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Superday

Guide to Preparing for Superday Interviews

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Superday

Superday Interview Process

In the U.S., the recruitment process for a new class of investment banking interns, analysts, and associates concludes with the “Superday” interview, in which candidates will typically travel to the bank to be interviewed by several employees on-site.

Investment banks typically hold Superday events when hiring for the following roles:

  • Summer Analysts
  • MBA Summer Associates
  • Analysts
  • Associates

By contrast, the overall process will be less structured for lateral hiring during the off-cycle and for more experienced roles.

The length of the Superday interview is specific to each investment bank, but most entail back-to-back interviews with bankers ranging from analysts, associates, and senior bankers.

However, typically due to scheduling mishaps or unexpected events, there are occasionally times when:

  • Someone “random” might step in to interview you (i.e. not in the specific group that you’re interviewing for, but another employee that will share their thoughts with HR and the recruiting team).
  • The number of interviews could be well over 10+, but each interview lasts for shorter durations.
  • For the sake of time, two employees can interview you at once – which tends to be more common in first-round interviews (i.e. “good cop, bad cop”).

The takeaway is for candidates to remain flexible and not be surprised if the day does not perfectly follow the outlined schedule.

How to Prepare for the Superday

First, understand the candidates who successfully passed through the initial screening and first-round interviews (i.e. on-campus recruiting, or “OCR,” if attending a target school) are in serious consideration for an offer.

If not, the firm would not go out of its way to fly them out to their office location.

Each year, there are thousands of applicants for front-office roles at investment banks.

With that said, it is best to enter each interview with a sense of gratitude, as it will show in your answers, even if unintentional.

Superday Networking Events

Cropped shot of a group of businesspeople having a conversation in an office

Prior to the Superday interview, most banks will host “happy hour” or dinner events, which you should view as informal networking events.

While the other candidates are technically your competition, it is recommended to not take yourself too seriously here and enjoy the event – but within reason (i.e. remain sensible and professional about the setting and why you are here).

Besides getting along well with the other candidates, chatting with the participating bankers and finding commonalities in interests, hobbies, or backgrounds (e.g. home state, university) can directly impact how the subsequent interviews may go.

First impressions matter, and these types of events are typically the first opportunity to leave a good impression in a less formal setting.

These events are often intentionally scheduled to assess how the candidates interact socially.

Superday Interview Questions

Superday interviews tend to be “wildcards” because the type of questions asked will be entirely dependent on the person (and their mood on that particular day).

But in general, first and second-year analysts tend to ask the most technically challenging questions because you might directly be working under them.

Other analysts may assume that considering the candidate has already earned a superday spot, he or she most likely was already vetted and deemed qualified from a technical perspective, so their questioning may focus more on the candidate’s potential “fit” with the firm’s culture.

As for senior bankers, their questions tend to be more behavioral and related to a candidate’s background, as the banker is likely more interested in hearing about his or her past experiences and interest in banking, rather than how $10 of depreciation flows through the financial statements.

However, you must remain alert at all times and be ready for any unexpected curveball to not be caught off guard.

Interviewees often struggle to recover after encountering a technical question that they cannot answer, but often behavioral questions can also rattle them, which can initiate a downward spiral.

More specifically, the follow-up questions to answers to “softball” behavioral questions can cause the interview to take a turn in the wrong direction.

For instance, rather than getting grilled on a challenging M&A question or brain teaser, some interviewers will intentionally pressure you on questions like, “Why investment banking?”

Behavioral Question Examples

  • Walk me through your resume – i.e. Tell me about yourself.
  • What made you decide to attend [University]?
  • Why did you major in [Major/Degree]?
  • Why investment banking?
  • What is investment banking?
  • Why our firm? Why not [Competitor]?
  • Our group focuses on [Product Group/Industry], tell me about what relevant experience you have?
  • Tell me about your experience at [Firm/Company]?
  • What feedback did you hear from your past internships?
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • What qualities do you have to be a successful investment banker?
  • What tasks do you expect to be responsible for on a day-to-day basis?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Which other firms are you currently interviewing with?

Technical Questions

Accounting Questions

  • Walk me through the three financial statements?
  • How are the financial statements linked?
  • If you could only pick two financial statements, which would you select?
  • What is the difference between cash and accrual-basis accounting?
  • Walk me through how $10 of depreciation flows through the 3 financial statements?
  • What does it mean to “expense” or “capitalize” a line item?
  • What is net working capital (NWC)?
  • How do changes in working capital assets and liabilities impact cash flow?
  • What is the impact on the income statement if inventory were to increase by $10?
  • Which of the three financial statements is the most important?
  • What does EBITDA represent and why is the non-GAAP metric so widely used?
  • Which ratios would you use to measure the liquidity (or solvency) of a company?

Valuation/Finance Questions

  • How do you value a company?
  • What’s the difference between equity value and enterprise value?
  • How do you calculate enterprise value from equity value (and vice versa)?
  • Walk me through a discounted cash flow (DCF) model?
  • What is the discount rate (i.e. WACC) and how do you calculate it?
  • What is the difference between unlevered and levered free cash flow (FCF)
  • How can the terminal value be calculated?
  • How do you unlever and relever beta?
  • What are the steps to performing comparable company analysis (or precedent transactions)?
  • Rank the valuation methods from lowest to the highest value.
  • How do you value a private company?
  • Why might a company raise capital through issuances of equity rather than debt?

M&A Questions

  • Walk me through a merger model?
  • Why do companies acquire (or merge with) other companies?
  • What is the difference between a dilutive and accretive acquisition?
  • Tell me the rule of thumb for determining whether an acquisition will be accretive or dilutive (Hint: P/E ratio)?
  • What are the common purchase accounting adjustments?
  • Who would pay more: a strategic or a financial buyer?
  • What is goodwill and why does it get created?
  • What are synergies?
  • How are net operating losses (NOLs) accounted for in M&A models?
  • Why do deferred tax liabilities (DTLs) and deferred tax assets (DTAs) get created in M&A?
  • What are the differences between the three forms of consideration: stock, cash, and debt?
  • Why do buyers generally prefer asset sales instead of stock sales?
  • How are stock purchases, asset purchases, and Section 338(h)(10) elections different?
  • What is in a pitchbook?
  • Tell me about a recent M&A deal that you followed.

LBO Questions

  • What is a leveraged buyout (LBO)?
  • Walk me through a basic LBO model?
  • Why are LBOs financed with a significant amount of debt?
  • Which characteristics make a company an ideal LBO candidate?
  • What are the value creation drivers in an LBO?

Note: LBO questions for summer analyst roles are rare. If LBO questions are asked, they’ll mostly be conceptual – for more experienced candidates, see our post on the top private equity questions.

Besides the basic accounting and valuation questions, you should also expect questions regarding:

  • Stock Market (S&P 500, Dow, Nasdaq)
  • Risk-Free Rate (10-Year Treasury Note)
  • Recent/Current Events
  • Upcoming IPOs
  • Announced M&A Deals
  • Industry Trends

As a side note, for those interviewing for full-time roles, expect more difficult technical questions (i.e. lesser-known topics, multi-layered questions) and being asked to speak upon your deal experience in detail.

Lastly, be prepared to ask questions to the interviewer at the end, as leaving a positive final impression is also crucial.

  • Do you have any questions for me?

Receiving an Internship/Job Offer

Being well prepared for technical questions and getting most questions correct is certainly needed to land an offer but getting along well with the interviewers will set you apart and is arguably just as important in driving the outcome.

From the perspective of current employees, they want competent hires capable of performing their job well, but also someone that they can see themselves working grueling hours alongside.

At the end of the day, the interviewer sitting across from you is human – not a scantron scoring machine – so “sell yourself” and be personable, as doing so will make you stand out more.

Hence, you’ll often hear of personal stories of candidates that completely botched a technical question but handled it well and “somehow” still received an offer.

In particular, if you happen to leave a positive impression on a senior banker that later vouches for you, the probability of you receiving an offer will likely have gone up ten-fold.

Once the Superday interviews for the week have wrapped up, the bankers will debrief either in-person or virtually to discuss their thoughts/notes on the candidate pool.

How Long to Hear Back After a Superday Interview?

If the firm has decided to extend an offer, you tend to hear back from them rather quickly, which can range from a couple of hours to within 24 hours after the Superday (and two days maximum).

After a few days have passed without any status updates, it is likely that you are “waitlisted”, and the firm is keeping you on hold – which is not ideal but not the end of the world as there is still a chance of receiving an offer (e.g. one of their first-choice options accepted an offer from a competing bank).

However, there are exceptions for the timeline mentioned earlier, as there are sometimes candidates that receive offers after numerous weeks have passed.

Here, the candidates in all likelihood got a “soft-rejection,” meaning that the firm did not view them as their first priority, yet are still deemed qualified to join the firm.

The bottom line is that if you truly put in the time and effort to receive an offer – i.e. club leadership roles, internships, GPA, interview preparation – the odds of receiving at the least one offer during the interview season are in your favor as long as you continue to recruit persistently.

The Investment Banking Interview Guide ("The Red Book")

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The Investment Banking Interview Guide ('The Red Book')

1,000 interview questions & answers from the company that works directly with the world’s top investment banks and PE firms.

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