After years of receiving scripted answers to questions from would-be business school students re: why they want to go to Harvard/Wharton/Stanford/Sloan or what they think of a company’s earnings potential or where they see themselves in five to ten years or what they ate for breakfast, admissions officers have lately been taking a new tack in an attempt to see the “real” side of applicants. Hoping to get a little “unrehearsed honesty” and insight into who these people really are, prospective students are being asked to submit “reflections” (“a short, off-the-cut note that must be submitted within 24 hours of an admissions interview”) and take part in “team-based discussions,” for which they’re told to “relax, be genuine,” not worry about giving the “right” answer, and just say what they really think, rather than what a coach told them to say they think. Unfortunately, Harvard and Wharton officials apparently have no idea who they’re dealing with here. You can’t make future b-school students relax and be genuine! You can’t! You won’t! Read more »
Business School Applicants Having None Of This “Show Us You Can Speak Without Paying A Consultant $500 To Show You How” CrapBy Bess Levin
Interest in the subject matter is a minor consideration. Unlike a lot of firms, we look at what someone is like rather than what they did before. We are first interested in people’s values, second interested in their abilities, and least interested in their precise skills. We want independent thinkers who are willing to put aside their egos to find out what is true. Did the candidate come up with a new idea and build it out? Like if when he was 15 he mowed lawns and developed that into a business by getting others to mow lawns with mowers he bought them. –Ray Dalio, “How To Get Hired At Bridgewater” [BusinessWeek, Related: "Firing people is not a big deal"]
Think You Might Be Asked About A Horrible Crime With Which You Have But A Tenuous Link Over The Course Of A Job Interview? Penn State Is Here To HelpBy Bess Levin
From time to time around these parts, we like to offer tips for those looking to successfully make the jump from one firm to another. Obviously a solid record of making money for your employer will help but in addition, or perhaps in lieu of that, nailing the first and last interview is key, and whether you’re a college senior, a third year analyst or a 20 year veteran of the industry, the interview is something with which some people still struggle. While eye contact, handshakes and how to discuss your “worst quality” have all been covered, one topic we haven’t yet discussed is what to do in the event the person conducting your session asks for your thoughts on sex abuse. Specifically, the sex abuse scandal that went down at your respective alma mater. Luckily, career services at Penn State is all over it. Read more »
In what appears to now be a series of desk-side interviews on a Flip-Cam, MCC tells colleague Brian Steel that she likes basketball because the players are tall and the 40 pairs of shoes she bought in the two days after Lehman Brothers went under, including her favorites (a pair of Christian Louboutins for $100). Read more »
From time to time around these parts, we like to offer some pro-tips for those interviewing at various banks and hedge funds, given that each firm is unique and offers its own kind of curve balls. A successful (lunch) interview at Goldman Sachs, for instance, will require one to order within 30 seconds of the menu hitting the table; at Bridgewater, one must have his/her “views on God and abortion” ready. Today’s tip is for anyone potentially interviewing for a housekeeping job with Lenny Dykstra, who expect a demo of not only your cleaning skills but your skills as a masseur as well. Read more »
In a recent profile of Bridgewater Associates by AR Magazine, it’s noted that prospective employees must “take the Myers-Briggs personality test” and that “Bridgewater staffers…[go] through a rigorous screening process in which they are asked their views on such topics as abortion and God.” If we’ve learned one thing from the hedge fund’s guiding Principles, it’s that these questions don’t have a right or a wrong answer, per se. Rather, they are being posed to see if potential employees have the backbone to present and vigorously defend their ideas, which they will have to do on the regular as members of the staff. As there are presumably a great many of financial services employees out there who would kill for the opportunity to work at the fund, we’ve decided to do you a solid and conduct a mock interview session in which the abortion question comes up. Please note that we are not suggesting that Bridgewater is either pro-choice or pro-life. In fact, any answer is probably fine with them. Again, it’s how you lay it out that they care about. In this exercise, we’ll take the pro-life side. Feel free to use these responses verbatim. Read more »
Management At LA-Based Investment Bank Wants To Know How Good Applicants Are At Human Interaction, Bar TriviaBy Bess Levin
As we’ve discussed at length, each firm has its own unique process for interviewing applicants to determine if they’re the right fit for the firm. At Goldman Sachs, potential hires are asked to come in 97 times before a decision can be made; often they’re asked out of the box questions like “If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out?” and those applying for senior roles can typically expect to get down on all fours at some point. What does one have to look forward to should he/she attempt to gain employment at Houlihan Lokey and make it to the final round? A 3-part process called “Super Saturday,” which actually takes all weekend.
Part 1: Friday night involves a dinner “to see how the candidates interact in a social environment with alcohol.”
Part 2: Over bagels and lox the next day, applicants are asked questions like, “Which historical ruler presided over the largest span of the earth by area?” “Who is the all-time Major League RBI single-season leader?” and “What rock album holds the record for longest consecutive time in the top 100 bestselling list?”
Part 3: You go on a date with CEO Jeffrey Werbalowsky. Read more »
Over the weekend, the NYT magazine ran a Q&A with Abby Joseph Cohen, president of the Global Markets group and senior investment strategist at Goldman Sachs. In the last two years, Goldman brass has been subject to more than its fair-share of grilling by the press. Some of the interviews have been reasonable- for instance, it’s not entirely out of bounds to ask for a high-ranking bank executive’s thoughts on the 2008 crisis- others the stuff of misinformed hacks who see it as their duty to wage a vendetta for the bloodthirsty public who want to blame everything on the financial community without taking any blame themselves. None have been as uncomfortable, hostile or delightfully awkward as Deborah Solomon’s “Questions” with AJC. From Solomon’s typically antagonistic and I don’t want to call them kind of bitchy but okay, kind of bitchy questions to Cohen seemingly, amazingly, being entirely caught off-guard by the fact that someone from the NYT would ask her, a GS employee, about the crisis, and her almost complete inability to adapt to a more adversarial line of questioning than she was expecting despite having unquestionably been through some media training, this thing was so delightfully car-wreck you can’t look away from-esque that few things could top it, except maybe seeing Lloyd Blankfein and his wife having a drawn out argument in front of Williams Sonoma about whether or not he’s allowed to go to his nephew’s bachelor party.
Everything starts off fine, with business about a lack of women in the senior ranks on Wall Street. JoCo answers the question as anyone probably would, by not really answering it at all because having a vagina does not necessarily make you an authority on why it’s harder for women to obtain/maintain senior roles, or mean you know how to solve the problem, or mean you even care because some people don’t. Remembering what she was there for- detonating a bomb that explodes not once but multiple times- and probably realizing she had a limited amount of time, Solomon gets right into the good stuff.
Do you have a Facebook page?
No, I don’t. I don’t think we should talk about this. No one here is supposed to be talking about Facebook.
Do you mean the fact that Goldman Sachs basically committed securities fraud, Solomon wonders?
You’re referring to the fact that Goldman Sachs just withdrew its offer to American clients to sell shares of Facebook, which could violate all kinds of rules.
I can’t comment.
Fair enough, Solomon figures, and moves onto a new topic on which she has not yet formed an opinion– is it unethical and likely even criminal that your boss makes millions and if yes how do you justify his paycheck when he provides little to nothing to society? Read more »
This clip is a bit old but we’re sharing it now because 1) it’s a pretty slow news day 2) we appreciate the fact that Jim Simons once did an interview with a publication called Celebrity High magazine 3) the look on his face when he reminisces about making his first million and 4) I could listen to his voice all day long. The man should consider doing books on tape. Read more »