The top 7 questions we ask candidates

If you’re ready to embark on a career in investment management, you’ll soon find yourself having an interview with a recruiter. As a partner at recruitment firm Platinum Pacific Partners (PPP), I’ve seen countless candidates succeed and some who falter during this crucial phase. To help you prepare and put your best foot forward, I’d like to share the key questions I ask in interviews and some of the secrets of success I’ve observed over the years.

1. Why do you want to be an investor?
When you sit down with a recruiter, one of the first questions you’ll likely encounter is, “Why do you want to be an investor?” This question is our way of understanding your passion and background. Maybe a parent or teacher piqued your interest in stocks, or your fascination with investing was sparked by the Warren Buffett documentary. We’re genuinely interested in your story as it shows us your curiosity, how you think, and your dedication to following your passion.

2. What Is your investment philosophy?
Recruiters want to know how you think about making money and returns. Are you a value investor, a growth investor, or someone who simply values quality at a reasonable price? There’s no right or wrong answer here but it’s vital for us to grasp your thought process. Your investment philosophy provides valuable insights to help us marry the way you think with potential clients.

3. What stocks do you like at the moment? Where do you find your stock ideas?
One of the most critical questions we ask is about your current stock preferences, as this gives us insight into how you think about investing. My advice is to avoid the common mistake of talking about stocks that are in the news. We’ve all seen those headlines. This is your chance to tell us about your unique insights and discoveries. Share your journey of how you found a particular stock, the rabbit hole you went down when investigating it and why you think it has value. These stories demonstrate how you think and follow your gut, and that’s very intriguing for our clients.

4. What investment books have you read?
This is a big one. Read as much as you can! Dive into fundamental investing books, learn about industry legends like the Wizard of Oz Greg Coffey, or explore different trading strategies such as Paul Tudor Jones’ technical analysis. I’d also recommend reading annual reports of companies you find intriguing and listen to podcasts about them. One of my clients always recommends The Outliners by Malcolm Gladwell as essential reading for junior investors. Reading a wide range of books will help frame your thinking as an investor.

5. When did you buy your first stock? What was it?
Share the details of your first investment experience. When did you buy your first stock, what was it, and what lesson did you learn from that experience? If you haven’t invested yet due to financial or other constraints, that’s perfectly fine. In that case, explain what you would buy if you had the resources.

6. Have you ever built a financial model from scratch?
Recruiters often look for candidates who can create financial models, particularly Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) models. If you haven’t done this yet, I strongly encourage you to learn and practice. It’s an essential skill that can significantly enhance your suitability for investment roles. Seek out mentors and industry professionals who can guide you. As far as previous experience goes, any roles you’ve had where you build DCF models daily, such as in the Big 4 valuations teams, investment banking, or corporate advisory, is ideal.

7. Fill me in on your academic history
We will always ask you about your academic background as it helps us understand your strengths and areas of expertise, and paints a clear picture of who you are. Tell us about your degree, your achievements, your favourite subjects and any extra-curriculum activities you were a part of such as investment competitions, societies, clubs or teams.

Connect with me on LinkedIn
Taking your first steps from student to the world of fulltime employment can be daunting but is also an exciting time, filled with potential and opportunities. At PPP, we are here to help aspiring investors land their dream job so don’t hesitate to reach out to me on LinkedIn for further advice and support. We are always looking for candidates with a blend of qualitative and quantitative skills, critical thinking abilities, and the power to communicate their views convincingly. By preparing for your interview with these insights, you’ll be better equipped to make a lasting impression and take that next big step in your career.

Best of luck on your journey!

Meredith Jordan

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