Since leaving my Master of Finance programme at Frankfurt School, I have been an interviewee and an interviewer in many successful job interviews for various jobs in Finance. In the last few years, I have also been interviewing incoming master candidates for the programme and have some tips and tricks for you for improving any job interview or master admissions interview.
Look up information on the school or company in advance, and if possible, on your interviewer as well. Prepare smart questions by using your authentic curiosity. It could be, whether courses are case-based, applicable and relevant for the jobs, how the school assists in finding internships, whether it is convenient to navigate in the town as international etc. Look up common interview questions to explore your mind and deep dive in own thoughts rather than learn them.
…about your motivation and experience. For example, what has been the most astounding realisation and personal take on it?. Concentrate on small details rather than a broad description which the interviewer can already see on your CV: particular tasks, project situations, certain people.
As to motivation, answer your own “why” and read about the industry you chose for your future career. If you tell the interviewer, you want to work in Investment Banking, and by asking questions they understand you are talking about Consulting—that lacks background knowledge and industry literacy. Also, be prepared to deepen your answers and articulate your opinion. Regarding Asset Management, you could be asked: “Would you prefer Equity, Bonds? Or maybe strategy department? If you like programming, maybe quant?”.
Try to use formal language even if the interviewer is friendly and seemingly informal. Avoid phrases similar to “this stuff”, “I am like”, “you know”, etc., that you can change immediately. Those fallacies only disturb the perception of your personality and make it difficult to establish clear communication. A little tip from my own experience: try using simple and short sentences if you are not used to speaking in English.
Spellcheck your cover letter, ask a friend to make the text neutral, avoid exclamation marks and use Investment Banking structure: Who, Why this (School/Bank), Why this job, Why you, closing remarks. You have one shot and the interviewers do not usually forgive on your “homework”. It is understandable and tolerable that a person is nervous during the in-person interview. Take time when asked a situational question and write down bullet points. They will help you stay on course when telling the story. Summarise at the end and connect this experience to the stated question.
You can still make the interview personal and impress an interviewer with your truly unique skills, behaviour, judgements without being informal and unstructured. Think about what your friends would say about you or ask your professor for a reference. You tend to overlook your own USPs? I suggest you discover them as early as possible. Without trying to portray a different person, define your values, characteristics, including your own weaknesses.
Lies are felt. Either by tone, facial expression or descriptions that lack precision — anyone can spot them like in a crime movie. Interviewers can always ask a follow-up question to gain further insight. It is not shameful not to have a long-term plan, rely on a vision, or have short-term goals. It could be learning Corporate Finance, getting an internship a-lá Wolf from Wall Street, learning about investing to get rich. You already sit here, so why?