Non-Target, 3.91 GPA, Could Not turn Interview into SA Offer, Now Try to Fight for FT, Need your Advices/Help

HokieMonkey's picture
Rank: Monkey | 35

Summer recruiting season has closed and I have walked out empty-handed. Having read a couple of threads where they had similar situation, I am encouraged to rebound and strive for the FT opportunity at BB. And I hope to hear more of your advice and helps.

My background: International student, attending to a non-target (Virginia Tech if you like to now) with a GPA of 3.9+ (4.0 in major) and will be graduating in Dec. 2014. I was able to receive five interviews from those BBs with having done minimum networking. But none of them I was able to make it even to superday. (I have been reluctant about networking and believe getting a strong GPA should put me in a good shape. Now I know 'm probably wrong)

When I'm looking back how I screwed my interviews, I figured it's probably my stories (I have no problems with most technicals). It might have sounded boring, like everyone else's. I know when bankers are recruiting, they look at your academic/technicals and fit. I'm confident that I have likeable personality and can get along with people but I somehow failed to leverage that during the interviews.

Now, I'm preparing to seize my chance for IB FT at BB coming back from this summer. I should be able to secure a summer internship back in my country either at boutique IB or corp. fin (think GE FMP). This is a long battle. And I would like to have your guys' advice and help on increasing my chance of getting a FT interview. (I'm thinking about starting networking now and also cold-emailing people in mid-August, but still want to hear your advice/ tips).

Thanks in advance for your insights/opinions.

Comments (25)

Best Response
Mar 16, 2014

This sounds a little bit like my story. I failed at summer recruiting and managed to land a full time analyst position in IB.A few pieces of advice

1. Go through your school's alumni database and send emails to every IB/wall street person you can find. Ask to set up a phone conversation and ask basic questions about banking and recruiting. Start in mid July and spend a couple hours a day talking to people and sending emails. This is the #1 most important thing that you need to do. Summer recruiting is easier than FT - now a lot of slots will be filled so you have to network your way into an interview.

2. Stop studying technicals and start developing a story. I'm sure your technicals are fine. The technical component of an interview is really a formality and the hiring decision is based on personality/"fit" ... Fair or not, as an international student you are probably fighting an uphill battle in the fit portion of the interview. Stereotypes exist, and especially if you are asian or indian the jock sitting on the other side of the table is probably assuming that you are a nerd/socially awkward/won't fit in/whatever. So you need to come up with some stories to make yourself seem like a more interesting person and differentiate yourself from the crowd. It doesn't really matter what you say - say that you participate in hot pepper eating competitions, that you do standup comedy, that you swam across the hudson river - you get the idea. Just don't make anything up that is too implausible and you will be fine. It also helps if you are able to show evidence of an interest in "business" that dates back a couple years, if possible.

3. Here is the answer to the "why banking" question
a. Access to senior management - ability to learn from interacting w/ senior bankers and C-level employees at fortune 500 companies. No other entry-level jobs allow you that same degree of access
b. Intellectual curiosity about mechanics of a deal. M&A activity ideally represents the process of the economy becoming more efficient. Play up your desire to study and understand the details of why a deal is made and what makes it value adding. It's good here to focus on a specific industry that interests you and really play up your desire to learn about that industry.
c. Whatever your answer to this question was this last recruiting season, cram the best components in here and cut out everything generic. Don't say the words "fast paced," "hard work," "under pressure" etc.
d. Side note - try to avoid getting an internship in an industry that is not related to banking (i.e. corporate finance roles). These internships show an interviewer that you either haven't yet identified your real interests or that you were unable to get an IB internship. You want an experience that will allow you to tell a story that flows naturally as far as your eventual progression to banking. Whatever internship you find, start brainstorming ways to tie it in with banking.

I have more to say but I'm losing a little bit of steam. Feel free to ask me some questions, and good luck. You will be fine as long as you really network. The networking process helps you out a lot in interviews because you learn a lot about IB and become more natural talking about it. Try to keep in touch with 2-4 guys at whatever banks you are interested in and if they like you they will get you an interview. Good luck.

    • 3
Mar 17, 2014

Thanks very much bfine for the insightful advice. Actually do you mind if I PM you with a few questions regarding the network part?

    • 1
Mar 18, 2014

go ahead

Mar 22, 2014
bfine:

This sounds a little bit like my story. I failed at summer recruiting and managed to land a full time analyst position in IB.A few pieces of advice

1. Go through your school's alumni database and send emails to every IB/wall street person you can find. Ask to set up a phone conversation and ask basic questions about banking and recruiting. Start in mid July and spend a couple hours a day talking to people and sending emails. This is the #1 most important thing that you need to do. Summer recruiting is easier than FT - now a lot of slots will be filled so you have to network your way into an interview.

2. Stop studying technicals and start developing a story. I'm sure your technicals are fine. The technical component of an interview is really a formality and the hiring decision is based on personality/"fit" ... Fair or not, as an international student you are probably fighting an uphill battle in the fit portion of the interview. Stereotypes exist, and especially if you are asian or indian the jock sitting on the other side of the table is probably assuming that you are a nerd/socially awkward/won't fit in/whatever. So you need to come up with some stories to make yourself seem like a more interesting person and differentiate yourself from the crowd. It doesn't really matter what you say - say that you participate in hot pepper eating competitions, that you do standup comedy, that you swam across the hudson river - you get the idea. Just don't make anything up that is too implausible and you will be fine. It also helps if you are able to show evidence of an interest in "business" that dates back a couple years, if possible.

3. Here is the answer to the "why banking" question
a. Access to senior management - ability to learn from interacting w/ senior bankers and C-level employees at fortune 500 companies. No other entry-level jobs allow you that same degree of access
b. Intellectual curiosity about mechanics of a deal. M&A activity ideally represents the process of the economy becoming more efficient. Play up your desire to study and understand the details of why a deal is made and what makes it value adding. It's good here to focus on a specific industry that interests you and really play up your desire to learn about that industry.
c. Whatever your answer to this question was this last recruiting season, cram the best components in here and cut out everything generic. Don't say the words "fast paced," "hard work," "under pressure" etc.
d. Side note - try to avoid getting an internship in an industry that is not related to banking (i.e. corporate finance roles). These internships show an interviewer that you either haven't yet identified your real interests or that you were unable to get an IB internship. You want an experience that will allow you to tell a story that flows naturally as far as your eventual progression to banking. Whatever internship you find, start brainstorming ways to tie it in with banking.

I have more to say but I'm losing a little bit of steam. Feel free to ask me some questions, and good luck. You will be fine as long as you really network. The networking process helps you out a lot in interviews because you learn a lot about IB and become more natural talking about it. Try to keep in touch with 2-4 guys at whatever banks you are interested in and if they like you they will get you an interview. Good luck.

Great advice throughout.

Mar 16, 2014

Definitely try again next season. Networking is crucial, especially since you're at a nontarget. Work on your story and find some contacts.

Mar 17, 2014

Thank you Hill. I'll definitely utilize the network.

    • 1
Mar 21, 2014

i'm sure you know your technicals, but it all came down to fit and how you presented yourself.
you are foreign, this could be very difficult to "fit in" into the corporate america environment, especially in banking.

Mar 23, 2014

Thanks for the input. I think it's the way I presented myself wasn't efficient. I have been living with an American family for years and most of the friends I hang out are Americans, so there isn't much actual problem fitting in this culture for me. I thinks my story just did not delivery the information during interviews.

    • 1
Apr 11, 2014

bump, bump

    • 1
Apr 11, 2014

What do you mean summer recruiting is over? Summer hasn't started yet.

Apr 11, 2014

For starters - change your username from your email

Apr 12, 2014

work on your behaviorals (including your story) as for many places this is more important than technicals - dont care if you know your technicals if i think you're boring or uninteresting, also not the end of the world if you have a great personality but arent too technically strong since the latter can be taught but the former can't.

also do mock interviews with people in the industry or others in your network and they can pinpoint where you fall short - important to do this given that the FT recruiting landscape is next to nonexistent for most BBs and EBs so you wont have many opportunities (surely not as many as you had for internship recruiting) so want to make the most of the opportunities that do materialize.

Apr 12, 2014

Keep in touch with recruiters and bankers who you hit it off with and you have their contact information. Try to meet up with them for coffee or a drink over the summer (or even if you need to plan a trip to NYC). Tell them you were disappointed but are still very interested in investment banking opportunities with their firm. They can help you with full-time recruiting. I came extremely close to an investment banking SA gig, followed the above approach and got FT interviews at the same place (didn't wind up working out, but still, got the interview and another chance).

Apr 12, 2014

Just network, network, network. When I was in college, I just kept pouring through our alumni database/linkedin finding more alumni at different firms. My first job I got through an alumni, granted it was a small shop (may have to settle for working at a small shop, depending on how extensive your alumni network is, like I did), but I never would have gotten the job without him.

Apr 13, 2014

Why is that when "Corporate America" sees Asian/Indian etc. applicants and automatically assumes that they don't fit in? Language? Culture? Or is it just plain stereotype thinking without any tangible reason?

Most graduates from top quant finance programs are from Asia and India, and they do get plenty of jobs in NYC, but maybe it's because it's quant...

Just curious what you guys think about this.

Apr 14, 2014

exactly, banking doesn't need quant...

Apr 14, 2014

Im not in IB (yet), but looking to break in at the associate level (will be joining MBA this fall).
Sorry for my naive question, but why is the case that it's an uphill battle for Asians/Indians (I'm one and hence the concern)?
Most of the fit questions (why banking? why this bank? why this group?) seem to be the main fit related questions that can be given a fair amount of thought in advance.
Are interviewers looking to talk about sports and stuff (I have no idea about American sports).

Apr 17, 2014
someusername:

Im not in IB (yet), but looking to break in at the associate level (will be joining MBA this fall).

Sorry for my naive question, but why is the case that it's an uphill battle for Asians/Indians (I'm one and hence the concern)?

Most of the fit questions (why banking? why this bank? why this group?) seem to be the main fit related questions that can be given a fair amount of thought in advance.

Are interviewers looking to talk about sports and stuff (I have no idea about American sports).

Im an undergrad who has interviewed multiple times at banks so take what I say with a large grain of salt. I don't really think race matters much when it comes to hiring. That is unless your interviewer is prejudiced against certain races of people in particular (due to bad experiences, etc) however most people in banking are seemingly friendly, value merit, etc. Generally they just want to see that you are well prepared for the job, know your stuff, have relevant experiences on your resume, etc. After the superday it can be really close between lots of similarly qualified candidates, which is when the interviewers start thinking over "fitting" into their culture. (this might be more important for some banks, dunno) Like some banks seem to have lots of former athletes, others have a lot of really tall good looking people and yet others have these unaesthetic hardcore finance nerd types lol. There is a theme that can be identified either in how the employees are, or their backgrounds (all ivy league, all state school), etc. This is especially true with smaller firms, as well as certain desks at larger firms from the folks I interviewed with.

They ask about your extracurricular activities, and they definitely prefer that you played sports. From my experience, if you were a good athlete in college (D1) then you would come across as more interesting. Also there are certain "white activities" like skiing, cross country, sailing, etc that minorities aren't prone to engage in. A lot of the guys at a past internship talked about that stuff all the time during breaks, and they would also talk about vacations to different obscure locations in Europe (I've never been there). Also they won't give a damn if you don't know about american sports. So overall I really doubt this claim that banks discriminate against asians, just come off as competent, and charismatic, etc and you should be fine.

Apr 15, 2014

Think about what you did wrong the first time. Half the battle is about being an interesting candidate, especially if you go to a non-target school. Refine your story, maybe get a little experience in finance, and continue networking. Furthermore, NAIL the technicals. I have a friend who was in a similar situation (3.9+ GPA, non-target) and he told me that he was able to differentiate himself from the rest of the candidates. Do that and you'll put yourself in a good position to get an offer. Good luck.

Apr 18, 2014

Thank you guys for all the inputs. those are really helpful and I really appreciate it.

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Sep 13, 2014
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