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Goldman Sachs is changing an age-old Wall Street hiring practice

Lloyd Blankfein
Lloyd Blankfein

(Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.Goldman Sachs)

Goldman Sachs is overhauling the way it recruits university students.

When the firm kicks off its 2017 recruiting season on July 1, it will no longer conduct in-person first-round interviews for undergraduates on college campuses.

Instead, applicants will interview via a prerecorded-video platform called HireVue.

The firm will also introduce new tools, including an electronic screening tool for résumés, and change the protocol on in-person follow-up interviews to a more structured approach for consistency.

"We invest a lot of time and effort in recruiting, and so therefore if we know that taking the time to get the right people in will create more cultural synergies and connectivity to the firm, that's what we want," said Edith Cooper, Goldman's global head of human-capital management.

She added:

"We recognize that there are going to be people who decide that this industry isn't for them and they're going to move on, and that's always actually been the case, but we have to focus on creating an experience once people get here such that they see what the forward opportunities are for learning, making an impact — and that, we believe, is really going to create the retention that is important."

Goldman's investment-banking division in November unveiled a series of changes designed to retain junior bankers, including promoting them more quickly and encouraging mobility within the firm.

The bank is also piloting a personality questionnaire as well as exploring new social-media channels, including campaigns on LinkedIn, Twitter, and most recently, Snapchat.

Goldman Sachs promo video
Goldman Sachs promo video

(YouTube/Goldman Sachs)

Russell Horwitz, the cochief operating officer of the securities division, said that banks have historically looked at qualifications like candidates' schools and GPAs to determine who were the best students.

"The better question is, who is the right student?" he said. "And when I say 'right' — who's more likely to have a longer-term career at the firm and fit in with the culture, do the right things."

He said many of the firm's most successful people do not check all of the traditionally necessary boxes, including many top executives who did not attend "target" universities. The type of candidates he would like to see are people who have "overcome some hardship" and those with diverse experiences.

The firm began reviewing the recruiting process at the beginning of last summer, and designed the changes to better leverage technology as well as eliminate subconscious the biases of interviewers.

The types of questions asked in interviews will change to better focus on things like candidates' judgment, integrity, and problem solving skills.

For example, in a traditional interview, a recruiter might focus on a candidate's extracurricular activities or interests if they happen to share those interests. The new model is designed to eliminate that kind of inconsistency.

Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs

(Screenshot/Goldman Sachs)

The résumé-screening tool, meanwhile, scans for characteristics and experiences that the firm has determined are predictive of long-term success.

It might search, for example, for students who worked for an organization or business "created" for a certain purpose, which could point to entrepreneurialism or creativity.

The HireVue video interviews, which will be viewed and evaluated by professionals, are only applicable to undergraduate candidates and not to MBA students, who will continue to do in-person first-round interviews.

Mike Desmarais, Goldman's global head of recruiting, said the firm will maintain a strong presence on college campuses, both to continue marketing the firm and to receive feedback from students about what they are looking for.

"Keep in mind that we don't just compete against other investment banks," he said. "We compete against any major corporation in the world that wants to hire excellent talent, which is pretty much any major corporation in the world."

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