5 interview tips from a Goldman Sachs campus recruiter

Taylor MacKenzie Goldman SachsGoldman SachsTaylor MacKenzie, head of university relations at Goldman Sachs.

Goldman Sachs is one of the most sought-after places to intern in North America.

It’s also highly competitive. Last summer, the firm had 59,000 applicants for roughly 2,900 intern positions.

To help internship — and job — candidates navigate through the application process, Goldman published a Q&A with its head of University Relations, Taylor MacKenzie, on its website.

Her job is to help prepare students for the recruiting experience at Goldman Sachs.

Here are the highlights of the Q&A.

Question: How should I prepare for an interview with Goldman Sachs?

Answer:

Do your research! Start by determining what areas of the firm you're interested in and why.

Our Careers Quiz, which helps you explore the variety of opportunities in our different divisions through a series of fun questions, is a great place to start and our website offers a lot of in depth information about divisions and the firm.

Once you've decided which divisions you're most interested in, prepare to explain what specifically interests you about those divisions and what traits you have that could make you successful in those areas.

It's all about drawing connections between your skillset and the role you want to work in at Goldman Sachs.

You should also read up on current events and industry trends related to those divisions in order to understand them in a larger context.

Q: What is the most common mistake students make in interviews?

Answer:

The most common mistake students make is not communicating concrete ways in which they have made an impact in their past jobs or other experiences.

For every work experience you've had and for every organisation you're involved in, be prepared to go beyond what's on your resume and speak to specific projects you worked on or efforts you spearheaded.

Provide details on what your responsibilities were, what skills you applied and what learnings you took away from the experience. Then quantify the results.

Goldman Sachs is a firm that offers the opportunity to make an impact at a very early stage in your career so that's something we always want to hear from you.

Q: When interviewing with multiple people, is it alright to deliver similar responses to different interviewers?

Answer:

The most important thing in any interview is being your authentic self. Don't feel like you have to change up your story simply for the sake of variety.

However, if you find an opportunity to tailor your message to the person you are interviewing with that's usually an effective strategy.

Take note of the interviewer's background and job function which they generally discuss at the beginning of the interview; you may find you have a perfect way to position your experience that will resonate with that individual.

Q: What's the best way to handle it if I get asked a question I don't know the answer to?

Answer:

First and foremost, it's ok not to know the answer to every question so don't panic.

I recommend saying something like 'I don't know the answer to that specific question, but I am familiar with…' Then provide some information on a similar topic you are knowledgeable about.

Another way to handle the question is to simply say, 'I don't know, but I can follow up with you after the interview on that'.

It's very important to note that if you say you will follow up that you do so within 24 hours of the interview.

Q: How do I come up with good questions to ask at the end of an interview?

Answer:

As students get told over and over, one of the biggest mistakes you can make in an interview is not asking questions at the conclusion.

Stay away from logistical questions -- you can follow up with your recruiter afterwards. Asking one to two business-related questions, a question about company culture and a question about the interviewer's personal experience is a good guide.

Prepare questions more generally then try to apply your pre-prepared questions in a more personalised way by being a good listener when the interviewer is talking. It's always good to jot down a couple of quick notes you can refer back to.

In addition, the person may have said something during the interview that you want to know more about which is great; tell them why it piqued your interest and ask to hear more.

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