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Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Goldman Sachs guide to interview success

Sarah Butcher

For anyone not already aware of this, Goldman Sachs has produced a presentation on how to kill it in an interview.

Their advice is aimed at the student market, but some of it could apply equally to the experienced, lateral hire. For the sake of the latter, we have distilled the most pertinent points below. If you are the former, we suggest you watch the whole thing.

The quick version:

Preparations:

• Make a long list of your qualifications and strengths and weaknesses. Think about how past experiences demonstrate your skills.

• Familiarise yourself heavily with your CV.

• Make sure you know your ‘key selling points’ and practice talking about them in a ‘confident and conversational’ fashion.

• Create a coherent story based around your CV, which makes you seem like an ideal candidate.

• Be prepared to talk about things which demonstrate leadership, teamwork, professional accomplishments, interpersonal skills and your ability to overcome obstacles.

• Leave 20-30m before the interview for final preparations. Memorise names, especially those of your interviewers.

Interview types

• There are three main species of interview: historical interviews, behavioural interviews and case study interviews.

• Goldman likes behavioural interviews.

• Behavioural interviews (known also as competency interviews) are all about how past behaviour influences future performance. You’ll need some stories to demonstrate this. Goldman likes behaviours showing thinking and problem solving, team orientation and leadership potential.

• In historical interviews you’ll have to talk a lot about your CV and highlight information on it that suggests your suitability.

• In case study interviews, you may be asked technical/weird questions. Eg. Why are manhole covers round? The trick, in this case, is to articulate the rationale behind your answer. The answer need not be right.

Questions you may wish to ask at the end of the interview

• Focus on the industry and trends, eg. ask for the interviewer’s perspective on what’s happening in the market and what the job involves.

• DON’T ask about pay and benefits.

• DON’T ask questions which will make the interviewer feel defensive.

Post-interview pleasantries

• It’s not obligatory, but can be nice, if you send a thank you email.

• Don’t phone.

• Don’t even think about sending a written letter.

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