"Career Changer" Interview Questions & Suggested Answers
You probably weren't thinking about being an investment banker since age 5. But if you've been in an unrelated industry for awhile, you need to be well-prepared for "Career Change" questions.
"Career Changer Questions" ask why you're trying to switch industries, why you picked an unrelated major and have now changed your mind, or even why you're making a move within finance.
It's best to point to a specific anecdote or someone who sparked your initial interest in finance - assuming you have a story or person in mind.
But even if you don't, there are "generic" responses that can work well.
1. You've had tons of engineering experience and you've worked at many tech companies. Why do you want to be an investment banker now?
Talk about how you dislike the limited advancement opportunities and how your work didn't affect the world at large - only what that specific company was doing. You want to do finance because you like the business aspect of technology more than the technology aspect of technology and because you want to make an impact with your work and become an investor or advisor one day.
2. You've done Big 4 accounting for the past year - why would you want a job that's a lot more stressful with twice the hours?
Because your accounting work was boring and mundane, and because there were limited advancement opportunities. Finance is faster-paced and you've realized that after speaking with a lot of friends and doing your own research that it's just more suited to your personality.
3. I see you've practiced law at Wilson Sonsini for the past 4 years - if you've been there that long, you're probably on Partner-track by now. Why would you want to leave a lucrative career in law and go back to being an entry-level Associate in banking?
Emphasize how business people never respect lawyers and view them as nuisances rather than as a critical part of the team - as a banker, you'd be making deals happen and actually advising companies rather than just proofreading documents and doing "Find-and-Replace" in Word.
Of course, you do a lot of this in banking anyway but this angle still works because bankers really do look down on lawyers.
4. I see you worked at McKinsey one summer and then went to Citi investment banking the next year. Are you sure you want to do investment banking?
Yes. Although you worked at McKinsey, you realized you didn't like consulting because of the wishy-washy nature of the work (making reports and billing by the hour rather than billing by the result) and the constant travel and lack of quantitative skills/learning.
You enjoyed your Citi internship much more and realized you wanted to be in banking rather than consulting.
5. Wow. I must be honest, I rarely see people who have accomplished as much as you have at your age. You sold your own company for over $1 million within 2 years of starting it, and became a leading real estate investor in Asia at the same time. Why would you ever want to work for other people in banking if you've been so successful on your own?
You don't view things in those terms. Although you did well, there's always room to learn and banking would be a great learning opportunity for you. You've spoken with many friends in the industry and have been impressed by what you've heard, and you want to broaden your experience and knowledge so that you can move into higher-stakes business.
6. You've worked at a few prop trading firms and also in Sales & Trading. They get paid pretty well and work market hours - so they have it a lot better than us. Why would you want to switch to investment banking?
You didn't like the culture of trading, and wanted to have more of an impact by advising companies on major strategic decisions rather than just making small trades and investments each day. Banking excites you more because of the broader range of opportunities and experiences it gives you.