After 4 rounds of interviews, I was rejected. This sucks. What can I do to improve my skill set? How do I get very very comfortable with financial statements, modeling in Excel (I’ve completed WSP), picking stocks, applying what I learned in CFA to the real world, etc.?
Sorry to hear, rejection in any round hurts, but that late is painful. How do these skills compare to what you’re currently doing? If they are very different, and you are having trouble getting the job you’re looking for, MBA might be a good option for you to get more real work application of how to do these things.
Toph I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve been there myself and it feels like a locomotive running through your stomache. Like yourself I work in operations. I’m going for my MBA as that seems like an appropriate next step for me since job listings are light and I have a crappy skill set too. Do you have a personal portfolio? Try rolling some dice on a few stocks you think will do well and use that for talking points in an interview. I’ve picked up a few small quantities of stocks I’ve considered set for growth. Albeit my plan did not work, it gave me a real life example of my financial statement analysis in action.
topher Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > After 4 rounds of interviews, I was rejected. This > sucks. > > What can I do to improve my skill set? How do I > get very very comfortable with financial > statements, modeling in Excel (I’ve completed > WSP), picking stocks, applying what I learned in > CFA to the real world, etc.? I don’t understand this. They interviewed you four times and then told you your skillset wasn’t good enough? Usually, if you even get one interview it is because your skillset is good enough on paper – did your flub up in the interview? I am assuming your resume was accurate and not exaggerated. This seems like a pretty weak way to dismiss someone from the interview process. I don’t know all the details, but I would say that you should keep improving yourself (as always), but don’t let this rattle your confidence.
agree with bromion- after 4 rounds its not about skillset, you wouldnt have even been interviewed or made it thru a round if your skills were sketchy. After that I think the technical part is done (can this person do the job?), then it seems to become more about fit. If anything I just think there was someone that might have fit in better, for whatever reason, he’s an alumni of the same place others there are, he plays fantasy football and you dont, whatever it may be.
I hear this is a good book to apply your CFA learnings to real world: http://www.amazon.com/Principles-Finance-Excel-Simon-Benninga/dp/0195301501/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_b I plan to purchase it soon.
agree with bromion I doubt that skill set was the real reason, otherwise you wouldn’t even have made it to the 4th round. Ask them how you can improve your skill set to be fit for the job. I had an interview where the guy asked me if I knew VBA and macros. I said no, but followed up by asking if he’d recommend some good tutorial books. I didn’t get the job but at least I knew what I had to do to get a similar job and what the best way was to go about acquiring that skill.
Also, what kind of job was this for? What level CFA candidate are you? I just went through a bunch of interviews after taking L3 (passed), and I would say 80+% of my interviews did not even bother to ask me technical questions. These were front office research and PM roles. We did talk about my experience, but they weren’t busting my chops with any DCF, modeling or accounting questions. At the risk of stating the obvious, the further you get down the line with the CFA, the less you have to worry about them questioning your skillset. For your particular case (to answer your question about improving), I would recommend Wall St. Prep so that you can get more comfortable with modeling and applying your CFA knowledge.
This job wasn’t even FO. It was a MO job supporting the FO. My resume was accurate, but my current experience is not at an asset management firm. I work in deferred compensation plans (similar to 401k’s) and we offer things like mutual funds… so obviously I don’t know much about individual stock selection. But anyway here is a quick summary of what happened: Round 1 - Met with CFO; he knew I didn’t know much, and said that he was very impressed by my educational background and said I want to bring you in for the 2nd round and I’m doing this because of your educational background, not your experience. I also told him I was “hungry,” which he definitely liked. Round 2 - Met with managers of Analytics team (MO), the people I would be directly reporting to. They liked me and said they would like to bring me back for 2 more rounds. Round 3 - Breakfast with PM and Senior Analyst from FO. I’ll admit this was a little awkward since they were talking about topics that were flying over my head. I told them what I know, but that I am willing to work hard and learn. Round 4 - Met with 2 other analysts of Analytics team (MO). This was a very disjointed interview. I felt like they weren’t prepared, and they asked some lame questions. But nonetheless, I answered their questions and felt I did fine. IMO, Round 3 was the killer. Obviously I don’t have much experience. I’m in operations and I’m 24. How much do I really know? If a 21 yo out of college can get a sellside analyst gig, can’t I learn as well?
A couple of other notes: As far as getting comfy with fin stmts I think you have to play with and/or read them. Or look at analyst reports and follow along with it…dont take it for face value. If they say something look to the details to find out why, why this affects that, etc…you will come up with things you look for such as LT debt/cap, EBITDA, etc… Stock picking…I think a lot of this is just thinking. I always think about sectors, or industries, and what I think is coming for them. Then looking at who the players are, and from there comparing them based on ratio analysis, and then dive into the fundamentals on a couple of them…I dont have time to look at 200 fin stmts to pick a stock, you need some ways to screen them for what you want. Put some time in thinking about your filters/screens and that will be a good start in my mind… Modeling…ya got me. Lastly it is Friday, take your frustration out on a 12-pack and hit it again next week, forget about it…
It’s almost impossible to say what dinged you, so you might as well stop driving yourself crazy and just move on. If I were to guess, one or more of the people might not have liked you, for whatever reason (probably nothing to do with you). They may also have had a more qualified candidate drop out of the sky who has the exact qualifications they are looking for after they interviewed you several times already. Or maybe someone high up the chain got involved in the process late and chucked you – the interview process can be extremely random and perplexing (and disappointing) but don’t let it get you. At least you got some experience interviewing and will pack a stronger punch next time.
bromion Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > It’s almost impossible to say what dinged you, so > you might as well stop driving yourself crazy and > just move on. Agreed From the sounds of it this wasn’t really the job would wanted anyways - I believe you eluded to that fact to them at some point. Maybe they didn’t want someone who would be looking to move on in a year or 2.
In topher’s defense, he could have been dinged for any number of reasons. Frankly, dinged is a tough word because he obviously made it very far in the interview process, so he definitely had the merits for the job. Typically, what happens after you go through so many rounds of interviews is that the team gets together and thinks about who would be the best overall fit for the group, with the “ability to hit the ground running” being the most important skill set. As you move up in the ranks, the potential time required to train a prospective hire becomes a real consideration, because that takes money and effort. Most of us have better things to do than to train other people. topher, you are in a weird situation where they want you to know how to do the job, but the catch-22 is that how can you learn the job if you haven’t had a chance to do it? This is a tough conundrum that most of us have to face. One thing I had to constantly prove to people is why I’d be a good fit for private equity – very often, people in PE say they want to hire candidates that already have PE experience. Well that’s a given, but what about the many other people like myself who didn’t have PE experience but can still do the job because we have the dedication and horsepower for it? It’s one of those things where sometimes you just have to meet the type of person who’s more willing to give you a chance. I know you probably feel a sense of disappointment, but try not to – this is where alumni connections will really help you. By the way, what’s been your success rate with tapping into the Cal network? To be honest I am somewhat surprised you haven’t been able to find more help that way.
topher Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > IMO, Round 3 was the killer. Obviously I don’t > have much experience. I’m in operations and I’m > 24. How much do I really know? If a 21 yo out of > college can get a sellside analyst gig, can’t I > learn as well? Yes, I’m sure you could learn how to do the job that you want. If I spent time thinking about ways for you to improve your candidacy, I would probably come up with a few points, but the most important thing is to not get down on yourself. Other than that, one other valuable thing you can do is to speak with alums. When I wanted to switch from sell-side research to PE, I had conversations scheduled with alums from my school at least two or three evenings out of the week. I knew it was going to be an uphill battle convincing someone I could do the PE job, even though I knew that I could – but once I found someone that was willing to give me a chance, I didn’t want to blow it. Through my conversations, I tried to learn as much about what that person did every day, so even though I didn’t have prior transacting experience, I was eventually able to visualize myself in the shoes of a PE associate because I had so many people walk me through their day-to-day experiences, including both their highlights as well as their tribulations. Understanding the role you’re interviewing for is absolutely critical to nailing your job interview, and sometimes, if you know how to present yourself, being able to “talk the talk” can be a pretty good proxy for actual work experience. In addition, you have to recognize that the job market is now more competitive than it’s been in the last few years, and with lots of experienced professionals having been laid off or who are trying to move on, it leaves people like yourself without direct prior work experience having to fight an uphill battle. It’s a tough situation, but you just have to hang in there.
How do I tap into my alumni network? I see bios on websites of people who went to my school but what do I do? Should I just call and ask for openings and/or their help? How do I spin it in such a way to not come off as a pushy, used car salesman type of guy? I’ve contacted alumni friends who have good FO jobs, but they are analysts/associates and it’s not like they have much say in who gets interviewed or hired. Most people I talk to seem unwilling to help. I think I’m just frustrated that’s all. I do all the work in my operations department and now I’m considered the workhorse here. And this work sucks.
The job is given to the one who applies before the interview rounds are even started. Network your way to your next job. It’s not about having a better skill set but being around at the right moment and having approximately the skill they’re looking for. The more desperate they are, the better are your chances. Buy the book “What colour is your parachute” and “Network yourself to your next job” and “How to find a new job in 90 days” and similar books. They’ll teach you what you need to know re networking.
Yeah - just move on man. Send them a thank you note, etc. I go to alum events in the city sometimes but haven’t really had time lately. My school has a pretty strong network and I usually just email people randomly and they help out or I help them out when I get emails. We have a ‘whitepages’ of all the alums registered on the alumni site for my school.
topher Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > How do I tap into my alumni network? I see bios on > websites of people who went to my school but what > do I do? Should I just call and ask for openings > and/or their help? How do I spin it in such a way > to not come off as a pushy, used car salesman type > of guy? > > I’ve contacted alumni friends who have good FO > jobs, but they are analysts/associates and it’s > not like they have much say in who gets > interviewed or hired. Most people I talk to seem > unwilling to help. > > I think I’m just frustrated that’s all. I do all > the work in my operations department and now I’m > considered the workhorse here. And this work > sucks. I think I explained this to you in an e-mail I wrote you a few months ago, but just sign onto the Cal alumni network, browse through the listings of people who are in the career you’re trying to get into, and ask if you can set up an informational meeting with them that you can carry over the phone or something. Tell them that all you’re looking for is 15-20 minutes of their time so that you can learn more about their career. Don’t forget to explain to them who you are and why you want to get into that field. This is exactly what I did when I was contacting alums in PE, and I was able to connect with about half a dozen alumni over the span of two weeks. There were probably another half dozen that never wrote back, but if you can just set up an informal dialogue, sometimes your enthusiasm and your knowledge can land you an interview and ultimately get you the offer. FYI, that is actually what happened to me and how I got my current job!
numi thanks for the tips. I will definitely look into this.
Quickly, sometimes employers have more than one good prospective employees and they string along people until their top choice accepts the offer. Also helps in negotiation etc.