“The one big thing that got me an internship at Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong”

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I’m a finance student in Hong Kong and late last year I landed an internship at the only bank I applied to: Goldman Sachs. This is no mean feat – there are fewer internships on offer here than in New York or London, but there are still thousands of people applying: local students, mainland Chinese students based in the city, and Hongkongers studying abroad.

I did pretty well during the HireVue interview (the one where you talk to a robot). But I also aced the so-called superday (the one where you talk to a lot of bankers).

As background, my superday wasn’t really a whole day, but it did last two and a half hours. There were three separate interviews during this time, each featuring two people, so I met six Goldman staff in total. They ranged from MDs to recent grad hires, but the bank didn’t tell me their names in advance.

What’s the one big thing I learned from my superday experience? It’s that you need to show the interviewers that you already have a clear sense of career purpose, even though you’re only a student. It’s not enough just to want to work in banking. You must show them a common theme of what you want to achieve over the long term, whether that’s working on Chinese IPOs or covering the regional tech sector, or becoming a senior team leader.

Whatever it is, be consistent and authentic. If you waiver from your career objective or if you choose one simply because it’s in a hot new area, you will be found out. This is a long interview with six people at Goldman Sachs, so you will easily lose focus if you don’t have an overriding theme to your answers – the interviewers will sense your confusion.

My interviewers also switched between technical and behavioural questions, so don’t be thrown by this either. The technical questions were almost all about current Asian and global market developments – from US tax reform, to Chinese consumer habits, to the use of AI in the Asian payments sector – rather than financial theory.

So in the run-up to a Goldman superday you should spend a lot of time reading financial news (your university’s Bloomberg Terminals are a good place to start). This wasn’t a problem for me – I love reading and chatting about markets anyway, and I wasn’t intimidated by doing this in front of Goldman bankers. They probably sensed my ease and confidence.

Here are some of the other, more behavioural, questions I was asked: When do you think enough is enough? What’s your focus in life? How do you deal with change? Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time? (Again, Goldman likes long-term thinking).

The key here is essentially to give an amalgamated answer. You must show how you add value to Goldman (how your skills and traits would benefit the firm) but do so in a personal way that remains true to your character and career purpose. If you have an introverted personality, for example, don’t try to divert from it by giving ‘aggressive’ answers just because you perceive that’s what Goldman wants.

One more thing – whatever your career purpose, make sure it’s a challenging one. Goldman loves hearing about setting challenges and overcoming them.

Mandy Tseung (a pseudonym) is a student at a Hong Kong university.

Image credit: CHUNYIP WONG, Getty

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