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I’ve interviewed aspiring bankers with hygiene issues

Investment banking interviews

I’ve worked in finance a long time and I’ve seen a lot of bad interviewees. In fact, I’d say 40% all the people I’ve ever interviewed have fallen into this camp, but some have been a lot worse than others.

The worst of the lot are the ones that smell. The ones that stink, usually of really bad body odor but sometimes of marijuana.

Crazy right? I’ve run interviews where I had to get up and prop open the window or door and let some fresh air. I’ve also run an interview that was supposed to last 30 minutes but was curtailed to 10 minutes because the smell was making me lose it.

So please don’t stink. Chew some gum, put on deodorant and fresh clothes.

Also, please don’t bullsh*t.  It’s always amusing when a 22 year old tries to lie to me. At Goldman we had a lot of interviewees where we would ask them some difficult questions and the kid would start obviously BSing. The hole would keep getting deeper and deeper and you could tell they didn’t know much about this, but were just making this up as they went along.

So, please don’t BS. Just say you don’t know and move on.

Also, please don’t just sit there. An interview isn’t an interrogation. I’m not in the CIA and you are not a foreign agent. Please relax.

The goal of an interview is for you to sell yourself in 30 minutes to someone you don’t know. I was really bad at this too. My approach to interviews was a lot like kids I see these days. Which is: sit there, reply to any questions that come your way and pray that it ends quickly.

These are the worst interviews: they are a waste of time. I just wish they would come in their with a convincing story on why we should hire them.

You want to convince us you are a good hire and we want find the best fit.

So please start selling.

If you don’t believe in yourself, how can I?

This is what you should definitely do:

  1. Keep it simple – We aren’t hiring rock stars, we are hiring smart, dependable, trustworthy people. Solve for that. Prove that you can get the job done and that I can trust you.
  2. Solve for fit – Firms want to hire people they can see fitting in. People who they can sit next to for 12 hours a day. Would you want to hang out with yourself for 12 hours?
  3. Show you’re good. – Everyone has a resume, after 100 interviews they all look the same. So how can you prove you are any good. That’s the secret sauce – bring evidence with you.

The author is a former Goldman Sachs managing director and blogger at the site What I Learnt on Wall Street.

Photo credit: Deodorant by Ron Dauphin is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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