Recently I contacted an MD in M&A at a bulge bracket investment bank and asked, "What are the qualities of a successful analyst?" He responded with the following short, concise list.
2. Attention to Detail
3. Team Player
While interviewing for a position as an analyst or associate, it is essential for you to demonstrate a great attitude, exceeding attention to detail, and your commitment to being a team player.
As you know, analysts and associates are expected to work hard, long, and late hours. Although it may be very, very difficult at times, having a positive attitude toward superiors, peers, and the work in general is critical to educe the communal morale needed to survive the workload, as well as to indicate your eagerness to be assigned to interesting, challenging projects.
You can show a great attitude in your interviews by being outgoing and excited. Moreover, when asked about past experiences, you need to describe situations that show your ability to be positive and optimistic in the face of adversity.
Attention to Detail
Have you ever wondered why having an error-free resume is so heavily emphasized when applying at an investment bank? Your resume is a demonstration of your ability to pay attention to detail. Attention to detail is vital in investment banking because it is indicative of a bank’s quality and level of professionalism, and thus, evidence of a bank’s good reputation. A lack thereof destroys the institution’s credibility.
While interviewing you can show your ability to pay attention to the slightest detail not only through your “perfect” resume, but also by your ability to answer questions precisely. For example, you should be able to quickly and flawlessly describe the various valuation models mentioned in previous postings.
All of the work performed at an investment bank is conducted in teams. Therefore, teams are very important to the success of the organization as a whole. Being a team player is imperative because the distribution of work on a team is not usually equal. Thus, when one of your teammates needs a hand to complete a project, you must be willing to help. (I’m sure you will hope for the same reaction from your team members when you find yourself in a bind.)
You can demonstrate your ability of being a team player in your interviews by discussing past experience on a team, the lessons you learned in those circumstances, and your commitment to occasionally “taking one for the team” in the future.