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First kid from Harvard with 3.4 GPA and 2200 SAT, PWM internship at small bank, economics major. Second kid from Johns Hopkins (or any other semi-target) with 3.8 GPA, 2400 SAT (ec's were not good in HS so didnt go to HYP, etc), IBD internship at BB, Financial econ major. Obviously this is made up. Just curious on opinions.

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Comments (62)

  • seedy underbelly's picture

    OMFG HOW COULD YOU EVEN ASK!??!?!?!!??!?!?!!!111111/////// HARVARD!!!!!!!!111one

  • seabird's picture

    SAT's dont matter for one unless youre going in to trading. Also, youre not even a freshman, stop thinking about this shit.

    "...all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

    - Schopenhauer

  • seedy underbelly's picture

    But seriously, Harvard kid hands down. In interviews you'll actually be asked, even if you went to Yale or Princeton, "Why should we take you over a 3.8 Harvard applicant?" No kidding.

  • JeffSkilling's picture
  • aced_the_board's picture

    Thanks for humoring me guys. I guess unless you got in harvard, you are always behind no matter what. lol nice to know

    Life is like riding a bicycle: if you stop moving forward, you'll fall down

    --Albie Einstein

  • In reply to seedy underbelly
    ivoteforthatguy's picture

    seedy underbelly:
    But seriously, Harvard kid hands down. In interviews you'll actually be asked, even if you went to Yale or Princeton, "Why should we take you over a 3.8 Harvard applicant?" No kidding.

    what is up with your non-stop hating on princeton and yale?

  • Ravenous's picture

    Second kid. Plenty smart enough and he apparently works harder, and to the extent that he has a chip on his shoulder about having to answer stupid questions like, "Why should we choose you over a 3.8 Harvard kid," he's likely to want to prove himself. Not even a close decision. Not everyone in the industry is prestige-retarded (although the majority are).

  • Falcon's picture

    John Hopkins kid

  • In reply to ivoteforthatguy
    seedy underbelly's picture

    ivoteforthatguy:
    seedy underbelly:
    But seriously, Harvard kid hands down. In interviews you'll actually be asked, even if you went to Yale or Princeton, "Why should we take you over a 3.8 Harvard applicant?" No kidding.

    what is up with your non-stop hating on princeton and yale?

    Not hating on either. Both are top schools. I was just using them as examples to show how idiotically prestige-obsessed some banks are. One wonders if there's even a difference between a 3.8 at P and one at H, but somehow banks think they're worlds apart, and expect you to prove that you're just as smart as the H kid.

  • ivoteforthatguy's picture

    is this a hypothetical? i've forgotten more prestige whores than most will ever meet and i cannot imagine such a question ever coming out of an interviewer's mouth.

  • seedy underbelly's picture

    ^ Are you serious? Almost everyone I know, from people at Cornell to those at Yale, has been asked this question. :o

  • In reply to seedy underbelly
    FreezePops's picture

    seedy underbelly:

    Not hating on either. Both are top schools. I was just using them as examples to show how idiotically prestige-obsessed some banks are. One wonders if there's even a difference between a 3.8 at P and one at H, but somehow banks think they're worlds apart, and expect you to prove that you're just as smart as the H kid.

    I feel like this is flat out untrue.
    I also get the feeling that the general consensus is that a 3.8 is harder to get at Princeton than Harvard due to less grade inflation.

    Sure they might ask the question, or some variation. I know I got something similar at nearly every interview, but 9 times out of 10, it is just to see how you handle it under stress. If they truly felt that an average student at Harvard was better than you, you wouldn't be there in the first place. The boutiques especially would have no trouble filling an entire class with slackers from Harvard.

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  • ivoteforthatguy's picture

    having been on both sides of the desk, such a question is so douchey and unprofessional i cannot imagine anyone actually asking that. i seriously would take a junior guy aside and tell him to knock off the bullshit if he said such a thing to an applicant.

  • saintofme19's picture

    Whichever kid I'd rather drink beers with....they're both smart and obviously hard-working, so I could justify whomever to my boss. Just have to pick which one's cooler

  • TechBanking's picture

    I have absolutely been asked questions about why someone should hire me, a state school kid (back when I was actually a kid), over a kid from Harvard. It's a snobby, bull crap question, but I actually found it to be pretty easy to answer.

    Sell your strengths and your story. As a farm kid, I took the approach to say that where I grew up people didn't ever consider going to those (HYP) types of schools (I wanted to include "because we aren't rich assholes"), but I was raised getting up at 5am to perform manual labor before school. I would then come home at night after football/basketball/track practice to face even more chores and farm work. This is simply what was expected.

    Mr Interviewer, who do you think has a better work ethic and the will power to get it done after weeks and months of no sleep, me or that Harvard d-bag?

  • Hfhopeful's picture

    Considering both 2400 and 2200 are 99th percentile for SAT that information is meaningless given the variance on the exam's data. You have to look at the student's major as well (3.8 Business Admin generally does not equal 3.8 Physics) if GPA is to make a difference. All in all I seriously don't understand this top-tier school obsession. Academia has become so competitive that most schools (including mine which is a non-target for numerous reasons) are staffed with professors hailing from very prestigious graduate institutions. My school isn't even top 50 and the faculty in my department obtained Ph.D's from UCLA, Stanford, Duke, UMinnesota (top 10 combinatorics), Yale, etc. I understand that students at a top-tier school will generally be more driven and possess a higher intellectual capacity, but the quality of education shouldn't be denigrated arbitrarily. Students go to different schools for different reasons. I went to mine (over much higher ranked schools) because I was awarded full-scholarship and I liked the faculty in my major. Yet the perception would be that a student from Berkeley is smarter or more suited for the workplace?

  • In reply to TechBanking
    seedy underbelly's picture

    TechBanking:
    I have absolutely been asked questions about why someone should hire me, a state school kid (back when I was actually a kid), over a kid from Harvard. It's a snobby, bull crap question, but I actually found it to be pretty easy to answer.

    Sell your strengths and your story. As a farm kid, I took the approach to say that where I grew up people didn't ever consider going to those (HYP) types of schools (I wanted to include "because we aren't rich assholes"), but I was raised getting up at 5am to perform manual labor before school. I would then come home at night after football/basketball/track practice to face even more chores and farm work. This is simply what was expected.

    Mr Interviewer, who do you think has a better work ethic and the will power to get it done after weeks and months of no sleep, me or that Harvard d-bag?

    Thanks for the helpful post. I'm somewhat prepared for this question, but it's definitely got me nervous.

  • In reply to seedy underbelly
    TechBanking's picture

    seedy underbelly:
    TechBanking:
    I have absolutely been asked questions about why someone should hire me, a state school kid (back when I was actually a kid), over a kid from Harvard. It's a snobby, bull crap question, but I actually found it to be pretty easy to answer.

    Sell your strengths and your story. As a farm kid, I took the approach to say that where I grew up people didn't ever consider going to those (HYP) types of schools (I wanted to include "because we aren't rich assholes"), but I was raised getting up at 5am to perform manual labor before school. I would then come home at night after football/basketball/track practice to face even more chores and farm work. This is simply what was expected.

    Mr Interviewer, who do you think has a better work ethic and the will power to get it done after weeks and months of no sleep, me or that Harvard d-bag?

    Thanks for the helpful post. I'm somewhat prepared for this question, but it's definitely got me nervous.

    The biggest success factor in interviewing is confidence. I always went in with a chip on my shoulder knowing the reasons why I was the best guy for the job. You don't want to take it too far and become cheesy or sell too hard, but learn to highlight anything that makes you different that can be accentuated as a positive.

    Everyone that ever interviewed me thought of me as the farm kid engineer that could crush the technicals. Someone once told me to build a story about who I am that would somehow resonate with the basic skills needed in finance. Trust me, it is effective...you just need to know yourself.

  • APAE's picture

    I'd hire the hungrier kid. In general, HR wants to do the pre-screening. Yes, they're prestige whores. A lot of actual bankers and traders you meet realize scrappiness counts and hail it when they see it.

    If you do your job and network, you'll meet people who ought to be able to discern your character. Get them to go to bat for you, and you're in the short pile when it comes to selecting interviewees. Prove your worth in the interview, and it's yours to lose from there on.

    Most people do things to add days to their life. I do things to add life to my days.

    Browse my blog as a WSO contributing author

  • International Pymp's picture
  • In reply to seedy underbelly
    24837's picture

    seedy underbelly:
    yourdreamtheater:
    3.8 at princeton would get pretty much anything they wanted.

    You would think that but it's not true. You have no idea how prestige-obsessed recruiters have become. :-/

    yeah, it's really a shame.
    recruiters are so damn prestige-obsessed - that's why the kids from Princeton are having a lot of trouble!

    hahaha
    WSO > *

  • HarvardOrBust's picture

    First of all, the Harvard kid wouldn't even do a PWM internship so the whole question is moot. Not a valid scenario.

  • In reply to HarvardOrBust
    manhattan512's picture

    HarvardOrBust:
    First of all, the Harvard kid wouldn't even do a PWM internship so the whole question is moot. Not a valid scenario.

    hahaha co-sign, +1

  • adapt or die's picture

    I'd hire the kid I'd rather sit next to for 15 hours a day

  • In reply to seedy underbelly
    UFOinsider's picture

    comment deleted

    Get busy living

  • Brady4MVP's picture

    Second kid easily. He's harder working and based on his SAT scores, he's most likely smarter as well. Plus he has better finance internships.

    I know this is a hypo, but a 3.4 gpa from harvard (unless it was math/sciences) is pretty bad since they have massive grade inflation. This kid is probably lazy and decided to just coast by while he was at harvard.

  • In reply to Hfhopeful
    Dr Joe's picture

    gcjohns:
    Considering both 2400 and 2200 are 99th percentile for SAT that information is meaningless given the variance on the exam's data. You have to look at the student's major as well (3.8 Business Admin generally does not equal 3.8 Physics) if GPA is to make a difference. All in all I seriously don't understand this top-tier school obsession. Academia has become so competitive that most schools (including mine which is a non-target for numerous reasons) are staffed with professors hailing from very prestigious graduate institutions. My school isn't even top 50 and the faculty in my department obtained Ph.D's from UCLA, Stanford, Duke, UMinnesota (top 10 combinatorics), Yale, etc. I understand that students at a top-tier school will generally be more driven and possess a higher intellectual capacity, but the quality of education shouldn't be denigrated arbitrarily. Students go to different schools for different reasons. I went to mine (over much higher ranked schools) because I was awarded full-scholarship and I liked the faculty in my major. Yet the perception would be that a student from Berkeley is smarter or more suited for the workplace?

    You sound like a math guy. Except your first statement - that the scores are the same. There is a large difference between a 2200 and a 2400 even though they are all in the 99th percentile. Seriously?

    As for the original question, I would say based on the data provided, about equal (slight preference to non-Harvard guy), so it would probably come down to fit.

  • meezy's picture

    zzzzzz. if i just interviewed 5 other indians from harvard econ majors with subpar gpas and no soft skills and john hopkins kid can entertain ceo while i take a piss then

    see what i did there

  • Bernankey's picture

    Can we just take a second and acknowledge how non-rigourous the academics at harvard are?

    Harvard undergrad is about pedigree. They are famous for their grad schools and undergrad dropouts.

    As my buddy at harvard once said, "its the hardest ivy to get into, but the easiest to graduate"

  • HFFBALLfan123's picture

    God, this board is so fucking out of touch it's not even funny. As long as they went to a reputable school, experience any day over pedigree of the school. I guess it may be different for a huge IB that just wants someone to crank but if you are looking for a candidate to actually grow with your firm, personality and fit followed by experience followed by education.

  • In reply to HFFBALLfan123
    UFOinsider's picture

    HFFBALLfan123:
    personality and fit followed by experience followed by education.

    This gives me a lot of hope

    Get busy living

  • ivoteforthatguy's picture

    i still literally cannot believe these questions are asked.

  • In reply to Bernankey
    Thurnis Haley's picture

    Bernankey:
    Can we just take a second and acknowledge how non-rigourous the academics at harvard are?

    Harvard undergrad is about pedigree. They are famous for their grad schools and undergrad dropouts.

    As my buddy at harvard once said, "its the hardest ivy to get into, but the easiest to graduate"


    I don't think that's the case for math and physics.
  • In reply to HFFBALLfan123
    West Coast rainmaker's picture

    HFFBALLfan123:
    God, this board is so fucking out of touch it's not even funny. As long as they went to a reputable school, experience any day over pedigree of the school. I guess it may be different for a huge IB that just wants someone to crank but if you are looking for a candidate to actually grow with your firm, personality and fit followed by experience followed by education.

    Absolutely. Both of these kids would get 1st rounds...but there is a 90% shot the each one is inter-personally incompetent. Hiring managers have better stuff to do than contemplate the relative difficulty of majors and GPA's at top colleges.

  • moneymogul's picture

    I have absolutely been asked questions about why someone should hire me, a state school kid (back when I was actually a kid), over a kid from Harvard. It's a snobby, bull crap question, but I actually found it to be pretty easy to answer.

    I've also been asked. While it's definitely a snobby question it's the perfect time to sell yourself on being the hungriest of the candidate pool. People love an underdog.

    "Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected." - Jobs

  • ivoteforthatguy's picture

    glad i am out of that fucking industry. it was already douchetastic enough as it was. it sounds fucking unbearable now.

  • eriginal's picture

    These prestige threads are like nails on a chalkboard.

    "One man with courage makes a majority." -- Andrew Jackson

  • ensalada's picture

    I'd hire the JHU kid. 3.4 sounds a lot like coasting.

  • In reply to West Coast rainmaker
    FreezePops's picture

    West Coast rainmaker:

    Absolutely. Both of these kids would get 1st rounds...but there is a 90% shot the each one is inter-personally incompetent. Hiring managers have better stuff to do than contemplate the relative difficulty of majors and GPA's at top colleges.

    Would the harvard kid really get a first round?
    I feel like there are enough over acheivers there that there is no way they'd get it through ocr. You'd think you'd need to be at least in the top half of the applicant pool?

  • In reply to FreezePops
    West Coast rainmaker's picture

    FreezePops:
    West Coast rainmaker:

    Absolutely. Both of these kids would get 1st rounds...but there is a 90% shot the each one is inter-personally incompetent. Hiring managers have better stuff to do than contemplate the relative difficulty of majors and GPA's at top colleges.

    Would the harvard kid really get a first round?
    I feel like there are enough over acheivers there that there is no way they'd get it through ocr. You'd think you'd need to be at least in the top half of the applicant pool?

    I think so. Target OCR is pretty large- some firms have dozens of slots. The Harvard kid also has work experience - less than the JHU kid, but finance experience is not that common even at targets. A huge number of Ivy students do not have their act together and ignore the job market until weeks before graduation.

  • In reply to FreezePops
    UFOinsider's picture

    FreezePops:
    Would the harvard kid really get a first round?

    Yes, do not underestimate the power of that brand name and the alumni network...as well as the relatively high degree of probability that the kid comes from a family that can place him with no interview necessary. ...and this coming from a guy who went to a non-target school.
    eriginal:
    These prestige threads are like nails on a chalkboard.

    It seems that no matter how many times this topic is covered, each incoming batch of newbies have to hash it out for themselves. But I share your sentiment.

    I paint the picture this way: I came from a non-target and every kid I know that made it in busted their hump for everything. The two kids I know who went to Princeton had to be talked into showing up for an ibanking interview by their parents during the last year. The level of access is just totally different.

    Get busy living

  • blackrainn's picture

    I'm slightly biased but I'd take the 3.8-4.0 JHU kid any day of the week. A 3.8 at Hopkins is extremely difficult to get and it does show a lot of dedication and diligence. HOWEVER, there are a lot of people here that have a >3.8 and would not interview well, so it's a tough call.

    Also the whole Harvard > all is pretty worthless. Getting into any top school is all about fit and great if you manage to get in. There is no meaningful difference between the average Harvard student and the kids at Princeton / Yale, and most of the top 10 / top 15 for that matter. As other people have said, the "top schools" are so saturated with talent is doesn't matter all that much. Now Harvard vs. Western Nebraska is a different story. The problem is people imagine Harvard to have this bastion of geniuses and if you don't go there you just don't have the skills, while in reality the SAT differential and other measures between top schools isn't nearly as large. It's the whole problem of the few (in this case Harvard students) taking a statistically large of the pie (in this case finance jobs) because they are perceived to be number 1. It goes back to the whole why would you buy the second best rock album if you can just buy the first one (ie. the 3.9 kid at Harvard over the 3.9 kid at CMU)

    3.9-4.0 at a difficult undergrad school without grade inflation (Princeton, JHU, etc.) in a good major (financial economics and math for example) with good scores who has good work experience (BB IBD or the like) and interviews / fits well is probably the best candidate you can find. Not to mention if they are at a good but not top school they won't feel nearly as entitled to the job (in general).

  • In reply to blackrainn
    Dr Joe's picture

    blackrainn:
    I'm slightly biased but I'd take the 3.8-4.0 JHU kid any day of the week. A 3.8 at Hopkins is extremely difficult to get and it does show a lot of dedication and diligence. HOWEVER, there are a lot of people here that have a >3.8 and would not interview well, so it's a tough call.

    Also the whole Harvard > all is pretty worthless. Getting into any top school is all about fit and great if you manage to get in. There is no meaningful difference between the average Harvard student and the kids at Princeton / Yale, and most of the top 10 / top 15 for that matter. As other people have said, the "top schools" are so saturated with talent is doesn't matter all that much. Now Harvard vs. Western Nebraska is a different story. The problem is people imagine Harvard to have this bastion of geniuses and if you don't go there you just don't have the skills, while in reality the SAT differential and other measures between top schools isn't nearly as large. It's the whole problem of the few (in this case Harvard students) taking a statistically large of the pie (in this case finance jobs) because they are perceived to be number 1. It goes back to the whole why would you buy the second best rock album if you can just buy the first one (ie. the 3.9 kid at Harvard over the 3.9 kid at CMU)

    3.9-4.0 at a difficult undergrad school without grade inflation (Princeton, JHU, etc.) in a good major (financial economics and math for example) with good scores who has good work experience (BB IBD or the like) and interviews / fits well is probably the best candidate you can find. Not to mention if they are at a good but not top school they won't feel nearly as entitled to the job (in general).


    I agree that in terms of intelligence, the JHU guy is probably brighter, and probably more hard-working. However, you are neglecting the fact that just by going to Harvard, that candidate has certain advantages, regardless of who he is as an individual. Two specifically - 1. Access to network of Harvard grads and 2. You feel better telling clients that you have a Harvard kid working on it. Based on many hiring managers chasing point 2, point 1 becomes more valuable, since other companies likewise hired Harvard people due to point 2, so network expands and value increases, and so forth. I withhold judgement on whether this is "right or wrong", but it can't be ignored in answering this question.
  • In reply to Dr Joe
    blackrainn's picture

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