Why we hired a Non-Target 1st year Analyst

Here's the breakdown on how to stand out as a Non-Target.

After having an analyst already quit after under 6 months on the job, it was time to search out a new IB candidate. Notice the context here, we're looking for a lower risk candidate who can handle the job and not stress out, freak out and quit.

When we entered the conference room, of the ~8 candidates, we killed 4 of them on Technicals (missing easy ones, depreciation on 3 statements, basic DCF, PE multiples on private companies) and then dropped one off for having a sub 3.5GPA (had a 3.2GPA). Which left us with 3. Finally, the #1 Managing Director said he just "didn't like" one of the remaining three and the rest he was fine with. At that point it came down to two candidates. To avoid revealing large details, here's the breakdown.

Stats:

1. Top 20 Target - 3.5 GPA - Business Major

2. Non-Target - 3.5GPA - Economics Major with Finance classes

Technicals:

1. No missed questions.

2. Missed one question on declining growth company DCF analysis.

Fit:

1. Standard answers.

2. Stood out.

So notice the marks here, basically missing EASY Technicals gets you a quick boot and pissing off a BSD managing director (not sure what happened) gets you auto dinged. Notably, the Vice Presidents actually made the final call on the hire. Why? the MD's were okay with any of the two at this point and now the VP's are typically the hardest nosed so they literally compared "fit answers". During the discussion, three very key answers made the decision.

"Why should we hire you?"

1. Standard response with "Hard-working, have finance experience, interested in the market, wants to learn and believes he can help add value immediately by taking on the job with a positive attitude" (nothing to ding here)

2 Standard response, however at the end he stated this "Finally, to be honest I know there are probably lines of people with 4.0 GPAs and perfect resumes in front of you but if given the opportunity to work for XYZ bank I'd be more than happy to update, automate and take responsibility for any work handed to me. If this means late nights making minor changes and updates to small pitchbooks or even PIBs it would get done in an accurate and in timely matter.

So hopefully the distinction here is a bit more clear, while the answers were very similar candidate two showed for sure that he did his homework and knew garbage was likely going to be the first course of the day. In addition, by mentioning responsibility "accuracy and speed" we now know he really does understand the job. One VP stated "I was surprised he knew so much about the industry with no resources at XYZ university"

Why M&A?

1. Standard "I believe this is the best product group to start in because it has a steep learning curve and it is a great way to understand the selling/buying process. Given deals recently done in XXXX...."

2. Standard. However again he added something different. "While the modelling aspect is certainly interesting, the additional knowledge on how to develop, foster and maintain strong relationships with clients is also a skillset I would like to develop

Difference? #2 thought high level. Again VP commentary "It seems like he might consider banking longer term even if he isn't a long-term fit at least he's wants to learn relational skills."

What's your best skill?

1. Standard answer "Situation, Task, Action, Results - hardwork/won't quit"

2. Standard answer. Followed again by one small tweak, instead of using the phrase "run through brick walls" etc. which is a standard one we get he used the phrase "Take pride in my work and view a two year stint as a contractual obligation".

What's the difference? None of the answers were wrong but the difference in one phrase change was interesting because another VP stated "It seemed like #2 is less likely to quit, if he called the job contractual which makes me believe he'd at minimum do the 2 years"

TL;DR.

1. Technicals get you killed if you miss basic ones but not if you miss tough ones.
2. Be careful with the MD interview to come off as personable.
3. Know the type of situation the bank is in. #2's answers were slightly better because you can read between the lines and realize the major worry was someone quitting again.
4. Know who you are interviewing with and try to feel out their personality

Disclaimer: Based on the commentary below, one thing that should be cleared up is this, in no way shape or form is it being recommended that you use more intent language such as the differences above in every interview. The read between the lines is now in bullet 4 of the TL;DR. Context is key.

One funny extra, one of the Directors actually said this about the target candidate.

"If XYZ was so strong I wonder why he didn't land a job in normal recruiting season"

Hope this helps and if there is anything else that needs to be clarified feel free to comment. Looks like you guys got the message.

 credits - WSPB

Comments (48)

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Nov 4, 2020 - 1:46pm

I suppose OP emphasized the main takeaway is "understanding the context", which is true but is also probably the only takeaway here. Honestly, candidate 2 sounds borderline desperate (which is perfectly understandable) but during normal interviews I've seen that this is almost always not well received. This post is an exception where it's a very late grad hire, because someone quit, but current students on this forum should be careful about using similar language during normal on-cycle processes

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 4, 2020 - 9:52pm

That's what I thought too. It has a similar vibe to saying "I'll work for free, pls take me" or "I'll do anything: sweep the floors, suck you off, cut your fingernails, do your laundry..."

Most Helpful
  • Anonymous Monkey's picture
  • Anonymous Monkey
  • Rank: Chimp
Nov 4, 2020 - 2:02pm
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I hate posts like this.

Any normal banking interview process would not magnify such petty things like "knowing speed and accuracy are important" (which made me laugh that you guys were impressed by this btw) to arrive at the preferred candidate - there are so many bigger and easier to observe factors such as general presentation, articulation skills, general IQ that are more precise indicators of competence for the job...

Nov 6, 2020 - 3:22pm
BBCinIB, what's your opinion? Comment below:

He didn't quit because we were douches, which we are, he quit because the workload was overwhelming, we were on multiple deals at the time. Pulling +90hr weeks. Last I heard, he ventured into corporate.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 4, 2020 - 3:05pm

This post is exactly what is wrong with the IB industry - the way you guys narrowed down your candidates between the two, and honestly the way you describe how obvious it is to automatically ding every other candidate is just so hardo. It's not that serious, your VPs sound like clowns, and your culture sounds whack. 

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 4, 2020 - 3:05pm

Wonder why the 6 month analyst quit...

Nov 6, 2020 - 3:26pm
BBCinIB, what's your opinion? Comment below:

He's been slugging it with us for 10 months so far. I'm sure he'll be compensated very well for his grit and unwavering fortitude.

Nov 6, 2020 - 3:10pm
Keyser Söze 123, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is because the Associates and VPs managing the hiring process aren't shareholders in the business.  If they were responsible for capital calls at the end of the year it would be a different scenario.

"A man can convince anyone he's somebody else, but never himself."
Nov 6, 2020 - 3:28pm
BBCinIB, what's your opinion? Comment below:

On multiple deals at the time. Workload overwhelmed the junior. Ventured into corporate, within the firm.

Nov 4, 2020 - 9:21pm
tackytech, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I understand that at the end of the day, there are are few spots to fill, and lots of candidates - but tbh, it's a bit disappointing to see that shops still are so focused on "dinging" someone. It's like trying to focus on weaknesses, instead of strengths. 

Interviews are extremely stressful - for most people, they're going to be one of the most high-stakes situations they'll ever find themselves in. Even more so when trying to break into fields like high-finance, which can make or break their future. Highly competent people will do basic mistakes, stress will do that - it's not necessarily a great predictor of how they'll perform on the job. Lots of ways to do interviews, but I'm not too fond of the methods where you basically ding candidates on single issue. Try them on a wide range of topics and areas, assign some weight to each of these subjects, and together the final score - rank them and see who comes up at the top.  

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 4, 2020 - 11:09pm

99% of investment bankers at my firm are exactly like this - egotistical and love screwing over candidates. They get a kick over generalizing candidates based on school and wait for the one slip in focus to ding them.

Truly despicable how many toxic assholes they are in this industry that love fin meme accounts and gossip like a bunch of children because their personality and value is based on their job. 

Nov 5, 2020 - 12:04am
surcitycredit09, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Agree with others. Def would not want to work with you guys! I'd rather hire a B+ player with a great attitude and fit over a A+ player with horrible attitude, interpersonal skills, horrible fit, etc. anyday of the week. Drive really sets people apart. You guys take this way too seriously or your a horrible judge of character. We do this all the time at our shop and works all the time.

I honestly think this was written by a 3yr analyst or 1st year associate that is still single.

Array
  • 2
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Restr
Nov 5, 2020 - 5:47pm

sounds like a shitty ass fucking regional dcm advisor

  • 4
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Nov 6, 2020 - 5:57am

This post is garbage. I hope that your hopeful analyst quits. Bunch of hardos thinking they're hot shit. Banking is banking dude it's not that serious. It's a fucking job. You guys are probably a co-manager or something. To have your head so far up your ass that you can't believe it's not butter makes me chuckle. 

Nov 6, 2020 - 3:32pm
BBCinIB, what's your opinion? Comment below:

On multiple live deals at the time. Workload overwhelmed junior. Venture into corporate, within the firm. Much happier now.

Nov 6, 2020 - 6:22am
Corporate Raider, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Guys, this isn't OP's post lol...It's a repost, hence the credit at the bottom. 

"Markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent."

  • 1
  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Equities
Nov 6, 2020 - 11:15am

Jesus this reminds me of an interview I had (I don't work in sales and trading anymore, it's just on my thing here). Some of the people were cool, most actually...but one VP+ was dyyyyinnnggg to ding me. The technicals you're talking about are very straightforward, but this guy went into esoteric parts of finance and would just rephrase my answer as the "answer he was looking for."

I was pretty bummed when I didn't get that because it was a long road, but got an offer somewhere else with better culture and THANK GOD I am not working at the other firm. People who treat interviews as a way to knock down a candidate are just dumb and it's a glimpse of what it must be like to work in said place.

When I interview someone I am looking to get to know the person in front of me mainly to see if they would be a good fit. Technicals are a check the box, the important thing is who they are as a person as you will likely be working together for 80+ hours a week. Give it a rest, this isn't the navy seals or nasa. 

Nov 6, 2020 - 2:18pm
Disjoint, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Nov 6, 2020 - 3:35pm
BBCinIB, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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