Progress Update: Interviews

by rubenharris

This is the third of a series of blog posts sharing some of my post graduate experiences.

When we last spoke I was eager to follow up on three leads that I had gotten from my new strategy for getting a job in the investment banking industry.  I knew that I would need to get work experience if I were ever to be taken seriously as a candidate for full employment in this competitive environment.  I did follow up on all three, but as it turns out one of these leads has eclipsed the other two.  I landed a series of interviews with a veteran investment banker who has broad experience and connections in the industry.

As I think about it, I really wasn’t as nervous going into the interview as I probably should have been. After all, we’re talking about a guy who has held multiple senior management positions and partnerships, not to mention his service on corporate and academic boards and his leadership in sealing major business deals, but something about the way he interacted with me put me at ease.

It started last Friday when I found his contact information on the web and decided to give him a call.  He answered the phone and said, “This is_______.” I responded and said, “Hi Mr.______, my name is Ruben Harris.  I am a recent graduate and I was wondering if there was a deal or a project that I could work on as an unpaid volunteer with your firm.”  He proceeded to ask me from which school I had graduated.  Then he gave me his e-mail address and asked me to send him my resume.  I had spoken to so many people that day, but this was the best response I had gotten.  He wasn’t the only one to ask for my resume, but the tone of his voice was encouraging.  I quickly posted my Evolving Strategy blog update before taking a day off to spend some time with my family.

On Sunday he replied with an e-mail to set up a phone interview later on that evening.  He also added that if the conversation were mutually successful, he was prepared to meet me in person on Tuesday.  This was the moment I had been waiting for.  I didn’t want to read too much into it, but it felt right.  I replied with a thank you e-mail and began to do some research in preparation for the interview.

I started by reading his bio. Then I asked an analyst friend for advice on what he thought I should do to get ready.  He told me that the most important thing I need to know is why I want to get into investment banking and why this would be a good fit for me and my personality.

Sure enough, the first thing that I was asked in the phone interview was, “Why do you want to get into investment banking?”  I gave him an answer (blog post coming soon), and the rest of the phone conversation went smoothly.  This led to the face-to-face meeting on Tuesday he had mentioned in his email.

The face-to-face interview was more in depth.  He began by telling me the positives and negatives of our phone conversation.  Then he asked about my family background, how I feel about graduating from a non-target school and my extracurricular activities, among other things.  Finally, he asked me if I had any questions for him.

I asked him how he broke into the investment banking industry, what things he liked to do other than investment banking, what charitable work he has been involved in, and questions related to his current and past businesses.  This all went well and we agreed to call each other in a day or two after having a bit more time to think things over and to see if we were both still interested.

The next day he asked me for two references and to answer two questions:

1.  What are your strengths?

2.  What are your weaknesses?

I forwarded my references and responded:

1.  My greatest strengths are creativity and tenacity.

2.  My greatest weakness is a tendency to overextend myself.

After he checked out my references, we agreed to a third and final interview on Monday at 2 pm.

Closer than ever…just gotta stay focused. See you next week.

“Well, life all comes down to a few moments…this is one of them.” – Bud Fox, Wall Street

Ruben A. Harris
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