Interviews and assessment centres

Graduates: advice for answering Morgan Stanley interview questions

25 Oct 2023, 09:43

Use the example Morgan Stanley interview questions below to practise crafting considered, researched and relevant answers.

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Jump to: Past interview question examples | Extra Morgan Stanley interview questions

It’s essential that you practise answering examples of Morgan Stanley interview questions previously faced by graduates in preparation for your interview with the firm.

Your first-round interview may be over the telephone, via video conferencing or in person, depending on the division and your location. The last stage of the recruitment process usually consists of one-to-one interviews, written tests, an individual presentation and a group exercise. The firm doesn’t state whether this will be held virtually or face to face.

Past Morgan Stanley interview questions

There’s no guarantee you’ll be asked the following questions, but practising answering them will allow you to hone your interview technique. It’s a good idea to also think about other questions that you could be asked (about your skills, CV and understanding of the job role and industry) and how best to answer them.

Jump to a specific question:

Past Morgan Stanley interview question: Describe a situation at work where you received feedback that made you feel proud.

How to approach: What Morgan Stanley wants to see is whether, once you’ve received positive feedback, you rest on your laurels or look to improve even further.

The important thing is not so much what was said that made you proud, but more why you felt that way. It may have been because you were successful in a task you found particularly challenging. It could have been because you had made an impact on another person in some way. Or maybe because it was a new task that required you to think differently. There are a lot of angles you could take, but remember the point is why , not what.

Potential follow-up question: What have you done since you got that feedback?

Past Morgan Stanley interview question: Give an example of a situation when you demonstrated leadership.

How to approach: Your example here doesn’t need to be one in which you officially led a group; it can be any time when you’ve had to lead or motivate people in some way.

Maybe you led a discussion, a research team, or delegated tasks for a particular project. Teaching others a new skill (in person or virtually) or sharing information can also be considered a leadership role. What Morgan Stanley wants to see is that you can support others and are happy to take control of a situation to ensure that it doesn’t spin out of control.

Potential follow-up question: Do you think that you have a particular leadership style?

Past Morgan Stanley interview question: Give an example of when you worked in a team to achieve a goal. What problems arose? How did you solve them?

How to approach: This question tests whether you’re the type who’s willing to steamroll over your colleagues, or whether you’re able to recognise problems when they arise and cooperate effectively to resolve them.

Be sure not to use the same example as you would for the leadership question in your interview. The problems that arose could be small, fiddly and infuriating, or they could be potentially destructive to the entire project or task. Both are valid and useful examples for this question.

Think of chemistry experiments, for example: small measurement mistakes can affect the wider experiment and cause manageable but annoying anomalies at the analysis stage. However, pouring in twice as much of one chemical than is required ruins the whole experiment. In either case, you’d have to approach your analysis from a new angle or even re-do the entire experiment.

Potential follow-up question: What would you have done differently on that task?

Past Morgan Stanley interview question: How would your friends describe you?

How to approach: Morgan Stanley is looking to see whether you can be self-analytical and appreciate another person’s point of view – interviewers are not interested in your social relationships.

While you’ll naturally want to focus on the best aspects of your character, it’s a good idea to show some appreciation that you’re not a perfect human being. Ask your friends this question and reflect on their answers. Then think about how you could improve yourself in any way.

It’ll impress the recruiters if you can give an example such as ‘Some of my friends have commented that I’m always late for things, so I’ve recently made an effort to be more realistic about my timetable and set off earlier when I know I have to be somewhere. They’ve since been happily surprised by my punctuality.’ Such an answer shows that you can take criticism on the chin and take steps to improve yourself.

Potential follow-up question: How would you describe yourself?

Past Morgan Stanley interview question: What are the top five economies?

How to approach: This is a commercial question with a twist – how do you define ‘top’, and does this fit in with Morgan Stanley’s perception of what a ‘top economy’ is?

You need to identify, as best as you can, how Morgan Stanley looks at different international markets. Are the top five economies those with the highest annual GDP? Or maybe they’re those with the most potential for growth? You could even take the view that the economies that have remained most stable throughout the recession are the ‘top’ economies.

Potential follow-up question: Which of these do you think will be the strongest in five years?

Past Morgan Stanley interview question: What’s big news in the world?

How to approach: What Morgan Stanley want to see is a breadth of knowledge about news and current affairs but also an ability to focus in depth on the key drivers of economic, political, social, technical and environmental change in the world, and to justify your choice and articulate a rounded analysis of why things are happening, when, how and what the impact is.

The important thing is not to simply focus on an event or the behaviour of a key public figure. What’s far more important is to identify a key trend in the world, and then to be able to link it to the worlds of Morgan Stanley’s clients. Big changes in society have an impact upon the nature and stability of markets, opportunities, growth (or lack of), how companies make decisions, frame their strategies, operate, and behave with clients and other organisations. It’s your ability to make these connections that will help you get a job with Morgan Stanley – not your strong opinions on a particular issue.

Morgan Stanley's graduate website says: ‘We don’t expect candidates to understand all spheres of the markets, finance, and economics. But it’s a good idea to choose one or two areas of the industry that you can discuss with knowledge and enthusiasm. Make an effort to understand what professionals at your level do in the industry and at Morgan Stanley.’

Potential follow-up question: How does this news affect our clients?

Past Morgan Stanley Interview question: Why do you want to work at Morgan Stanley?

How to approach: Morgan Stanley’s recruiters will be looking to see that your motivation for wanting to join the organisation is underpinned by enthusiasm, and that you see what you’d be doing in the graduate role and the firm’s values as being closely tied to your career ambitions.

To demonstrate this, you’ll need to show an understanding of the graduate programme and Morgan Stanley’s culture. This means researching the firm and its core values and thinking of examples of how they align with your personal values – when at university or work have you demonstrated these shared values? It also means digging into the details of the role and considering what most interests you about it and why you’d like to secure this specific role and not, for example, a graduate position at one of the other major investment banks.

Your interviewers will also be assessing the way in which you deliver your response. Speaking with confidence and an enthusiastic tone of voice along with maintaining open body language will help project sincerity in what you say.

Potential follow-up question: Please explain your understanding of what the role entails.

Past Morgan Stanley interview question: You realise you don’t have enough time to complete a task – what do you do?

How to approach: Morgan Stanley wants to know that you can adapt and remain composed – last-minute issues are part and parcel of working in the finance industry.

Think about what you would say to your boss if you knew a project wouldn’t be completed on time – your interviewer may very well be that boss in future! You don’t have to go to the manager with your tail between your legs; the delay may not by your fault, or maybe another manager has given you a new task that’s more urgent.

When these kinds of issues arise, what’s the best course of action to take? If you had no time left for an important piece of work as part of your degree, what did you do? Apply those examples here. It’s about explaining the problem and working with the manager to re-organise.

Potential follow-up question: What if that option wasn’t available? What would you do instead?

Other examples of Morgan Stanley interview questions

Here’s a list of extra questions that graduates have also been asked by Morgan Stanley recruiters during interviews:

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