Your Safe Questions Won't Get You the OfferHF
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?