How To Interview For MBA Jobs (Part II)

How To Interview For MBA Jobs (Part II)

I didn’t forget about this important topic, I just got a smidge distracted.  Working on my fall vacation plans, trying to come up with something epic that will let me get max value out of some of the insane casino offers I’ve been getting from Vegas….you know you are a true sucker when they will dole out tons of sh*t just to get your dumbass in the door again…Lion King, motherfucker!

We’ve also decided to go on a short drinking sabbatical, given that our apartment generally resembles the recycling bin at a wine tasting. (Shit, I thought that was gonna be pretty a pretty vivid simile-like device, but maybe I should be specific: we have been consuming an absurd amount of wine – my urine has the distinct legs, body and tannins of Yellow Tail shiraz/cab.)  And you know that when you drink wine, you crave Taco Bell – and those new half pound burritos are not dainty.  You eat 2-3 of them at once and you’ll start to really feel it.  The transformation to lazy fat fuck is nearly complete. S0 we are trying for 2 weeks of no drinking, and getting back to old workout routine + adding two spin classes per week on top.  Just did my first one spin class, and I am seriously considering barfing…not good times…

But back to MBA interviews (Part I is here) and such, let the sagaciousness roll on….

Other Things To Do Or Consider Before/During/After Your MBA Interview (Not to be confused with an MBNA interview)

5. Never give up hope – You are bound to experience some disappointment, particularly if you are a 30+ year old career-changer who is unfamiliar with the concept of “shares outstanding.”  As I mentioned previously, I thought I was destined for a sweet internship at the dearly departed Lehman Brothers.  They thought differently, and suggested I take my wails and tears elsewhere.  Almost certainly, you will find that there are 4-5 Golden Children in your desired field (be it banking, consulting, whoring, etc) – and they will get offers from every firm out there.  This is typically based on the fact that they have previous experience in the field, and are familiar with “shares outstanding” and even know where to find it on SEC documents.   Don’t despair over these D-bags – they are typically holding out for PE or VC (does that even exist anymore?) and will wipe their collective asses with an offer from a scummy bulge bracket firm (I’m back to speaking specifically about investment banking if you didn’t notice).

So there will be a trickle down effect, and eventually some scraps will fall your way.   And the particular irony is, once one firm finds you desirable, you will be desired by all firms.  It will be a feeding frenzy.  If each bank could tie you to an 18-wheeler a la The Hitcher and each stake claim to an appendage and torso remnant, they would. (There might be some soul-eating, too, in that scenario, but that’s typically down the road a bit).  The reason they want to have at least a part of you is to maintain the firm’s recruiting “yield.” (Yield = # offers accepted / # offers extended).  Having a low yield is undesirable, because it means that students do not hold the firm in high esteem, and would prefer to work elsewhere – this hurts the feelings of the employees of that bank.  You see, at a service company like an investment bank, the most important assets available are the people.   I know, that probably sounds like bullshit – you’d think maybe the bundles of capital available for lending that can lead to favorable capital markets and M&A relationships are almost as important as some first year analysts.  But too many senior people have told me that, no, it’s the people.  So I’m unveiling this truism just for you.

To generate a better yield, the recruiting teams will attempt to identify a few only-mildly-retarded career changers/hard-chargers who are certain to fall prostrate at the chance to work for Bank X.  And, even though this happens each and every year in 99% of cases, these people will suddenly appear to the look like a cartoon leg of lamb to competing banks. There will be dinners, there will be phone calls, there will be some false fronts.  When you started the process, you were a 20:1 longshot to even get a gig at J.T. Marlin. Now, you are going to final rounds at Goldman Fucking Sachs!

My personal experience – The above happened to me; I was a just a bumpkin dropped off the turnip truck, finding no love from any of the Brothers of Wall Street.  Then, I serendipitiously had a great interview with TARP Bank I, in which I met some gentlemen who enjoyed cursing and hazing potential new recruits.  Soon I had an offer in hand, and what do you fucking know, I’m staying at the Hudson Hotel waiting for my final rounds at GS a scant few days later.   One word for you: Baller.   I’ll find out all about these mysterious “shares outstanding” at some point, right now I’m on the precipice of mastering the fucking universe.   Alas, I did not fare well in the “Super Saturday” (32 interviews in 8 hours) at GS (ironically black-balled by an ex-submariner who did not find my “sense of humor” to his liking; never be anything close to yourself in interviews if you are kind of a dick.), and ending up joyously accepting the original offer from TARP Bank I.   That was for a summer associate job.  The results of that actual gig were quite unpleasant for all parties – my bosses were actively urging me to go see movies during the middle of the day in my final weeks – I was not a natural banker.   Lehman Brothers stood by and laughed at my ineptitude.

This has really strayed from my initial point, but I’m not rewriting this shit, I have to see if I can find some pictures that will really capture the essence of this content.   Anyway, probably the greatest example of not giving up is my experience with the mutual fund company Putnam.   When interviewing for a full time job, I took a couple of shots outside banking (as I mentioned before, the consulting firms were none too impressed) and Putnam was one of them. I was fortuitiously interviewed by the guy who covered the fast food chains for Putnam. Never before had the market share, same-store sales and consumer satisfaction models that I had built for Arby’s and Taco Bell come in so handy.   I had more insight into these firms than he did – particularly conducting channel checks and testing new items. We hit it off perfectly, and he basically told me then – in a huge violation of interviewing protocol – that I was a shoo-in for the second round. Shoo-in. Well, there has been some delay, but I’m holding out hope.  I know after eight years I should probably concede that they aren’t going to call, but I maintain my lonely vigil in good faith.   Sometimes these things take time – call me, P-Nam, I’m available and have really enhanced my T-Bell model (can sensitize things such as taste/price impact from adding tortilla strips to Cheesy Double Beef Burrito, for example.)

An example of appropriate interview attire.
An example of appropriate interview attire.

6. Make up your fucking mind – As I mentioned before, “yield” is a big deal at banks. Once you receive an offer, you will be hounded to the end of the fucking earth to take it.  Guys who are so senior that they won’t make eye contact with anyone who isn’t a 25 year MD will call you and beg you to have lunch.  This leads to some pretty ironic situations.  For example, some kid who was a junior analyst at Sandisk hits it off with an interviewer at Boutique Bank A – let’s call it Greencore for simplicity.  The guy goes to bat for the applicant and ekes out an offer. Fucking A – now GS, MS, ML, etc all want a piece of this wunderkind who two years prior was mopping the break room.  Say this little fucker scores an offer from Morgan Stanley (actually these examples don’t really work for the current environment, probably 85% of folks would prefer to be at a boutique in the current environment, but let’s consider it a different kind of inverted yield curve.)  Now when the Greencore guy who took the chance on this doofus calls, he’s a second hand citizen, as he’s hearing all about the vaunted history of MS, etc.  Greencore needs an answer but he seemingly agonizes over the decision for six months, talking to approximately 742 people at each firm before deciding to head to MS.  Nice job, dick.

In 99% of these cases, the MBA student is just going to take the more desirable name, and for good reason – the name on your resume means pretty much everything.  In general, in the olden days, if you got laid off at GS, you step down a tier, to ML, SSB, CSFB, etc.  Laid off there, too? Shit, Bear and Lehman would love to have a solid ex-GS/ML banker.   Imagine the deal flow this guy had!  He’ll be a great addition to the team. Laid off there?  Head for BofA or Wachovia.  (Note: if you were laid off for (allegedly) ‘turbating at your desk, head straight to Wachovia).  The options have changed, obviously, but there is still a hierarchy.  (And a tierarchy.)  I can only think of a handful of people that picked someplace over GS or MS given the chance.   I used to just advise every candidate to go where they felt most comfortable, as building a rapport with your group is crucial to a long shelf life in banking.  But, honestly, everyone is putting on a fake front during the recruiting process so it’s hard to get a real bead on your likelihood of success.  So I agree with the best name approach – but for fuck’s sake, don’t belabor this decision needlessly.

My personal experience – When I got my first summer associate offer, I was deliriously grateful to those foul-mouthed bastards who took a chance on giving my Cletus-ass a shot at the big time.  But then GS came a-calling, and the TARP guys were pretty understanding while I finished that process.  Ultimately, GS decided that I was not GS material, so I IMMEDIATELY called TARP Bank I and accepted – no drama (although I had zero other options so no real pat on the back necessary.)  As I interviewed for a permanent position in October 2001, I told everyone that would listen at TARP Bank II that I would accept a position immediately if proffered.  With my newfound knowledge of “shares outstanding” and “accretion/dilution” I overwhelmed the interviewers at TARP Bank II.  That and the fact that I was basically begging and swore on my mother’s life that I work like an absolute dog if they would give me a shot.  They called that night to offer me the job and I accepted on the same phone call in which it was offered.  Done.  I recommend you do the same – especially when down to your last option – yield is important.

Damn, will there be a part III???? Day I of Wine Abstinence is in the books. No big deal. 7% done, practically halfway there.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.