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Goldman Sachs' head of recruiting shared 4 tips for candidates of its ultra-competitive summer internship that just started taking applications

Emmalyse Brownstein

From not padding the resume to thinking 'in threes,' Goldman Sach's Vicki Tung breaks down her top 4 tips for scoring an internship.
  • Goldman Sachs just opened applications for its coveted summer investment banking analyst program.
  • Vicki Tung, the firm's head of recruiting, shares her tips for candidates to put their best foot forward.
  • "Think in threes," Tung said. And don't pad your resume — they can tell.

The race is on to score a spot in one of the most coveted training programs on Wall Street. Goldman Sachs opened applications for its summer 2024 internships Wednesday, including for its prestigious investment banking analyst program. 

The competition will be steep: About 236,000 people around the world applied for a Goldman Sachs internship in 2022, but just 1.5% made the cut — which equals to about 3,540 people. 

It stands to reason that this year's application season will also result in hundreds of thousands of college sophomores scrambling to make LinkedIn connections, in hopes that it could lead to "looks," or maybe even a coffee chat. Goldman is one of Wall Street's top banks when it comes to advising multi billion-dollar companies on mergers, acquisitions, and stock sales. Plus, Wall Street summer internships tend to lead to full-time jobs after graduation  — and Goldman has about 500 investment banking spots available for the summer of 2024.

To help applicants get a leg up, Insider spoke to Vicki Tung, Goldman's global head of recruiting, to bring readers inside the process. 

She said recruiting has been going on for months already in the form of Goldman bankers she has deployed to hold informational sessions at campuses across the country. But this week, the firm's actual applications went live on their website.

If candidates pass an initial resume screening, they'll be invited to do a HireVue interview, Tung said. 

HireVue is a video interview where candidates record themselves answering computer-generated prompts, which then get submitted and scored using AI technology. The questions are behavioral, situational, and business-specific, said Tung. Goldman employees also review the recordings to determine who moves on. 

The firm invites those who pass to a Super Day — an hours-long, in-person event at their New York office that can consist of several rounds of interviews. After that, Tung said, candidates will hear whether they got the gig within 48 hours.

Tung also shared her advice for applicants to do well — or at least not screw it up. Her tips included an interview hack for quantifying accomplishments succinctly and a warning about resume padding. See her advice below. 

Don't pad your resume — date ranges make a difference. 

Shining in an interview is one thing, but your resume has to first speak for itself to get you there. One thing candidates should avoid in their application, said Tung, is padding their resumes. 

The example she gave is when candidates list multiple accomplishments or experiences they participated in for a very short time. That can be a red flag, she said, suggesting that the candidate only participated in the activities for the purpose of filling their resume. 

"We're looking for long-term accomplishments," she said. "Date ranges do make a difference when we're looking at resumes. So somebody who's been involved in an organization for multiple years versus just one month because they want to pad their resume is something that we take notice of." 

It's a case of quality over quantity, she explained. Having fewer experiences that show enduring commitment and more tangible impact tends to be preferred over surface level experiences where the candidate was only a fleeting participant.

Ask thoughtful questions and be mindful that character counts.   

Interviews are mostly made up of "situational behavioral" questions, Tung said, where ethics are embedded into the prompts. These aspects of the questions are pass/fail, so your answer could make or break your chances of getting the gig.

"We will ask students how they handle various scenarios where integrity may be in question. And depending on their answer, that's where we determine whether or not somebody's going to move forward in our process or not."

She also advises applicants to ask thoughtful questions when in an in-person chat or interview. "That's the best way to prove that you've done your research," she said. You'll be talking a lot about your own motivations. But ask about theirs, and show an interest in what got them there, Tung said. 

Asking these kinds of questions could spark an unexpected conversation and connection, she added.

"Oftentimes you'll find some interesting answers there too, but it's always great to learn from veterans who've done this before in terms of what motivated them."

Bankers talk in numbers — do the same in your interview by thinking "in threes"

"We are a financial services firm, so we talk in numbers," said Tung.

For that reason, Tung said it's helpful to specifically quantify your achievements when answering questions about experiences and accomplishments. It can be easy to get carried away and ramble about everything you learned from X, Y or Z experience. Instead be deliberate about what exactly you want to leave your interviewer with after the conversation is done.

"The best way to do this, I think, is to think in threes," Tung explained. "So for example, I started a student-run organization. I did A, B, and C to drive up membership. Over the two years of my leadership, I increased membership and contribution by X percent. ""It's succinct, to a point, but also impactful in terms of showcasing your accomplishments."

Master the subject matter 

Doing your research on Goldman's program and the firm more broadly is "critical," Tung advised. By nature, many candidates also apply for internships at other firms. But Tung warns against approaching the interview with a generalist's attitude. 

"To stand apart is to know what you're talking about and know that you want us as much as we want you," she said. "So doing your research is critical."

She also advises applicants to be substantive when highlighting their accomplishments. That means avoiding cliches and "canned" responses, Tung said. "We train our interviewers to really probe," she said. "So if you're giving an example of something, let's say for leadership, we're going to keep probing until we get to the itty bitty details of that particular situation that they're describing." 

"These interviewers have probably interviewed hundreds of people before. It's very easy to spot somebody who's giving you a canned answer."