On the Spot: Sarah Crawford, head of graduate recruitment EMEA at Goldman Sachs

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Sarah Crawford, head of graduate recruitment for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Goldman Sachs, has agreed to respond to some of your questions on graduate jobs and internships.

We've started the process by asking Sarah a few questions below. We've published your questions beneath ours. Please note that Sarah's no longer answering questions, so don't ask any more!

1). What distinguishes a Goldman Sachs graduate trainee from a graduate trainee at other investment banks?

In terms of Goldman Sachs analyst classes, we hire people who are bright, engaging, driven, entrepreneurial and inquisitive. We look to hire people from a wide variety of backgrounds who can bring something different to the table. Recruiting the best people we possibly can into the firm is a top priority for us and the most senior leaders at Goldman Sachs are actively involved. I would not be able to elaborate on other investment banks given I only have limited knowledge of their recruiting efforts.

2). Is it imperative to have impeccable academics?

No. We look for well-rounded individuals who have many different strings to their bow. We do expect candidates to have strong academics but is it also very important that students experience other aspects of school or student life. For example, joining a club or society, being part of a sports team or playing a musical instrument to a high standard, can all demonstrate commitment, pro-activity, enthusiasm and a desire to improve and broadens one's thinking and skill set.

3). Is it imperative to have a summer internship?

The majority of our full-time classes are filled by students who will have just completed an internship either with us or elsewhere. Not only is it the best way for us to select who we want to hire full time but it is also a great way for students to make final decisions on career choices.

4). What advice would you give to students who haven't achieved a summer internship this year?

Look out for any work experience opportunities over the summer (related to the finance industry or otherwise) - even if they are short, this will show that you have made the effort and taken the initiative. In addition to this I would make sure you attend as many of the company presentations and careers fairs during the first few weeks of next term - forming relationships and making an impression at these can be key to securing an interview.

5). What are the prospects for graduate hiring in 2010 (assuming you can see this far ahead!)?

We are well under way with planning our recruiting efforts for next year and will be visiting a number of universities giving presentations, attending careers fairs, hosting dinners and running 'skills sessions'. In line with our efforts to hire people from different backgrounds, we will maintain our broad global footprint from a recruiting perspective.

Your questions to Sarah Crawford (and her answers):

Anonymous student: Would you recommend applying for graduate positions at Goldman Sachs as early as possible and is interviewing done on a rolling basis?

Sarah Crawford: At Goldman Sachs we do not interview on a rolling basis - we typically interview candidates alongside each other after our deadline which is 18th October for full time positions. Early applications will therefore not secure you an earlier interview. The exception to this is if a candidate has received an offer from another firm (either off the back of an internship or straight from campus) and has to respond within a certain timeframe that takes them past our application deadline. In this situation we will make every effort to interview the candidate early.

Anonymous student: What has been the worst interview answer/experience you have ever encountered from a student?

Sarah Crawford: There are many different aspects to the interview process which determine how successful the outcome is. First impressions go a long way so making sure you are on time, presentable and composed is key. Students who have done little or no research on the industry tend not to do so well, so make sure you are sufficiently prepared. Confidence and good communication skills are also very important and a good way to improve on these is through practice.

Anonymous student: If a second year undergraduate did not secure an internship at a bulge bracket bank this summer, but instead is doing an intership in a smaller financial institution would you reccomend they apply for internships next year or graduate jobs to maximise their chances?

Sarah Crawford: Summer internship programmes are ideally suited to those in their penultimate year of study so keeping that in mind with help steer you in the right direction. If you are graduating in June/July 2010 you should probably apply for full time positions but if you are graduating in June/July 2011, a summer internship in 2010 would be a good idea.

Dan Katz: Do you have a recruitment process based on target schools? Has a student from a tier 2 university less opportunities to be invited in an assesment centre for an IB position than a student from a tier one university?

Sarah Crawford: Our aim is to hire the best students we can, so which university an individual is from is not our primary focus - we review all applications from people who apply from within our region so everyone has an equal opportunity. We don't hold a marketing presentation or event at every university as this would be practically very difficult but we welcome applications from everyone.

Anonymous student: I've spent 18 months on a front office graduate scheme in a bulge bracket bank but have recently been made redundant. Do you think this may black list me if I apply for a graduate positions for the front office next year?

Sarah Crawford: Given the pressure our industry has been under over the last year I think firms will be pretty understanding about what this has meant for some individuals. What you will need to be mindful of though is that it is unlikely you would be considered for a graduate position given your 18 months of work experience so I suggest you apply through the experienced hire route.

JG: Hi there. Quick question on behalf of my student society - what if one doesn't have a 2.1 but a 2.2 or 3rd with appropriate extenuating circumstances PLUS a MSc and internships??

Sarah Crawford: We consider all aspects of candidates' applications - this includes education achievements but also includes involvement in societies and sport as two examples. We are looking for well rounded people who are hungry to learn and achieve. Self starters who have made the most of opportunities been given to them - so your internship experience will be very relevant here.

Anonymous student: Can you advise if it's ok for graduate analysts with some work experience to apply? I graduated in 2007 and am looking for a move from regulatory operations into banking. Look forward to your response.

Sarah Crawford: Our graduate programme is ideally suited to those who are just completing their university education. If you have work experience you should apply though the experienced hire channels.

Anonymous student: What is the rough ratio of undergraduates to postgraduates in a standard summer intern class?

Sarah Crawford: Undergraduates (those in there penultimate summer) make up the vast majority of our summer internship class. However, in some areas such as our Strategies Group in Securities and Global Investment Research, we hire PhDs. We also have an MBA internship programme in the Investment Banking Division, Investment Management Division and Merchant Banking Division.

Anonymous student: I am currently an intern in the operations division of a big IB and have realized that Ops is not for me. However i still want to remain in IB, how do you recommend I go about moving to a front office role such as sales? Do I make my intention known or do I wait till I get an offer?

Sarah Crawford:The most important thing to do in this situation is ensure you are doing well in your Ops internship. If you are confident that you have received good feedback and you are 'on track' for an offer, then I would suggest you talk to your Operations Recruiting contact. They will be keen to know why you are interested and why you think you would be suited to a sales role so it will be important to be thoroughly prepared for that conversation. Each bank works differently but they may then suggest that you meet some people on the sales side and take it from there or they may advise that you should wait until the end of the internship and have the conversations then. Again, the most important thing is to keep focussed on your Ops role and ensure you are performing well - the first question the sales team will ask is 'what is his/her feedback like from Ops' so you need to make sure it is good!

Questions to Sarah Crawford are now closed.

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