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This was originally posted on 10/3/12

For those of you who know my background at all, I'm in the process of full-time recruiting mainly for buy-side positions, and the process is just now picking up into full swing. I've had my fair share of pre-interview dinners, superdays, and all the other bells and whistles that come with the process.

I'm currently on a train so this post will be somewhat brief and to the point, but I wanted to get some of the things I've noticed about FT recruiting down on paper and see if some of the recent grads and people going through recruiting as well can add to this or comment more on the validity of these things. I'll start with the one that's most top-of-mind, and seems likely to be the best advice I have to give at this point...

You'll see the same 5 people at every interview and it's probably a good idea to come in with the attitude that these guys aren't enemies, but should be seen more as brothers in arms. These kids are probably the go-getters, like you, and they'll all end up at top shops whether or not they get the gig you're going for or not. Something tells me that 5 or 10 years down the line, I'm going to want to be in touch with these kids, for professional purposes or even just to bullshit about the days when we actually worried about stupid shit like this.

On that note, I've found the most interview success in jobs where, going in, I had the attitude that the interview is a two-way process: they evaluate your fit with their firm, but you evaluate them as well. If you can come in with this attitude, you'll not only exude more confidence but the entire interview will become much more conversational, natural, and I guarantee you will be better off whether it be in them rejecting you, you rejecting them, or seeing that they are your perfect fit. It also helps you avoid the stupidity of asking 2 or 3 canned questions at the end of the interview to appear like you actually did some homework and are legitimately interested in their firm.

This last piece of advice might be tough to swallow and may not work for everyone, but when I engage in an actual debate with my interviewer on a particular security or line of business, I think they end up respecting you a lot more for it, and it also gives them a better window into your mind and thought process. The objective here, as well as everywhere else in your interview, is to be the one interviewee he won't forget on the train ride back to the office. For all the preaching of diversity and individuality that these top targets do, you'd expect everyone to have remarkably different stories to tell and experiences to share, but the truth is that 99% of your competition is fucking boring and you need to take advantage of that. Hopefully you're not just as boring as they are.

Anyway, that's all I've got for now. But I'm curious what some of the other seniors have taken away from the process so far and also what the people a few years removed from it would add.

To the employed monkeys (in banking or elsewhere), what are your key takeaways from the full-time recruiting process, and what do you think helped you get the offer? And any regrets?

And anyone going through FT recruiting now, do you agree with this stuff? Anything to add?

4

Comments (18)

  • bottomlesspassionpit's picture

    Are you at a target? I thought a lot of buy-side FT recruiting had already finished up

  • Oreos's picture

    in agreement with the theme of your post, it's a sign of a poor interviewer (on a personal and professional basis) if they can't structure it like a conversation (notwithstanding HR requirements for certain explicit questions). whenever i've heard a short pause followed by "tell me about a time....?" i've wanted to get up and walk, thinking, "is that all you got?"

    .

  • In reply to bottomlesspassionpit
    WhiteHat's picture

    bottomlesspassionpit:
    Are you at a target? I thought a lot of buy-side FT recruiting had already finished up

    Yes, and no I don't believe it has, but maybe for some of the PE firms... though again I know many that are just starting the process or are in the middle of it. I've noticed a glut of buy-side jobs recruiting UG this year, but maybe that's just because there's a supreme lack of sell-side jobs recruiting and most took directly from their summer class.

  • xqtrack's picture

    debating is excellent if you know your shit, and makes you look like an idiot if you don't. I've dinged candidates before in interviews who tried to debate something with me and just made themselves look stupid / uninformed.

  • In reply to xqtrack
    BlackHat's picture

    xqtrack:
    debating is excellent if you know your shit, and makes you look like an idiot if you don't. I've dinged candidates before in interviews who tried to debate something with me and just made themselves look stupid / uninformed.

    Sooo true. There's a huge risk you take when you start talking about something like a position I cover (which probably means I know 10000x more about it than you) and if you start spewing bullshit you're screwed... but if you know even a little bit and have an interesting - or similar - take on the position, I'll love you

    I hate victims who respect their executioners

  • In reply to BlackHat
    Whiskey5's picture

    BlackHat:
    xqtrack:
    debating is excellent if you know your shit, and makes you look like an idiot if you don't. I've dinged candidates before in interviews who tried to debate something with me and just made themselves look stupid / uninformed.

    Sooo true. There's a huge risk you take when you start talking about something like a position I cover (which probably means I know 10000x more about it than you) and if you start spewing bullshit you're screwed... but if you know even a little bit and have an interesting - or similar - take on the position, I'll love you

    Love is in the air

  • Going Concern's picture

    WhiteHat:
    But I'm curious what some of the other seniors have taken away from the process so far and also what the people a few years removed from it would add.

    I do not agree with the general spirit of this post in terms of interviewing the interviewer and having little debates with them, unless you already have something in hand, in which case it's a risk you can afford to take. As someone who has given out a fair share of interviews, I'll say that from an interviewer's perspective one of the things that inevitably plays a part in the decision to hire or not hire someone is the probability of that candidate accepting the offer if given one, and your skeptical attitude and arguing does not help in that regard. There will be plenty of people that are positive and upbeat and have done all of their homework that there is far less doubt that they will accept a potential offer. And also most people don't like being proven wrong or made to look like a fool.

  • In reply to Going Concern
    Oreos's picture

    Going Concern:
    WhiteHat:
    But I'm curious what some of the other seniors have taken away from the process so far and also what the people a few years removed from it would add.

    I do not agree with the general spirit of this post in terms of interviewing the interviewer and having little debates with them, unless you already have something in hand, in which case it's a risk you can afford to take. As someone who has given out a fair share of interviews, I'll say that from an interviewer's perspective one of the things that inevitably plays a part in the decision to hire or not hire someone is the probability of that candidate accepting the offer if given one, and your skeptical attitude and arguing does not help in that regard. There will be plenty of people that are positive and upbeat and have done all of their homework that there is far less doubt that they will accept a potential offer. And also most people don't like being proven wrong or made to look like a fool.


    you're confusing an agument and a debate / conversation. One, you're stubborn and looking to prove the other wrong (bad). The other, you're exchanging ideas, moulding your point of view with the new information and there is no winning or losing, just a conversation and learning. Further, if you enter a debate / conversation since you're willing to be proved wrong you don't have to know all your shit as you can say "i hadn't thought of that, thank you mr interviewer, would you like me to cup your balls too?" (obviously you need to have somethin to bring to the table though, some original thought).

    .

  • In reply to Oreos
    BlackHat's picture

    Oreos:
    Going Concern:
    WhiteHat:
    But I'm curious what some of the other seniors have taken away from the process so far and also what the people a few years removed from it would add.

    I do not agree with the general spirit of this post in terms of interviewing the interviewer and having little debates with them, unless you already have something in hand, in which case it's a risk you can afford to take. As someone who has given out a fair share of interviews, I'll say that from an interviewer's perspective one of the things that inevitably plays a part in the decision to hire or not hire someone is the probability of that candidate accepting the offer if given one, and your skeptical attitude and arguing does not help in that regard. There will be plenty of people that are positive and upbeat and have done all of their homework that there is far less doubt that they will accept a potential offer. And also most people don't like being proven wrong or made to look like a fool.


    you're confusing an agument and a debate / conversation. One, you're stubborn and looking to prove the other wrong (bad). The other, you're exchanging ideas, moulding your point of view with the new information and there is no winning or losing, just a conversation and learning. Further, if you enter a debate / conversation since you're willing to be proved wrong you don't have to know all your shit as you can say "i hadn't thought of that, thank you mr interviewer, would you like me to cup your balls too?" (obviously you need to have somethin to bring to the table though, some original thought).

    I got my current job by repeated ball cupping, I endorse this strategy.

    I hate victims who respect their executioners

  • In reply to Oreos
    Going Concern's picture

    Oreos:
    Going Concern:
    WhiteHat:
    But I'm curious what some of the other seniors have taken away from the process so far and also what the people a few years removed from it would add.

    I do not agree with the general spirit of this post in terms of interviewing the interviewer and having little debates with them, unless you already have something in hand, in which case it's a risk you can afford to take. As someone who has given out a fair share of interviews, I'll say that from an interviewer's perspective one of the things that inevitably plays a part in the decision to hire or not hire someone is the probability of that candidate accepting the offer if given one, and your skeptical attitude and arguing does not help in that regard. There will be plenty of people that are positive and upbeat and have done all of their homework that there is far less doubt that they will accept a potential offer. And also most people don't like being proven wrong or made to look like a fool.


    you're confusing an agument and a debate / conversation. One, you're stubborn and looking to prove the other wrong (bad). The other, you're exchanging ideas, moulding your point of view with the new information and there is no winning or losing, just a conversation and learning. Further, if you enter a debate / conversation since you're willing to be proved wrong you don't have to know all your shit as you can say "i hadn't thought of that, thank you mr interviewer, would you like me to cup your balls too?" (obviously you need to have somethin to bring to the table though, some original thought).

    I don't know if you can put a slash between debate and conversation and cast argument off on its own. I think it's more like argument, debate, conversation ---> using commas as the prevailing punctuation. Trying to learn is acceptable as long as it's clear you're just trying to increase your brain juice.

  • Swiss_Ninja's picture

    absolutely golden advice. 100% concur.

    Also, at the end, always ask "Any reason you may have for not hiring me / recommending me for next round?". Takes balls and 99% of interviewee's will never ask it.
    Worst case: Interviewer, who up to this point thought you were a complete tool, is taken back, then lists all your fuckups in the interview ---- You get a quick 2 minute spiel to win him over.

  • packmate's picture

    ^ha kind of reminds me of my last interview where my interviewer only asked one question: Why should I hire you vs. everyone else?

  • Cmoss's picture

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