So apologize for the bad formatting here, no idea how to use this thing still but this should be helpful for guys trying to get into Wall St.
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,, 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 break down.
#1. Top 20 Target - 3.5 GPA - Business Major
#2. Non-Target - 3.5GPA - Economics Major with Finance classes
#1. No missed questions.
#2. Missed one question on declining growth company DCF analysis.
#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 a accurate and in a 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"
#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"
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.