Goldman Sachs interview questions

Goldman Sachs is one of the most reputable investment banks in the world, and their application process is appropriately rigorous. Each year Goldman Sachs will receive thousands of applications for a a relatively small number of positions, so your application and CV need to be as competitive as possible if you want to succeed.

Students need not come from a particular academic background; Goldman Sachs accepts student from a wide variety of degrees for its graduate schemes. That being said, the more technical the role, the more likely that a technical degree will be favoured.

The application process at GS consists of:

  • An online application form
  • First interview and testing
  • Second round interviews

Goldman Sachs Competencies

The main purpose of this process is for them to decide whether your personality would be a good fit with their team, and whether you are motivated enough to perform to their standards. As such, it is essential that you familiarise yourself with the way Goldman Sachs operates – what makes them unique, what markets they operate in, and the qualities they are looking for in their employees - and think carefully about why this appeals to you, and what you could bring to the table.

The core competencies that Goldman Sachs looks for in its employees include:

  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Problem-solving
  • Creativity
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Personal initiatives
  • High standards of excellence
  • Client service

You should also be looking to demonstrate commercial awareness and commitment to career, and an understanding of what services Goldman Sachs provides to its clients in each stage of this application and interview process.


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Online Application Form

In your online application you will be expected to provide:

  • Personal details
  • Educations history and transcripts
  • Examination and degree results
  • Leadership experience
  • Language and technical skills
  • Covering letter of 300 words or less, detailing your motivation for applying to Goldman
  • CV

Note: Applicants may choose to up to three different combinations of preferred division/location.

There is no online testing for internships. However, for certain entry-level graduate positions/divisions you may also be required to complete an initial online assessment before you are invited to an interview. This will consist of three SHL-type tests: verbal, numerical, and logical, each lasting 30 minutes with 15 minutes of practice questions preceding them.

First Interview and Tests

Interview

This will be a minimum 30-minute, one-on-one interview with a senior member from the department to which you have applied. It is a competency based interview, designed to determine whether you would be a good addition to the company. You will be looking to demonstrate the competencies listed above and show that you are "bright, articulate and genuine." You should know your CV intimately and will be asked to elaborate on anything you may have included in your application.

You can reasonably expect to be asked the following questions: * Why Goldman Sachs? * Why this particular position? (especially if your degree is in an unrelated field) * Describe a time when you were a leader in a team situation * Tell me about a conflict that you experience within a team, and how you resolved it. * Tell me about a time when you succeeded under stressful circumstances * Which financial markets interest you at the moment? * Why should we hire you over all the other candidates?

You will also be expected to have a number of questions for your interviewer, so ensure that you that you come with relevant and insightful queries prepared.

The above are common first interview questions, though many people report getting unexpected questions asked of them, so you should be prepared for anything, as the content of the interview will of course depend on the interviewer. If you have applied to a position for which you have a relevant background you may be asked industry-specific questions, such as your opinion on the cause of a recent financial crisis, or the effects of quantitative easing.

Numerical & Verbal Test

Following the interview, you will sit one verbal and one numerical reasoning test, each lasting 20 minutes. The verbal test is similar to the online SHL tests, though the numerical test is created by Goldman Sachs, and may involve multiple corrects answers to a single question. No calculator is permitted. They do not require any skills beyond GCSE, although candidates with a non-mathematical degree would benefit from practising these kinds of tests before they attend the interview. There is no fixed cut-off score for the results of these tests; however, due to the high number of applicants, a near-perfect score is usually necessary to proceed to the next round.

Most people will need to practise the numerical reasoning test to pass it. Pages 7-23 of this book may prove extremely useful in preparing for any of the numerical tests.

Note: Applicants to the Technology division do not sit these tests, but instead complete a 30-minute Case Study, designed to test analytical thinking and problem solving abilities. Applicants to short-term summer internships are not required to sit these tests either.

Wait times of up to two weeks for responses after the first interview are not uncommon, as they deal with a high number of candidates. However, if you have a time-sensitive offer from another bank, it is best to send an email informing Goldman Sachs of this, and they will likely respond to you in a timely manner. The entire process can take upwards of one month to complete.

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Second Round Interviews

The final round of interviews consists of three 30-minute interviews, with two interviewers present at each. There may sometimes be a fourth interview with a VP as well.

At least one of these interviews will be more technical, focusing on your knowledge of the industry and current markets, and you may also be asked some logical questions and brain-teasers at some point in the day. The types of questions you are asked will depend on the position to which you have applied, and the level of knowledge you can reasonably be expected to have based on your qualifications. The overall focus of these interviews is still mainly competency, as in the first interview, so prepare plenty of examples of your personal struggles, goals, achievements, and other typical competency based questions.

Types of Questions You May be Asked:

  • How would you value a certain company?
  • Pitch me a stock
  • How would the rise of China threaten the German economy?
  • What is the exchange rate between the Euro and the American dollar?
  • What are some problems investors might face in the future?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • Give an example of a moral dilemma your have experienced
  • How do you cope with stress?
  • You are sitting in a boat in the middle of a lake (alone) and drop in the anchor - Does the water level increase or decrease?
  • Tell me about something interesting that you have read recently
  • How would you convince a client that their request cannot be met?
  • What will you be doing in your first year at GS?
  • Give me a recap of your life in 30 seconds
  • How many manhole covers are there in London?

For questions such as this, they are of course not expecting a correct answer, but are interested in your method of reasoning.

Tips

  • Interact with and learn the names of your interviewers, you may be questioned on this later, and people skills are highly valued.
  • Read about the company, and the division to which you are applying, know exactly what it is they do.
  • Read the Goldman Sachs annual report (available online)
  • Read the Financial Times or other financial publications regularly prior to the interview
  • Language skills are an asset, so be sure to emphasize these if you are multilingual.
  • Confidence and drive are an asset, arrogance is not. Be sure not to appear too egotistical.
  • Avoid using technical jargon to try to impress interviewers unless you are fully confident of its correct meaning and use.
  • Examine the Goldman Sachs news feed above to see where they have recently appeared in the headlines.

For further information about graduate jobs, interviews and assessment days at Goldman Sachs or other investment banks ask questions in the WikiJob forums.