UG Recruiting Part III: The Super Day and Offer

This is the third part of the undergraduate recruiting series. Check out Part 1: How A Resume Becomes an Interview and Part 2: The First Round Interview.

Understanding the Super Day Process

See below for the final chapter of the series - The Super Day and the Offer.

How the Interview Starts

I have 2 hours carved out of my calendar on an already very busy for superday interviews. Three 30 minute interviews followed by a 30 minute feedback session between all the interviewers and HR to rate the candidates.

I got resumes a day before and didn't look at a single one. I'm running slightly late and can't seem to find the room my first interview is in. Found it. Its kid from a target school, 3.7 GPA, seems like he comes from a monied background. Knows his stuff, as most kids at superdays do. Hits all the boilerplate questions as expected. Breezes through the technicals. Checks the "why us" answer with the perfect answer that everyone that made it to a superday gave us in the first round interviews. It was a REALLY boring interview. I was extremely bored, this kid had no energy. I finished my questions in 10-15 minutes because I was so unengaged... I look at my BB and still 15 minutes to go.... errr. So I throw out a few bullshit questions to kill time... what are your 3 greatest weaknesses... he gives the standard answers... too much attention to detail, spread too thin, etc... he seems pleased with himself. DO NOT EVER smirk in delight after giving an answer in an interview. I saw this several times throughout this process and its quite off putting. I ask him what questions he has for me. One of them is kind of annoying to answer even though its a good question.

Danger of Over Confidence in an Interview

Next kid is very confident. Has been interning and doing meaningful work for a few years through college so he knows all his technicals inside out and can talk intelligently. But what tends to happen is it comes off too cocky. Definitely lost points for that. Otherwise seems like a rockstar. We was a referral from another banker, so I feel like we could close him if we gave him an offer. He was very sociable and engaging. Asked good questions... why'd you join this firm, etc...

First Impression in the Super Day

Last kid, first impression... this kid looks like a huge dork, looks like he plays world of warcraft all day and night and hasn't seen sunlight in 13 years... also English is not his native language... thought it may be hard to understand him when we first introduce ourselves and shake hands, but find his English to be perfect otherwise... turns out he's lived in the US for 10+ years. Not withstanding his dorky demeanor, he's smart as a whip, knows our culture inside out and could communicate why he's attracted to it. Kills all the technicals... but also is a bit cocky so I shoot him down quite a bit. Lob a couple of fast balls at him and he stumbles and I point out that minute ago he claimed to have been able to do these in his sleep... also tell him the other candidates nailed these questions... seems to take it in stride, plus 1 for him. I ask him if he has questions he throws the usual ones out there, but shows interest in my answers and seems excited with my bullshit sales pitch about how we're the greatest thing since the Plan B pill. Then he asks me how I would have answered the questions he had earlier got wrong... he asks me to clarify what the answer should have been (they were technicals), I explain it. Plus one again, nice recovery.

Feedback Session After the Super Day Interview

In the feedback session, people talk about kids they interviewed and rank them 1-3. What this means is if 3 really strong canidates happened to get interviewed by the same 3 interviewers and weakest of the bunch is shit out of luck. Even though he/she may have been the 3rd strongest candidate in the entire interview pool. Demonstrating again, how sometimes its just the luck of the draw. People share their feedback on the candidates... too cocky, couldn't communicate why he/she was choosing our firm, doesn't seem likely to accept a FT banking offer/maybe not LT interested in finance, etc... My group starts talking about my 3 candidates... everyone agrees Kid 1 had no personality but was otherwise pretty solid. He's the bottom most ranked candidate. Kid 2 we all feel strongly about, but everyone agrees he seemed a bit full of himself... someone also says they still can't believe it but he said he something really stupid which I wont repeat because its pretty distinct. That alone is a reason for ding, the other 2 of us agree that in light of that he's def. a ding. The 3 of us agree that the last of the candidates was offer-worthy.

Don't Get Comfortable In Your Interview

One main thing I noticed is that everyone in superdays is pretty well prepared and generally interview well. So after the first interview, people feel like they're getting the hang of it... their nerves subside and they loosen up quite a bit. As a result, they come off pretty cocky and don't have that level of nervousness that is actually necessary. You shouldn't be too comfortable. I've seen this time and time again, so don't think you're on a roll so you can really flex your interviewing muscle. The kid who said something stupid and as a result didn't get an offer, did so in his final interview. The kid who was way too cocky and I ended up shooting down, I was his final interviewers... etc... Stay sharp and stay on your A game, don't get too comfortable/confident cuz that's usually when you come off cocky and usually when you say something stupid.

In the end... a few of the other kids I first round interviewed and really fought hard for offers ended up not getting them. One kid cursed in his interview, completely fuckin ridiculous... particularly because he was interviewing with an MD. I really liked this kid and was pretty relieved that I was too busy and never got a chance to voice my support of this candidate to the others before interviews kicked off, because I would have really been embarrassed.

Another kid I first round interviewed was supposed to get an offer and didn't for some reason. I raised hell with HR and then he got it... but most people wouldn't actually do that, they'd just figure "ohh well, guess it wasn't meant to be"... again alot of it is just luck, sometimes it works in your favor sometimes it doesn't.

Our intern class is really just a pipeline for FT hires... so our main concerns are would they fit in with us? Would they bang out all their work? Are they interesting to talk to? Are they likely to accept our SA offer? Are they likely to accept a FT offer if we give them one.

Things to Avoid in the Interview

A few things you DON'T want to do is tell each interviewer you interview that you are interested in THEIR group, because trust me they all compare notes.

Some other reasons people were dinged... they were foreign students with very thick accents and communication would definitely be an issue... lack of compelling interest in banking... too casual... too clueless... missed technicals... didn't know our company... were socially awkward (this was one of the leading torpedoes for otherwise super sharp kids).

Hope this was helpful.

As shared by the OP - first impressions matter. Learn more about how to make a good one in the video below.

Read More About Interviews on WSO

Preparing for Investment Banking Interviews?

The WSO investment banking interview course is designed by countless professionals with real world experience, tailored to people aspiring to break into the industry. This guide will help you learn how to answer these questions and many, many more.

Investment Banking Interview Course Here

Comments (28)

Mar 28, 2011

Which schools were most represented ?

Mar 28, 2011

They were all more or less equally represented... the usual suspects... most of the ivies and a few of the strong non-ivies. Didn't really observe one being over-represented vs. another.

Mar 28, 2011

Great series.

So are you saying that bullshit questions to kill time, don't really matter? I.e. you can only hurt yourself if you say something stupid?

You obviously are a top poster here, so I'm sure I'll get screamed at for asking this, but I'm assuming you work at a BB right?

Mar 28, 2011

My sincere thanks for all the time and effort you put into this.
The insights you provided through your UG recruiting series are truly invaluable.

Every aspiring monkey should print all three articles out and read them daily.

Mar 28, 2011

Awesome stuff.

    • 1
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Mar 28, 2011

Mad insightful, yo.

Mar 28, 2011

SB. Definitely helpful.

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7,548 questions across 469 investment banks. The WSO Investment Banking Interview Prep Course has everything you'll ever need to start your career on Wall Street. Technical, Behavioral and Networking Courses + 2 Bonus Modules. Learn more.

Mar 28, 2011

Thanks for the post. It's great to hear from the other side.

Mar 28, 2011

This is definitely a great series you put together for aspiring monkeys Marcus. It is kinda funny to spend time with your group after the whole process and hear them crack jokes about how you came off during your interviews and to hear some stories about the things kids say that, if not said, they probably would have received an offer but because it was so egregious it was an auto-ding. I totally agree with the "too casual/cocky" observation. Most of the guys I talked to said that was one of their biggest pet peeves, especially given that they are taking 2 hours out of their already hectic schedule to meet with these kids.

All in all a great resource, SB for providing an awesome resource for the community...

Mar 28, 2011

I appreciate all the time you put into typing up your 3 part series. It's a large help for us prospective monkeys. So far you've made my decision to transfer to an Ivy much easier...

Just curious, how would you judge military experience? From my past applications it has always been respected, but I'd like to know how you'd think about it in the finance world where only a portion of my experiences would hold useful.

Thanks

I think that we are all clinging to a great many piano tops...

Mar 29, 2011

lol.... i've cursed before in interviews with mds. i think it's how it comes off as being rude or in my case just a natural part of speech. like kind of casual "yeah, i had a pretty fucking good sandwich"

Mar 29, 2011

On the one side I wished you had written this before, it had been extremely helpful as I got a ding for being super casual and failed to be nervous enough as you said ( I knew it by the second I leaved the building). Lucky me it was before knowing I was getting interviewed for, in my view, a more interesting position of which I got my SA offer, and got the right feedback before that one. Great post.

Valor is of no service, chance rules all, and the bravest often fall by the hands of cowards. - Tacitus

Dr. Nick Riviera: Hey, don't worry. You don't have to make up stories here. Save that for court!

Mar 28, 2011
El_Mono:

On the one side I wished you had written this before, it had been extremely helpful as I got a ding for being super casual and failed to be nervous enough as you said ( I knew it by the second I leaved the building). Lucky me it was before knowing I was getting interviewed for, in my view, a more interesting position of which I got my SA offer, and got the right feedback before that one. Great post.

shaking my head

Mar 29, 2011

Great thread, also great way to rack up the SBs haha.

Oct 6, 2011

..

Mar 29, 2011

Great series indeed.

It seems more about picking out negatives in a candidate. It's hard to please everyone and it seems like interviewers act contrary to popular belief.

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Mar 29, 2011

Nice Work!

It amazes me how many people actually look good on paper only to disappoint in the interview process. There are so many smart kids with 3.8+ GPAs and rock star resumes that can't hold a single interesting two minute conversation. Awkward silence can kill an interview. As we like to say "Well, he looked pretty damn good on paper, but he can't talk worth a shit".

Mar 29, 2011
kingtut:

Nice Work!

It amazes me how many people actually look good on paper only to disappoint in the interview process. There are so many smart kids with 3.8+ GPAs and rock star resumes that can't hold a single interesting two minute conversation. Awkward silence can kill an interview. As we like to say "Well, he looked pretty damn good on paper, but he can't talk worth a shit".

Are we supposed to be constantly talking in interviews and not have silences at all? I mean, it is an interview after all... essentially, they ask and you answer, is it not? Are you suppose to ask them a question after you finished an answer for their question to eliminate those silences?

I thought it was common to kind of have more or less a hierarchy during interviews where you just sit and answer. please correct me if i'm doing it all wrong.

Mar 29, 2011

"Otherwise seems like a rockstar. We was a referral from another banker, so I feel like we could close him if we gave him an offer. He was very sociable and engaging. Asked good questions... why'd you join this firm, etc..."

<-- I feel like this guy must have ended up with an offer elsewhere. Besides saying something stupid, would he have received an offer in your opinion had he not.

On candidate 2: Can you explain why having a calm demeanor is a ding? I have been told in a mock interview that I was too casual, and in general I do not get nervous. Where is the line between confident in your preparation and yourself, and being perceived as cocky?

What was also very important to note was that a rec from employees carries enormous weight. What is the best way to get interviewers to champion your hiring? As an interviewer is it mostly just homerism to people from your school(s)?

Mar 29, 2011

Very insightful series.

Mar 30, 2011

Marucs, I don't know (didn't read your whole post) if your questions are group policy or whatever, but no f*&^ing wonder you get the impressions that you get from these kids. How the hell is someone memorizing a WSO guide going to give you insight into a potentially good fit for co-worker?

I always ask a pretty detailed 3-fin statement question and then just try to have a candid conversation. Without a very legitimate SA, or having already worked a couple months in banking, I find it pointless to ask a candidate "why banking?". The best interviews I've ever had, one either side of the table, had smooth dialouge that ranged from opinions about the markets to a college bar in Austin that we both had some good stories from.

I know you have a lot of experience and it's good of you to provide some insight. However I feel if the kids answer their questions honestly and you know what type of person would gel with the team, the right person will fit themselves.

Guys, these slots are competitive, but in speaking to above, you can't practice "a calm demeanor". Prep the best you can and just be yourselves. Trust me, it will work out 10x better this way for everyone.

Mar 28, 2011

I can see to an extent what you're saying Stringer, but also, if a candidate can't articulate why they want to work in banking and what appeals to them about that group/firm, then they probably aren't a good fit. There responses don't necessarily have to be the rehearsed, boring, diatribes that are seen time and time again, but they have to be in the neighborhood of the culture. I had various questions designed to see if I was a personality fit when I was interviewing, and I'll agree that some of my favorites were talking about what my favorite IPA is, or how my alma mater is going to do during the rest of the season. These types of questions are designed to gauge suitability, but these and the "why banking/why us" questions do not need to be mutually exclusive.

Just playing a bit of devil's advocate here, I know you've definitely conducted more interviews than I have as I haven't been on that side yet, but I've interviewed a lot and also been able to peek behind the curtain and I can see merits to both approaches. In any event, yours is certainly the one I prefer as an interviewee... which may point to the reason why it is done a different way (test).

Mar 28, 2011
rufiolove:

I can see to an extent what you're saying Stringer, but also, if a candidate can't articulate why they want to work in banking and what appeals to them about that group/firm, then they probably aren't a good fit. There responses don't necessarily have to be the rehearsed, boring, diatribes that are seen time and time again, but they have to be in the neighborhood of the culture. I had various questions designed to see if I was a personality fit when I was interviewing, and I'll agree that some of my favorites were talking about what my favorite IPA is, or how my alma mater is going to do during the rest of the season. These types of questions are designed to gauge suitability, but these and the "why banking/why us" questions do not need to be mutually exclusive.

Just playing a bit of devil's advocate here, I know you've definitely conducted more interviews than I have as I haven't been on that side yet, but I've interviewed a lot and also been able to peek behind the curtain and I can see merits to both approaches. In any event, yours is certainly the one I prefered as an interviewee... which may point to the reason why it is done a different way (test).

Best Response
Mar 28, 2011

Look at the end of the day this whole song and dance is little more than a signaling exercise. None of what I learn from your "why us", "why banking", "how do you value a company", "which valuation multiple is highest" is going to tell me whether you'll be good at your job or not... what it does do though is communicate that you are thoroughly prepared and on top of your shit... and as an analyst thats what you need to be. I wouldn't want to be 15 minutes from having to send something out and the person under me says "oh shit, I didnt realize you needed that today" or "oh that completely skipped my mind"... or someone who you have to point the same thing out to 3 times. Thats what it signals. I take this seriously, I want to do this, I am competitive and want to beat everyone else here, I did absolutely everything I could to prepare. The other small talk usually covers the personality things... what was the last movie you saw? What do you read? They are already at an ivy league school at the top 10% of their class, you know they're smart... but are they anal and on top of shit enough to ace their interviews and in the process demonstrate they have the personality traits, drive, focus and mental horsepower (overstated for banking) to do well as an analyst? Not all 3.8's from Princeton have that, thus the interview process as opposed to the resume screen --> grab a beer --> extend offers.

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Mar 29, 2011

+1 for the last post, very succinct last sentence.

Mar 31, 2011

Enjoyed reading the series.

SB.

Apr 3, 2011
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