GUEST COMMENT: My experience of the Goldman Sachs graduate recruitment process

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Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs: where the alluring bankers work

I recently got an offer for a summer internship at GS. Having gone through the application process at a few banks, I can say that the Goldman recruitment process is unique (caveat – I’m based in continental Europe, so they may run a different process for European students, although I don’t think so). Here are the key aspects of their process, and my suggestions for how to get through it.

Phase 1: Online application

Unlike most of its peers, GS doesn’t ask applicants to complete numeracy tests. The most important part of their online application is a 300-word answer explaining the reasons why candidates wish to join the firm and the skills they have that relate to the position. My tips for this exercise are:

-  Try to apply early. Even though applications are usually open from mid-September to November, don’t wait too much as recruiters may close their process once they have enough good applications.

-  Get to the point and be catchy. 300 words is really short, you need to be succinct and put a few points forward in order to catch the reader’s attention.

-  Don’t mention league tables. At my first round, the interviewer said recruiters were sick of reading about league tables. Find a way of writing about the bank’s prestige without them.

-  Read about a deal in detail and write a sentence on it. Recruiters like to see that applicants know what the firm is doing.

-  Try to mention someone working at the bank. It always helps to show recruiters that you know people in the industry. If you don’t know anyone, try to e-mail alumni from your school.

-  Write about your past internships or duties that relate to the position. The point here is to show that you know what you’re getting into.

Phase 2: First round

Another singularity of the recruitment process at GS is their interviews. Instead of going to London, foreign applicants usually sit interviews in the firm’s local branches.The first round is usually located in a rented place in order to host all candidates the same day.

The first round consists in one competency-based interview. When possible, candidates interview with an associate who went to their school. The objective is to make sure candidates know the basic financial concepts they will need during their internships: valuation methods, the different stages of an IPO process or an M&A deal, etc. My interview wasn’t too technical, although some can get quite tricky. My only tip is to ask questions in the end. For instance I asked my interviewer about the one thing he loved about his job.

Phase 3: Second (and last) round

The last round consists of two interviews. They take place at the firm’s office (still in the local branch for foreign applicants). The two are very similar. Interviewers are two each time, usually more senior at the second one.

Interviews can get really tricky there. They consist of a mix between motivation questions such as “what brings you here?” or “where else did you apply?” and brainteasers like “there are 132 players at Wimbledon. Players get kicked out after they lose a game. How many rounds are there until the end of the tournament?” The most important in these cases is to show that you can stay calm. If you don’t find the answer, a last resort can be asking for a sheet of paper and a pen to write the calculations.