AN EXPERIENCED TRADER ANSWERS YOUR JOB-RELATED QUESTIONS: What to say when a company asks why you want to work there

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Trading isn't like this any more

Trading isn't like this any more (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’ve been asking you to submit your internship-related questions via our Facebook page. If you Like the page, you can submit your question. A real investment banker or real trader will respond (depending upon the question). Here’s the latest question and the latest answer (NB. It's not actually about internships).


How should I answer the question: 'Why do you want to work for company X' when I'm applying for prop trading roles? I believe job tasks don't change from one company to the other.. Hence, how do companies differentiate in trading and how can we exploit these differences to apply for the best suitable bank? Thank you very much in advance!


Every job is different, although it may not appear so from the outside.  The fact is that if you're applying for a trading role with a prop trading company and  trading role with an investment bank, the two jobs will be very different.

Having done both, I can tell you these two roles require different personalities. Trading roles in banks are client-facing - they're all about managing clients' demands for trades. In these roles you will need to be able to persuade people to trade with you and you will need to accept that the decision is theirs and that you don't have much control over the trades that are placed. In a client facing trading role at a bank, you will have to be part salesperson to convince clients of the validity of your idea.  However you feel you will always need to have a polite and polished demeanour.

By comparison, prop trading houses are very different. In a prop trading role, you will be betting your own money (or the money of your employer) on the market.  For the really big profitable trades you will need to convince your management of your idea so they will be willing to allocate the necessary capital and risk.  Being a bad communicater won't get you the sign-off you need.

As you say the underlying tasks aren't much different (although you will be more independent in what you do in prop trading) but the human interaction is very different depending upon whether you're working as a trader for a prop house or an investment bank.  When you're answering this question, you need to show that you recognise this and to emphasise your strengths - be they persuasive skills or concise analysis.