Is it too easy to get into Goldman Sachs? Given that the firm only accepts 3% of people you might think not, but a harsh review of the firm’s hiring policies which argues that Goldman has been recruiting too many mediocrities has reportedly struck a chord with the bank’s current analysts and associates.
Published earlier this month on the anonymous review website Glassdoor, the review in question was purportedly written by an analyst who worked at Goldman Sachs for “more than a year.” It claims that, “the company is in a long decline like a corporate version of the Roman Empire,” and blames this on Goldman’s “aggressive alternative action policies,” which it says have lowered the standard of the firm’s staff.
“They’ve allowed barbarians inside the gates,” complains the author. He/she adds that the new “mediocre/poor” hires have destroyed Goldman’s unique “long term greedy” culture which was based on “merit, collaboration and competition.” Worse, the substandard recruits are reportedly repulsing Goldman’s higher quality and more competent juniors who want to work for “tighter, more meritocratic ships” which will “afford them more entrepreneurial opportunities.”
Goldman Sachs didn’t respond to a request to comment on the review. Something written by a (clearly disgruntled) employee who spent little more than 12 months working for the firm might not be the best indicator of cultural dissolution, but Goldman juniors said the review is being circulated between them and that it echoes their experience.
2016 saw the exit of several of Goldman’s best juniors for private equity funds. Juniors leaving banks for private equity and tech firms are nothing new, but once upon a time it was common to wait for two years at least.
The anonymous review claims that the despoilers of Goldman’s elite culture are the bank’s own HR team, which is allegedly, “woefully incompetent, pathetically slow and…more overstaffed than Soviet production lines.” Extra opprobrium is heaped upon Goldman’s new Hirevue interview process. This is designed to make the recruitment process fairer by assessing applicants digitally based upon skills and personality traits rather than the university they attended or their elite extracurricular activities. “Video interviewing is a stupid idea,” complains the reviewer, before adding that Goldman should restrict its recruitment to just two or three top universities and hire,”only the truly exceptional candidates from those pools.”
Strangely enough, our research suggests that Goldman already has a pretty strong preference for elite universities – especially for front office roles. Like other banks, however, it’s under pressure to widen its net and ensure it doesn’t draw a disproportionate number of its hires from the upper middle classes. In doing so, it looks like the firm will need to be careful: elite students who want to work for Goldman precisely because of its rarefied culture and recruitment policy, might want to leave because it’s not elite enough.