There is no better place to begin your career than in sales and trading, but getting in can be daunting…
Alex and Zach here…
When we interviewed for sales and trading summer analyst positions in 2016 – at J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs, respectively – we frankly had no idea what we were doing.
…And to be honest, there wasn’t much we could do about that.
As you likely already know, there are no comprehensive courses out there that cover the top sales and trading interview questions or give any kind of clarity as to what sales and trading (S&T) is even all about in practice.
…And because of that every year thousands of promising candidates either don’t get an interview due to poor networking or fail to impress if they do get an interview.
We were lucky to get through the recruiting process and get offers. But ever since we met in New York nearly five years ago we both agreed that someone needed to create a definitive course that walked you through the entire S&T recruiting process.
…Since no one had created such a course by 2020, we decided to just do it ourselves. The result is the S&T Interview Prep Course, which is comprised of 13 guides and includes over 300 real-world sales and trading interview questions and answers.
The reason for the course being so large is that we both agreed it would be necessary to cover not only the interview questions you need to prepare for in a sales and trading interview (and there are a lot of them!), but also help build your contextual understanding of what S&T really is in practice.
That latter point is important. One of the best ways to both network well and interview well is to understand what S&T actually is in practice, what various desks really do, and what questions you should be asking folks during networking and interviews.
Sales and trading can seem like a complete black box to someone from the outside and what we set out to do nearly five years after we first met is try to shed a little light on sales and trading and help you get your foot in the door.
However, there’s a good reason no one has ever tried to create a definitive sales and trading course before…
The reality is that sales and trading is really just the name of a division of an investment bank that houses dozens of wildly different desks.
Every desk in sales and trading will focus on a different product that is wholly distinct from other products that other desks deal with. This makes getting your arms around everything that occurs in S&T incredibly difficult.
With that being said, the singular best way to stand out in an interview is to show you have a rough understanding of the largest desks in S&T and have an idea of what you’re interested in prior to beginning.
…While in most areas of life it’s best to be an expert in a narrow area, when you’re interviewing in sales and trading you want to have an amateur understanding of all the major desks in S&T.
No one expects you to understand exactly what a 2s10s steepener is, what delta and gamma are, or what CLO coverage tests are. However, showing that you understand where those terms fit in the mosaic of S&T puts you miles ahead of the pack.
We started off on this project by asking ourselves one simple question: if we wanted to teach someone to not only succeed in getting a S&T offer, but excel once they get into the bank, how would we do it?
Ultimately, we decided the project would need to:
1. Provide a comprehensive overview guide that gives you the necessary contextual understanding of what sales and trading is, what folks do day-to-day, and what you should look for in desks
2. Show you how to network properly; including the questions you should be asking folks to really impress them
3. Give you literally hundreds of the most common S&T interview questions broken down by category (including one category, Questions to Ask Your Interviewer, which is perhaps the most important and unknown type of question)
4. Provide introductory questions and answers for every major desk within S&T so you can get up to speed on the practical basics of everything from mortgage backed securities to municipal bonds quickly and efficiently
We knew that creating something this comprehensive would be a lot of work. But, to be honest, we had no idea just how much work it would take.
…In fact, if we had known how long this would take, and how large this would all become, we probably never would have started.
All told, we’ve created 13 guides, with over 200 pages and 300+ questions and answers.
…Don’t worry though. We break everything down by what you need to know at each stage of the recruiting process to make sure you don’t get overwhelmed.
While creating all of this has taken us many months, we believe that it has all been worth it, because…
There is no better place to begin your career than in sales and trading and what we’ve created here will put you in the best position to succeed…
Let’s be honest: over the past five to ten years sales and trading has gotten a bit of a bad rap. From new regulations to encroaching technology, people on the outside of sales and trading have become more bearish on it.
The reality is that if you want to work 80-100 hours a week during your twenties – for potentially 10-20% more pay – then by all means pursue traditional M&A investment banking.
…However, the reality is very clear: there is almost no better place from a work / life balance perspective to build a career in finance than in S&T.
If you begin your career at a major bank within S&T, you’ll begin making in excess of $100,000 and by the time you’re around thirty you'll make many multiples of that.
While some areas, like cash equities, have suffered from automation the reality is that automation has always been something that has occurred in S&T. S&T is continually reinventing itself with new jobs and asset classes coming into being.
Plus, the potential upside of S&T – if you properly prepare and land on the right desk – is still unbeatable compared to other areas of finance as well.
Not only that, but the actual work itself is interesting! Unlike in other areas of finance where you feel like a cog in an impersonable machine, in S&T you are connected to the market, always dealing with something novel, and generally doing things that are intellectually stimulating.
…We created all of this because we’ve found sales and trading to be incredibly rewarding (intellectually and monetarily) and want others interested in the field to have the best possible chance of breaking in.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of all the sales and trading guides we’ve created as part of the Sales and Trading Interview Prep Course…
You can think of the course as containing two distinct groups of guides: The Primary Guides and The Desk Guides.
The Primary Guides cover everything you need to know about getting the interview (if you haven’t already) and the questions you need to be able to answer in an interview.
We don't provide one-line answers to our Q&A; we dive in deep and often write multiple paragraphs so you understand why a certain answer is impressive.
The Sales and Trading Primary Guides
The Desk Guides go a step further. They break down the major desks you’ll find within sales and trading and cover the basics of what you need to know, what we believe the future of those desks are, and what kind of people would be best suited to join them.
Every Desk Guide follows the same structure:
✔ An introduction to the product and how it's traded
✔ An introduction to the desks that trade the product and how they're structured on the trading floor
✔ What the future of these desks are likely to be (if we're bullish or bearish on them)
✔ Questions and answers we've developed that get you up to speed on the practical basics of the product (knowing these Q&A will really impress people)
✔ At the end of every Desk Guide we attach the top industry primers - developed by investment banks - in case you want to dive even deeper into the product (these are often 30-100 pages long and very in-depth)
Whether you’re in a rotational S&T program or are being placed directly on a desk, you need to take control of the process as early as possible and narrow in where you want to end up.
That’s because you could be very well suited to rates trading, but if you don’t know anything about rates trading prior to beginning then you may end up being pigeonholed on another desk you’ll perform poorly on.
…Because of the huge diversity of desks within any S&T division, you need to make sure you end up on the right one as it will entirely shape the trajectory of your career.
Also, almost nothing makes someone stand out more in an interview or during networking than having a basic grasp of the diversity of desks within sales and trading and where they think they’d like to end up.
…These guides are meant to help you quickly figure out what areas of the floor are going to be right for you so that you end up exactly where you need to be to succeed.
The Sales and Trading Desk Guides
In total, the Sales and Trading Interview Prep Course contains 13 guides stretching hundreds of pages with 300+ real-world questions and answers.
…Now you can see why this is the most comprehensive, definitive S&T course ever put together (and why no one has been stupid enough to ever try to create something like this before).
We thought long and hard about what to include and not include. We also made sure to balance ensuring you had the full picture of sales and trading while not getting bogged down in too many technical details as those can be learned on the job.
Here’s who this course is (and is not) for…
This course was created first and foremost for those looking to break into sales and trading as a summer analyst or full-time hire at a major investment bank.
…Ultimately, this course is the course we wish we had when we went through our own interviews and began in S&T.
Those who go through the course generally fall into three buckets:
✔ Undergraduate or graduate students looking to break into sales and trading via the summer analyst or full-time program (who haven’t started networking or applied yet)
✔ Undergraduate or graduate students who have summer analyst or full-time interviews already lined up and want to get prepared right away
✔ Those with internships already lined up, but who are looking for some practical introductory overview of desks and may want our opinion on where they are likely to fit best on the trading floor
If you’re serious about breaking into S&T we’re confident that what we’ve created here is the best set of resources you’ll find anywhere. Period.
…Plus, we really like talking to those who go through the course! Once you’re in the members area you’ll get access to our e-mail address and can always feel free to ask for our opinion or get our perspective on something.
With all that said, there are some people this course is not right for.
✘ If you already are coming into a specific S&T desk full-time – for example, doing interest rate swap trading – then this course isn’t for you. We don’t dive that deeply into every desk as that would require literally thousands of pages to do and we obviously aren't experts on every desk within sales and trading.
✘ If you are looking for a pure quant role – or are entering into a summer or full-time program as a pure quant – then this course isn’t for you. We aren’t quants and can’t speak to exactly what’s important for those roles.
✘ If you are looking for interview prep materials for a prop trading role – at a place like TwoSigma or Jane Street – then this course isn’t for you. The nature of a prop role is fundamentally distinct from traditional S&T roles in 2020.
This course is catered towards those looking to break into the “traditional” S&T programs at investment banks like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Citi, Barclays, RBC, etc.
Of course, there are technical areas within S&T like equity derivatives where having some knowledge of math, statistics, and computer science can absolutely be beneficial.
…However, summer analysts come through the same sales and trading interview process as all others in S&T, so the interview process is identical (even if you’re a computer science major, you should not expect any computer science technical like you would for a tech interview!).
Where Students Have Gone
If the course sounds right for you, here are your options…
As you likely know, traditional investment banking interview prep courses cost an absurd amount of money. Most courses cost at least $200-300.
…Of course, it makes sense that they cost so much. An introductory investment banking job – like a sales and trading job – will pay in the low six figures during the first year so spending $200-300 on prep materials is potentially a great investment.
However, we have never had any intention of charging that much money for what we’ve created here. Although we think there’s more than enough value here to justify that kind of cost given that there are 13 guides and over 300 Q&A from real-world interviews in this course.
…At the end of the day, we aren’t looking to make a killing off of this. The creation of this course was a passion project and hearing the feedback of those who have gone through the course always makes our day.
We’re proud of what we’ve created and want to make it as accessible as possible to the widest audience. So, in the end if this course can make us enough for a few dinners out on the town every month, then that’s good enough for us.
…We’ve tried out a few different options for getting access to the course, but ultimately have come down to two different ones.
The first option, costing just $29, gets you access to everything we’ve created. There’s nothing held back; no up-sells, no add-ons, no further cost to you in anyway.
This option will give you everything we believe you need to land an interview, crush your interview, and ultimately be a top performer once you hit the trading floor.
After going through the course you’ll know more than 99.9% of candidates and (perhaps more importantly) you’ll know what to say in interviews, on networking calls, and on the trading floor.
…This is everything we wish we had known when we began.
The second option gets you everything in the first option, but with some more personalized support.
You’ll get first priority e-mail access to us if you want to bounce ideas off of us or get our perspective on anything at all.
…You’ll also get a 60-minute mock interview session where we’ll go over top interview questions, give you feedback, and make sure your answers are honed in.
Finally, we’ll also take a look at your resume and CV and offer some feedback on areas to clean up.
This option does cost more due to the amount of personal time it requires from us and sometimes this option is sold out (as we only have so many hours per week).
…This option is really geared toward those that are ramping up for sales and trading recruiting or are in the midst of S&T recruiting and want to make sure they’re as prepared as possible.
The Sales and Trading Interview Prep Course doesn’t provide the bare minimum; it shows you the whole picture…
Whether you’re just thinking about sales and trading as a possible career or are gearing up for interviews right now, this course will help.
The course goes far beyond just what you need to know and say in an interview. It aims to give you the contextual understanding of S&T that you need; detailing what products exist, who trades them, and what the basics of each product are.
There’s an obvious reason why no one has undertaken the creation of a sales and trading prep course like this before: it’s a massive undertaking.
…From a ROI perspective, this almost certainly hasn’t been a great use of our time.
But we’ve loved the creation process and getting to know those who have broken into S&T at least partly due to what we’ve created here.
We believe firmly in the future of sales and trading and that there is no place in finance that offers the work / life balance of S&T while still paying extremely well.
If you’re at all interested in breaking into sales and trading, this course was created for you. We hope to hear from you soon.
P.S. – If the option with the mock interview is currently sold out, it’s because we don’t have enough spare time to do interviews over the next week or two. You can feel free to send us an e-mail if you’d like to be placed on the waitlist.