To master the “why this firm” question, it’s best to speak to somebody in the firm to ask what they like about the firm, and what the people in the team are like. It’s very hard to tell the true culture or strengths of a specific group in a specific bank.
You should split your answer into two:
- The strategic / execution advantages of the group and bank you’re interviewing for
- Mention industries / groups they are strong in, you can find this in league tables which display the rankings of the banks in various categories (e.g. #1 in cannabis, #1 in metals and mining, etc.). These league tables are easily accessible online or on Bloomberg.
- The people, team and approach of the bank. For example, you may learn after speaking with an Associate that the seniors invests in its juniors and have regulartouchpoints etc. This can only be deciphered by talking to people in the group and bank, but failing that, you can always make some generic points about collegial atmosphere, meritocracy, plenty of training, infrastructure and support, etc.
Speaking about the people, team and approach is especially important when it comes to big offices vs smaller offices. Big offices have more infrastructure, deals, and more best practices. Smaller offices will have leaner teams, more responsibility (Analyst acts more like an Associate), unique industry positioning (sometimes), but usually less deal flow with the exception of elite boutiques.