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Goldman Sachs' graduate interview questions about you

It’s rare you’ll be given a bizarre interview question, but when you are it's a chance to demonstrate your coolness under pressure.

Goldman Sachs International puts graduates through a rigorous recruitment process, which could comprise up to six separate interviews. We take you through some of the questions that could pop up in your interviews and how to tackle them.

Interview one will address your competencies, past experiences, achievements and whether you’re a ‘cultural fit’. The subsequent interviews will also be competency and example-based, but also include more technical questions about finance and current business conditions.

Sarah Harper, head of recruiting, EMEA and India at Goldman Sachs, said: ‘There is a chance a candidate may face a slightly more challenging and off-the-wall kind of question, particularly if they're doing very well during the interview process. This would be to test how their mind functions and to find out how they think through a problem in a relatively pressured situation.’

Interview questions: delivering results | skills set | teamwork | communication | the bizarre

To explore some of the interview questions you might face about the organisation, see our article 'Goldman Sachs' graduate interview questions about the firm'.

Goldman Sachs: delivering results interview question

You might be asked something similar to:

  • Tell me about a time when you had to deliver results under pressure
  • How do you handle pressure?

How to approach...

Pressure comes in many different forms and, as such, can be dealt with in a number of different ways.

Think about the high-pressure situations you may face in your specific job role at Goldman Sachs, because they’ll differ across the various schemes and from task to task and from one client to the next. One source of pressure might be difficult clients; another could be getting reports in on time. Is it likely that you’ll be on the phone to clients who’ll want immediate answers when their stocks aren’t going the way you said they would? If so, what skills do you need to show? Time management, mediating, leadership and even humility are all examples of possible avenues to explore.

For a client-facing role, consider your work or extracurricular experiences. Perhaps you had a temporary street fundraising job while on holiday from university and had to hit financial targets. For a quantitative or qualitative role, in contrast, did you have any complicated, research-based assignments to do at university within an allocated time?

Goldman Sachs: skills set interview question

You might be asked something similar to:

  • What specific skills have you learned that would make you good at the job?
  • What skills would you need to develop for your role at Goldman Sachs?

There’s a string of broad skills, competencies and attributes that Goldman Sachs would like its graduate recruits to have; drive, problem solving and client service are among them. In addition, there are specific competency requirements for each role.

For Goldman Sachs’ graduate technology scheme, for example, you should possess strong technical and analytical skills, be self-motivated and be passionate about technology. Whereas motivated individuals who value client service and risk management, and have an interest in business-process design, are sought for its operations division.

How to approach...

Research what the job entails. Goldman Sachs’ website contains some detail on all graduate schemes. If you want more information, check elsewhere. On LinkedIn, for instance, you might be able to extract information from the ‘job details’ section of graduates who have worked at Goldman Sachs. Alternatively, perhaps you know somebody who did an internship with the bank.

Relate what you’ve found to your real life experiences. If you've applied for the technology division where technical and analytical skills are especially important, for instance, consider your IT-related work experience or technology-based degree modules. What skills did you learn or develop, and how would they benefit the department?

Bear in mind that with the second question specifically – ‘what skills would you need to develop for your role at Goldman Sachs?’ – interviewers will be assessing your self-awareness and your knowledge of what you still have to learn. It’s similar to being asked, ‘what is your weakness?’ The trick here is to give an honest answer, but specify which skills need to be developed.

Goldman Sachs: teamwork interview question

You might be asked something similar to:

  • What role do you usually play in a team?
  • Have you ever been in a conflict situation with one of your colleagues and how did you handle it?
  • What would you do if you noticed one of your team getting stressed?

Teamwork, collaboration and integrity are very important at Goldman Sachs, where it's believed these three factors help its employees serve and satisfy its clients. An associate in its securities division said of his colleagues in sales, trading and structuring, ‘We all work together as one team aiming to deliver seamless coverage to our clients’.

How to approach...

Choose an example from university, work or your interests where you made a noticeable contribution while working as part of a team. Did you assume additional responsibility because a colleague was overwhelmed or absent? Did you motivate the group when members began losing oomph?

Relate your response to Goldman Sachs or the position to which you have applied. If the securities division is your target, explain to the interviewers that the experience you have gained has prepared you for working closely with different teams.

Goldman Sachs: communication interview question

Your communication skills will be assessed throughout the interview questions, but you might be asked something similar to:

  • Tell me about yourself

Excellent communication skills are essential across all Goldman Sachs graduate schemes. You’ll either be consulting heavily with colleagues, managers or clients, or a blend of all three. Understandably, however, greater emphasis has been placed on this specific aptitude within the bank’s executive office division, which comprises internal communications and media relations.

How to approach...

Epitomise an effective and confident communicator by giving considered and coherent responses to the interview questions. When asked to give an example of a time when you demonstrated a competency, the STAR technique will help you to structure your responses.

If you are asked a ‘Tell me about yourself’-type question, you might find our advice on ‘perfecting your personal pitch’ helpful.

Also smile, maintain eye contact and shake hands (remember that a lot of communication is non-verbal) to show Goldman Sachs interviewers that you can be trusted to represent the bank.

Goldman Sachs International: bizarre interview question

You might be asked something similar to:

  • If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put into a blender, how would you get out?
  • How many toothbrushes are there in London?

Sarah said that it’s rare you’ll be given bizarre interview questions, such as those above. But they might be used by Goldman Sachs interviewers to examine your logical thinking and reaction to pressure.

How to approach…

Don’t simply shut down and say something along the lines of, ‘Well that’s a highly impossible scenario and one that I couldn’t, even in my wildest dreams, comment on.’ Deliver a considered response in a controlled situation by:

  1. Injecting some personality and logical thinking into your answer. You could say something along the lines of, ‘Although I’d much rather be shrunk to the size of an eraser, as it’d be easier to dodge the blades in the blender, if I was…’

    This would tell the bank that you have got character and think pragmatically. The latter is an especially excellent quality to have because the bank will expect you as a new recruit to identify opportunities for development within the business and establish your career goals.

    You’ll participate in the personal development planning process. Based on formal and informal feedback and your individual interests, this process helps you to establish your career goals and identify developmental opportunities within the firm.
     
  2. Asking the interviewers some questions, such as, ‘London is a cosmopolitan city – should I also count unorthodox toothbrushes, such as the miswak, which is common in East African, Arabian and Middle Eastern communities?’

    Not only would this re-direct some of the pressure, it’d also show that you’re inquisitive and can think beyond the information you’ve been given. Graduates will be required to quickly assume responsibility in all Goldmans’ analyst roles, so being able to see the bigger picture is a valuable competency to have.
Our 'How to get hired' articles are written by TARGETjobs editors and writers with job candidates in mind, helping you research and understand employers. Copyright of all material written by TARGETjobs lies solely with GTI Media.
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