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How to handle an HireVue interview with an investment bank

Hirevue banking interview

It can read your mind

If you’re interviewing for a graduate position with an investment bank for 2017 and you haven’t heard of HireVue, wake up. HireVue is the new, new thing. Goldman Sachs is using it this year. So is J.P. Morgan. So, undoubtedly are many others.

At its most fundamental, HireVue is a digital interviewing system. The bank or finance firm in question asks you to film yourself answering some prerecorded interview questions using HireVue’s portal. So far, so normal. Except….HireVue is more than that. The HireVue system also incorporates something known as “predictive analytics.” This allows it to analyze your responses in almost frightening detail.

“Predictive analytics learns from the responses of candidates who’ve taken digital interviews previously,” says George Clark, ‘chief help’ on digital interviews at HireVue in the UK. “It learns from the many thousands of different traits expressed by candidates during interviews, codifies the traits of interviewees who go on to become top performers, and looks for those traits in future candidates. It becomes more intelligent the more a company uses it.”

In this way, HireVue blows all the existing advice about how to succeed at an investment banking interview (by formulating excellent responses to interview questions or watching your body language) out of the water. Suddenly, you’re not being assessed by a human being. You’re being assessed by an algorithm developed by HireVue’s lead psychologist, Nathan Mondragon. And that Algorithm monitors your responses in incredible detail.

“There are over 15,000 traits that can be used to identify top performers,” says Clark. These include your choice of language, the breadth of your vocabulary, your eye movements, the speed of your delivery, the level of stress in your voice, your ability to retain information, your ‘valence’ (emotion), and 14,993 others. With a HireVue interview, it’s not just about running through your work history and academic achievements, or using the S.T.A.R. technique to answer questions. It’s about your delivery, and what’s going on beneath the surface.

“Certain parts of our subconscious are blind to the human eye,” says Clark. “When you’re in an interview, there will be traits you’re displaying that you’re not completely aware of, but which the predictive analytics system can pick up on.”

Sounds freaky? “Some people can find it quite scary when they first hear about it,” Clark admits.

HireVue does, however, also have some big pluses – and it’s these which have encouraged banks like Goldman and J.P. Morgan to start using it. By eliminating human beings from the interview process, it a) allows banks to interview far more people than before and b) eliminates any elements of human bias from the recruitment process.

Earlier this year, the Financial Times reported that Goldman will be using HireVue for all graduate applicants in future. They’ll first be asked to answer some generic pre-recorded questions and will be invited back for a second, more ‘structured’, HireVue interview if they’re successful. Mike Desmarais, head of global recruiting at Goldman, said the new system will allow the firm to “highlight people that we might otherwise miss.”

“HireVue is massive for diversity and great for avoiding discrimination,” says Clark. “It allows people who might have been forced out of a recruitment process by human beings at an early stage to be seen. It’s about objective hiring, based upon facts.”

This is the first year that Goldman will be using HireVue for its analyst intake and is (as far as we know) the first year that J.P. Morgan will extend the process to its corporate and investment bank (it was previously used by the retail bank alone). HireVue’s predictive analytics are only turned on when an organization has gathered a sample of 300 interviewees, so can GS and JPM candidates expect to be analyzed by the algorithm from the outset? Clark says they can: “Banks will have done sample interviews for the system to learn from.”

What can you expect from a HireVue interview with a bank or finance firm? And how can you maximize your likelihood of success?

Firstly, you’ll need to introduce yourself and talk about your experience

“Many companies start the HireVue process by asking candidates to click on a link from the job description. They’ll then be asked to introduce themselves,” says Clark. This is a comparatively relaxed part of the process: “You need to say who you are, talk about your potential and why you want to work there,” Clark says.

This first interview is akin to a video version of a cover letter and it will help to structure it as such. Read our guide to perfect banking cover letters here. 

If you succeed at stage one, you’ll be invited back for the structured interview 

If this first stage goes well, you’ll be invited back for a second and more structured interview. Here, you’ll be asked questions specific to the division you’re applying to. At Goldman Sachs, you reportedly have 30 seconds to view the question on the screen and three minutes to respond to each one. You won’t usually be allowed to re-record your answers. “When we let candidates have unlimited tries at recording their answers, we found it got worse every time,” Clark says.

The questions you’ll be asked will likely match those used by Goldman’s human recruiters, which we’ve listed here. 

Be natural

Yes, you’re being interviewed by an omniscient computer algorithm, but don’t let this freak you out. “Treat it the same way as you would any interview,” says Clark. “Answer questions with concise clarity, but be yourself. You are not being assessed for stage presence, but a little personality can go a long way, exactly as it does on phone calls or live interviews.”

Dress appropriately

The computer may be checking out the speed of your delivery and the extent of your vocabulary, but it will also look at how you’re dressed. You need to wear appropriate clothing, says Clark. For a bank, this means a suit and tie (or equivalent for women).

Watch videos of senior staff at the bank you want to join. Observe how they comport themselves 

Lastly, we’d suggest you might want to check out the mannerisms and speech patterns of some of the top people at the bank putting you through the HireVue interview. Goldman Sachs, for example, has its very own Youtube channel replete with senior Goldman executives talking about the markets and Goldman juniors talking about what it’s like to work there. How do they speak? How do they behave? How do they interact with the camera? You’ll never be able to replicate someone else’s behaviour without seeming weird, but in this way you can at least get an idea of what success at Goldman looks like – and what Goldman’s own particular HireVue algorithm might be looking for.


Contact: SButcher@eFinancialCareers.com

Photo credit: Andrew Rich

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