20 William Blair Interview Questions and Answers

Prepare for the types of questions you are likely to be asked when interviewing for a position at William Blair.

William Blair is a global investment banking and asset management firm that has a long history of success. The company has a reputation for being a great place to work, and they are always looking for talented and ambitious employees.

If you’re lucky enough to get an interview with William Blair, you can expect to be asked some tough questions. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll give you a rundown of some of the most common William Blair interview questions, and how to answer them.

William Blair Interview Process

The interview process at William Blair is generally pretty lengthy, and can involve up to six rounds of interviews. However, the process is well organized and offers candidates the opportunity to interview the company as much as they are interviewing the candidate. The first round usually consists of a mix of technical and behavioral questions, followed by a superday with senior bankers. The second round is more difficult than the first, and often involves a paper LBO.

1. What is your greatest weakness as an analyst?

This question is a common one in interviews, and it’s important to be honest. Employers want to know that you are self-aware and can recognize your own weaknesses. When answering this question, try to think of something that you have worked on improving or something that you’re actively working on.

Example: “I am an extremely organized person, so I sometimes find myself being too critical when analyzing reports. This has led me to take more time than necessary to make sure everything is perfect. In the past year, I’ve learned to balance my need for perfection with the reality that no report will ever be 100% accurate.”

2. Tell me about a time when you were working on a team project and there was conflict, how did you handle it?

William Blair is looking for candidates who can work well with others and resolve conflict. This question helps them determine how you handle interpersonal conflicts in the workplace. In your answer, try to show that you are willing to compromise and communicate effectively with others.

Example: “I once worked on a team project where we were all working toward the same goal but had different ideas about how to get there. I tried to be open-minded and consider other people’s opinions when making decisions. Eventually, we came up with a plan that everyone was happy with.”

3. If hired would you be able to commit to long hours of work?

William Blair is a global investment banking and asset management firm that requires its employees to work long hours. The interviewer may ask this question to make sure you are willing to put in the extra time needed for the job. In your answer, explain how you plan to contribute to the company’s success despite working long hours.

Example: “I understand that William Blair is a global investment bank with clients all over the world. I am prepared to work long hours if it means contributing to the company’s success. I also know that being successful at William Blair requires teamwork. I will do my best to support my colleagues when they need help.”

4. How do you think the current market conditions will affect our industry?

The interviewer may ask this question to see how you can apply your knowledge of the industry and current events to make predictions about future trends. Use examples from your experience or research to explain how you would use market conditions to predict what will happen in the future.

Example: “I think that the current market conditions are going to affect our industry for a while, but I believe we’ll start to see some positive changes within the next few years. In my last role as an analyst, I predicted that the housing market was going to continue to decline for at least another year, which it did. However, I also predicted that there would be signs of improvement by 2018, and I’m happy to say that I was right.”

5. Why should we hire you?

This question is a great way for employers to learn more about your qualifications and how you can benefit their company. When answering this question, it’s important to highlight the skills that make you an ideal candidate. You should also be prepared to answer questions regarding your weaknesses and what steps you would take to improve them.

Example: “I am highly motivated and driven to succeed in my career. I have always been passionate about finance and investing, which led me to pursue a degree in business administration with a concentration in finance. Throughout my education, I was able to gain valuable experience working as a financial analyst at a local investment firm. This work experience has helped me develop the skills necessary to excel in this role.”

6. Have you ever worked with a client that was angry or upset with you? How did you react/handle it?

This question can help interviewers understand how you react to conflict and challenges. It’s important to show that you’re willing to take responsibility for your actions, learn from mistakes and apologize when necessary.

Example: “I once had a client who was upset with me because I didn’t give them the information they needed in time. I apologized immediately and explained why it happened. I also offered to make up for any losses or expenses they incurred as a result of my mistake. They were satisfied with my apology and agreed not to pursue legal action.”

7. Are you comfortable answering phones?

William Blair is a global investment banking and asset management firm. As such, they have employees who work in many different capacities. Some of these include working as financial advisors, traders, analysts and more. One common job duty for all William Blair employees is answering phones. This question allows the interviewer to assess your willingness to perform this task. In your answer, try to show that you are willing to do whatever it takes to help the company succeed.

Example: “I am happy to answer phones at any time. I understand that this is part of my job duties here. I also know that sometimes we get busy with other tasks and need someone else to pick up the phone. If needed, I would be happy to take on this responsibility.”

8. Are you ok being on your feet for most of the day?

William Blair has a fast-paced work environment, and the interviewer wants to make sure you’re physically capable of handling it. If you have any health conditions that might prevent you from standing for long periods of time, be honest about them and explain how they won’t affect your ability to perform well in this role.

Example: “I’m used to being on my feet all day at my current job, so I don’t think it would be an issue. However, if I ever needed to take a break or sit down, I wouldn’t hesitate to do so.”

9. Do you have any experience building financial models?

This question can help interviewers understand your experience with financial modeling software and how you use it. If you have experience building models, explain what types of models you’ve built in the past and why they were important to your work. If you don’t have any experience building models, you can talk about your ability to learn new software quickly.

Example: “I’ve used Microsoft Excel for my entire career as a financial analyst. I’m familiar with all of its functions and know how to create complex formulas that allow me to analyze data and make predictions. In my last role, I was responsible for creating monthly projections for our clients’ businesses. These projections helped our team determine which projects we should pursue.”

10. How many different types of trading accounts are there?

This question is a basic knowledge test that shows the interviewer your understanding of trading accounts. You can answer this question by naming all the types of trading accounts you know about and briefly explaining what each type does.

Example: “There are three main types of trading accounts, including cash accounts, margin accounts and futures accounts. Cash accounts allow investors to trade stocks for free, but they have low buying power. Margin accounts require an initial deposit, but they offer higher buying power than cash accounts. Futures accounts allow traders to buy or sell contracts on commodities like gold, oil and corn.”

11. Describe your previous administrative assistant position.

This question is a great way to show your potential employer that you have administrative experience. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention how you organized the office and helped your supervisor with their daily tasks.

Example: “My previous administrative assistant position was at a small law firm where I worked as an independent contractor for three years. My primary responsibility was managing my client’s calendar and scheduling appointments. I also handled all incoming calls and emails from clients and other professionals in the legal field. In addition to these responsibilities, I assisted my supervisor with any additional projects they needed help with.”

12. Which technology do you prefer to use, MS Office Suite or Google Docs?

This question is a way for the interviewer to assess your comfort level with technology and how you use it. It’s important to show that you’re comfortable using both programs, but if you have a preference, be honest about it.

Example: “I’m very familiar with Google Docs because I used it in my last position as an analyst. However, I prefer MS Office Suite because I find it easier to organize documents and create presentations. I also like that there are more options when it comes to formatting.”

13. Can you tell me about a time when you had to solve a problem that was not straightforward? How did you approach the problem?

William Blair wants to know how you approach challenges and solve problems. This question can help them determine your problem-solving skills, critical thinking abilities and creativity. When answering this question, it can be helpful to describe a specific situation in which you had to think critically or creatively to find an innovative solution.

Example: “When I was working as a financial analyst at my previous company, we were tasked with finding ways to increase revenue for our client’s business. We analyzed the company’s current marketing strategies and determined that they needed to expand their customer base. However, when we looked at the demographics of the company’s existing customers, we found that there wasn’t much room for growth within that group.

I decided to look into other industries that might have similar interests to our client’s target demographic. After some research, I discovered that our client could reach out to new customers by offering discounts on products that would appeal to people who enjoy certain hobbies. By expanding our client’s target market, we were able to increase revenue by 10%.”

14. If you could choose one thing that sets you apart from other candidates, what would it be?

This question is a great way to show your interviewer that you have self-awareness and are willing to take the time to reflect on what makes you unique. When answering this question, it can be helpful to think about how you’ve grown as a professional over the years or any special skills you possess.

Example: “I would say my ability to work well under pressure sets me apart from other candidates. I am always prepared for unexpected situations and know how to prioritize tasks when necessary. In my last role, I was asked to step in for an employee who called out sick unexpectedly. I was able to complete all of my regular responsibilities while also covering for the absent employee, which helped our team meet its goals for the day.”

15. Tell us why you want to work at William Blair.

This question is a great way for employers to learn more about your interest in their company. They want to know what you like about the organization and how it aligns with your career goals. When preparing for this interview, make sure to research the company thoroughly. Look at its website, social media accounts and any other information that can help you understand its mission and values.

Example: “I am interested in working at William Blair because of its reputation as an innovative investment bank. I have read many articles about the firm’s unique approach to client service and financial advice. I think my background in finance makes me a good fit for this role. I also really admire the leadership team here. Your CEO has some inspiring ideas about how to improve diversity within the workplace.”

16. Describe a time where you helped improve a process.

This question can help interviewers understand your ability to work as part of a team and implement change. When answering this question, it can be helpful to describe the process you helped improve and how it benefited the company or organization.

Example: “At my previous job, I noticed that our customer service department was receiving many calls from clients who were confused about their account information. This led to an increase in call volume for the department, which made it difficult for them to answer all of their calls within a timely manner. To solve this problem, I worked with the customer service manager to create a new training program for employees. The training taught employees how to navigate the company’s website so they could find answers to common questions on their own.”

17. Give us an example of a time where you took initiative in the workplace.

This question is a great way to show your leadership skills and how you can contribute to the company’s success. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a specific example of when you took initiative in a situation that helped achieve a goal or improve a process.

Example: “In my previous role as an accountant, I noticed that our team was spending too much time on data entry. We were entering client information into multiple systems, which was taking up valuable time during the workday. I spoke with my manager about creating a single database for all of our clients’ information so we could enter it once and have access to it anywhere. My manager agreed, and together we created a new system that saved us hours each week.”

18. What makes a good investment banker?

This question is a great way to show your knowledge of the industry and how you can contribute to William Blair. When answering this question, it’s important to highlight your skills as an investment banker while also showing that you understand what makes someone successful in this role.

Example: “A good investment banker needs to be able to think critically about financial situations and make smart decisions based on their analysis. They need to have excellent communication skills so they can work with clients and other employees effectively. Finally, they should be detail-oriented and willing to put in long hours when necessary.”

19. Explain the difference between beta and alpha.

This question tests your knowledge of financial terms and concepts. It also shows the interviewer how you apply that knowledge to real-world situations.

Example: “Beta is a measure of volatility, or risk, in an investment portfolio. Alpha measures the performance of a fund manager’s ability to beat the market. A high beta means the investment has more risk than average, while a low beta indicates less risk. High alpha indicates above-average returns, while low alpha indicates below-average returns.”

20. Walk us through an equity research report you have previously written.

Interviewers may ask this question to learn more about your writing skills and how you can apply them in a professional setting. To answer, think of an equity research report you have written before and describe the process you used to complete it.

Example: “In my previous role as an equity analyst, I was responsible for creating reports on companies that were publicly traded. My team would meet once a week to discuss our findings from analyzing each company’s financial statements. We then created a list of questions we wanted answers to and researched those topics individually. Afterward, we met again to share what we learned and discussed any discrepancies or concerns we had with the company. Finally, we wrote up our final reports and presented them to senior management.”


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