Banking Interview Advice From an ex-Goldman Equities Trader

Lex Van Dam has experience trading for Goldman Sachs between 1992 and 2002. He provides interesting insight into hiring at investment banks to efinancialcareers. There are several key points he hammers in:

1. What your body says is as important as what you say. Showing fear in an interview implies fear in other risky or stressful situations. Aside from risk inherent in trading, a trader needs to represent his employer to prospective clients. These situations will be at least as fraught with tension as a job interview; a successful trader will not buckle under pressure.

2. Who is interviewing you? What is their position at the company? What is their professional and educational background? This knowledge helps an applicant understand an interviewer’s priority. An HR rep or manager will have propriety and “culture fit” in mind. By contrast, someone directly responsible for profits and losses has slightly different priorities; an applicant would be well served to emphasize his ability to make the employer money.

3. When applying and interviewing, remember that interviewers are not hesitant to mete out rejections. Even qualified applicants may get an unwelcome surprise after an interview that they thought went well. Especially when starting out, applicants need to know the harsh reality of interviewing at investment banks: the odds of success on the first try are very small. With practice and growing experience answering key questions covered in this program, an applicant increases those odds. Another point to consider is the competition. Know the personality types that are hired at institutions like Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. This will inform you as to what each major investment bank deems a priority.

4. How will the job opening play to your strengths? Know the job before going in. This indicates interest and passion to the employer, which is always good. In addition, doing your homework about the desired position will prepare you for the kind of work and standards that will be expected of you upon hiring.

5. Wherever you meet bank representatives, remember that every interaction with bank employees or personnel is important. Assume “guilty until proven otherwise” when it comes to wondering about what kind of reputation you have among prospective employers. Having said that, do not despair over a faux pa. Instead, work to counter it with strong indicators of what value you could bring to an employer.


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