Harrowing Two-Day Interrogation For Would-Be Bank CEO's Not So Harrowing With DB Test-Prep Guide

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Earlier today we learned that executive search committees tasked with finding people to run banks now look for candidates who possess"self-awareness" and "humility," in a departure from pre-crisis hiring practices. Also changing is the CEO interview process, which is much more rigorous and places a significant amount of emphasis on one's ability to deal with a wide array of pressures, from the need to inspire employees whose morale has taken a hit, telegraph confidence on earnings calls, and survive scrutiny by the press. But saying you can do all those things and more during an interview is quite different than actually doing them in real life, which is why some firms have gone so far as to make candidates engage in some high-intensity role-playing.

Recruiter Korn/Ferry International was tapped by a Wall Street firm to put a prospective executive through a two-day interview session in which the candidate played CEO. The candidate had to give a webcast presentation and get filmed being ambushed by people posing as television journalists, among other tests. "It's your most challenging year, crunched down into one day," Mr. Maxwell-Grant says.

For those worried about how they'll perform during the CEO simulation, breathe easy. We've prepared a study guide filled with mock test-prep questions likely to appear on the test, broken down into questions that could be posed by journalists and "scenarios" you might be thrown into. We recommend doing the exercises with a friend or co-worker; to ensure real-life accuracy, they should be completed within 15 minutes.

Questions:

  • Q: Last month you called the $200 billion portfolio amassed by a trader known as the Manchester Whale "a complete tempest in a teapot." Today your firm reported the Whale had cost the firm $60 billion. How do you respond?
  • Q: Any truth to the comments made by Fox Business reporter Charlize Gasparineaux that you won't grant him an interview because you're afraid of him?
  • Q: What do you think of Larry Winters for chairman of the Federal Reserve?
  • Q: Can you comment on the government's case against an employee of yours, Fabrice Navidad, who didn't tell investors that hedge fund manager Jean Valpaulson intended to bet against CDO's he sold them?
  • Q: A former VP of your firm-- who won a bronze medal for shuffleboard at the Maccabiah Games-- has a new book out in which he recounts seeing you "air-drying" after taking a shower at the gym. Do you recall this encounter and was it a "display of power" or simply something "men of an older generation tend to do"?
  • Q: Bank analyst Wheredith Mitney said earlier today that she gives your firm two days left to live. Any truth to that statement?
  • Q: I just got off the phone with a third year analyst from your firm who quit today, and in his resignation said that you "preside over a sexual cesspool where key staffers rip off investors' and each others' clothes with equal abandon." Comment?

Scenarios:

  • Your firm is on the brink of collapse. You're working to orchestrate a deal with the Japanese as your last possible hope. Tim Geithner* keeps calling you from a payphone at the Yonkers DMV because his cell phone is dead and he thinks his passport fell out of his pocket the last time he was at your office and he wants you to look for it. You don't have time for this shit; knowing what you say will probably end up in the Journal the next day, what message do you give your secretary to relay to TG?

Good luck.

*Played by himself.

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