Share The Most Compelling Stories You Have Heard During Interviews

Just curious, what are the most compelling/interesting/captivating stories that you have heard from kids interviewing for SA or FT positions? Usually when someone walks through his or her resume, what key points have made them especially memorable when they discussed how they first became interested in finance/IB?

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Best Response
Jan 8, 2016

The most interesting stories had no connection with an "interest in"/"passion for" finance. They were stories about experiences in volunteer positions, travel, studying abroad etc that revealed something about the underlying character of the candidate, even if the something revealed wasn't intentional.

Pre-rehearsed stories designed and told so as to communicate some strength or "passion" - meh. Not genuine, you can see and hear the workshopped and pre-rehearsed nature of those from a mile away.

I spend 50% of a typical interview just trying to cut through all that pre-rehearsed crap. Often it means rolling my third eye and sighing internally for the first 5 minutes as I let the candidates spew out their carefully prepared interview sales pitch. Yes, yes, get it all out and then we can start the interview proper...

    • 2
Jan 8, 2016

Agree with poster above. It's all about how authentic the answer is. Probably the funniest I've ever heard came from someone who worked in accounting while in college, took a few years off from both to travel, was graduating and looking for a job: "I spent 2 years living on $10,000 I'd saved up. If that doesn't show a knack for accounting, I don't know what does."

I burst out laughing and couldn't say he was wrong. The brilliance with that answer was that it showed his personality, was confident and made sense. It also showed his direct communication style and comfort with our interactions thus far.

    • 1
Jan 9, 2016

I'll vouch for that so far. I've gotten better at giving good, authentic answers and my results have improved along with it. On one previous interview I gave a canned "why this team?" answer. On this one I said straight up that while that group hadn't been on my radar originally, once I found out about the position and did my research I quickly discovered X about working for them, which I like because of Y parallel with my previous job. It's somewhat more relatable and honest an answer.

Jan 11, 2016

Thanks for the comments everyone, I appreciate your insights. I was thinking more along the lines of specific stories that applicants have discussed about themselves that made them truly stand out; i.e. how people walked through their resumes and sold themselves in the interview process.

Jan 11, 2016

FD: informational interview, we didn't have a position for this guy and PWM wouldn't have been a good fit

best one was a guy who apparently after high school was a street performer on the west coast, borderline homeless (more or less couch surfing, not really bad stuff), made ends meet for a bit, and one day woke up and said "what the fuck am I doing with my life?" got into a great state school, became president of the investment banking club, and will probably graduate magna cum laude next year and get whatever job he wants.

he also didn't say he had a passion for finance, he was genuinely interested.

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Jan 11, 2016

The best interview I ever saw I think I spent maybe 5 minutes walking him through his resume, 20-30 minutes discussing actual finance (and half of that was an impromptu case study - Here's a stock. Here's all the relevant information you need to make this decision. ELI5 me your recommendation and the reason. He asked why the ELI5 and I told him it's because not every client is savvy and being able to explain it in understandable terms is a big thing. The kid completely got it and did a very good job answering my questions. I had another guy I interviewed who didn't follow instructions. First he pitched me a different stock than what I gave him because he said "Why would anyone want to invest in a company that makes Ice", so I told him the interview was over and he begged for a second chance. I gave him 5 minutes to prep for this and when I asked him to explain it to me like I asked, he scoffed at the request. That guy got dinged for that one) and the rest of the hour talking about college sports, life on the west coast vs. life on the east coast, and really trying to see if he passed the airport test.

If they can pass the airport test, then that's a good sign for a callback if necessary. The airport test, by the way, follows one simple rule - If your plane is delayed for a good 8 hours, who do you want to be stuck in an airport bar with. That's my barometer for compelling stories. Is this the guy who I want to bullshit with for the next few hours about everything but work. And it works too.

Jan 12, 2016

One kid I interviewed told me how he cold called a household name multi-billionaire and got him to speak at his event for a school club. The billionaire was not an alumni of the school and really had no connection to this kid or anyone at the school. I thought that was extremely impressive.

Jan 11, 2016

Wow, mind explaining how the hell he managed to do that?

Jan 15, 2016

Mark Cuban?

Jan 12, 2016
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