by Brian DeChesare

The Investment Banking Superday Interview: How to Conquer the Final Step of the Recruiting Process

Superday Interview

There’s a lot of information online about the Superday interview in investment banking, but much of it is incomplete or out of date:

  • Many articles don’t reflect how the entire recruiting process has become more automated due to HireVues, Pymetrics, and other online assessments. Since these earlier steps are impersonal, the Superday has become more important.
  • Also, many sources give long lists of specific questions and answers rather than emphasizing what matters most: consistency, culture, and character.
  • Oh, and many people are not honest about the offer rate or the random nature of Superday interviews – which is why you need to spread a wide net.

The Superday interview is specific to the investment banking recruitment process in North America.

In regions such as Europe and Hong Kong, banks use assessment centers instead.

Before delving into the Superday process and logistics, we need to explain the selection process and everything leading up to the main event:

What is a Superday?

Superday Definition: In investment banking recruiting for Analysts and Associates in North America, a Superday interview is the final step of the process, in which you meet and interview with 3-6 bankers over several hours on the same day.

Some Big 4 firms, private equity firms, and hedge funds also use Superdays, and non-IB divisions at banks also use them (e.g., sales & trading and back/middle-office teams).

But we’re focusing on IB interviews because that’s what this site is about.

Banks use Superday interviews primarily in the summer internship recruiting process at undergrad and MBA levels; they’re less common in lateral hiring.

There isn’t much full-time hiring outside the internship-to-full-time conversion process, but if there is, Superdays could also come up there.

Since internship recruiting in the U.S. now begins a year (or more) before actual internships, Superdays also take place far in advance – but the exact timing varies by bank and how much each one “accelerates” its process.

Interview Selection and the Process Before the Superday

A long time ago (the 2000s and early 2010s), there were several steps before the Superday, such as an on-campus interview and one or several phone interviews.

Some of these steps still occur at the MBA level, but banks wanted to reduce the time and money spent on recruiting, so they simplified and automated at the undergraduate level.

As a result, the process for undergrad internships now goes like this:

  1. Apply online and submit your resume.
  2. Possibly complete online tests such as Pymetrics that allegedly measure your competency for financial analysis, pitch book creation, and client/team interaction with… games and puzzles.
  3. Complete a HireVue for the “first-round interview” and awkwardly record some generic answers to some generic questions.

The most common questions here are:

  1. How much do the HireVue interview, Pymetrics, etc., matter? Are humans involved? Does a real banker review your answers?
  2. How much do your resume and networking matter? Is it pointless to network if they screen people based on mini-games and pre-recorded answers? Can you still use your resume to gain an advantage?

I’ll start with question #1: My view is that most of these are “check the checkbox”-type items.

In other words, they exist mostly to eliminate candidates and reduce the number who get invited to Superday interviews.

They can hurt you if you screw up, but if you give a spectacular pre-recorded answer for one question in a HireVue, that won’t necessarily help you.

Bankers do, technically, “review” HireVue responses, but they’re often multitasking and attending to emergencies, calls, or other matters at the same time, so they’re not paying attention to every nuance.

No one seems to know exactly how Pymetrics scores work, but the good news is that not all banks care about or use it… yet (JPM is the most prominent firm that buys into it).

With question #2, yes, your resume and networking efforts still matter, but arguably less so than before.

At least one human will review your resume, and bankers still look for the typical items: your school, major, GPA, work experience, and hobbies/interests.

If you’re an undergraduate, you need to list entries that make you seem like more of a real person and less of an internship robot.

Sure, you need a high-enough GPA (usually >= 3.5) and 1-2 solid internships to be in contention, but beyond that, the selection often comes down to who “looks interesting” or has a personal connection – which is why networking still matters.

At the MBA level, industry experience matters more because they want you to join and immediately contribute to a specific team as a “sector expert.”

Sometimes, alumni will review resumes from their alma mater, but this may be less common at the undergraduate level due to the lack of on-campus interviews.

If you pass this first round, you’ll usually hear back within a few weeks and then proceed to the Superday.

How to Prepare for the Superday

Many students “prepare” by reading every interview guide and memorizing every imaginable technical question because they tend to be OCD, Type-A personalities.

But this strategy is completely wrong.

If you have a weakness in a certain technical area or feel that you don’t know enough about Topic X, sure, you can spend time learning/reviewing it.

But let’s be real: if you made it this far, you’re probably well-prepared for investment banking interview questions (and if not, read the linked article).

Spending time on something like Excel practice tests at this stage is a waste of time unless they’ve specifically told you to expect such a test.

Assuming you’re confident about the most common interview questions, I would recommend focusing on the three points mentioned at the top of this article:

  1. Consistency – What did you previously tell people at this bank about yourself? Do you reference previous conversations and interviews in later interviews during the Superday, and do you give the same story to each person?
  2. Character – What do you do for fun? How are you different from all the other boring candidates that bankers will speak with? Do you ask specific, personal questions at the end of the interview that make you stand out in a good way?
  3. Culture – How well do you fit in with the other team members? Can you find common interests or background stories and highlight them?

Even something simple like knowing peoples’ names from previous informational interviews or real interviews and referencing your discussions can make a difference.

Logistics also matter – so, if this is an in-person Superday rather than a virtual one, figure out the location and practice arriving there a day or two before, so you don’t get lost on the day.

And make sure you have the required attire (i.e., business formal) and, if it’s a set of virtual interviews, the proper environment (lighting, no noise, background blur, complete focus, no other running programs, etc.).

The Investment Banking Superday: Logistics and Interviewers

In past years, banks sometimes held networking events with the candidates before Superdays.

These events may still happen occasionally, but they’re probably less common now due to increased automation, remote work, and so on.

If they do host a networking event, you need to attend and make a decent impression on everyone using the normal networking protocols.

The Superday itself could be in-person, virtual, or a combination of both.

The most common format is to speak with between 3 and 6 bankers in back-to-back 30-minute interviews.

Most of these will be 1-on-1, but 2-on-1 interviews are also possible.

The interviewers will span all levels, especially since Analysts and Associates no longer conduct on-campus interviews and have more flexible schedules than VPs and MDs.

You can find stories online of people interviewing with 10, 15, or even 20+ bankers in a Superday, but these are unlikely outcomes simply due to scheduling.

Case studies are possible but not that common; if they come up, they’ll be informal or fairly simple.

You should not expect a 3-statement modeling test or LBO model unless you’re a lateral hire.

The number of candidates depends on the bank’s size and the dates of the recruiting process, but if it’s a bulge bracket bank conducting one Superday every 1-2 weeks, you might expect a few dozen candidates (e.g., 20-35) in each one.

Regional offices might have around half those numbers, and you can also expect smaller numbers at middle markets, elite boutiques, and regional boutiques.

The Superday Offer Rate: Give Me the Odds, Please

Everyone wants to know the exact conversion rate to internship offers on a per-bank, per-team, per-city basis, but no one has that data.

Also, there’s a difference between the offer rate and the hire rate, as some people will receive multiple offers from different groups or banks.

If I had to give a specific range, I would say the average Superday has a 30-40% offer rate and a 20-30% hire rate.

The exact rate will differ from office to office, but it would be very odd for more than 50% of candidates to receive offers or less than 10% to receive offers.

These rates also illustrate why it’s important to apply to many banks and go through many Superday interviews.

If you complete only one Superday, your chances of getting an offer might be 30%.

But if you go through 5 Superdays, each with a 30% offer rate, your chances of receiving at least one offer increase to 1 – (1 – 30%) ^ 5 = 83%.

And with 10 Superdays, your chances of winning at least one offer are 97%.

Therefore, you should aim for at least 4-5 Superdays if you want a good chance of receiving at least one offer.

In terms of overall numbers, banks worldwide hire around a few thousand new IB Analysts each year.

The initial application numbers might range from the “mid-tens-of-thousands” (e.g., 30,000 – 50,000) up to 100,000+.

So, on the surface, your overall chances don’t seem great: perhaps 3-10% depending on the assumptions.

But this is deceptive because most candidates submit multiple application – and these application counts do not represent unique candidates – and many applying are unqualified and are doing it to “see what happens.”

The bottom line is that if you put in a good amount of time and effort, you’re qualified, and you apply widely enough to complete at least 4-5 Superday interviews, you have a decent shot of winning at least one offer.

The Superday Selection Process and How You Can Improve Your Chances

After the interviews on a Superday finish, the participating bankers “huddle up,” either virtually or in-person, and discuss everyone they met.

This is a very blunt discussion, and you wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall unless you want to hurt your self-esteem.

They’ll go through the list, and bankers who had strong impressions one way or the other will speak up first, with others following up to confirm or deny their impressions.

There are two important points to understand here:

  1. There is a high degree of randomness because everything from peoples’ moods to client problems to sleep deprivation to office politics can affect the results. Even rumors and secondhand information about certain candidates can make an impact.
  2. Selection comes down to fit because everyone will be well-prepared, have good grades and internships, etc. You stand out by connecting with the interviewers outside of work-related topics.

There are some exceptions to the second point; for example, superior technical skills can set you apart in highly technical groups and at elite boutiques.

But in standard industry groups at the large banks, once you’re above a certain technical proficiency level, it’s all fit.

This is why you need to spread a wide net and apply to many firms: you could get great results with one banker but terrible results with another one even if your answers are the same.

Beyond figuring out your angle and “interesting point” in your story, you can improve your chances by:

  1. Keeping track of the people you meet and taking notes on your interviews right after they finish (try the backs of business cards). You can then use these points in your next interviews and your thank-you emails.
  2. Making strong connections with 1-2 interviewers rather than worrying about converting 5-6 bankers into huge fans. This strategy is more realistic, and if you can get 1-2 strong advocates with everyone else neutral-to-positive, your chances are good. If you do not win an offer, you can also stay in touch with these contacts and check back later.
  3. Asking good questions at the end. To quote Robert McKee’s character in Adaptation, “Wow them in the end, and you got a hit.” Even if you haven’t connected well with an interviewer, you can sometimes turn it around in the final moments by asking good, specific questions about their careers or finding commonalities in interests, hobbies, or backgrounds.

What to Do Afterward and How Long to Hear Back After a Superday

After you finish, you may get called in for another interview, which is almost always a good sign because it means they haven’t rejected you yet.

Sometimes, other team members want to meet you, or they might recommend you to a different group.

If you’ve won an offer, you will usually hear back quickly: anywhere from a few hours to 1-2 days after the interview.

But there are exceptions, and some candidates end up winning offers after several weeks for various reasons (scheduling, travel, other people turning down offers, etc.).

In general, though, if you have not heard anything after ~2 days, you are probably “on hold,” or you’ve been soft-rejected.

You can’t do much in this situation except follow up occasionally and ask about your status (see: What Do You Do When You Interview at an Investment Bank and Never Hear Back?).

Since bankers make decisions quickly, it’s important to send thank-you emails quickly as well (i.e., within 1-2 hours of your interviews).

Some people argue that these follow-up notes don’t do much – and they may be right – but I still recommend sending them because they’re fast to write, and there’s no downside if done correctly.

You should send a separate email to each interviewer you spoke with and use this structure:

  1. “Thanks again for taking the time to interview me earlier today.”
  2. “I appreciated getting to know/learn [Topic(s) you spoke about with them, ideally career/personal-related].”
  3. “Thanks again for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

Also, if you got a technical question that you couldn’t answer but promised to research and respond to, include your answer in this follow-up email.

The Superday Interview in Short

Since the rest of the IB recruitment process has become impersonal and automated, the Superday interview is your best chance to shine and present your personality.

Unfortunately, too many students mistakenly approach it by memorizing thousands of interview questions and reciting the answers word-for-word.

But you’ll come across like a robot and fail to connect with the interviewers if you do that.

If you legitimately need to review a certain fit, deal, or technical topic, or you feel that your story could be stronger, sure, you can spend time on those tasks.

But you should spend the bulk of your prep time figuring out how to connect with the interviewers, whether it’s by reviewing and referencing your previous interactions, playing up the interesting points in your background story, or both.

Do that, and you shouldn’t need 10 Superdays to win an offer.

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About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys lifting weights, running, traveling, obsessively watching TV shows, and defeating Sauron.

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