Investment Banking Superdays
What is a Superday?
The final stage for recruiting analysts and associates in investment banking is called a Superday. It typically involves the candidates visiting the bank’s premises and being interviewed by several employees. These normally include back-to-back meetings with people from different hierarchy levels – from senior bankers to current analysts. That can be three to six people, each of whom would have around 30 minutes to do the interview. Traditionally, most of these are one-to-one, but depending on the interviewers’ schedule some might involve two people asking the questions. The number of candidates at this final stage depends on the institution’s size, but large organisations typically conduct Superday twice a month, at which they invite around 30 candidates.
Key Learning Points
- A Superday is the final stage in the recruitment process for analyst and associate level positions in investment banking.
- Only the top candidates who have demonstrated best performance during the initial rounds and assessments are invited.
- Candidates can expect a very challenging day and back-to-back interviews with various divisions from around the organization including senior bankers.
- “Keep it professional” is the best advice to candidates – from conservative business attire and a neat look, to behavioral questions – hiring managers are looking to assess the “whole package” rather than just technical expertise.
- Practice for the interview is essential – mock Q&A technical questions can help improve both knowledge and set a good level of confidence as well.
How Hard it is to Get a Superday?
Although the process has evolved and changed over time (especially in the post-Covid world), it is still hard to get invited to a Superday, simply because there is a large number of ambitious and quality candidates. The process typically involves applying online by submitting a resume/CV, which needs to be compatible with ATS systems – it is recommended to keep formatting simple. If successful, candidates will be then invited to do an online assessment, for example, Pymetrics, which will test their numerical competency and logical thinking. Making an online recorded interview, which basically asks candidates to record their answers to specific questions within a pre-determined timeframe, is typically the next step. This is a tricky one, because there may not be a right or wrong answer, banks may seek a specific approach to answering questions. Therefore, in theory, even a perfectly presented answer may not be enough. Finally, a group of candidates that performed best, according to the hiring organisation’s expectations, is invited to do in-person meetings at a Superday, which may last anywhere from three to several hours.
What to Expect on a Superday?
Typically, the hiring organisation will organise a reception or networking event that will take place on the eve before the main event. This is a type of informal event, where candidates have the opportunity to meet with their peers and more importantly senior bankers from within the organisation (these are mostly Managing Directors, Senior Vice Presidents, and Vice Presidents). This particular part of the Superday is less structured than the interview process the next day, but nevertheless, it is still important to behave professionally as hiring managers may observe which candidates might be a good cultural fit for the firm.
While it could be difficult to make friends, candidates are advised to give away their details and try to make connections among their peers. In order to make communication smoother, instead of showing off technical knowledge, candidates may want to find other interesting things to talk about, for example, politics (be careful and respect other opinions here), hobbies, or travel. Overall, first impressions matter, and these events are often intentionally scheduled to assess the candidates’ social skills. Therefore, this might be an excellent opportunity to leave a good impression in a less formal setting, which will increase the likelihood of receiving an offer.
As already outlined, on the main day candidates should expect a lot of challenge. The format is created in such a way that it will test personality, technical knowledge, and ability to cope with pressure. One little tip that could be used during the interview process – even if you don’t know the answer to a question, give a simple answer linked to your understanding of the topic, but do not try to shift away from it with a long monologue as you might get interrupted for being off-topic. On the behavioral questions, do not try to give false impressions, but also be prepared to tailor your answers in accordance with the company culture.
What to Wear to a Superday?
While skills, knowledge, and personality are the most important aspects that hiring managers will assess, it is also essential that your appearance is professional. While other industries have adopted a more relaxed approach to dress codes, investment banking is still one of the most demanding on that front. Business attire and a conservative look are typically the norms – even if some of the interviewers are dressed a bit more casual, candidates should be dressed smartly.
For men, neutral colour suit would be fine – most often candidates prefer navy or gray. The shirt colour would typically be white or sky blue, ideally with no patterns. Glossy and eye-catching materials are not recommended. Classic, solid colour and simple pattern tie would be best. In terms of accessories, cufflinks are fine as long as they are not too “fancy”, but pocket squares might be avoided. Smart oxford black or dark brown shoes would be best.
Women might want to go for a modest skirt suit or trouser suit (pantsuit) which are the standard. For those that do not feel comfortable wearing a full suit, dark knee-length skirt, with a complementary solid-coloured blouse and a jacket might be an alternative. Loud patterns should be avoided as well as flashy fabrics. In terms of jewelry, small necklaces, earrings, and rings are all appropriate when used tastefully. Both slight high heel and flat shoes would work, where colour must be considered to match the overall look.
In addition to that, men are advised to shave or trim their facial hair and maintain a neat look. For women, makeup is a personal choice and if applied it should be kept simple and not bright or distracting. Strong perfumes may be considered offensive, so it is recommended to use it very lightly.
Superday Offer Rate
Again, there is no universal answer and offer rates vary between different ognaisations and the quality of the cohort, but a rough estimate could be the 30-40% range. Therefore, candidates are advised to apply for multiple roles and attend as many Superdays as possible – that will help them perform better at interviews and increase their chance of getting an offer.
How Do You Prepare for a Superday Interview?
This is probably the most essential part of the hiring process and candidates should be prepared to answer both behavioural and more technical questions. In general, the more senior interviewers would focus on things like aspects of culture, knowledge of the organisation, the industry, strengths and weaknesses, and expectations. Analysts with less experience would focus on technical knowledge and may ask questions like:
- What are the three main financial statements?
- What is WACC and how to calculate it?
- Why a company would issue equity instead of debt to fund its operations?
- Which ratios would you use to measure the liquidity of a company?
- What are synergies?
- What is a leveraged buyout (LBO)?
Superday Interview Tips
At the end of the interview, candidates will be given the opportunity to ask questions. It always makes a good impression if that opportunity is utilized to have a list of a few questions and ask one or two – that will further demonstrate an interest in the discussion and the role.
Overall, preparing by practicing mock answers and questions could be very helpful. Even if candidates are not asked the same questions, being prepared gives confidence that will help them keep cool during the interviews, rather than showing cracks in their knowledge and behavior under pressure.
How Long Does it Take to Hear Back from a Superday?
Following a Superday, candidates that have been selected to receive an offer tend to hear from the organisation rather quickly – typically within 24 to 48 hours. Should there be no feedback within that, it is likely that a candidate is waiting on a list of substitutes, which may not be ideal, but there are still chances of getting an offer since those shortlisted for the role may have other options as well. You can do a polite follow up email with the HR department of the hiring organisation, but be prepared to also not receive a lot of details. Lastly, if a candidate does not hear back within a few weeks, that can be treated as a soft rejection.