M&A Jobs – Questions to Expect in the M&A Interview
In the hyper-competitive market for M&A jobs, interviews are known to be tough. You will not only be asked to demonstrate your IQ and emotional intelligence but also expect to crunch some numbers in a display of your mental gymnastic skills. In M&A, where small idiosyncrasies and discrepancies can make or break a deal, your new employers want to make sure you are sharp and can think fast on your feet. Here is what to expect in an interview.
Intelligence Quotient (IQ)
Grades actually tell us very little about intellectual capacity. Did you hold down two jobs and chair the school venture capital club while achieving A grades? Here are a few questions you may come across:
What is driving the activity in the mergers and acquisitions market today?
What sectors do you expect to show the most growth?
What experience do you have in corporate finance?
How important are risk management skills in an M&A environment and how would you apply them?
Additionally, expect to be grilled on corporate finance as if you are in an exam, such as questions on depreciation and bond finance. They want to know that you can value a company and a security.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
A good interviewer will use psychology to gauge your emotional intelligence. Do not expect questions such as, ‘How do you deal with your emotions at work?’ Instead, expect your emotional depths to be explored through the following questions:
Do you prefer to work in a team or on your own?
In your view, what team dynamics interfere with productivity?
List three things that your team members would say about you?
If your boss said something about you that you felt was unfair, how would you respond?
How do you define failure?
What motivates you?
Proving your ability to work in teams is paramount in a fast-moving, multidisciplinary and highly coordinated M&A environment.
Quantitative Intelligence (Mental Gymnastics)
This is the most dreaded part of an investment banking interview wherein you are asked to display your knowledge of bond finance and options theory. If you have done your schoolwork, you should sail through. This book may get too technical, unless you have a PhD in quantitative finance, but I think it is worth mentioning again: Heard on the Street: Quantitative Questions from Wall Street Job Interviews. In a corporate finance interview, they are more interested in questions such as: How do you value a technology versus an industrial company?
Additionally, expect to be asked how you feel about working long work weeks, about 70 – 120 hours per week. Warning, do not hesitate, pause for a breath, hmm or ha before enthusiastically embracing your love of working in corporate finance and long hours.