Getting into Goldman Sachs: "We torture people by giving them about 45 interviews"

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Getting into Goldman Sachs:

It's not about leaping the bar once

If you want to get into Goldman Sachs and are looking for some information that will give you an advantage in a world where only 4% of applicants are successful, you might want to keep watching the new Goldman Sachs documentary, made by Goldman itself, after the credits have begun to role. 

Throughout the credit sequence, a series of current and former partners impart useful messages about getting into Goldman for anyone who wants to work there.  

The interview process is horrific, but they like it that way

One of the first up is ex-CEO Lloyd Blankfein, on Goldman interviews. “I’d say I’ve gotten less secure over time about my ability to exactly nail in an interview who’s going to be right.  And guess what? That’s why we torture people by giving them about 45 interviews before they come here.  If nothing else, we prove their endurance and that they really want the job,” says Blankfein.

John Rogers, a current partner, also reminisces that “I think I went through 27 interviews before I got hired.  And here I was, coming in from being under-Secretary of State for the United States and I’d never been through any interview process like that.  And I’ll be candid and say that there were a couple of times when I said ‘what in the hell’s going on here? […]  But at the end of the day I did get an offer and what I found to be quite remarkable is that I knew 27 people at the time, and more importantly those 27 people were buying into my success”

You need to demonstrate that you’re a multi-tasker

Peter Sachs, a retired partner explains that “We’re looking for smart people.  That doesn’t necessarily equal people who have a 4.0 GPA … although that can help.  It’s really people who can do two things or three things at once, who are non-linear in their thinking”

You need to be self-aware. And you need to like training

According to former partner Edith Hunt, “I think that if you’re not self-aware, you’re not going to progress as well as you otherwise would.  And if you’re not self-aware we’ll help you become self-aware pretty quickly.”  Ms Hunt also says “I think that there was an astonishing statistic that the employees of Goldman Sachs attended 900,000 hours of training”, which would be about two hours a month per capita.  Even allowing for compulsory courses like anti-money laundering, that’s a lot of time spent looking at whiteboards.

And you need to be in it for the long term

The biggest theme of the credits sequence is career longevity.  It begins with current partner and management committee member Alison Mass saying that “We understand that in order to attract the best talent, in order to keep the best talent, in order to deliver the best advice, the best execution to our clients, we have to keep the best people” and ends with former equity capital markets head and “father of the IPO” Eric Dobkin saying “Having the culture of people that have been there 20, 30, 40 years and being able to have that stability and that commonality of interest over such long periods of time – I think is the thing that makes Goldman Sachs terribly unique”. 

This is also borne out by the very last scene, which shows Lloyd Blankfein’s speech from the celebration held in 2008 for Alfred Feld, on the occasion of his 75th year of employment.

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