I think, firstly, it’s my interest in investment banking. As I mentioned, I’ve spent a lot of time understanding the industry and the type of work involved, and I’m really drawn to it. And I understand it can be a lot of work but I’m definitely willing to put in that work and it obviously helps to be interested in the subject matter.

Secondly, I would say it’s my commitment to my team. I think all of my team mates at school or work would confirm that I bring a proactive and positive attitude to my team and that I want to be seen as someone that can be relied on for any task required. I guess I realize a lot of people may say the same thing, but not everyone actually does that. And there are a few more examples I could expand on.

Lastly, I think I’m fairly strong at time management, which is something that I had to develop while focusing on grades, working part-time and being in a leadership position on the organizing team of the investment banking competition. Speaking to professionals, I think this is an area that becomes increasingly important as you enter the workforce and is probably something I want to continue developing.

EXPLANATION

There are many good attributes that can be mentioned in response to this question. The sample answer covers:

  1. Interest & Work Ethics
  2. Team Focus & Work Ethics
  3. Time Management & Work Ethics

Just a few comments on potential variations:

  • Obviously, the sample response provided has a not-so-subtle focus on work ethics, and the point really is to show that you understand and would even welcome the hard work required.
  • Reiterating interest is helpful, and usually something an interviewer looks for throughout a range of responses, because it helps keep people motivated even through rougher patches.
  • Team focus and good attitude are another set of attributes that an interviewer really pays attention to; this point is both about doing whatever it takes to get the job done, but also bringing a positive attitude to team communication and being humble and willing to learn.
  • People who work in banking say they are always under time-pressure and often face seemingly insurmountable deadlines, and so the demonstrated ability to prioritize and manage tasks within tight deadlines is something they tend to appreciate.
  • Also, note that often actions / achievements speak louder than words so you could also provide specific achievements that highlight the above qualities – however, avoid drawn out responses as this should be a quick list of 3 top items.

Other potential good responses could include:

  • If your interest in the industry is already confirmed through a range of other data points, you may focus more on dedication and persistence
  • Similar to the point on team commitment, you could focus on communication, leadership or sense of duty
  • Similar to the point on management, you could mention project management, multi-tasking of managing priorities, efficiency
  • You could mention proven quantitative or programming skills, which are usually well-received
  • You could mention technical skills or better experiences if they are fairly advanced (meaning you could start in an analyst capacity with minimal training)
  • You could mention willingness and proven ability to learn quickly
  • You could mention attention to detail as long as it’s balanced with efficiency and time-management

There are a few responses to be more careful about including:

  • Leadership / confidence to the extent it could be perceived as arrogant and difficult to take instructions
  • Innovation to the extent it could be perceived as constantly challenging the status quo
  • Organizational skills to the extent it could be perceived as overly process or consulting-focused
  • Attention to detail to the extent it could be perceived as inefficient or indecisive
  • Helpfulness to the extent it could be perceived as expecting an overly amicable environment
  • Communication / relationships to the extent it could be perceived as expecting senior client interactions