Starting a career in finance can be tough. And with graduation season underway, many students and recent grads may be stressed about getting their foot in the door.
Right now is the perfect time for finance and economics students to enter the workforce. Interns on Wall Street are making 30% more this year, with some making near $10,000 a month. There are some standard requirements to getting these opportunities like relevant coursework, a high GPA, and relevant experience. But knowing the right things to say during the interview plays a huge role in nabbing the job.
According to Patrick Curtis, the founder and CEO of Wall Street Oasis (WSO), a financial modeling and interview training business for fields like investment banking and finance, networking is the key to getting your big break.
"It's all about the relationships. You know somebody on the inside, and that's it. That's how you get the interview," Curtis tells CNBC Make It. "And then if you get the interview, you're ready and you've drilled in your technical questions, why you want to be there and what the job is about because you've talked to and learned from people who are already in the industry."
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Curtis says that the interview process can be stressful, but being thoroughly prepared can help you answer some of the difficult questions.
The team at Wall Street Oasis compiles lists of potential interview questions candidates should be prepared for. Here are three of their top interview questions, and how to answer them:
Tell me about a time that…
According to WSO, this question is common during interviews for positions in investment banking. Though there are many variations of this question, they suggest having a "well-rehearsed response for each of them, and a general guideline to follow."
"Ideally, you can come up with 6-8 stories that cover the 30-40 basic questions, with only slight modifications. Don't wing it."
WSO suggests using the SOAR method to map out your story:
S: Situation, set up the story in about 10-15 seconds
O: Obstacle, describe what the problem is in 10-15 seconds
A: Action, tell them how you planned to solve the problem in 60-75 seconds
R: Result, describe what happened after you took action in 15-30 seconds
What would your friend/roommate/previous manager say about you?
WSO says this question is frequent in private equity interviews, and interviewers are looking for answers that exhibit "confidence mixed with some humility."
Unless specifically asked, WSO says candidates shouldn't feel pressured to mention their weaknesses in addition to their strengths. Instead, use this question to showcase your strengths to the interviewer, and use stories or examples if applicable.
"When faced with this question, some candidates find it difficult to praise themselves and fail to highlight their best qualities. Other candidates go overboard and describe themselves in absurdly glowing terms. The sweet spot for this question is to describe yourself in a few reasonable positive terms that you hope are present in you or that others see in you."
If you had $1 million to start any business right now, what would you do?
If you have an interview for a hedge fund job, chances are, you'll be asked this question. There are several ways to answer the question, but they should all "play to the focus of the fund." WSO says your response may be valued, return on capital, growth, opportunistic, or even special situation oriented.
"For a growth approach, talk about a business that you'll be able to grow sales, users and possibly market share quickly, and don't worry about profits. The ultimate goal could be raising additional outside capital from angels or venture firms or exiting the company by being acquired."
In an opportunistic or special situation fund, you could discuss starting a holding company to purchase lower-priced earning assets that would offer a reasonable return on investment, including "cheap real estate, mobile homes or other distressed assets out of favor."
For a value, profitability, and return on capital approach, WSO suggests focusing on a "high margin and low competition" business idea that could show consistent growth in revenue and profitability.
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