The bank is an unusually selective institution. To get hired at Goldman requires surviving extraordinary vetting. The 200 or so business-school students who arrive every year begin by submitting a CV. A small fraction win interviews, a tiny fraction survive the first round, and another 10 rounds may follow. To encourage the widest pool, every senior manager takes part in recruiting, paying two visits to a top university, the definition of which has broadened from the best known to places with predominantly black students and overseas colleges. Candidates from unusual backgrounds or with unusual circumstances can receive extraordinary scrutiny. Suzanne Nora Johnson, a vice-chairman, was hired from a law firm after 150 interviews, which if not a record should be.
Of course, that's 150 interviews for possibly eight or more figures.
Once an offer is made, an intense seduction follows which, if acceptance is in doubt, can include a telephone call from Hank Paulson, Goldman's chief executive. Increasingly, other investment banks have copied the intensity of Goldman's efforts.
Once hired, the intensity may actually increase. Everyone at every investment bank works hard, but people at Goldman are reputed to work at least as hard, maybe harder. Intense loyalty and commitment are required. Internal voice mails are routinely sent out to vast groups of people with the expectation that all will be returned—fast. At Goldman, a request from another division asking for an insight, a contact or some other form of help is not to be ignored. To see a Goldman employee on the street is to witness someone listening to voice mails or pounding a BlackBerry, often to another Goldman employee. This is broadly true for a fair part of New York, but at Goldman the communication demands seem more extreme.