All or Nothing: My Journey through IBanking Recruitment – Tales from the Pit Episode I Part 3

This is a continuation of a series of posts. See the first part of the story here and the second part of the story here.

The event started with a cocktail reception and was kind of like a high stakes version of a campus recruitment event. Some of the BMO bankers wouldn’t arrive until right before dinner started, so the candidate/banker ratio was high. Swarms of candidates surrounded each of the bankers. I did my best to get a few questions in with everyone, but this clearly wasn’t the make or break part of the event. That would come with dinner.

When we sat down to dinner, I made my first strategic move of the night. The bankers had assigned seating to spread them out, but the candidates were free to sit wherever. I made a dash for the middle of one of the tables and got a spot. Remember, you double the number of people you can talk to if you’re in the middle; the ends are for suckers!

After that, the dinner pretty much went as I had hoped. It was generally informal, and coming from a family of aggressive talkers, I know how to push my way into a conversation and ensure I get air time. I had some interesting conversations with both the bankers and other candidates and felt pretty good that I had made an impression. When we were wrapping up, I felt pretty sure that one of girls at my table and I were the “winners” of the dinner and would definitely get invited for an interview. I went home and crossed my fingers.

A few days later, I was sitting at my desk in my apartment on Bloor Street studying, when my phone rang; CallerID = Scotia. I was going back for round 2! It was the main guy that interviewed me in Round 1 and he gave me a little pep talk, saying that he had really enjoyed meeting me and that he was rooting for me in round 2. I felt like I had won the lottery I was so excited. I had a ton of studying to do, but decided to celebrate by running across the street to get some Thai food.

I ordered my food and sat down at a table to wait; the only one in the restaurant. All of a sudden my phone rang again; CallerID = BMO. It was more good news; I was going to BMO’s Super Saturday event, their version of Round 2. Already on a high from the Scotia call, I was now on cloud 9. Next week was going to be a wild ride.

My final round interview with Scotia was first thing Monday morning and it didn’t exactly start off as I had hoped. My first interview had been in a dingy office in HR on one of the lower floors, but this time I was going up to the 64th. When I arrived, I was shown into a waiting room where there was coffee and a beautiful array of croissants, muffins and other breakfast goodies. The furniture was regal, artwork hung on the wall and a window looked out to a spectacular view of the city. In all honesty it intimidated the shit out of me. This was the real deal.

The format of the final round had you and two other candidates rotate through three sets of interviewers meaning that you were likely to meet the other candidates being interviewed at the same time as you. I arrived first and got to chat with each of the candidates for a few minutes as they arrived. Like the décor of the room, their stories further intimidated me; their stories seemed far more impressive than mine….

To be continued April 12th…

3 thoughts on “All or Nothing: My Journey through IBanking Recruitment – Tales from the Pit Episode I Part 3

  • Hi Jay,

    It was interesting to note that you come from a family of aggressive talkers, and know how to push conversations in a dinner setting. Can you elaborate a bit on how you drove your conversation at the time? Can you also share some tips about striking conversation in this kind of setting? To a lot of candidates, technical questions have standardized answers, but how to get along well with bankers remains a mystery.

    Kind Regards,

    • Thanks for the question W. This is a tough one to answer in a few lines, but here are a few tips to get you going.

      1. Look around you – you need to have at least one conversation with everyone 1 spot away from you (left, right, in front, diagonal x2)

      2. Jump into a conversation started by somebody else if you have an opinion, if the topic is light (i.e. baseball, not politics) it’s even better if you can disagree about something, bankers love to debate

      3. If you’re not talking and an one of the people around you aren’t talking, you need to start a conversation. Can be as simple as asking how he/she got into banking.

      4. Let other candidates enter the conversation (don’t dominate!)

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