Assessment centres are all about testing how you might fit in the bank, both in terms of your existing skillset, but also your compatibility with the culture of the organisation. The two biggies to prepare for when getting psyched for an assessment centre: case studies and group work (which can sometimes even come together!)
A case study as part of an assessment centre isn’t completely about testing to see whether you can get the right answer, your interviewers also want to get an understand of how you try and solve problems.
In rarer cases, you might be sent a case study for you to complete at home over a few days or up to a week, before presenting your findings in person.
More commonly will be doing a case study within an hour or two as part of an assessment centre. With such a time frame, you usually won’t be expected to do full financial modelling, instead, you should make sure you focus on actually reaching a concrete recommendation and being prepared to discuss how you reached that conclusion. Interviewers are not only testing your financial acumen but your logic and reasoning skills and ability to present and communicate effectively.
Some common question types for an investment banking assessment centre might be:
As you can see, there isn’t only one right answer. But you do need to confidently argue for a particular answer, rather than talking through all the options.
Nailing the presentation of your findings is just as important, if not more so, than the work you’ll do crunching numbers and interpreting data. As we know, communication skills are crucial to your success as an investment banker. Presenting your case study is a key opportunity to show off that you have the confidence to present to groups and can articulately and clearly explain how you’ve arrived at a conclusion.
At the end of the day, smashing your case study is all about practice. But don’t just practice working through the findings, make sure you sit some friends down and have a go at presenting to them and answering their curly questions!
Just like a group assignment at uni, group exercises make rational sense but seem damn scary! The first thing to get your head around is what the assessors are actually looking for, which is to get a sense of your personality and how you’ll fit with their existing teams and culture. Be careful not to dismiss this part of the process, group exercises are really crucial precisely because teamwork is at the heart of a successful investment bank.
Group exercises could play out in a few ways, but the most common is that you’ll be thrown a scenario to work through (like a puzzle) or a more traditional case study.
Here is our biggest tip: don’t just show off these skills during the ‘group exercise’ section of the day. Assessors will be watching how you interact with your potential future colleagues throughout the whole day, including during break times. So pack your personality and show off your strengths.
Assessment centres are also a really important opportunity for you to test out whether the bank you’re applying for is the right fit for you. As much as you can, treat the day like a normal workday. Did you like the physical environment, feel passionate and curious about the work you were doing, connect with the culture and staff? Assessment centres aren’t just about you impressing the investment bank, but about them impressing you too!
If you aren’t successful after the assessment centre phase, reach out to the bank to see if they can provide you with any specific feedback or advice for next time. If you treat the assessment centre as an opportunity for learning, it’s bound to be worthwhile.