Over the last ten plus years my team and I have placed over one thousand professionals on Wall Street.
This entailed tens of thousands of employee interviews.
We thought it would be helpful to offer tips garnered through our experience to assist you in your job search.
An obvious but often overlooked essential of the job interview is to be prepared for the traditional, almost clichéd core interview questions.
I have noticed that Wall Street tends not to coach or train people on how to conduct an interview. A hiring manager does not undergo a certain amount of trading on interview techniques nor provided lists of approved questions.
It is assumed that any smart successful Wall Street professional can easily, confidently and professionally interview a person without any assistance.
Some hiring managers can. They have a knack for getting to know a person and render an intelligent decision on the employee’s candidacy relatively quickly. He is the exception.
The vast majority of people are not as gifted. The interview process for most hiring managers is more stressful and nerve wracking than for the candidate.
Additionally, in this challenging job market a trend had developed requiring a greater number of people involved with the interviewing process. The members of this interview club usually include an HR representative, hiring manager, hiring manager’s manager, peers, managers from other business units that the applicant will interact with, and professionals within the interviewee’s prospective department at various levels of experience.
It is commonplace for a candidate interviewing for a midlevel position to meet with at least six to eight professionals at the company over the course of several months.
Beleaguered interview exhausted applicants often ask in frustration” when will I meet the janitor and mail room guys?
This newly embraced interview practice (note, certain firms such as Goldman Sachs have used this technique for years) is due, in my opinion, to the general uncertainty surrounding the economy and job market. Management does not want to rush the hiring decision since they are fearful (understandably so) of the economy and would not like to hire a person just to let them go. Also, politically, it is easier for a hiring manager to gain a consensus opinion. If anything goes wrong after the hiring the blame is shared across the board. Also, when deciding by committee everyone has a vested interest in the future employee’s success since each individual had a vote.
With a large number of people involved in the interview process without any training or guidance, it is easy and risk free resorting to the traditional almost stereotyped questions. These questions are safe and can be asked without feeling foolish or potentially running afoul of HR and legal issues.
The following is a selection of basic, often asked interview questions that you should be prepared to answer.
- Can you please tell me about your strengths?
- What are some your weaknesses?
- Why are you interested in working for our Company?
- What do you know about our firm?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Why are you looking to leave your company at this time?
- Can you explain this gap in your resume?
- Why should we hire you?
- What would your manager tell us if we called her for a reference?
- Will you travel or relocate for the position if required?
- Please tell me about some of your successful accomplishments?
- Which accomplishment you are most proud of?
- Tell me about one mistake that you made?
- What is your dream job?
- How did you find about us (how did you hear about this position)?
- Walk me through your resume (why did you move from firm X to company Y)?
- Why did you go to “such and such” college?
- Tell me how you successfully managed a challenging situation/person at work.
- Why should we hire you instead of the other finalist?
- What are your compensation requirements?
- What have you done when you disagreed with your boss/manager/business head?
- Do you know what we do here at ABC Company?
- What are your career goals?
- What gets you up in the morning?
- What would your direct reports say about you?
- Do you have leadership experience?
- What questions did I forget to ask you?
- Do you have any questions for me?