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Getting a job at Goldman

How to break into ‘The Firm’, by those who’ve done it before.

1) Interview again and again (and again)

Most front-office banking jobs involve a handful of interviews. Jobs at Goldman involve a dumper-truck full. We spoke to one former executive director at the bank, who joined as an associate back in the late 1990s. He had 47 interviews for the role.

“Back in those days, there was a real feeling that hiring by consensus was the way to go,” he says. “Two people tried to veto me and I had to re-interview with them and convince them that their initial assessment might not have been spot on.”

Now that Goldman’s grown a bit, he says the number of interviews isn’t quite so extreme, but neither are they down to single figures just yet: “I’d be surprised if any lateral hire got away with anything less than 15 interviews.”

Another ex-Goldmanite tells us the bank performs cross-checks between different interviewers to make sure your story holds up. “If you are not consistent in your stories, you will not get hired,” he tells us. “You will probably not find out why.”

2) Exude enthusiasm

If you manage to get a job at Goldman you’ll almost certainly spend more time in the office or on a plane than you will elsewhere. The demanding interview process is therefore equally a means of ascertaining your appetite for the demanding job and the degree of delight you’d feel were you only to land it.

“The key thing to surviving the interview process is enthusiasm,” says our ex-Goldmanite. “If you don’t have a technical advantage, then you’re a commodity candidate and total enthusiasm and hunger are key. You’ll also need to come across as incredibly hardworking – that’s what they’re trying to find.”

3) Find a sponsor

David Schwartz, a former head of HR for the European investment banking division at Goldman turned headhunter at US firm DN Schwartz & Co., says the majority of candidates who interview at Goldman at anything above associate level have an insider on their side.

“At more senior levels, most people who interview at Goldman are there at the invitation of the firm,” says Schwartz. “People in the firm know who their competitors are and know who’s good, and will invite them to come around for a chat. It’s virtually impossible to come into the firm on a lateral basis unless that’s the situation.”

It may also be possible to get an interview after ingratiating yourself with existing employees (if you know any). “Work out who you know there and make your interests known,” advises Schwartz.

4) Perform surgery on your CV

It’s no good applying to Goldman if your CV is looking a bit peaky. One ex-MD says the bank will instantly bin anyone who makes spelling or grammatical errors. On a similar note, he says your CV will stand out if it suggests you’re an interesting person rather than a City drone. “They like action people and people who have done a lot of stuff, eg Duke of Edinburgh’s Award,” he says.

And if the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is too far in your past? It will help if you’ve taken a few risks of the entrepreneurial variety.

5) Accept defeat

Both Schwartz and the ex-director say Goldman isn’t great at breaking bad news. According to the ex-director, this is one reason for interviews running out of control: rather than a rejection letter, a candidate receives another interview invite.

Schwartz says internal sponsors can come in here, too: “It can take individuals a lot of time and effort before they realise that they haven’t made it. But a sponsor will be upfront and honest with you.”

Comments (45)

Comments
  1. GS is a top firm and if given the opportunity to work there I would take it. But there are plenty of other good firms on the street. In recent years Goldman’s has lost the prestige it had. With new HF proping up everywhere there are few houses I would work for instead of GS.

  2. Hmm, I got myself offer from Goldman after three rounds of interviews with 6 people

  3. What is the point of working twice more than with another bank when you already work 12 hours a day… you won’t get time to spend your little extra cash before you retire…

  4. Goldman is for losers, life is elsewhere…

  5. Any thoughts on interview process at UBS? Which one is better?

  6. Goldman is an excellent destination. I like the whole interview process i had with them. It also has a very employee-oriented work culture.

  7. Do yourself a favour and dont believe all the GS hype. It is the lack of work/life balance that means people end up selling their soul for a boss that just wants to be made MD and cant be bothered with your career! There are many other good places to spend your valuable time – and by the way I did pass 10 interviews!

  8. Nobody accepts a job at Goldman without knowing the score. Of the ones I’ve met, all have no life, little hair and a hollowed weariness, but they don’t complain about it.

  9. Again interesting, I only had seven interviews. GS is a great firm to work for. I worked there for three years before leaving to do my MBA. It has to be the best firm on the street to start a career in finance in, however there are many banks on the street that offer the same opportunities.

  10. Does anyone know if the recruitment process at Goldman’s Private Banking division is as demanding as in the Investment Banking side? Thanks.

  11. Certainly !! GS is the name…brand and has always been in news for their exceptional services and break thrus…I had a chance to work for Goldman FI EM sales. This firm is only for traders with iron balls…and Ibankers but in recent years the leaders have left the ship and I would not be surprised if GS is overtaken by MS or Lehman in years to come. Moreover, its just the air which people have puffed in the atmosphere about GS, trust me nothing like that. My ideal is a senior MD within IED with Morgan stanley and I have spent time on their trading floor and doode that place rocks…

    SO beware its not what u hear….

  12. I got my job with Goldman after two rounds with 5 people.

  13. I would certainly agree with Guilhem, particularly with the second part of the phrase : life is elsewhere. Although having worked at the not so glamorous Athens stock exchange, i have found my self under the same conditions i.e. overworking and underpayed, but with a constant reminder , of how fortunate i must feel and grateful should be, for working with the best of the best and all that kind of bullshit. I found this environment a bit of virtual reality. I believe industry holds much stronger challenges and creativity.

  14. I know some not so great people working at GS…

  15. can remember the picture on the newspaper, cleaners of GS protesting against the firm for paying them 20p less than the McDonalds !

  16. I wish there were lot less Goldman glorification on this website. Do we really have to read every week about Goldman this, Goldman that???

    Not jealous guy, just happy where I am Reply
     
  17. Tee…could u help me in any way? did u apply for the graduate position?

  18. I secured a job with Goldman after 11 interviews and worked hard. That said, it is a great place to work.

  19. Goldman has said that it has a great belief in a work/life balance. This is not the case, they take your life and pay you slightly more. But per hour this will turn out to be less. I have interviewed with GS. It is not the place for me. I rejected a role in front office GSAM. I am thankful I did given the people I know who work their seem to have no life to spend with their children. This is why few women work at Goldmans and if they do it is not for long.

  20. Unless you are recommended by someone from inside, you will never get the job

  21. Don’t get wrapped up in securing a job in GS. There are a host of good banks in the city. I turned down a job at Goldman because they wanted me to be at the office morning and night. I am a trader and i know my job is over by 5ish.

    My cousin also turned down a job there as a PA. She was asked if she was ready to be a ‘Goldman Girl’ ie give up her life for her boss to which she declined. We both now work for other reputable firms, get me paid and have a healthier work life balance than most at GS.

    Another friend who worked for Goldman would often meet us for post work drinks in the city. At around 9 when most were heading home, said person would be heading back to the office to work til the early hours of the morning and for what….to be partner. Broaden your search in the city dont become a Goldman Clone!!

    Ichi-Ban Trader Reply
     
  22. Im happy to say i work for Goldman. even though i am middle office I am goldman-er which increases your respectability

  23. I don’t understand why anyone would want to work at Goldman, the people there take themselves far to serious and I have never met a more boring bunch…

  24. Is this website sponsored or managed by GS ?too many articles on this bank…

  25. There are other banks you can work for and still do better than Goldman, i think it is just the Brand.

    Lape, Derivatives, Wed 18 Apr 07 Reply
     
  26. I have a good friend that works for goldmans and he was a very energetic and good person now after 5 years there he is depressing to talk too and has lost his personality, He is now a corporate drone

  27. Be carefull of UBS – to much undercover politics – never know where you stand. Good luck – you’ll need it.

  28. Best way in (at graduate, front office level) is to say all the stuff you know they want to hear – all on their website as well as networking during milkround.

    First round on campus was 2 interviews. Second round was day of interviews 9am to 5pm at their offices – 8 interviews – 2 people each time. Got the job…upside – no slackers and you win deals, downside – lot of facetime culture, big egos. Then again, thats common to most top firms – so if you are going to work in the City, may as well work for the best.

    Too much Goldman talk on this website – never seen Morgan Stanley, Lehman articles. In any industry there are usually a few top firms (McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Booz etc in Consulting – even in IB GS is not the only top firm – plenty of ex-GS guys working elsewhere after a while and not all of them got asked to leave – only top for IBD – certainly not for AM or FICC).

  29. As a 24 year old ex grad of 2 years all i know is GS is the balls of Inv Banks…for all you people who say its a brand, its hype….look at it in its own market place. No1 on value in the WORLD on vlaue for M&A advisory, for pay (all operational), for bonuses. So the hype is well and truely backed up with output. Its the Brioni, the Bugatti, the SW1X postcode of its industry. its the business card that tells everyone else your a ‘made’ man…envious i am and for good reason.

  30. Re number 4) above…Annonymous Asset Management….well done getting the offer…they clearly weren’t too concerned about your grammar or spelling!

  31. What a bunch of arses! Be happy with your lot and if you’re not, change it! And no, I don’t work for GS…

  32. The post is about ‘Getting a Job at Goldman’ – not a forum for personal views re work/life etc etc. If you have interview/application form tips, just share them.

    Bound to be biased against GS since if you are already there not posting here and everyone else is probably a GS reject so sour grapes. Perhaps lack of feedback on that front means this is not really a useful topic – I guess we are running out of articles to run on GS, given we have one nearly every week!

  33. GS is living on past glories underlined by a network of bleeding hearts preaching the virtues of team work for the beneficial greed of the topmen. I had three rounds of interviews with people who were distinctly less able than myself and luckily I did not get a chance to work at GS.

    As a compromise I decided to take the bull by the horns, set-up my own firm doing exactly what I was inteviewed for by GS and today compete with GS like any another service provider. I am exceptionally successful, work normal hours from home and certainly richer than I would have been working for any other house as a black IB.

    Therefore my simple story is beleive in yourself first before anyone else whether it is GS or Satan.

    Therefore if you got the genes put it in the pool. A strong gene will always survive, backstabbing, front ‘assasinations’, politicking, without the need for an SPV like GS. Nonetheless, if fall outside this category then you are better off serving as the spare parts for more efficient SPVs like GS.

  34. GS is a great firm, so please none of this “Why would anyone want to work there? Sell your soul” crap as that is the industry in general, you’re gonna do a lot of hours!! Investment Bankers (IBD) at Lehman and Lazard work more hours than Goldman! GS is a great firm but its not the be all end all, many other firms can offer the same opportunities and pay.

  35. Goldman sounds great on your resume. But Com’on! 72 interviews. Let’s be factual; with the same amount of talent and much less time, you can found a small venture and in three years you will earn more than the average VP. And that is if you are only mildly successful.

    Bottom-line; GS is like economics, oversupplied with talent. Talent! show you have a brain. Be efficient and go elsewhere. I mean anywhere! I know a former hippy that now owns a $10M hotels in a tropical paradise. Trust me, he had a lot of fun making his millions and had to deal with less stress than there is rain in Mali. =D

    If you go for the i-bank lifestyle make sure its what you want. If you have to take more than 8 interviews for any position it probably means that in the long-run you will not get that red carpet treatment you thought you would; you are simply to easily replaceable.

  36. I agree with C, asset management. As a client of GS, I have found them to be arrogant and self centered. They actually say: ” We are Goldman” – I have never given them any deal without squeezing their margins to the teeth ! – to prove the point you are Goldmans !

    B, Credit asset manager Reply
     
  37. Hats off to iron maiden. You have said it right and done it right !

  38. Don’t go there unless you are a grad or a managing director. Everyone else … well you are never going to be accepted as part of the “cult”.

    Work life balance has never seriously been on their agenda and thinking outside of the box is frowned upon.

    Yes they have an excellent brand name, but so do many of the competition. Be prepared to sell your soul.

  39. Never seen so much venom in a forum. GS is a great firm, full of humans, not robots, unlike many other places. So, don’t be so jealous in accepting the fact that there are few real competitors to us in most areas.

  40. Iron Maiden…how about you hire me? :)))

  41. Iron maiden – would love to talk to you further about what you do……..

  42. I had 16 interviews: 1 by phone, 5 1st time, 6 2nd time, then met the MDs and the partner, and got a job.

    The debate is interesting : why would one work for GS if, according to Trader Monthly, you can earn $2,000,000,000 in one year working in some shady hedge fund with your ex-enron friends ?

    Lets discuss this by the way, we all know how much people are paid in IB (until Director, salaries are the same everywhere) and can guess the earnings of traders/sales by the revenues generated. But when someone tells me you can earn $2 bn in one year in hedge fund, it looks like impossible to me, unless your investors dont care about lending money to a crazy cowboy.

  43. GS is like a Porsche. You hate it or you like it. But a Porsche is still one of the best cars around.

  44. I have a 1st interview at GS Private Wealth Management next week, im 24 graduated 2 years ago been working in PWM since.

    Any advice before the interview?

  45. I believe, GoldMan Sachs is a good place to work for people working in finance.I have worked in IT division of GoldMan and my work experience has been horrible.For IT people where you need to have creative and trouble fee environment ,free of accusations and harassment ,GoldMan is not the place to be.
    People at GoldMan know finance well but not IT.This is just my advice to people working in IT to not to choose GoldMan as their IT employer.

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