Wall Street Prep

Investment Banking Interview Liberal Arts Major Question: "Why investment banking?"

The Question

I see that you are an art history major (or any other non-business major) in college, so why investment banking / finance?

Excerpt from WSP's Ace the IB Interview Guide

Excerpt from WSP's Ace the IB Interview Guide

This is a tricky question which tends to lead candidates down the wrong path if answered incorrectly.  Many people enter the industry with the obvious intention of making a great deal of money and/or because of the myriad of exit opportunities.  You want to be careful about being “too honest” in your answer.  I am not saying lie, but you don’t want to show your entire hand either.

Poor answers

Poor answers to this question would be answers that somehow indicate you are going into the profession to earn large amounts of money or because you eventually want to go to business school/private equity/hedge funds.  While all this may be true, you want the interviewer to think that you are committed to the industry even though he/she knows that more than likely you’ll be one of the Analysts that decides to leave after two years of service.  As an interviewer, it is better to hear the “reassuring” answer rather than the brutally honest one even though the interviewer knows you are being political.

Great answers

Great answers to this question focus on skill-building, networking, and love for difficult challenges.  You want to emphasize that being a non-business major you are excited to learn the complex accounting and finance skills involved on the job and eventually transform into an Analyst that has potential to significantly impact the group.  You also want to relay that you are excited to build a large network of elite professionals (financial and industry) and are looking forward to pushing your limits from a work standpoint.  You ultimately want to come off as a positive, “go-getter” type.

Sample great answer

“I do not regret majoring in art history.  That said, my interests have evolved towards more analytically challenging pursuits.  This past year, I have taken more quantitative classes like computer science, economics, and accounting, and believe that investment banking is an exciting challenge that marries my interests in critical thinking and quantitative analysis.

Specifically, banking interests me because it presents an opportunity to develop substantive analytical skills, while developing a close network of colleagues. While working long hours is scary to some, to me, it is in a strange way exciting. I have a very strong work ethic and I am excited to be involved in work that helps companies be better off strategically and financially.”

More Resources: Investment Banking Interview – What to Expect & How to Prep


The Wall Street Prep Quicklesson Series

7 Free Financial Modeling Lessons

Get instant access to video lessons taught by experienced investment bankers. Learn financial statement modeling, DCF, M&A, LBO, Comps and Excel shortcuts.