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John – Vice-president at Evercore Partners

John is an M&A Vice President in the Consumer/Retail group at Evercore. He graduated from Kellogg’s full-time MBA program in 2010 after 4 years of experience in consulting and corporate finance prior to school.

Nicolas: Since you are the head of Kellogg MBA recruiting let’s talk about post MBA recruiting! What type of candidates are you looking for at Evercore compared to Bulge Bracket banks?

John: Because of our shorter training program and smaller size, we prefer individuals with more traditional technical backgrounds. It doesn’t have to be investment banking …though that’s great… but consulting, corporate finance and the like. That said, if someone shows a strong drive and is great during technical interviews, we are very open to non-traditional backgrounds. For example, about 2 years ago we hired an individual for a summer associate role who post-undergrad career was as a touring magician. He proved himself through the interview process and throughout the summer…and he is doing a great job now!

Nicolas: Ok so Evercore is focused but flexible in MBA recruiting.

John: That’s right….if you can demonstrate strong technical skills in the interview process and we think you’re a good fit with the culture of the firm – you have a great chance at receiving an offer.

Nicolas: So there’s hope for everyone as long as they prepare for the technicals enough! You mentioned being a good fit with the firm, a lot of people do. What strategy do you recommend to show you are a good fit?

John: Tricky question to answer “in general” so let’s talk about Evercore in particular.

Given the way the firm has grown, Evercore is an amalgam of many different Wall Street firms’ cultures. That’s why cultural fit – particularly the ability to work well with many different personalities – is hugely important. It’s hard to show this during an interview in any pre-meditated way, so we really want people to be themselves throughout the process. If they do so across the many interactions of the recruiting process, both we and candidates get a good sense for the cultural match.

In addition, to demonstrate if you are a great fit for Evercore or anywhere else you need to understand how the firm works operationally. For instance, if you join Evercore at the Associate level you’ll likely be a generalist M&A banker for 18 to 24 months. This program was a great fit for me because I was able to work with lots of teams on different types of deals, which allowed me figure out what industry and team I worked best with. That said, if you are already specialized in a sector and want to continue with that specialization, Evercore may not be the ideal fit because we don’t place people immediately. Group allocation is supply and demand-driven, which provides great optionality for some. That’s why, when going through recruiting, candidates should ask questions to understand how a firm’s operational specificities will impact the experience and learning opportunities. Identifying the fit on this level is crucial…and it’s also a great way to stand out during the interview process!

Nicolas: Very interesting point! And what kind of profiles do you focus on post MBA?

John: The main thing is we want people who are 100% sure about investment banking, M&A and Evercore – and show it throughout the recruiting process.

Nicolas: Do you have a pool of schools where you recruit from?

John: Given the limited resources we have and how busy everyone can be, yes we do have a core set of schools. If you are outside this pool of core schools, it can be challenging to navigate the process, though it’s far from impossible.

Nicolas: What about lateral recruiting?

John: We have a similar approach to in lateral recruiting. It’s very difficult to get a job as a lateral recruit if you’re not in Investment Banking or Private Equity. Because laterals are hired without the benefit of any training program when they start, we have to be virtually certain that a candidate is able to hit the ground running on day 1.

Nicolas: Exactly. That’s why sometimes I tell clients with exotic backgrounds that they have a better shot at big banks than MM or boutiques. One of them was a film producer before his MBA and he couldn’t get into any boutique but when we started focusing on BB he got a lot ore interviews and eventually an offer. I have one last question for you. Who are the most relevant contacts for networking? Vice presidents and above or associates and analysts?

John: That depends on your situation. If you are a school recruit, I definitely recommend contacting people who went through the process in recent years. They are typically on the recruiting team, and are desirous to continue the pipeline/relationship with the school. You’re in good shape if you connect well with a recent grad who remembers the process vividly and can provide the best tips and tricks!

About Nicolas

Since 2011, I’ve worked with 100+ Investment Banking and Corporate Finance professionals to help them land their dream job. Investment Banking gigs at Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Lazard. Corporate finance jobs at Google, Paypal and much more. From Analyst to Managing Directors, I’ve coached my clients on their networking technique and their LinkedIn profiles; I edited their resumes and cover letters, and grilled them during intensive interview preparation sessions. You may have originally discovered me through my work as an Associate Editor at Mergers & Inquisitions where I’ve been writing for over 200,000 readers. I also give speeches on recruiting and career performance in front of large audiences including Fortune 1000 CEOs, executives and… ambassadors! In 2014, given the amazing results we achieved with my clients I decided to quit my financial analyst job, work full time on coaching and I launched 300 Finance Gurus to dig even deeper into the art of finance recruiting. I am now going to grill 300 Managing Directors, CFOs, VPs, Associates and Analysts as well as headhunters and other coaches to give you the best of the best so you can skyrocket your finance career.