What Goldman Sachs Seeks In MBA Hires

Goldman Sachs Headquarters

Goldman Sachs Headquarters

When reviewing resumes, we certainly will look at experiences and career tracks as well as different decisions that people have made. But we’re also going to look to things that show signs of somebody who is self-motivated; someone who shows the ability to think creatively; [and] able to come up with innovative and commercial ideas. We also look for examples of persistence and resiliency. Another thing that is important to us – and maybe this is determined through the resume or later in the interview process – is understanding the level of client skills candidates possess because they will need a level of maturity and sophistication to interact with and solve some pretty difficult problems for our clients. Articulating that skill to the interviewer is important.

And last, but certainly not least, we probe for examples of [candidates] exercising good judgment and very high integrity. 

What kinds of skills does Goldman Sachs anticipate needing in the coming years that you may not possess enough of now (Languages, Technical Skills, etc.)? 

Because of our recruiting approach, we look across a broad continuum of skills. We have been hiring for several years from many different backgrounds and skill sets at the graduate level. That can include consulting or engineering skills. We hire people from the military. We hire computer scientists and we certainly hire our fair share of entrepreneurs. We hire medical doctors and Ph.Ds. We feel that the associate class, as a whole, has to represent the skill sets that contribute to how we do business.  We continue to try to hire reflective of the industries that we serve and the business that we’re in, to ensure that we have that background and subject matter expertise that we can offer to our clients.

In addition, we do a lot of hiring on campus at an undergraduate level, which I know is not the purpose of this interview, but one of the things that’s important [is that] we bring MBAs in at our associate level and our undergrads come in and advance to an associate level. So the skills that are important to us are those that are going to be additive to the existing population of the class that they’re going to join that were hired at the undergraduate level. It’s really just bringing those aggregative skills that are going to complete the picture so we have that available to us. 

What advice would you give to students who have their hearts set on working for you? How can they enhance their job prospects?

We really do interview and select all of our hires one person at a time. One of the things that we really look for in successful candidates [is the ability] to articulate their personal story about why they’re interested in a career here – what they feel that they can learn and what they feel they can contribute to our firm.

We hire, as I described, from a diverse set of skills. But candidates must have more than a passing interest in our industry. We want to understand, what about their personal story and experiences translate to that? And what’s prompted their interest? We look for candidates to have an opinion and be prepared to have a discussion about industry trends or current market events. What that conveys is that they have that intellectual curiosity about our industry and our firm. If they’re familiar with what’s happening in the world around them as it relates to the financial services world, that’s going to convey to us a real genuine and sincere interest in Goldman Sachs.

Team meeting

Team meeting

One other thing that I’d say is important is technical knowledge. We, of course, look for candidates who’ve done their homework about the firm. But we’re really going to look deeper than just how technically proficient they are in addition to understanding how someone’s collective experiences and personal interests are going to be an asset to our business.

Recruiting can be a two-way street. What has Goldman Sachs done to make itself more appealing to MBA candidates? (i.e. new initiatives being rolled out)

I think you’re absolutely right. MBAs have a lot of options. We certainly recognize that. To be an attractive destination to MBAs, we have to offer optionality, balance, and show that any role they’re coming into will [give them] an ability to make an impact in their careers, both on a work level and on a personal level. They want creative and interesting work. And they’re going to want transparency regarding career trajectory.

So there’s been a number of different things and newer areas of focus [here]. But I’d like to start by saying that we really feel that the value proposition that we have to offer is true to our firm and our beliefs. That hasn’t necessarily changed. What has changed is the way we educate and speak to our opportunities. We do provide an entrepreneurial environment. And we ask people to contribute very early on in their career. They have a voice and they can make an impact very early on. They need to be nimble and they need to be adaptable. But our expectation is that they will contribute.

They’re going to develop a skill set that’s really well-rounded. We operate, obviously, in the financial services industry. But our client base is any industry imaginable. So people will get opportunities for exposure across a broad range of industries.

One of the other things that is very important and on people’s minds more recently is [that] this is a pretty demanding career choice and environment. But I don’t know if it differs that much in terms of demands on one’s time than any other option that an MBA is going to have available to them. Some interesting changes that we have made [recently] have really been around work-life integration. Specifically, we recognize that over the life cycle of a career, employees’ needs are going to change. We continue to focus on providing different services that will help integrate personal priorities and professional responsibilities across every stage of one’s career.

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One example of that for junior employees at our analyst and associate level [is that] we pioneered an effort to enhance the experience of our junior banker population. This is the concept of the protected weekends, so from 9 p.m. on Friday to 9 a.m. on Sunday, they’re out of the office. More importantly, they know they have that time in advance that they can prepare for and use as personal time.

As people continue along in their career, for those beginning a family, we offer services like on-site childbirth and labor classes. We have an Expecting Parent Coordinator who is available to help with maternity leave transitions and educate employees about our other offerings. For those employees who are returning parents, coming back to work after having a child, we have on-site and near-site backup child care. For those employees who may be responsible for care of an elderly parent or family member, we have a full suite of offerings through our Critical Health Solutions program. It provides services to help employees advocate for their health needs and make informed and timely decisions. These are areas that we’ve really put a lot of attention to more recently

In addition to that, we have a robust training curriculum. And we also offer all of our MBAs mentorship and the opportunity to join a variety of different affinity networks at the firm.

If an MBA was weighing an offer from Goldman Sachs and another firm, what would give you the edge?

Goldman Sachs is a firm that’s focused on meritocracy. Meaning if you’ve shown an aptitude and an interest, you’re provided very early on with development opportunities regardless of your tenure or title. An interesting statistic is that a majority of our managing directors and partners start at the firm as analysts and associates. So we pride ourselves in our investment in the junior population. Culturally, it is viewed by our senior leadership as a really important part of sustaining our culture, the importance of developing our junior population and recognizing that the individuals who come in at the MBA level (and at the undergraduate level) are the future leaders of the firm. That’s something that we think is important and something that’s pretty valuable as you’re beginning your career.

Goldman Sachs also has a long-standing business model that’s been proven successful. I would say this: At Goldman Sachs, the nature of our work really does put us at the intersection of innovation and access to the capital that makes that innovation globally scalable. If that type of work is something that’s exciting and of interest, those are the types of people that do very well here.

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