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GUEST COMMENT: Questions you will be asked at sales interviews in investment banks

I can't guarantee 100% that you'll be asked these questions if you interview for a sales position in an investment bank, but I can say that they're the questions I like to ask when I'm interviewing graduates - and the kinds of questions I was asked myself. You have been warned...

1) Tell me about yourself? Walk me through your CV

Let's face it if you can't sell yourself you have little hope of selling anything to a Portfolio Manager!

2) Why do you want to work for Bank X?

This is your opportunity to demonstrate you have researched and prepared. It is not enough to sit and reel off a million statistics about the achievements of the firm. Touch on the people, the culture, the structure of the grad scheme. Make it personal! What genuinely interests you in bank X?

3) Why sales?

The answer to this question will help weed out those who truly love selling from those who just happened to fall into sales as a profession.

Your interviewers are looking to discover your self-awareness and motivation. Know your strengths; be able to show how they relate to sales.

4) What part of the sales process most appeals to you and which part do you think is most important?

The question is effectively designed to test your knowledge of the sales role within the bank/division and whether your selling style fits the culture of the firm or particular desk.

If the desk's revenue is based on a long sales process, the interviewer will be looking for a sales person with patience, diligence, organisation and the ability to follow up. High sales volume flow desks will want someone driven to get the trade and close. If you've applied for a more business development role then sales, it will be based on prospecting and building a new client base from scratch.

5) What attributes do you think are vital to a good sales person? Demonstrate you have these...

The key to this question is focus on the competencies and abilities that every sales graduate needs and to then provide concrete examples of situations in which you've demonstrated them. They include:

- Understanding your target audience and adjusting your approach to different people and situations

- Not being demoralised when you knock on doors and are rejected

- Asking the right questions

- Listening to the client and understanding their needs

- Being a hard worker and self-motivated individual

- Working as part of a team

- Being organised and prepared

- Negotiation skills

6) If you weren't to have a career in Sales what would you do?

This question is simply designed to unearth your true career goals. I personally ask where do you see yourself in three/five/ten years?

You often find candidates haven't prepared to discuss their true ambitions. The off the cuff response often received reveals much about their long-term fit within the firm.

The key is to remember that however these questions are phrased, they're all aiming to achieve the same result - How motivated and passionate are you? Can you sell? Will you achieve good results? Do you fit into the culture and style of the firm/desk?

The author is a sales professional in an investment bank.

AUTHORAnonymous Insider Comment
  • Sb
    26 January 2011

    so,how would you structure your answer for #6

  • Al
    All I need is a phone.
    25 January 2011

    I can sell. Alas most people on the graduate scheme in my bank have got the job as a result of their expensive education and are nervous when talking to clients. What's that about?

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