As I nervously dialed the number for a Senior VP at Morgan Stanley who had agreed to an informational interview, I rehearsed all of the facts I had memorized. If this man wanted to know when Morgan Stanley was founded, what they do, and how much money they make doing it, I was his girl.
After exchanging greetings, we were into a pleasant phone conversation where he was thankfully unable to see how sweaty my palms were. Just as I was about to start asking my questions, the man on the other line asked about me. I had to force myself not to blurt out “Wait a minute, isn’t this supposed to be about you?”
I managed to tell him a little about my background, realizing that I am going to be on the receiving end of the questions. I think of all the facts I have memorized about stocks, bonds, and anything else related to Wall Street. Then, like a ton of bricks, I get hit with the question: “What makes you different?”
All at once I felt like the most ordinary and boring person who ever existed. I muttered something incoherent about reading the news or something equally as boring as that. The man could tell I was struggling and thankfully cut me off there.
He explained to me that there are going to be thousands of finance majors with good grades, knowledge of the markets, and a desire to be the best. In all of those ways, I am no different. I spent the rest of the call listening to some of the best advice I have ever received. The short version is this: you have to figure out what skills and qualities you possess that you can bring to the table to make a job your own.
After we hung up, the man I spoke with sent me some articles to drive the point home including one titled “These will be the top jobs in 2025 (and the skills you’ll need to get them)” by Gwen Moran. One of the skills listed in the article is caregiving. It immediately dawned on me that I do have some special skills. I cared for newborn twins only days after they were brought home from the hospital. You may be wondering what this has to do with finance. The answer is nothing, at first glance. But from the advice I was given I know that I need to draw the connections myself. Taking care of newborns is not easy and regularly calls you to go above and beyond. This kind of dedication shows that I am willing to do whatever it takes to make the customer happy.
I challenge you to think about the skills you possess, how you can contribute to a team, and how your personality will fit in with that company. These kinds of behavioral interview questions are becoming more and more common, and it is best to be as prepared as possible.
By: Alexandra Tilton, Senior Finance Student