Morgan Stanley graduate interview: advice on answering questions

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.

Morgan Stanley puts aspirant graduates through several interviews as part of its recruitment process. The first interview could be by phone, video conferencing or in person. The subsequent interviews will be held at an assessment centre.

It's essential that you prepare for these interviews. To do so, use our example interview questions below to practice crafting considered, researched and relevant answers that'll make you stand out from your peers.

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

How to approach: Regardless of the division you work within,you’ll be expected to take the lead in some situations. You might not always be an official ‘leader’ of a project at work, and 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 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?

Morgan Stanley example 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.

Balance is important here – 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?

Morgan Stanley example 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 co-operate effectively to resolve them.

You can be flexible with the example you choose here, just 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 anomalies at the analysis stage. Small errors can be accounted for, but 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.

Similarly at Morgan Stanley – one wrong number could be accounted for, but would still be a problem. A whole spreadsheet of wrong numbers causes a number of different difficulties. Show that you can cope with these scenarios.

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

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

How to approach: Morgan Stanley want 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?

Morgan Stanley example 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?

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

How to approach: Being able to accept positive feedback is as worthwhile a skill as accepting criticism. What Morgan Stanley want to see is whether, once you’ve received positive feedback, you rest on your laurels or look to improve even further.

Your answer needs to be balanced. 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 may 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?

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