How to tackle example Bank of America graduate interview questions

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It’s likely you’ll have either two or three interviews during the Bank of America recruitment process. Past candidates have said those interviews cover competencies, motivation and bank/market/technical knowledge including being asked to make a specific investment recommendation if you had £100,000 to spend and – for technologists – being asked to describe the Java collection framework. There’s also evidence of candidates being asked ‘curveball questions’ such as, ‘Estimate the financial value generated by tie sales in the USA’. Below we explore some of the typical types of questions that could come up during your interviews.

Example questions about the bank and the division

Past candidates have typically been asked ‘Why do you want to work for Bank of America?’ and ‘Why this division?’ . More in-depth advice for the ‘Why have you applied to us?’ question is available here .

More specific questions that’ll enable Bank of America to better gauge your knowledge of it may also be asked; possible questions include ‘What are the biggest issues facing Bank of America today?’, ‘What distinguishes us from our competitors?’ and ‘Which global market trend might most affect Bank of America in the coming year?’ .

To answer these, you should...

Read Bank of America’s organisation profile on targetjobs and the ‘our company’ section on its website for a general overview of what the bank does and who it serves. That should be your foundation. You should then find out what’s going on in the marketplace and how it may affect the business. Particular financial online/offline publications – such as Reuters, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and City A.M. or the business sections of newspapers including The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph – will also help you to deepen your knowledge.

Bank of America example question: what will you struggle with most in this role?

This question could also be worded along the lines of, ‘What do you think will be a challenge in this role?’ or even ‘Describe a time when you have had to do a task without much time to prepare for it’ . It’s advisable you view the ‘struggle’ as a challenge. Doing so will give you room to respond with the skills or qualities that you’d apply to overcome the difficulty. This question is designed to assess your adaptability and your understanding of what it takes to do the role rather than your weaknesses.

To answer this, you should...

Research what the job entails. For more detail, check if there’s more information on LinkedIn, which the bank uses to advertise jobs. On LinkedIn you’ll also be able to read the profiles of graduates who have completed the programme, or are currently doing so. Bank of America also has a presence on Twitter.

However, if you have any specific questions, it might be worth contacting the recruitment officer. If you have broader questions about the investment banking industry, visit the accountancy, banking and finance sector on targetjobs .

Relate what you’ve found out to the working world. If you’ve applied for a client-facing role, would dealing with customers’ demands within a tight timeframe be a challenge? If you have gone for a technical position, would you need to brush up on your IT skills?

Bank of America example question: tell us about an idea that you managed to sell to your colleagues

On the global technology industrial placement programme, for example, entry-level technologists have been expected to collaborate with software testers. Alternative wording of this question could include, ‘Tell us about a time you had to persuade your team members to take your stance’ , ‘Give an example of a time when you influenced a group or person in making a decision?’ or ‘When have you dealt with disagreement?’ .

To answer this, you should...

Recognise that Bank of America recruiters don’t expect you to arrive at your interview with a perfectly persuasive technique. What they will expect, however, is that you can identify the importance of being able to influence a decision and identify when the skill should come into play.

You’ll be able to convince them with a good example. Did you persuade colleagues at work or university to agree to your idea? What was the outcome? Remember to pinpoint the approaches or strategies that you used. Did you argue your case with logic? Did you focus on the needs of the group?

Bank of America example question: tell me about a time when you built a good relationship with a client

Focusing on the needs of the other party is a key ingredient when dealing with clients, or co-workers. For example, on the global corporate and investment banking analyst programme, graduates have previously been required to ‘help the team deliver solutions to clients’. A similar interview question could be, ‘Tell me about a time you went above and beyond for a customer’ .

Once the other party is convinced that you’ve got their interests in mind, he/she is more likely to trust you. Mutual trust is one of Bank of America’s top corporate values. It’s mentioned on its website specifically about trust between teams within the bank – but, of course, being trusted by your customers is also vital.

To answer this, you should...

Choose an example where you can clearly show that you took time to listen to the client carefully and found out about their interests and expectations. These steps are essential to winning them around.

Remember not to view clients as just paying customers of a company you worked for. They should be seen as the recipients of the products/services you deliver in a range of settings, be it in a classroom or on a football pitch.

If you don’t have a specific corporate client-related experience, focus on when you have engaged with peers, students or attendees. Did you complete a teaching English as a foreign language course and build good relationships with the students? Think about the techniques you used.

Bank of America example question: explain three features of object-oriented programming (OOP)

You could be asked to explain OOP or to discuss the disadvantages of using indexes , along with a series of other ‘tech’ questions if you’ve applied for one of Bank of America’s technology programmes. Some previous candidates have said their Bank of America interviewers had a list of basic and advanced technical questions, and they wish they had come to the interview better prepared.

Depending on the programme you have applied for, you might also face other technical questions such as, ‘Describe a time when you have had to analyse data in order to reach a solution’ .

To answer these technical questions, you should...

Go over the job description to anticipate the types of questions that could be asked. Also check LinkedIn for any current or previous Bank of America technologists, to see if there’s more information on the requirements of the role.

Then compare your findings to what you did in your degree (Bank of America has specified that computer science, mathematics, physics or engineering degrees may be advantageous) as well as your related work experience.

Bank of America example question: can you give me an example of a time you showed resilience or motivation in the last 6–12 months?

Bank of America wants all its graduate recruits and interns, irrespective of what they’ve applied for, to have the ability to withstand stress and hit targets in the face of obstacles. The graduate roles, especially front office, are challenging, require sustained mental concentration and managing several projects at once.

Some alternative interview questions that could allow you to demonstrate your resilience and motivation include, ‘What is your biggest individual achievement?’ and ‘How do you deal with failure?’ .

To answer this, you should...

Pick a recent example if possible. Doing so will show how ‘ready for work’ you are, and your recent university, work-related or extracurricular experiences may be more pertinent to the role. An example where you encountered an unforeseen challenge or the project involved a steeper learning curve than you had expected could be particularly effective. Following through in these circumstances would show that you are resilient and motivated.

Other examples could be training and completing a marathon in spite of injury; gaining good academic grades in spite of illness; or following through on a fundraising bid after others dropped out.

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