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Goldman Sachs' graduate interview questions about the firm

Goldman Sachs expects you to turn up to interviews with an excellent understanding of its culture.

All businesses want you to know about them. But Goldman Sachs takes this very seriously. You may have to go to up to six interviews to get hired by the firm and, throughout the interview process, you’ll be assessed on just how much you know about the organisation you say you want to work for.

Interview questions: the basics | culture | commercial and technical | competitors and clients

To explore some of the questions Goldman Sachs might ask about you and your skills, see our article 'Goldman Sachs' graduate interview questions about you'.

Interview questions about Goldman Sachs: the basics

You might be asked something similar to:

  • What do you know about Goldman Sachs?
  • What are our main products and services?
  • What do you understand about the role Goldman Sachs plays in this industry?

How to prepare

Read, read and then read some more. Start with the ‘our people’ section of Goldman Sachs’ website, which gives glimpses of the business issues Goldman Sachs’ employees face. Also read those parts of Goldman Sachs’ website that outline its structure, products and services.

But don’t stop there. Uncover all sources of useful information: financial publications for news about deals, features on HR websites about its people management – and whenever you get the chance, consult with alumni or quiz previous interns.

Of course, to do this you need to understand the basics of your role: TARGETjobs Finance and TARGETjobs IT are good places to start.

Focus your response to the questions

Anybody can take the information they’ve found doing recommended research and regurgitate it when asked a related question, such as, 'what are our main products and services?' In order to stand out, show that you understand the business and are genuinely interested in joining it by elaborating on one of the points you raise in your response.

And ensure you focus on the area of the business to which you have applied. For example, if you have applied for a graduate scheme in the technology division at Goldman Sachs, you could mention the growth of electronic trading and the introduction of new technologies, and ask about (or better still discuss) the possible impact it could have on the department and/or business.

Be prepared to refer to Goldman Sachs’ culture in your answers

We can’t emphasise enough that Goldman Sachs expects you to turn up to the interview with an excellent understanding of its culture and how its values and vision help to shape its business. Make clear your understanding of Goldman Sachs’ culture even where the interview questions don’t directly ask you for it. For example, you may be asked during your interview a question along the lines of, 'in what type of environment do you work best?' This is really for Goldman Sachs interviewers to assess whether you would be a good cultural fit for them.

How to prepare

Obviously start by Googling ‘Goldman Sachs culture’. There’s been a lot written about this topic, including case studies for academic business courses. What do you learn, and how could your conclusions have relevance to the company’s people and its clients? Don’t forget the firm also has a presence on social media, including LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

While doing the recommended research, jot down a few values that are prized by the bank. In its 2013 annual report it said it has ‘built a culture that values teamwork, collaboration and dialogue’, and it still values those things.

Then match your findings with examples from your own academic, work, extracurricular or personal experiences to show that you’re not only aware of Goldman Sachs’ values, but you have demonstrated them in your own life. When have you worked effectively in a team? Have you ever contributed to your community? Goldman Sachs is committed to investing in communities.

Don’t be thrown by questions commercial and technical questions

A very large part of understanding Goldman Sachs is having a grasp of its business. It’s no surprise that it seeks graduates who have commercial awareness. This means having a very good knowledge of its global markets, its competitors, and how its industry could be affected by wider financial, political and global events.

Particularly at second interviews for analyst positions, you could well be asked for your opinions on the markets: these could range from something along the lines of ‘Tell me about a recent deal that’s interested you’ to ‘What do you think is behind the markets’ volatility at the moment?’ to ‘Recommend me a stock’. However, according to internet forums, you could also be asked how you would handle technical aspects of the job: these could range from ‘Briefly explain a discounted cash flow analysis’ to ‘Which is the best method of valuing a company and why?’ or ‘Why can’t you use EV/Earnings or Price/EBITDA as valuation metrics’.

How to answer technical/commercial questions

There’s no getting away from the fact that you should have read up on how markets work before the interview. When you are in the interview, don’t bluff it if you don’t know the answer. Confess your ignorance and, if possible, explain how you would go about finding the information to give the answer. If it feels sensible, briefly turn the discussion to a related technical topic about which you know more and one that is still relevant to Goldman Sachs.

Relate to Goldman Sachs’ competitors

To be honest, it is much less forgivable if you don’t show the following general knowledge about the company’s clients and the financial landscape in which the Goldman Sachs operates – whether or not you’re asked these questions:

  • Who are our clients?
  • What are the biggest issues facing our industry?
  • Who are our competitors? What are the differences between them and us?
  • What is the difference between Goldman Sachs client X and Goldman Sachs client Y? Take, for example, an institutional investor and a pension fund.

How to prepare

Allocate time to research Goldman Sachs’ competitors. Who are they? How are they performing? Is there anything unique about their business strategies? Again, look in financial publications for reports and commentary on recent activities.

Focus your response to the questions

If asked questions such as ‘Who are our competitors?’ and ‘What are the differences between them and us?’ avoid simply listing facts and names – doing this would tell the interviewers that your knowledge is limited.

Ensure your response has depth by making one or two comparisons between banks or investment management firms. You could, for instance, draw on the example above and mention that J.P. Morgan's investment banking arm has been the main driver of growth at the organisation; is this the case at Goldman Sachs?

It is advisable that you do specific preparation for any questions about the differences between Goldman Sachs' clients, as it’d be difficult to tackle them otherwise. To deliver a structured answer, think about two or three things that make the clients different. They could be the examples above, or the types of clients they in turn serve. Then identify what products and services the clients may want or be offered. However, bear in mind that this question could just be another way of finding out if you know what the bank’s main products and services are and who they’re targeted at; they might not want an encyclopaedic answer.

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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