What Goldman Sachs Seeks In MBA Hires

Goldman Sachs employee volunteering during the firm's annual Community Teamworks day

Goldman Sachs employee volunteering during the firm’s annual Community Teamworks day

Could you give us an overview of your MBA recruiting and interview process? What are the steps that students should expect? How can they make a good impression and stay on your radar? 

The September timeframe, in general, is when our recruiting process starts for MBAs. One of the strategies we developed about two years ago is an on-campus team that we have dedicated to these universities called our University Relations Team. This team consists of Goldman Sachs professionals who develop relationships with students, faculty, and administration. And they really serve as the conduit to MBA students and all of the Goldman Sachs opportunities and the people who work [here]. Our University Relations team is on campus for the majority of the year, not just recruiting season.

University Relations recruiters become familiar with the MBA student population. They work with the students in order to narrow down their main area of interests, whether it’s geographic location, a specific business they’re interested in, etc. Then, they connect MBA students based on that information with the right people within our various divisions. This may be specific recruiters for a division as well as professionals who work in a division to understand more about the business that they’ve expressed interest in.

It is important for MBAs is to make sure that they are having those conversations. The more that they can learn about the people who work at Goldman Sachs, the easier they’ll find it is to make their decisions about the direction that they want to pursue.

We recognize that this process is as much about us evaluating their skills as candidates evaluating the prospect of a career at Goldman. So we really strive to be as transparent and accessible as possible about not only the available opportunities, but also the prospects of career growth and development.

Our first touch point for MBAs may even occur before their first semester. We partner with organizations such as Forte, Toigo and others. We attend their conferences before the school year kicks off and offer programming in the spring timeframe for accepted MBA students to learn about Goldman Sachs. So even before they matriculate to their MBA programs, they’ve had an opportunity to learn about us.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein

After visiting campuses in the fall and with the contact that they can have with our University Relations team, we will host firm-wide information sessions, divisional specific information sessions, and networking events on campus. We really take the opportunity to explore and talk to students who are on campus. The purpose of this is to get people to know what our firm is all about and we think it is a really valuable opportunity to get students to interact with the people of Goldman Sachs.

Moving on to the winter timeframe, we’ll go into our first round interviews. Our first round interview process helps measure aptitude and potential and interest in the firm overall. Our second rounds typically consist of three 30-minute interviews at our offices and that would be to really help us align the skills and interests that we’ve identified with opportunities we have within our business.

Overall, students who make the best impression are those who are going to take the time to meet with our Goldman professionals who are on campus and tell us about their interests in having career with us. We really value getting to know recruits and learning how they can contribute to our culture and our firm.

What types of onboarding, training and ongoing support do you provide to incoming MBAs?

Goldman Sachs University, which we refer to as GSU, is our internal training and development function. They offer courses at every stage of your career. MBA recruitment and development are areas that get a substantial amount of focus and investment from our senior leadership. As such, all new hires get a lot of focus from an onboarding standpoint. Onboarding starts with orientation. That focuses on our culture, [along with] the benefits and responsibilities of being part of Goldman Sachs.

We have culture based programing such as GS Symposium. Along with our firm-wide associate orientation these are some examples of formal training programs. That’s where everybody starts. From there, MBAs will go through divisional-specific training programs that are designed to develop technical understanding around products and markets. And this is also an important component of onboarding.

As they build their career at Goldman Sachs, they’ll benefit from a variety of continuing education programs that are offered by GSU. These programs can focus on a number of different areas. Just to name a few: Leadership, diversity and inclusion, and other relevant professional skill programs. Overall, our professional development curriculum is designed to build a well-rounded financial knowledge base over time.

Every industry comes with its stereotypes. For example, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, financials have been portrayed by the media and political class in a less than favorable light. When it comes to Goldman Sachs – and your industry as a whole – what are some of the biggest misconceptions that students may have?

We realize that during the financial crisis that because we don’t have a large retail presence, many people didn’t understand the business of Goldman Sachs. And we hadn’t done a good enough job of informing them on what we do and the role that we play in the economy. By helping our clients achieve their goals, an example would be helping a large company think about whether to acquire or divest a business. Our market-making ability helps our institutional clients transact or providing investment management services. All of those activities enable growth of assets, businesses, and economies. I think what we’ve done a lot differently now is that we’ve spelled all of that out in our digital content and through our on campus programming. And if you look at our website today, there are many real life examples of activities that we are engaged in that touch the lives of individuals by virtue of what we’re doing on the institutional side.

Some of the misconceptions that I think exist though – and I’m still fascinated by this because we do try to make an effort to explain this – is that everyone we hire has to come from a financial background. In the areas where we bring MBAs into the firm, we certainly have our fair share of professionals with finance backgrounds. However, many who come in through the MBA programs come from other industries…One of the things that is interesting is that a majority of our MBA hires are career switchers, so they’re coming from a different industry altogether.

The second thing I would say is a misconception is that, whether [the perception stems from] the industry or the firm itself, it is very cutthroat. I can only speak for Goldman Sachs because that’s where I work, but at Goldman Sachs there is a lot of support, especially for our junior professionals. We have a collaborative, team-oriented culture. And, as I mentioned, it’s a flat organization.

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