Trading Interviews 101

Discussion in 'Sales & Trading' started by AlexLielacher, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. AlexLielacher

    AlexLielacher Resident Professional

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    During my time as a student I easily sat 25+ interviews for sales & trading internships and I have, myself, interviewed numerous candidates for sales & trading internships and graduate programs during my time 'in the army'. I have also worked in both trading and sales.

    In this post I would like to share with you the key things you need to do so you ace your sales & trading interview.

    Tell Your Story Well
    The first question you are normally asked in an interview is to briefly introduce yourself and talk about your CV. The interviewer will usually ask you ‘tell me a little bit about yourself and your CV’. This is where you make your first proper impression (after the firm handshake and confident greeting, of course). So, it’s important that you start strong. Have your two-minute elevator pitch ready! It should be a short summary of your education; past work experience and how you ended up sitting where you are now. As in, what made you apply for a banking job? The latter leads nicely into the next key aspect of acing your interview, knowing your ’why’s’.

    Know Your Why's
    At interviews you will almost certainly be asked the following three questions. Why do you want to work at this bank? Why do you want to work in banking? Why do you want to work in sales & trading? These are easy to answer, as you just can just give your honest response (as long as your reason is not “because in sales & trading you can make a lot of money” :). Perhaps mentioning you have been following the markets for a while and you want to be in the epicentre of it. Or mention that you have been trading a bit yourself and would love to do that for a living.

    In terms of ‘why this bank’ you need to research key facts about the bank, that make it differ from its competitors and highlight those. For example, when I interviewed with an Australian bank at a later in my career, and was asked about why I would like to work for them, I mentioned their strong credit rating and the fact that they were not embroiled in the LIBOR scandal and have, hence, not had to pay any high regulatory fines in recent years.

    Prove Your Interest In Financial Markets
    Another important point I would like to highlight is that you need to prove your interest in the financial markets. There are quite a few people who just want to get a job in banking as it pays well, but they are not really that interesting in the subject matter. Hence, it is important you can show that you actually want to work in banking because you find it an interesting industry to work in and are not just in it for the money.

    If you can, throw knowledge you have about current events or recent market developments into the conversation and try to do so as naturally as possible. That way that the interviewer sees ‘this person knows a bit about the market already, he/she is keen to work in banking’.

    Demonstrate That You Are Able To Handle Pressure And Difficult Situations
    Working on the trading floor means enduring pressure on a daily basis. Whether it’s the pressure to make budget, the pressure to deal with politics or the pressure of day-to-day dealings with clients, your team members and other business stakeholders. Hence, it is important that you can demonstrate, by talking about times where you had to handle pressure and difficult situations that you are up to the challenge. The key is not to say that you can work well under pressure, but to demonstrate that you have been able to handle difficult situations in the past! Pick one or two incidents from university, past work experience or from any other relevant life experience, where you had to deal to deal with pressure or a difficult situation and have managed to do so well.

    Solve The Brainteasers
    You will most likely be asked brainteasers or fairly straightforward mathematics questions to solve. The majority of these tend to repeat themselves at interviews and you can find most online. So, go through those and make sure you can solve them.

    If a brainteaser comes up, that you have not read about previously, then it will up to you and your mental capacity to solve it. I have always found the ones that have come up solvable. In case you go blank or simply can’t solve it, explain to the interviewer your thought process as to how you went about trying to solve it. If your thought process to solve the challenge is fast, coherent and intelligent you will score points for that.

    Ask A Smart Question To Which You Actually Want To Know The Answer To
    This is such an easy way to score points with the interviewer and a great way to end the interview on a high! It is also one that can easily be messed up, if you don’t know how to do it correctly.

    When the interviewer asks you at the end of the interview if you have anymore questions make sure you have one or two questions ready that are specific to the bank, the role or current events in the financial markets. The latter is a good one to score big points, but the key is to only ask questions you actually want to know the answer to! Don’t ask generic questions like “when do you think the fed will hike rates?” (No one knows, ok! :) Be more specific and ask, for example, “do you think I should move parts of my savings into USD to hedge myself against a massive weakening of GBP if the U.K. really ends up exiting the E.U.?” That question alone should let you advance into the next round.
     
    Canary Wharfian and Trigger like this.
  2. SmallCapPM

    SmallCapPM New Member Professional

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    Alumni:
    US college
    Good article. I think your points about knowing your whys and proving an interest in financial markets are spot on. I have interviewed many people who just seemed to want a well paid job and when I asked them why fund management they had no real answer. This will end your job prospects on the spot. There is nothing less inspiring than a candidate who doesn't know why they are there. Your eyes need to light up when you answer this question and your answer needs to be clear, to-the-point and enthusiastic. I would recommend practicing this question with friends/family beforehand...
     
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