After completing his MBA at Harvard Business School and working as a Summer Associate, Ken joined Evercore Partners in 2009 as an Associate and was then promoted as a Vice President. With more than 8 years’ experience in the M&A Industry, Ken also plays an active role in selecting and interviewing analysts and associates candidates for Evercore Partners.
Nicolas: What kind of strategy would you recommend to candidates to get a high response rate on their job applications?
Ken: Basically, the idea is to make some sort of personal connection at the company beforehand, usually using your alumni network is the easiest way. Also, the most important thing is to reach out early during the recruiting process, not in the middle of the interview season! If interviews are in January then candidates should start introducing themselves and make a personal connection as early as April the year before and apply during the summer. Then they are more likely to get a response than reaching out in December when I have already selected 65 other people.
Nicolas: OK, so how is the personal connection going to help?
Ken: Well, if someone is reaching out through a school I attended, I am more likely to go down to HR to ask them to take a further look at this candidate’s resume by mentioning that we attended the same program or I know him/her through a friend I regard highly. Sometimes we have hard cut-off lines, like 3.8 GPA, so if you don’t meet this criteria your resume will straight land on the NO pile! Having a personal connection within the company might make a difference and your resume might still be further looked at despite lower GPA.
Nicolas: So what kind of emails are more likely to get a response from you?
Ken: If they had a summer internship, I would be interested to hear about their experience, 2 or 3 projects they worked on, in 5 lines maximum; also knowing why they are interested in the firm. Something that shows that they put thoughts into their email!
Nicolas: What would be the best questions to ask your contact during informal interviews?
Ken: I think it’s a great time for the candidates to listen and let their contact talk for a bit, that way they will learn key information like why he or she likes to work for this particular firm, or this particular job. It’s a good way to craft an answer on why they are applying at this firm and not get a ready-made answer straight from Google!
Nicolas: People, and when I say people I mean students think that informal interviews can only benefit you, what do you think?
Ken: I think there is no such thing as ‘informal interview’! Even if the candidates are not being asked interview questions, I am still evaluating them. Actually after presentations at schools or recruiting events, I sit down with the HR team and we share notes on strong candidates we noticed, to follow them up. If a candidate hasn’t done his homework on the company or questioning us really aggressively then we will make note of that too and they won’t be called for an interview. Showing real thoughts and knowledge about the firm in your questions goes a long way!
Nicolas: That’s really interesting because it means that informal interviews can actually hurt you! What kind of questions about the firm would trigger your interest in a candidate?
Ken: We recently acquired a large investment bank, whereas we are usually more focused on the New-York area. So a good question would be “Is it Evercore’s focus to expand globally?” or “Is your target larger global transactions?” Questions where I feel like I am being interviewed, such as “what are the 2 things you like the most, or the least, about Evercore”, are not so great!
Nicolas: So how do you convince people to push your application?
Ken: If they succeed to convince me that this is their ultimate first choice and they show a genuine interest in the firm, I will definitely go out of my way to push their resume through! These are really the core values to be recruited at Evercore, it’s basically a guarantee that analysts and associates will give their best, in terms of performance, as they are delighted to be here! I find that people do not put as much weight as they should on this point!
Nicolas: So what are usually the main reasons candidates want to join Evercore?
Ken: People are particularly impressed with Evercore’s ability to maintain a small, personal and friendly company culture while participating in resume-building and branded large-scale transactions. Overall we have a big atmosphere where people from all levels help each other and we do not rank people against each other. The strong mentorship between analysts and VPs or senior partners is also a great opportunity. Having this close relationship means that analysts do not need to go back to business school or work in private equity to be promoted to associate. We do not treat junior bankers as a 2-year commodity!
Nicolas: Sounds pretty different than some of the other firms in the industry….
Ken: Definitely, we want to retain our employees, but if they decide to leave the firm after 2 years, we deal with it transparently by calling the other firm to push their CV and recommend them. Building a good relationship from the start is essential as they might become our clients in the future!
Nicolas: That’s a good idea! In consulting, they are creating a similar kind of “alumni” network to get more business. Ken, thanks a lot for all these interesting insights!
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June 18, 2015