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why are people screwing up the interviews?

On average, for every stupid unprepared candidate there is one interviewer somewhere who is a complete idiot. Those are my impressions from having interviewed candidates, and having been interviewed by people over the years. No significant skew in either direction really.

aznxuguy wrote:

glad to know i’m part of the 75% cuz it’s the new 1%

hahaha, nice

Mobius Strip wrote:

On average, for every stupid unprepared candidate there is one interviewer somewhere who is a complete idiot. Those are my impressions from having interviewed candidates, and having been interviewed by people over the years. No significant skew in either direction really.

Agreed. I have met a lot of bad interviewers too because they don’t know to tame their biases, or because they just don’t see it as an important part of their day. And frankly, I don’t really blame them. Between trying to do your normal job and figuring out plans with buddies for the weekend, walking the dog, taking care of the kids at night, and whatever the hell else people are thinking about….I can totally understand why carving out 45-60 minutes to meet with some guy you don’t know can be seen as more of a burden than a benefit.

For me, I’ve always taking hiring decisions seriously because I care about the negative implications of recommending someone unfit for the job. But, it also often means I have to make some adjustments in my schedule and do some planning ahead of time to think about what questions I’m going to ask the candidate.

Itera;

Are you still looking to fill this position?

I’m in the camp that a lot of interviewers don’t know what they’re doing and create a lose-lose situation for everybody, but the interviewee will end up sounding like the idiot. The opposite is true when the interviewer loses control, falls for the bull**** artist, and ends up hiring somebody useless.

There is no correlation between being competent at your job as a manager and being able to discern talent looking at a CV or meeting candidates in person for a few hours.  It’s mind blowing how many competent candidates get passed by for some arcane reason.

Inducted into the AF Hall of Fame, class of ‘17

Also, I hate to defend the common worker, but fewer companies are willing to train their human capital these days. 

Inducted into the AF Hall of Fame, class of ‘17

Itera, it’s not my intention to beef witchu, but throw out some positive comments and optimism once in awhile.  We gotta give some encouragement to the young bright eyed L1ers discounting their first cash flow.  We don’t want to feed the narcassism that is rampant around FiDi.

CFAvsMBA wrote:

Itera, it’s not my intention to beef witchu, but throw out some positive comments and optimism once in awhile.  We gotta give some encouragement to the young bright eyed L1ers discounting their first cash flow.  We don’t want to feed the narcassism that is rampant around FiDi.

I’m writing this comment here after I wrote the below to appologize for vomitiing text. I do that a lot.


I agree. As a card carrying member of the “Hacksaw MBA Club”, I fought tooth and nail to get where I’m at, and am clearly the black sheep on the desk if you were to look at backgrounds and credentials.

That being said, to put some perspective into my “water and coffee” comment which I can see being taken as a vulgar display of power and being full of myself. Realize I said “When we go outside using an internal referral”. We have filled ~20 new positions at my HF since I was hired. All but two were from internal referrals. (Yes, the unfortunate truth is most of the “sexy” buy-side jobs are who you know. Hell.. not most of, I’d say almost all of them.) The two jobs that weren’t internal referrals, one was from a recruiter, and the other was from a posting we put on a job board… Let me tell you what happens when a HF puts a posting on a job board (I’ve seen us do it twice)

Both times we received between 300-400 resumes in the first 2 days and have to take the posting down. Even though we don’t mention we are a HF, people can read between the lines about the requirements of the role and the products we trade and sniff out that this isn’t your run-of-the-mill job opportunity. We then take this REAM of paper our Admin hands us and group it into three groups: 1. PhD’s 2. MS’s and 3. Everyone Else. Then we go through each pile and separate top schools from the rest. We then give a more in depth look in the following order:

Top PhDs > Other PhDs / Top MS > Other MS / Top School Undergrad > No Name Undergrad.

Starting with Top PhDs we then look at work experience as compared to the role, other perks (CFA, etc…) and identify candidates we want to call for an interview. After The Top PhDs we look at Other PhDs and Top MSs… and so forth down the list. We stop at about 10-15 candidates. We call and set up first round interviews. Then we go back to the list where we left off and look for another 10-15 or so. We repeat this with the end goal to get ~5-10 people to call back for second rounds, 2-3 for third rounds, and 1 to hire.

The first time we did this, we found a candidate before breaking into the “Other MS” pile (role eventually went to an internal referral). The second time, we had to go all the way to “No Name Undergrad” and actually ended up hiring a recent grad from a so-so school who is kicking ass, taking names, and I’m sure making more money right now than most of, if not all the people he graduated with (This is my positivity and hope for all the guys looking to break into finance). He showed spark, drive, intellegence, answered honestly, didn’t try to BS us, and I knew from his first interview we were going to hire him.,

As you can see we had to interview a **** load of people, and I’m not lying when I say I’ve seen so much fluff from candidates on resumes and heard so much BS come out of thier mouths that I am a bit jaded when we go to “general population” to fill a role. Me saying “it’s basically over” if you accept my water or coffee offer is just another way to thin the herd from ~50 people I have to talk to who are basically identical on paper. I don’t want the guy who wants me to take a minute or two to get them a drink 3 seconds after we met… I want the guy who is eager to jump right in and show me what they got. They don’t know I have 10 other guys to meet that day (on TOP of my workload), but it should be assumed I’m pretty damn busy and If you want me to give you 30 mins to an Hour to really talk about what you are looking for and your background rather than just 10-15 mins of going over your resume, you better grab my attention from the get go. Harsh… maybe. But sometimes your haircut is enough for me to get the impression you’re a douche.

Hiring from an internal referral is a totally different animal. Most of the time half the firm already knows the guy / has worked with him/her in the past and it’s basically then a matter of if we are looking for their skillset at that time. If not, we keep them in mind for when they do. They bascailly start at the “Third Round Interview” stage. If they ask for a cappucino, the admin will make it. :)

Point being: don’t do anything to give someone an excuse to weed you out. If you’re going to get rejected, you want it to be for a legitimate reason, not becasue you were in a lineup with three other “you’s” and you did something out of the ordinary. (Ok… maybe my coffee and water criteria IS a little harsh : )  ) Just do the basics… show up on time, get a haircut, shine your shoes, wear a suit, bring your resume. Follow protocol and then let the content of the interview be what stands out. Trust me, after you leave, the people in the office who didn’t meet with you SAW you in the office and formed an impression. I have actually been asked by a colleague after the candidate left, “So how was Mr. Too-Lazy-To-Shave”

Still agree with the original poster, that the canditate pool is getting worse. I’d say half of the 400 original resumes are just **** to begin with. Spelling mistakes, bad grammar, and no one gives two ****s if you play poker. (If he wants to play poker, have him move to Vegas. We trade bonds here mother$%^&&!” … actual quote I heard). We might get another 100 that have no business applying to the level of the posted role. Then ~100 people of various education and backgrounds that can do it. No matter your background, we have about 5 or 6 guys IDENTICAL to you who we are interviewing. The truth is we can be picky, and we are. 400 resumes after 2 days… There’s more out there if we wanted them.

Advice for candidates still looking:

Keep hustling. You never know when that role will turn up (We have hired from job postings).

Network. If you are offered to go out with a counterparty, or coverage, or service provider, GO. (as long as its compliant). The street is small and people remember you. As I said earlier, referrals are HUGE, notably on the buy-side. Join groups, do meet ups, whatever. People remember people, not words on a resume.


itera wrote:

-another guy during Q&A literally asks, “what’s work/life balance like, I highly value that.”  why would you even say that? do you have any sense at all?

What’s wrong with this?

I wouldn’t ask it but a lot of people would quit if it was too hectic making you conduct another round of interviewers. Fair play to him i’d say

"Thank you for serving our country", god bless America.

@villnius:

Unless the function you’re looking to hire for is very heavy quant, why does having a PhD or MS make a difference? In fact, I’d find having an ok PhD to be a detractor if someone from a top school undergrad can do it since I’d assume the compensation expectations would be higher despite lower ability (I mean why bother with theoretical higher education bs if you’re in finance). The last thing I’d want to do is find a “perma-schooler”. 

villnius wrote:

I don’t want the guy who wants me to take a minute or two to get them a drink 3 seconds after we met… I want the guy who is eager to jump right in and show me what they got. They don’t know I have 10 other guys to meet that day (on TOP of my workload), but it should be assumed I’m pretty damn busy….

Villnius doesn’t always have a free minute or two…but when he does, he posts a tome on AF about how busy he is at his “we trade bonds here mutha****a” fund that can’t find an admin to get people water/coffee.

Don’t you screen them by phone first? I think that would cut down on many of these…I also agree with your comment on taking a look at hacksaw university grads, many of them may just be thrilled to get a chance.

LPoulin133 wrote:

villnius wrote:

I don’t want the guy who wants me to take a minute or two to get them a drink 3 seconds after we met… I want the guy who is eager to jump right in and show me what they got. They don’t know I have 10 other guys to meet that day (on TOP of my workload), but it should be assumed I’m pretty damn busy….

Villnius doesn’t always have a free minute or two…but when he does, he posts a tome on AF about how busy he is at his “we trade bonds here mutha****a” fund that can’t find an admin to get people water/coffee.

Inducted into the AF Hall of Fame, class of ‘17

aznxuguy wrote:

@villnius:

Unless the function you’re looking to hire for is very heavy quant, why does having a PhD or MS make a difference? In fact, I’d find having an ok PhD to be a detractor if someone from a top school undergrad can do it since I’d assume the compensation expectations would be higher despite lower ability (I mean why bother with theoretical higher education bs if you’re in finance). The last thing I’d want to do is find a “perma-schooler”. 

The role we went to the job boards for was basically trade support. Our shop is a firm believer of promoting within and most trade support people move to the desk in some capacity within 2-3 years. For job requirements we only list a BS, (and as I posted, we ended up hiring an undergrad). But out of the 100 or so “legitimate” resumes we get from the 400, I would say 10 or so are PhD level (typically they just recently defended their doctoral dissertaion and don’t want to stay in academia.) A good 30-40 are MS level, and the rest undergrad. From our perspective of knowing the role will move to the desk, having the “overqualiified” person on trade support is just temporary, and we know we have someone on deck to move to the desk who can handle some of the more exotic stuff. As for compensation, it is not listed in the posting but it is very competitive based on not just the role, but what you bring to the table.

We do some phone interviews if they are not in the area. We will fly you in for live interviews if you advance in the process. But typically, if you can make it in, we would prefer to see you in person.

former trader wrote:

LPoulin133 wrote:

villnius wrote:

I don’t want the guy who wants me to take a minute or two to get them a drink 3 seconds after we met… I want the guy who is eager to jump right in and show me what they got. They don’t know I have 10 other guys to meet that day (on TOP of my workload), but it should be assumed I’m pretty damn busy….

Villnius doesn’t always have a free minute or two…but when he does, he posts a tome on AF about how busy he is at his “we trade bonds here mutha****a” fund that can’t find an admin to get people water/coffee.

I contribute to this forum when I get a chance as it breaks up the day. We just finished our futures roll so it’s been slow the past few days, hense my ability to write a novel. I don’t think I posted much in Feb.

And we have a great admin, btw. Who, now that I think of it, probably offers them coffee or water when she first shows candidates to the conference room. …Now I REALLY don’t like the people who accept my coffee or water offer. Too good to accept from our admin?  :)

CvM, it’s clear your first hater post was just you looking for anything I said to hate on, and that your true reason for it was you felt that I was “putting people down”.  You couldn’t be more wrong. Those mistakes people made, anyone can gain from.  In a world where finance job competition is fierce, you simply cannot risk any negative bias, not for the jobs where we get over 10,000 resumes and there’s 1 opening.  And seriously, showing up late? not being able to speak decently on your own resume and what you did? are those really debatable?. and Implying you want a lot of free time outside of work? If that’s what you really want, go teach 3rd grade public school.

Villnius, it’s great you posted the process you guys use to recruit.  It’s pretty similiar to my shop. The simple fact is my internal recruiters get flooded with tons of resumes from all the top schools, which already yields enough to keep the interview meetings totally filled as is.  So unless there’s a really strong referral from somewhere, it’s rare we have to look at the pile from a Tier 3 school.  

Ask yourself realistically, do you see an employer who has the pick of candidates to choose from say to their recruiting “yes, please make sure to eliminate all the candidates from the top 20 univerisites/colleges.”

so if you want to flame, go ahead. guess what? it doesn’t change the process.

Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and greatest weakness.

villnius wrote:

former trader wrote:

LPoulin133 wrote:

villnius wrote:

I don’t want the guy who wants me to take a minute or two to get them a drink 3 seconds after we met… I want the guy who is eager to jump right in and show me what they got. They don’t know I have 10 other guys to meet that day (on TOP of my workload), but it should be assumed I’m pretty damn busy….

Villnius doesn’t always have a free minute or two…but when he does, he posts a tome on AF about how busy he is at his “we trade bonds here mutha****a” fund that can’t find an admin to get people water/coffee.

I contribute to this forum when I get a chance as it breaks up the day. We just finished our futures roll so it’s been slow the past few days, hense my ability to write a novel. I don’t think I posted much in Feb.

And we have a great admin, btw. Who, now that I think of it, probably offers them coffee or water when she first shows candidates to the conference room. …Now I REALLY don’t like the people who accept my coffee or water offer. Too good to accept from our admin?  :)

I’m actaully totally ok with candidate saying yes to a bottle of water.  If they ask for coffee,cream,and sugar. then we have a problem..

Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and greatest weakness.

itera wrote:

. and Implying you want a lot of free time outside of work? If that’s what you really want, go teach 3rd grade public school.

That’s not what he implied though is it?

It’s a stupid move when the employer is holding all the cards and maybe he should’ve done his research but it isn’t an unreasonable request at all.

Has high finance always had such gruelling work hours?

"Thank you for serving our country", god bless America.

Some interesting insight from hiring managers in here…

Question for ya’ll, is it comes up that a candidate has a kid/kids, is that a big negative mark? Do you actively try seek this info?

We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning. And you’ll say, 'Please, please. It’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.' And I’ll say, 'No, it isn’t!' We have to keep winning!

I learned in the CFA program that markets are efficient.  If your open position is so grand and mighty, I find it hard to believe that the rockstar candidate hasn’t found it yet…hmmm.

^ This is true. Unless there are just no stellar financiers left in the world, there is clearly something wrong if none want to work at Itera’s shop, especially since it’s a top shop . Why aren’t you drawing in the stars? That’s where I’d start in this recruitment puzzle…

“I can no longer obey. I have tasted command, and I cannot give it up.”

hpracing007 wrote:

Some interesting insight from hiring managers in here…

Question for ya’ll, is it comes up that a candidate has a kid/kids, is that a big negative mark? Do you actively try seek this info?

1. It is not a negative at all to have a family, I would say the opposite here. Our firm promotes a healthy work/life balance. (Yes, you work long hours… I have disclosed my schedule in other posts, but you are also EXPECTED to take vacations periodically and encouraged to cover for others in your group/area so people can go to their children’s sports/school/doctors appts… etc.)

2. It’s illegal to ask if someone has children… also how old they are, if they plan on ever having kids, if they are married… If the candidate doesn’t get the job they can claim discrimination. I’m not saying some shops don’t do it. But I know we don’t try to seek this info out.

geo wrote:

^ This is true. Unless there are just no stellar financiers left in the world, there is clearly something wrong if none want to work at Itera’s shop, especially since it’s a top shop . Why aren’t you drawing in the stars? That’s where I’d start in this recruitment puzzle…


dude, you have serious reading comprehension problems. I said we got thousands of resumes. we are the ones being stringent on who we let in.

Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and greatest weakness.

isildurrr wrote:

itera wrote:

. and Implying you want a lot of free time outside of work? If that’s what you really want, go teach 3rd grade public school.

That’s not what he implied though is it?

It’s a stupid move when the employer is holding all the cards and maybe he should’ve done his research but it isn’t an unreasonable request at all.

Has high finance always had such gruelling work hours?


interviewing successfully is key. if he asked me what the normal expected hours were, I would immediately know he was asking a work life balance question, and be 100% fine with that question. but throwing in a comment that you “highly value free time” raises red flags.

I have never tried to pry on marriage and family that is indeed illegal

Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and greatest weakness.

itera wrote:
geo wrote:

^ This is true. Unless there are just no stellar financiers left in the world, there is clearly something wrong if none want to work at Itera’s shop, especially since it’s a top shop . Why aren’t you drawing in the stars? That’s where I’d start in this recruitment puzzle…

dude, you have serious reading comprehension problems. I said we got thousands of resumes. we are the ones being stringent on who we let in.

Right, 1000 deadbeats apply and the cream of the crop you let in either show up late or don’t show…that tells me that Top 2 MBAs don’t respect your shop or your open position.  Therefore your ‘top shop’ can’t be a GS, MS, or KKR.

villnius wrote:

Actually, if you accept my offer for water or coffee when I walk into the conference room, it’s basically over from there. You are here to interview…not refresh yourself with a tasty beverage, not to blow up the toilet. You should have done that at the starbucks around the corner 10 minutes before you got here. Although it IS understood if you need a break after 3 or 4 hours meeting with people.. I will BRING you a water and offer to show you to the restroom.)

Why the hell did you ask then?  If your time is so limited and you’re that eager to get interviewing, let them know that and don’t act like you have the extra time.


CFAvsMBA wrote:

itera wrote:
geo wrote:

^ This is true. Unless there are just no stellar financiers left in the world, there is clearly something wrong if none want to work at Itera’s shop, especially since it’s a top shop . Why aren’t you drawing in the stars? That’s where I’d start in this recruitment puzzle…

dude, you have serious reading comprehension problems. I said we got thousands of resumes. we are the ones being stringent on who we let in.

Right, 1000 deadbeats apply and the cream of the crop you let in either show up late or don’t show…that tells me that Top 2 MBAs don’t respect your shop or your open position.  Therefore your ‘top shop’ can’t be a GS, MS, or KKR.


I seriously don’t give a sh*t if you think I’m a McDonald’s manager. keep hating

Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and greatest weakness.

numi wrote:

Back to itera’s original question – I think the reason why there are so many lackluster candidates out there is simply because they think they’re good, but they really aren’t. That is the worst kind of situation imaginable – when someone is unconsciously ignorant of their own lack of ability.

I have to believe that some of the candidates that itera has mentioned likely have no idea what they’re doing wrong, which is a shame. However, they also seem so insufferable that few people would be willing to give them the feedback to turn them in the right direction. Hopefully they develop more self-awareness over time.

This just boils down to maturity level.  Mature, well-adjusted people are able to be self-aware.  Other people convince themselves that they are better than everyone else because that causes them less pain than admitting their own failures.  After a while it develops into narcissism.