Elite Boutique vs Bulge Bracket Recruiting

I was wondering if it is harder to land an offer from an elite boutique (Lazard, Moelis, Perella Weinberg, etc) or from a Bulge Bracket (Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, BofA Merrill Lynch, etc)?

I'm sure they are both hard. 

I would love to hear about the different experiences when recruiting for both. I heard EB's focus more on technicals while BB's focus more on behaviorals?

The EBs, and dare I say the top MMs, are naturally harder because there's generally speaking the same number of qualified applicants but a fraction of the seats. Some like PJT and EVR also do their recruiting extremely early, or CVP extremely late, so you're less likely to be in the "recruiting flow" of things if you do interview with them. The BBs also tend to have fewer rounds and shorter superdays than EBs in my experience. Getting grilled for 2.5-3 hours at an EB superday was a lot harder than the hour I spent at a BB superday, but you also have fewer chances to shine in a shorter interview so there's a trade-off.

Caveat of course that this was all SA2021 Zoom interviewing. I've heard processes are much more elaborate across the board when in-person.

I went through the recruiting process for IB SA this past season and eventually got a BB offer (very blessed). However, I had interviews at 4 EBs and 3 BBs (if you count hirevues I had interviews at like 8 BBs lol).

From my experience, it was much easier to land a first round interview at EBs. I go to a target school and have a decent resume (3.7 gpa and one relevant work experience). But for the 4 EB interviews I got, I only talked to 1, 2, 3, and 6 people at each firm respectively, before getting invited to the first round (6 was definitely overkill but I really liked the firm and wanted to make sure I got an interview lol). And these are actual EBs in NYC (Moelis/Gugg/PWP/PJT/Evr/Centerview) so I was also surprised when I got invited for an interview after only having 1-2 calls. For BBs I had to talk to about 5+ people before getting an actual interview. At two BBs I actually talked to over 6 people at each firm and still didn't get invited to an interview. So from my experience, it was actually easier to get interviews at EBs.

The actual interviews were night and day though. EB first rounds were really really technical. Everything from accretion/dilution models, multistep accounting, LBO questions (never got a paper LBO though), DCF mechanics, valuation multiples, business strategy, everything lol. Superdays at EBs were a little less technical than the first round and usually had a technical portion as well as a behavioral portion. 

Interviews at BBs were much more behavioral and markets based from my experience. The technical questions I got asked at BBs were pretty easy compared to EBs lol. I also got to speak with more MDs during BB interviews. They also went more off the cuff and I felt it was more of a conversation. But they didn't put up with any bullshit cookie cutter answers. It seemed they really wanted to get to know "the real me," as cheesy as that sounds.

This was all just my experience, so someone else could feel completely differently. But from what I went through, I would say that if you are strong on technicals, EBs will be easier. If you are stronger on interpersonal skills, BBs will be a better path. I would definitely recruit at as many banks as you can though. 

Real questions I got related to business strategy during my interviews:

- pick any company and describe its business model to me

- tell us about two companies that should merge

They just wanna see if you understand basic business strategy and industry landscapes

What advice would you have for networking in terms of converting a call into a resume push or ensuring that they give you a first round?

I honestly think networking is something that either comes easy to you or doesn't. You just have to be personable and slightly enthusiastic but not overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Enthusiasm is easy to fake for a 30min phone call but being personable is something that you either grew up learning/practicing or didn't. My best advice would be to imagine yourself in the other person's shoes. If you were on their side of the call would you want to talk to a kid who was super monotone, bland, uninterested, and hardly knowledgeable about IB? Or would you rather talk to someone who was upbeat, excited to talk to you, drives the conversation, actually did some research, and wasn't going to waste your time? Most people would choose the latter. So just be the latter. Not everyone is "mr personality" and that's ok. Just compensate in other areas.

And during my calls, I was pretty direct because I didn't want to waste anyone's time. If I wanted an interview, I told them at the end of the call that I liked the firm and wanted to interview or get connected to more people. Don't be rude about it but just politely state that you want to move forward in the process. Leave no doubt in their mind that the last 30min wasn't a complete waste of their time and let the know that they just talked with a candidate who is genuinely interested in their firm and would accept an interview if it was offered. 

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