How to tackle Credit Suisse graduate interviews and questions

You must be able to show that you’re creative and innovative.

Credit Suisse typically holds up to three rounds of interviews and the final one is often part of an assessment centre. Each stage has been designed to gauge your skills, qualifications, experience, knowledge and potential.

The bank emphasises that the process is a mutual exchange, so it’s essential that you arrive equipped with some questions and market insight. And, given that experienced bankers will do the interviews, ensure you do your homework.

Preparing for graduate Credit Suisse interviews

Research Credit Suisse and its markets. The bank’s website will have the bulk of the information you need about structure, products, services, clients and workforce.

The Financial Times, CITY A.M. and Bloomberg are among the great sources of information about the investment banking marketplace, and Credit Suisse’s current position within it. You’ll be able to find current news, features, analysis and other related content. Don’t leave it until the last minute to browse; it’d be obvious you didn’t do thorough research if you only knew about today’s top story.

Overview of graduate Credit Suisse interviews structure

Previous reports of Credit Suisse’s first-round graduate interviews suggest they could either be conducted via telephone or face to face, and may last up to one hour. Credit Suisse has used video interviews in other countries, but we can’t find evidence that they have done so in the UK. Former applicants have said that questions at this stage tend to be predominantly competency or motivation-based to gauge your skills and knowledge, and why you want the job.

One or two subsequent interviews could follow. The latter stage will likely focus more on the division in which you’d like to work, and you may be asked more technical questions about finance. The final interview may well be held as part of an assessment centre, which may include a group exercise, case studies, or aptitude tests.

Credit Suisse common graduate interview questions

In the first-round interview, you’re likely to be asked why you’ve applied to Credit Suisse and the division, as well as about your understanding of the role and your major achievements.

As the process continues, more in-depth sector and company-specific questions may be asked. These are by nature more tricky to answer, so we’ve provided examples of the type of questions you may be asked and advice for tackling them.

*Be mindful that these are examples of the types of questions you could be asked, rather than what the interviewers will definitely ask you.

Credit Suisse example interview question: What financial story have you been following and what are your views?

Point of question: Reports are that interviewees for Credit Suisse’s internships and graduate programmes almost always includes questions about current financial news. At the heart of this is an attempt to gauge your commercial awareness and measure your knowledge of the industry. Credit Suisse advises candidates to be aware of industry trends and major events, particularly those that could affect the bank, so market insight is crucial.

How to approach: The question will likely be based on a topical issue within the financial markets, where you may be asked ‘what do you think about X’? Take as an example the increase in investment banking regulation following the credit crunch of 2007–2008 – something that, perhaps unbelievably, is still a ‘live’ issue in the industry. You’ll need to know what regulators are doing and have done to improve international regulatory frameworks, and the implications for banks.

Potential follow-up question: What are the implications of what’s happening in the financial markets, for example in Asia, America or the Eurozone? The issue of financial passporting aside, how might Brexit affect things?

Credit Suisse example interview question: If you had to choose one place, where would you invest your money right now?

Point of question: Another commercial awareness question, this will usually be put to those looking to operate on the trading desks. Once again, the best candidates will be those who can demonstrate an understanding of, and have opinions about, current market volatilities.

How to approach: Markets can be unpredictable. You will be placing trades for your clients, or advising them on where to place them. What analysis would you want to see if you were in their position? How can someone trust that you’ve researched the right areas? Can you prove that you have an idea of where to do your research for your answer? Being a trusted advisor is key to any relationship in a professional service, so as well as answering the specific question you might want to acknowledge the significance of trust in an advisor-client relationship. Although you shouldn’t spend so long on this that the interviewers feel you’re going off topic, in an interview situation you can ‘add value’ to your candidacy by sprinkling an understanding of the required soft skills into your answers.

Potential follow-up question: If that option was closed to you, where else would you invest?

Credit Suisse example interview question: When have you introduced a new idea to a group?

Point of question: For Credit Suisse, innovation is crucial to the success of the bank and its products and services. You must be able to show that you’re creative and innovative, and would bring something special to the team if you were hired.

How to approach: Reflect on your academic, work experience and extracurricular activities, and find an example of when your idea was adopted and implemented. Think about how you came up with the idea, how you introduced it to the team, and the outcome. What about if you don’t have an example from university, college or work? Bear in mind that the group you exemplify doesn’t have to be formal. You could consider a group you formed for a particular purpose using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or MeetUp.

Potential follow-up question: How was your idea implemented and was it successful?

Credit Suisse example interview question: What's the hardest job you've had and why?

Point of question: A job can be hard for many different reasons: motivation, a steep learning curve, poor team morale, any number of reasons... However, you must be able to demonstrate that you can deal with adversity.

How to approach: Once you’ve chosen the job you’d like to discuss, explain its challenges and emphasise how you might overcome the problems instead of focusing too heavily on the difficulties. Credit Suisse is looking for someone who can take challenges in their stride, and not someone who would slate a former employer. Use our ‘Have you ever had a bad experience with an employer?’ article for inspiration.

Potential follow-up question: Was there anything about that job that you would definitely never want to do again?

Credit Suisse example interview question: Tell me a time when you had to deal with a new situation and you had little information to work with

Point of question: As a graduate analyst, research comes with the territory. However, you may find that a client wants advice immediately when you only have certain pieces of the puzzle available. Are you able to serve your client to the best of your abilities despite the limitations of the information available to you?

How to approach: When you come to work for Credit Suisse, you’ll have to consider a number of factors. You might need to consider whether it is ethical to provide advice at this stage of a deal. Can you provide the client with definite answers, or do you need to outline the current situation and inform them of the possible outcomes? The example(s) that you use should address these sorts of issues.

If you demonstrate how you have increased the amount of information you had to work with, make it clear how you achieved that. What kind of research did you do and how did you manage it in the tight timeframe? Who did you liaise with and why? Crucially, how did you balance the rewards and the risks with little information before coming to a conclusion – or did you not come to a conclusion because you could not sufficiently assess the risks or rewards. If so, what were the consequences of not making a decision? All of these types of issues will be ‘live’ when you work in investments.

Potential follow-up question: Going over that example again, if you had the chance, what would you do differently?

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