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How To Ace Your Investment Banking Virtual Application


Over the last 20 years, the job application process has been moved online considerably. Whilst virtual interviews and psychometric tests pre-dated the pandemic, they have prevailed in the past year.

As organisations have been unable to hold in person interviews and assessment centres, investment banks such as Lloyds Banking Group and Morgan Stanley responded by making their application process virtual. This decision will impact undergraduate applications which number in the thousands per year.

What should applicants expect from the process and how should they prepare?

Firstly, it is useful to unpack the virtual interview process. Many large organisations do not have the capacity to conduct all interviews face to face, due to the volume of applications they receive. A solution to this problem is the introduction of an online process, which saves time and allows the organisation to provide a more accessible process.

Since a virtual interview takes place using video conferencing technology, it is vital to ensure that your computer’s technology is functioning properly beforehand; a weak internet connection or a faulty webcam will have a detrimental effect on the interview’s quality. It is also advised that the background is as neutral as possible, and that you dress in professional attire.

Virtual interviews are also common amongst investment banks. HireVue is used primarily for internship and entry level roles and consist of pre recorded interview questions.

Some standard questions to expect include “Why our bank?”, “How is your previous experience relevant to this role?” and “Describe a time when something went wrong with an activity you were involved in and explain what you did to fix it”.

To prepare for these kinds of questions, candidates would benefit from brainstorming some ideas based off their most recent work experience opportunities, and they should ensure that each example demonstrates the relevant skills that investment banks are looking for.

Moving on from this point, it is also worth exploring why psychometric tests are used by investment banks. Essentially, psychometric tests help identify a candidate’s knowledge, skills and personality.

Usually, these tests are at the beginning of an application process as a means of preliminary screening, so it is vital that candidates are aware of what psychometric tests involve and know how to prepare well.

As efinancialcareers reports, major investment banks, such as JP Morgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, break down their psychometric tests into categories. These include numerical and logical reasoning and behavioural or situational judgement tests.

Two common problems candidates often encounter is running out of time and misinterpreting the question. However, there are ways of rectifying these issues.

Predominantly, candidates will hugely benefit from taking as many practice psychometric tests as possible, as this will familiarise them with the process and help them refine their time management skills.

Fortunately, practice psychometric tests are widely available. Psychometric test companies such Kenexa and CEB SHL have expressed that having a regular practice routine will boost your chances of being successful at this stage.

Lastly, it is important to note that investment banks have different preferences when it comes to which assessments they use. For instance, Morgan Stanley, BofA Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan historically use Kenexa, and Barclays uses CEB SHL.

Furthermore, it is worth considering how the virtual application process benefits the candidates and investment banks. Firstly, there are evident positives. The hiring process is hugely accelerated, as there is no need for the candidate to travel to attend the interview, and they can complete this from the comfort of their home.

This approach is also advantageous for investment banks, as it means they have the capacity for multiple interviews to take place simultaneously, greatly reducing the amount of time spent interviewing candidates.

Also, a virtual approach invites a wider range of applications, creating a more diverse talent pool to choose from. Additionally, this approach offers a standardised interview process and therefore evaluates candidates in a structured way.

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Despite this, there are some potential drawbacks to the virtual interview process. Firstly, from a candidate perspective, some may find that many important attributes, such as body language, are undermined by this process. The inability to converse with a human in real time may also be off putting.

It can also be argued that virtual interviews do not lend themselves to cultivating a real rapport between interviewer and candidate. Nevertheless, they provide a successful alternative to the in person interview, and may even continue to be a part of the application process beyond the pandemic.

Virtual Interviews and accompanying assessments, whilst accelerated by the pandemic, have been increasingly common for investment banks to use as a recruitment tool, due to the ability to offer a standardised and accessible application process.

The above information provides a strategic plan for candidates to follow ahead of their online assessments, which is specific to investment banking.

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