Learn how to present your experience and skills when applying to positions in the field of business.

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Resumes & Cover Letters

First impressions are critical in differentiating yourself from the rest of the crowd. Developing and executing the best documents possible will help to ensure that you put your best foot forward and increase the likelihood of progressing to an interview.

Make sure to check out the Resumes section of the webpage for great general advice and sample resumes and cover letters. For more tailored information on industry specific resumes and cover letters check out the following resources.

Interview Questions & Format

General Business Interview Information

Most interviews will contain some mixure of questions about your past experiences (resume-based) and your ability to handle typical workplace situations (behavioral).  For full-time positions, depending on the size of the organization, you should expect to start with a 20-30 minute phone or Skype screening interview, then a longer Skype or in-person final interview.  

Interview Stream is an invaluable tool to practice and hone your interviewing skills from the comfort of your own home. Interview Stream is available to all UVA students and allows you to practice interviewing and receive feedback. Practice makes perfect and this is a great tool to start building your comfort and communication skills. 

Consulting and Case Interviews

Many consulting firms utilize case interviews for in-person interviews. These interview consist of an interviewee being presented with a problem, or case, to solve. Your answer is not as important as your analysis of the problem.

There are two primary types of case interviews. The first is an estimation problem. Consultants may use this type of thinking to quickly get an accurate understanding of the potential market for the client’s products or services, or to understand the position of competitors. One example of such a case is shown here.

  • "Your client wants to undertake a major advertising effort in Chicago as a regional launch for a new concept in hair care. In order to understand how much to spend on this effort your client asks you to estimate the size of the shampoo market in Chicago."

The second type of case is one that is more analytically focused and tries to gauge your comfort and confidence with numbers. While the issues are still related to general business sense and common judgment the insight for the case is typically obtained from some understanding of the numbers that validate the hypotheses. An example of this type of case follows:

  • "Your client, the CEO of a national fast food chain, is considering instituting a frequent diner program to increase per store revenue. He tells you that this program will be modeled after the airlines' frequent flyer programs. For each dollar a member spends they will receive 1 point. After they have accumulated 20 points they will be eligible to receive a free sandwich priced at $2.00. The chain store has 500 stores and 20,000 customers. Armed with this information, he asks you to help him decide if he should move forward with this type of a frequent diner program."

When participating in a case interview remember to think out loud so the interviewer can get a sense of how you solve problems. UVA students can download the Vault Guide for Case Interviews (accessible via Handshake). For more information and example cases, refer to the resources below:

Finance Interviews

Interviewees should be prepared to answer "fit", behavioral and technical questions. (Some content from Commerce Career Services handout)

"Fit" and General Questions

  • Gauges enthusiasm, commitment and general fit for the firm.
  • Used to evaluate your understanding of the industry, company and position.
  • Why are you interested in Investment Banking/Sales & Trading/Private Client Services?
  • What do you know about the industry?
  • Walk me through your resume.
  • What qualities do you think are important for this industry?
  • With what other firms are you interviewing? Are you also interviewing with consulting firms or for opportunities outside Investment Banking / Sales & Trading / Private Client Services?

Behavioral Questions

  • These questions are used to understand how you would handle particular situations, based on past performance.

Technical Questions

  • Walk me through a Discounted Cash Flow (DCF).
  • Three methods of valuation and pros/cons of each method
  • Impacts on growth rate
  • What a leveraged buyout is and how it is different from a merger
  • EBIDTA/enterprise value – price/equity
  • How the different financial statements link together
  • Difference between LIFO and FIFO (cost of accounting method)
  • Differences between retail and investment banking, and differences between sales and trading and investment banking
  • Differences among all areas of finance
  • Both long and short stock pitches, large – cap and small - cap funds, and gold and oil (for sales and trading positions)
  • What are the different methods Investment Banks use to value a company?
    • Discounted Cash Flow (DCF): values a company by projecting its future cash flows and then using the NPV method to value the firm
    • Comparable Company Analysis: values a company through multiples used from similar publicly traded companies (EV/EBITDA, P/E Ratios, etc.).
    • Precedent Transactions Method: uses transactions of similar companies that have occurred in the past to estimate how much a company would be purchased for now

Other Tips

  • Keep in mind, the interview process might look very different for two candidates, even at the same firm!
  • In general, smaller firms tend to ask more technical questions in initial and follow - up interviews; bulge brackets focus more on behavioral questions for initial interviews.
  • Sales & Trading interviews tend to be more behavioral, rather than technical.
  • For Venture Capital and Growth Equity firms, you can’t usually apply
  • through “normal channels” you need to network, talk to people, connect with alumni and create your own opportunities!
  • Second - round and Super Day interviews can be a combination of very technical questions and casual conversations.Be prepared for both and expect that senior managers are likely to be more focused on “fit” questions.

For more information and example cases, refer to the resources below:

Advertising and Public Relations Interviews

When preparing for an interview in the Marketing, Advertisind and PR fields, keep these tips in mind:

  • Research a firm's recent campaigns and awards. Check out PRSA and Bulldog Reporter to get started.
  • Speak with alumni at the companies you are interested in. Check out LinkedIn to find alumni.
  • Prepare insightful questions regarding the challenges and potential competitors for that company.
  • Don't be influenced by the finance and consulting timelines - advertising, marketing and PR often recruit in the spring.
  • Consider your online presence as this could be advantageous for your candidacy.