Q&A you can think of, and write down all the objections, justified or not, that someone might have.
You will meet the whole team – internationally.
One of the reasons the process takes time is that you will have an interview not just with the London team, but with its counterparts on other continents too. This makes sense – in most businesses, the bank is very integrated internationally, and obviously the center of gravity is in the US. Be ready to be flexible to accommodate everyone, and try to think of local examples your interviewer will be familiar with (for instance a business in Hong Kong you worked on when you speak to someone in Asia). I found that it helps finding a common ground that makes the conversation easier. At various stages of your career, you’ll be judged on the impact you’ll have on the organisation.
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