Annie Hopkins is the Head of Americas Graduate Recruitment at Deutsche Bank (DB) meaning she manages all of DB’s campus recruiting for internships and jobs for the US. She is also the former Vice President of Diversity Recruiting and Campus Recruiting at Goldman Sachs.
Here are some questions we will be answering:
– What are the essentials of the banking/finance industry?
– What types of entry-level roles exist at an investment bank?
– What might differentiate one investment bank from another?
– Answering the interview question: “Why x bank?”
– How do you break in with a non-traditional background, for example, coming from a non-target school?
– What advice would you give candidates who are prepping for finance/ banking interviews?
Connect with Annie: www.linkedin.com/in/annie-hopkins-9a134925/
Follow our Host on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/aaron-aj-eckstein/
Check out The Final Round: www.thefinalround.com
* Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this podcast are of the host and guest and not of their employers.
“Because every experience that you’ve had is relevant to whatever job you want because you had it and it has impacted who you are as a person.” – Annie Hopkins
Welcome to the Final Round podcast, where our mission is to help you knock out the competition and land your dream job. My name is A.J. Eckstein, and I’m a recent college graduate, a strategy consultant, a five-time intern, and the founder of the Career Coaching Company.
Have you ever wondered why only a few people get past the final round interview and land the job offer? Join me in the ring as I speak with recruiters at top companies to learn the secrets why certain applicants get “knocked-out” and others are still standing after the final round.
Annie Hopkins is the Head of Americas Graduate Recruitment at Deutsche Bank meaning she manages all of DB’s campus recruiting for internships and jobs for the entire United States. She is also the former Vice President of Diversity Recruiting and Campus Recruiting at Goldman Sachs. Let’s dive in.
Hello, Annie! Welcome to the Final Round podcast. How are you doing on this beautiful Saturday morning?
Annie: Thank you. I’m doing well. It’s a little chilly here in New York.
It’s actually pretty nice over here in Los Angeles. Hopefully, it warms up in New York, but I am so excited to have you on the show, Annie. Not only are you a rock star recruiter at Deutsche Bank, but also, I would say a lot of our audience is really interested in banking and finance, whether they’re just starting out in their careers and learning more about it or they have interviews coming up or they want to maybe pivot over to banking and finance. So, I cannot be more excited for this interview and if it’s good with you, let’s dive in.
Annie: Let’s do it.
Essentials of the banking/finance industry
Okay. So, I think many of our listeners including myself the words investment banking or investment banker gets thrown around in school, out of school, in the office, whatever it may be, but it’s very hard to really understand what does an investment banker do. I understand that Deutsche Bank or DB has free virtual networking and introductory events called Essentials of Banking. So, I have to ask what are the essentials of banking?
Annie: Yeah. I think the term investment banking, financial services like bulge bracket banks, they often get used very interchangeably and you’re right, it can sometimes be a little confusing to understand like what do all of these things mean and refer to. In really broad strokes, an investment bank is just a term that’s used to describe a financial institution that helps other companies or other institutions raise money or grow money. That’s a really simplified way of looking at it, but that’s what they do. Investment banks usually do not work with everyday consumers. So, you wouldn’t go to an investment bank to open your own checking account. However, some banks do have commercial arms.
So, this is where sometimes it gets a little confusing like I have a Citibank checking account but that bank, that commercial bank is separate from Citi’s investment banking operations. So, investment banks and the people who work at them support other organizations by either helping them raise money. So, this is something like an IPO, selling stock. They might help another company become bigger or grow through a merger or an acquisition or they help organizations manage their money. So, for example, an investment bank might support a university with the management of their endowment. And then investment banks also provide services to high net-worth individuals. So, these are people who have like millions and millions of dollars and they might work with the private wealth professional at an investment bank.
The great thing about an investment bank is that there is literally every type of professional role you could think of. Well, yes, there are the bankers who are very focused on the financial piece of it. They’re providing advice to clients on a stock offering or a merger. There are wealth managers who are helping clients invest their money. But there are also huge departments that are focused on technology like building out trading platforms for the bank. There’s human resources, of course or like people like me who recruit employees or who manage their benefits. There’s even areas like real estate management because many of these banks have pretty large buildings for their thousands of employees. So, much like any company, lots of different types of roles and work to be done whether or not you’re interested in like finance or stock markets or business.
Types of Entry-level Roles at an investment bank
So, I think you covered on so many things. They’re a little bit more about what an investment bank does, what an investment bankers do and a little bit about what types of roles there are. In your experience since you focus on entry level recruiting, what are the most common types of entry level roles at an investment bank?
Annie: So, it really depends on the bank, where the bank focuses their entry level hiring. But if you want to separate it into broad bucket, there are entry-level roles that sit on the revenue producing side of the bank and then there are entry-level roles that sit on the non-revenue producing side of the bank. So, the revenue producing side are going to be people like investment bankers, traders and folks who sit in the sales function and those are the people who are going out and they are generating business for the bank. So, they are actually working with the clients and they are bringing in money. They might be trading, they might be doing proprietary trading with the bank’s own money, they might be placing trades on behalf of clients. But those are the roles that you more typically hear about, like, “I’m going to work in investment banking or I’m going to go sit on a trading desk.” Then the non-revenue producing roles, they have different terms depending on the bank. Some banks will refer to them as infrastructure. Some banks call them federation. Back office is a term that’s not used as much anymore. It’s a little bit of an old-fashioned term but those are the folks that like make the bank run. So, human resources, operations, technology.
For the most part, entry-level hiring happens pretty uniformly across these areas. I would say the places where you are not going to find entry level roles at a bank maybe it’s a little bit easier to think about like where you’re not going to find an entry-level role are hyper specific areas of the bank. So, a lot of banks are starting to grow their ESG practice, so environment and governance practice. They’re not usually hiring entry level roles in those places.
Goldman Sachs for example has this great team called the Urban Investment Group. It’s revenue producing and it’s focused on investing in either low-income areas or thinking about ways where they can bring a product to a growing city for example while also driving revenue from the bank. Super specific. You’re probably not going to find a role there. Unfortunately, like the sexiest areas of the bank, the ones that get the most pressed are like usually the ones that aren’t hiring entry-level roles. So, that’s why it’s really important as you’re researching a company is both to see what they’re doing that sounds interesting, but be very pragmatic about like the type of role that you’re going to get when you first start working there.
I mean, there’s so much to unpack there, Annie and I love how you broke it out into revenue generating roles and the non-revenue generating because you really have to think about what type of role you’re applying to and also making sure you said when you do the research, the researchers are given. If you come in and speak to a recruiter and obviously, Annie is crazy busy doing everything that she does day-to-day, you can’t just say, “Hey, what is investment banking?” Of course, for today, we’re trying to give everybody contact before we dive deeper. But I think it’s so important to do the research and go on to DB’s website or go into these essentials of banking, online virtual networking events and really just learn and understand how these different banks run because if you go in and you’re trying to pursue a revenue generating role, but you’re applying to a non-revenue generating role, it just looks like you’re not prepared.
So, I think these are such great points and I’m sure our audience is now starting to understand how knowledgeable you are in the banking and finance space. To really add icing to the cake, I wanted to share a little bit more about your role at Deutsche Bank. So, you are the head of Americas Graduate Recruitment at DB meaning that you manage all of campus recruiting for internships and analyst roles for the entire United States. And that is just mind boggling to even think about how much you manage. So, I would love to for myself and our audience to understand what is this role really entail and from this role, what are some of the biggest takeaways or lessons that you can share with our audience?
Annie: Sure. Thank you, that’s very flattering. I will say that I have a team: very smart, dedicated recruiters who are really the ones that are doing like the work on the ground to find students, educate them about DB, move them through the process. And so, it is certainly like a team driven effort and it’s really interesting. Working in recruiting is super interesting and I’ve been doing it for most of my career because every year, we kind of get to do the same thing again in a predictable way, but with slight nuances year-to-year. So, we know campus recruiting is going to kick off about the same time every year. We can kind of predict what roles we’re going to be hiring for. We know what profiles we’re looking for, but every year there’s something different that’s super interesting to do. I mean, this year we’re kind of thinking about transitioning back from being somewhat fully virtual and then we were hybrid and now we’re moving back into looking at doing things in-person again and how does that affect recruiting and being on campus. So, really interesting.
I think I’ve been in the campus recruiting space for quite some time and I would say, my biggest takeaway from it is that even though, and I’ve been, I’ve been having these conversations with students for years, your major doesn’t dictate your career. And every time I say it to a student, it’s kind of like, “Oh, I’ve never heard this information before.” I think while there is so much more information out there about like what are these different roles, how do I network, how do I set myself up for success? How can I research? How can I attend these events? There’s still this misconception that you have to have a major that predicts your career. And so, that’s kind of like the biggest thing I’ve learned is that like that will always be a misconception. And so, a lot of the work that we tend to do in the recruiting space is to think about like how do we get in front of students before they have made that choice and do a little bit more education and teaching along the way to show that it really doesn’t matter what your major is. You can major in anything. I majored in foreign service and I ended up being a recruiter, totally not connected. And so many of my friends and my peers have gone through the same zigzag paths, but it’s kind of a constant thing that we keep coming back to is this like it doesn’t matter.
So, let’s talk about that for a second and I love taking acknowledges in the show. So, the example is let’s say you are a listener of the Final Round and you are majoring in anything other than business related, Maybe it is public policy, right? And you’re interested after you do a year or two and maybe you take one business class or maybe you watch or listen to this episode with Annie, you’re like, oh my God, I need to pursue finance or banking. What is the best way to then move over to banking or is there something where you have to cover your bases and prove to a recruiter, to a hiring manager that you are business savvy enough to handle those very technical interviews?
Annie: I think my first question would be like, are you interested? And if you’re interested in business, if you’re interested in like the world of finance, that interest is the thing that you just keep coming back to. So, first, you got to ask yourself, “Am I interested in this? Is this something that I really want to do every day? Can I see myself doing this work?” That’s the first thing. You have to make sure that you’re interested. The second thing that you really need to do is you need to talk to people who do the work already so that you can pick up on like what is this thing that they are doing every day that I know that I like to do and that I’m good at doing, and then you draw those connections and you make those connections for your interviewers. So, it is important to think about the interest and the tasks on an everyday basis because if you’re not coming from a more traditional business background, the burden of proof is kind of on you to say like, “No, no. I know I didn’t major in business but like let me show you why I’m super excited about this role.” If you’re not majoring in business and you say, “I think I’d really like to explore a career in the finance space,” like go join a business club on campus, like having a club on your resume is a great way to show interest or like take a business class, you can be a government major and take a business class. It’s good for you too.
It is beneficial for you to do that exploration and maybe you’ll learn a little bit and you’ll get a little bit more specific knowledge about the type of career and business that you’d like to pursue because business is wide and vast and there’s lots of different things that you could do. But it is certainly feasible to have a career in finance and not have had that major, and I would bet that if you kind of surveyed the broad group of folks that are currently working in a bank, probably more than 30% of them did not major in finance. And so, it’s certainly not a prerequisite. You just have to be a little bit more thoughtful about like why are you interested and how do you tell that story.
What differentiates one investment bank from another?
So, staying on the same example, there are a lot of investment banks, a lot of banks, period. And then you see the different segmentation. So, there’s gold bracket, there’s middle market, there’s elite boutique, and then these names get thrown around, there’s the Goldmans, the Deutsche Banks, the JP Morgan’s, the Centerview Partners. So, what really differentiates an investment bank one from another?
Annie: Yeah, I mean, I think that the short answer is as a first-year analyst, probably not a ton. You’re probably going to be doing very similar work across the banks. The thing that is a differentiator is probably the internal culture. It’s kind of what is the approach to work? How do people get their work done? What does support for junior employees look like? Another big differentiator is, is this a US based bank or is this an international bank? I have worked at Goldman Sachs and now I’m working at Deutsche Bank and I can tell you there’s definitely some differences working at a bank that is primarily based in Europe versus based in the US. Super interesting.
One is not better than the other, but those are things that you’re not going to know unless you meet the people who work at the bank. And so, I think that the best thing for students to do who are pursuing a career in investment banking is do not narrow your options, number one, don’t go into the processing. I only want this desk at this bank because that’s kind of shooting yourself in the foot a little bit. Take a very broad approach. So, that’s number one. Number two, and this is dependent on like what year you are in school because if you’re a second semester junior, it’s going to be a little different than the first semester freshman, go to every single recruiting event that you can possibly go to. I would say if you’re focused on finance, you should be going to like the consulting/recruiting events, you should be going to a public accounting or recruiting events. Go to everything and everything because that’s the only way you’re really going to start to narrow in and you’re going to get to meet the people who work at the bank.
The third thing I would say is don’t ask generic questions like don’t ask what is the culture like. Because that question is not answerable in like 30 seconds that you have when you’re networking with someone. Ask people more specific questions about what their day-to-day work looks like, how do you work, who do you work with, how do you work on teams? Do you work on the weekends? What is your boss like? So, these are kind of questions that will give you more of a sense of like, what is it like to work at this place? And then do your own research, go on LinkedIn and like find people that went to your school that are now working at these different institutions and ask them if they can chat for 10 minutes to get a sense. If you do all of that research, you’ll start to have an understanding of like how the banks are different. But it’s going to take like some conversations to kind of really get a feel. And then of course, you don’t really know until you work somewhere. So, part of it is sometimes can be a little bit of a leap of faith
And I like that broader approach that that you suggested, right? Because obviously having a lot of banks is actually more leverage for the candidate because it’s not like there’s just one bank who has all the leverage. There are more banks you can shoot your shot at more opportunities and I do think that you should not focus on just one. Even if it is your dream job, your target company, you should still have other companies in the mix because you never know what could happen. And I think that’s important for a critic.
Annie: Yeah. And I would also just say, I mean, I know you just use this as a term, but like when people tell me that something is their dream job and they’re a sophomore or a junior or senior in college, don’t think like that because you don’t know what your dream job is. You might have 17 dream jobs. I mean, if you look at my resume, I’ve worked at five or six different companies and I would say each one of them was like exactly right for me at that point in time. So, that’s why I see this particularly in banking. Students are going to be like, “I only want to work for this particular company, this particular desk because I read about a deal they did and that is my dream to work on that deal.
Now, if you think about the thousands of people who apply to banks, the acceptance rate at banks and then that desk is probably only hiring like one or two analysts max if they’re hiring anybody at all. How disappointing is that to say that you’ve been lost out on your dream job? So, I think that the narrative should really be more like, what is going to be right for me for the next two years that is going to help me build my career? And you could have that anywhere. You could have it on a desk at an investment bank. If you don’t get a job in financial services your first year out of college, that’s okay. You can go work there in five years; it doesn’t matter. So, there’s always a way to get to where you want and that’s why it’s so important to have such a broad approach to applying to jobs.
Also, going back to what you were saying about you shouldn’t have a dream company especially as a sophomore in college, if you bring those words, this is my dream company in a networking conversation or to a recruiter, out of curiosity, does that come off as desperate and almost too eager?
Annie: So, I think it’s probably how you phrase it. If you’re coming in to an interview and being like, “I am so into this company. This is my dream company.” And then you can back up why you’re saying that, you could show like you’ve done the research, you’ve had the conversations, you know what you’re talking about, I think people might be impressed. I don’t think that that’s necessary. That’s a big caveat. You do not have to do that. I think that the problem is, and it’s much like embellishing something on your resume if you come in and be like, “I have read about every single deal that DB has ever done and your interviewer is like, “Oh, really? What about XYZ?” You’ve kind of set yourself up to fail. Conversely, like no one is going to be upset if you come in and you’re like, “Oh, yeah, I’m also interviewing at Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.”
Everyone is like, “Yeah, sure. Of course, you are,” that’s totally expected. Nobody is going to feel like you must have brand loyalty at this stage in your career. So, it’s really all about can you back up your assertion about, ‘I’ve done the research, this is my dream job,’ but it is certainly not a necessary statement to make. When you go into an interview and someone is “Well, why do you want to work at our company?” They know that you are being asked that question at every single company down the street. So, it is a well-known fact. Everyone’s out there interviewing for the same jobs.
Answering Why X Bank?
Annie, I think you read my mind because the next question I was going to ask is literally, how do you respond or answer the why X company? Why X Bank? This is again for our listeners who maybe are not sure if they want to do banking or finance. This is across the board: in consulting, in accounting, in marketing and in anything. They will ask you, “Why do you want to work here? Why X Company?” So, in your experience and hearing I’m sure really good responses and maybe really bad responses, what is the best way to answer “Why X Company?”
Annie: Yeah. And this is the killer question for most interviews, at least in my personal experience. Usually, the first question that’s asked right out of the gate and it really sets up how your interviewers are going to see you for the rest of the conversation. So, out of all of the interview questions that you could prep for, this is probably the one that is the most critical. The thing that folks do wrong when they answer this question is that they interpret this question as like, “Oh, they’re asking me to tell them how much I know about this company.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in an interview and this is what experienced professionals as well, this is with people who are interviewing for like a director level position, all the way down to analysts. I’ll sit in the room and say, “Oh, why are you interested in this job and this role?” And someone will be like, “Let me tell you the 43 steps I found on your website.” It’s like, I don’t care.
First of all, I know that already. Second of all, that tells me nothing about you. And it’s such a huge waste of your very valuable time in an interview. You’ve got 30 minutes. Every single one of those minutes should be about you. It should be about you, what you bring to the job, what you’re excited about. It should not be about the company. I’ll often tell students, don’t sound like a recruiting pamphlet. Don’t sound like you just read me something off the website. So, what you really need to do when you’re answering that question, it’s not really like, “Oh, let me tell you what I know about Deutsche Bank.” It’s, “Oh, let me tell you why I am right for you.” And the way you do that is first of all, you got to do your research. And the research is not looking at the website, research is talking to people who work at the company, understanding what they do on a day-to-day basis and then being able to say, “You do this thing, I do this thing well. I would like to come and do this thing that I do well at your company.”
As a first-year analyst or an intern, it’s really less important that you can differentiate between the banks, where you can say like, “Oh, I only want to work at Deutsche Bank or like I only want to work at Morgan Stanley,” because again, people understand like you are interested in the industry as a whole. So, it’s really more about making the case for why you’re interested in the role, in the industry. And then if you can share like, and “I met somebody who works at XYZ company, we had a great conversation. I heard about the culture at your company and that’s why I am excited about it.” It’s less important for you to kind of prove the company piece when you’re looking for your first job, than it’s really more about like you and like the job itself.
That’s such great advice. Don’t sound like a recruiting pamphlet. I think that point you said the word linking and linking is so important in interviewing because my goal on the other side of the table, on the interviewing, the hiring manager, the recruiter side is I have to link you to our company. I have to imagine and envision you at the company and if you’re just talking about two separate things you versus the company as an, “Oh, here are these facts and this is what I’m doing,” but you don’t make the link, how am I supposed to make the link, right? You need to say it out loud and share that you’ve done the research and you’re already doing some of those things and you can cross and share that bridge.
Yes. When I coach people for interviewing skills, I will have them take a piece of paper, draw a line down the center, write on one side, this is what I need to do in this job and then on the other side this is an example of when I have done this thing. It is literally like making a connection but that is the best thing that you can do in an interview. Like you are doing the interviewers work for them because otherwise they’re going to have to go off and be like can this person do that job? Did they give me an example of a time when they like had to analyze data? And if you are doing that for the interviewer, it is going to be a much better outcome for you in the end.
I’m sure you’ve coached hundreds if not tens of thousands, maybe millions of candidates at this point. I know you are a master interviewer and you’re a master coach as well as sharing interview skills. But before people even get to the interview, they have to obviously get the interview and you get the interview through really strong and effective networking. So, how could candidates effectively network and navigate the recruitment process without having a very strong network especially in finance to start with?
Annie: Yeah, this is a really good question and it’s really good because I think sometimes people remove themselves from the process even before it starts because they make this assumption, like I don’t have a network. Therefore, like I’m not going to be successful in the process. So first, let’s talk about why a network is valuable. It used to be that having a connection inside the company was the way you get an interview. Previously, companies would subscribe to a very narrow way of thinking about recruitment and this was necessary. So, when I first started working in the banking industry and this was almost 20 years ago, we went to a very specific set of colleges and we had a set number of interviews slots on each of the campuses. So, we were really limiting our recruiting pool. And so, it almost was like if you wanted to get a leg up, you needed to kind of have that personal connection. But things are really different now. So, companies are no longer interviewing on campus.
Most first rounds are being done virtually. Most organizations do not have a school-based approach to recruiting anymore. So, like they’re still going to campus, but there isn’t this idea of like, “Okay. This school gets 10 interview slots and this school gets 20 interviews.” The process is really becoming a lot more democratic. There’s also a lot more scrutiny in the interview process around referrals and preferential treatment. So, the benefit of having like an inside connection has now changed. And I would say though, the big change is that if you have a network, you now have access to information rather than privilege. And it’s still really important because having information is privileged because you will perform a lot better in the interview process. So, when interviewers are screening candidates now, their focus isn’t going to be on like who do you know? But it’s going to be on, what do you know? How much do you know about the role? What do you know what your responsibilities are going to be on a day-to-day basis? Do you know how that role fits into the broader overview of the organization as a whole? They’re looking for specific information, which is hard to get.
I would say almost impossible to get if all you’re doing is reading a company website. Here’s the secret though, which shouldn’t be a secret but sometimes it feels like it is, when a network was important for access, the seniority of the person was important. But now, when the network is important for information, you could have anyone in your network. And honestly, it’s probably better to have more junior people in your network because they’re actually doing the job that you want and anyone can build this network. It might require some legwork and if you don’t like networking, maybe it’s a little uncomfortable. But we have so many tools at our disposal now to create networks. We have LinkedIn, you have your career services that should have a list of alumni that work in all of these different industries. So, anyone can build the network. If you don’t have one yet, you should start creating one. But I think it’s really important to think about like the purpose of the network. And if you think about the purpose of the network is information, it feels a lot more accessible. And look, you have to be prepared for like not 100% success if you’re reaching out to a network.
Not everybody you reach out to is going to be like, “Yeah, sure, I’ll talk to you.” But I would bet that if you reach out to 10 people, you’ll get 2 to 3 people who respond to you. So, like 20 to 30% hit rate, that’s pretty good. You don’t need to have 50 people in your network. You could have three people that you speak with who tell you a little bit more about the job and who teach you about the job, but you have to do the legwork, you have to do the outreach. I will say when it comes to networking and outreach, you will have more success if you do not reach out to recruiters for recruiting advice because just think about the volume of outreach that recruiters are getting on a daily basis. You should certainly engage with recruiters when you meet them on campus, you should engage with recruiters if like they send out an outreach to engage with you, but most likely if you reach out to a recruiter and say, “I’d like to learn more about this role of this company,” it will be harder for them to respond to in LinkedIn. If you reach out to like a junior banker, they’re probably not getting a lot of that outreach, they’ll be flattered and they will provide you with much more specific information than a recruiter wouldn’t. So, I would also be thoughtful about like who you are reaching out to.
I think that’s such good advice on networking and also when you’re thinking about a networking approach or networking strategy, would you say it’s best to meet 10 people at one company and know that you have a really good chance of getting an interview or should you spread it out and say, “My goal is to get 2 to 4 target contacts at the top 10 banks on my list.”
Annie: Well, I think it depends on how much time you have to be honest with you. If you are limited in time, let’s say you’re going to school full-time, maybe you have a part-time or full-time job, maybe you are on like a sports team, maybe you hold the leadership position in the club, those are all very important priorities and the job search process is super stressful and I think a lot of times people feel like I am not doing enough. So, I would say kind of determine like how much time do you have? If you only have time to reach out to like three people a week on LinkedIn, then maybe your approach will be a little different. If you can reach out to more people, you’ll have a broader approach. I don’t think it really matters again because as I was saying before, the job at one bank is pretty similar if you’re looking at like a first-year analyst position. So, you don’t have to speak to somebody at every single bank. Does it help? Sure, it does, but it is not necessary.
So, it’s okay if you haven’t done investment banking before. It’s okay if you haven’t had an internship for banking in particular yet. It’s probably important that you do the research to understand like what do all of these models mean. But nobody is going to ask you to like break one down unless you volunteer that you can. So, I think that’s important to know. But there’s a million websites like I think Wall Street Oasis is probably still around. Is the Vault still around? It used to be one of the go-to places. So, you can go to those websites and kind of take a look to see like what level of technical interviewing can I expect, but nobody is expecting you to walk onto the job day one and like bust out a model. It’s really more like have you done the research to kind of understand like what does this thing mean? And also, why would I use it? So, you want to think about like what is the term and why would I use it? But nobody is going to expect you to do anything like super technical.
I mean, there are so many great points that you mentioned there. A common feedback point that even I had in a couple interviews is you’re prepared but you were actually over prepared and I think people don’t realize that being over prepared is not good. You want to walk that fine line between being prepared but not over prepared and coming in with a couple of bullet points but not word for word, which is reading off your memorized script. And then I think the last thing that is super important in interviews that people don’t fully grasp at times is it’s also a fit test, right? I’m not just seeing if you’re a human walking calculator that can just spit out any calculation that I give them, but it’s also do I want to work with you? Hours in banking could get long so making sure that you are showing that you’re able to work with others, you can walk through problems and you’re also enjoyable to work with is such a big part of the interview.
Annie: I want to make a comment about the fit test. That question is extremely problematic and I’ll tell you why because that just ends up that the interviewer is hiring someone who looks like them and a lot of times it ends up benefiting people who are traditionally represented in the banking space or the business space who are cis gendered white men.
And so, while yes, kind of fit is always important. You want to work somewhere where you think you fit. Fit is a really challenging concept for people who have traditionally been underrepresented in the banking industry. So, candidates of color women, people who identify as LGBTQ. Fit, I think is one of the things that makes people the most nervous about being their authentic self in an interview because they feel like, “Oh, I have to be a certain way to work at this company.” And it is a tension filled dilemma to go into because you’re like I want to be me, but also like how do they expect me to act? How do they expect me to fit in? I think it is something to be really aware of is like, am I adjusting the way I speak? Am I feeling like I need to force myself into a very narrow definition of like what does it mean to work in finance so that I fit in with the person across the table from me?
Would you say that instead of trying to fit, just trying to be unique and being a culture ad rather than just trying to fit in as a puzzle piece but adding to the culture?
I think that’s a great way to look at it like what do you bring to the table? How do your unique experiences set you up for success rather than like how do your experiences represent like a void? It is much more beneficial to you as a candidate to look at your experiences and be like, “These are all great and let me tell you why,” than for you as a potential candidate to be like, “Well, I haven’t done anything in banking, but I’m still really interested.” And a lot of times people who are non-traditional candidates, whether it be because of their major or of their background, they’ll be like, “I have to prove that like I’m still good even though I haven’t done all those things,” and they’ll go into the interview and be like, “Well, I haven’t done this before.” It’s like, no, don’t do that. That is certainly not what you should do. Think about like all of the amazing things that you have done and be proud to talk about them because every experience that you’ve had is relevant to whatever job you want because you had it and it has impacted who you are as a person.
So, it doesn’t matter what your experience has been. It’s really more about like how has that shaped you as a person, what have you learned from it and how can you talk about it, rather than being like, “Oh, like I need to be super professional. I need to be the person who I think that they want to see.” It is a much deeper conversation than this like imposter syndrome, it’s truly a real thing. It happens quite a bit like me saying like, “Well, you just have to be your authentic self,” is like way easier said than done. I come from a place of like pretty significant privilege, but the best thing to do to like truly help yourself feel more comfortable or like start down that path is to seek out people who have similar stories to you and just talk to them and hear how they did it.
All great points there. Again, the biggest theme is don’t try to be somebody else, but add to the culture, add to a company and really own your authentic self and don’t be afraid to share it as long as you connect it and link it to the company, that’s all that matters. So, Annie, this has been such a fun and insightful conversation and I have one final question that I ask every single guest on the show, and that question is what is the best piece of advice you can give to our audience to help them get past the final round interview and land their dream job?
Annie: So, I would say I have two pieces of advice. So, number one, don’t worry about a dream job. The job that you get is going to be great for you. You will be able to leverage it into many future dream jobs. And then the second thing is you must practice, you must practice your interviews. It seems so small, but honestly, it’s probably the best piece of advice I could give, record yourself, listen to yourself, make your friend listen to you. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will get in an interview process and it will just help you really like elevate your answers and truly connect to the job. So, practice, practice, practice
And there you have it. Annie, thank you so much again for being on the Final Round. It was an absolute pleasure having you on the show.
Annie: My pleasure, thank you.
This was a wonderful episode to learn more about the essentials of the banking and finance industry, how to break in the different roles and how to answer common interview questions. Until the next episode of the Final Round, keep fighting and I will see you in the ring.