BlackRock, like most large financial institutions, is over-subscribed with applicants for its available jobs. Assuming you make the cut and end up at an interview, what questions can you expect? Here are some questions that BlackRock asked candidates for a number of different roles according to postings from interviewees on Glass Door and Wall Street Oasis, together with some tips on how to answer them.
1. Walk me through your resume.
This is the classic 'getting to know you' question asked in any interview. George Wilbanks, the founder and managing partner of Wilbanks Partners, an executive search firm for the asset and wealth management sectors, suggests asking for specific parameters to better gauge exactly what the hiring manager is looking for:
“What part of my background is most interesting to you, and how much time would you like me to spend answering the question?”
It’s also important to pay attention to your audience and check in to see if you’re losing their attention. One specialist asset management headhunter recommends asking ““Would it be helpful to go in to more detail here or summarize?’ Speak in specifics, as opposed to generalizations, but avoid long-winded storytelling or name-dropping.”
2. What are the five principles?
One candidate who interviewed with the firm in November 2021 said that the process started with an online video interview. They moved to the next stage, which was an interview based on BlackRock's five principles. “I then had two more interviews based on my skills and suitability to BlackRock's values. Finally, I had two technical interviews.”
The five principles can be found here , so make sure you’re familiar with them and think how you might be able to draw out your elements of your resume to show how you’ve met them. They may not ask you explicitly. It’s more likely they’ll ask about how you work in a team, which speaks to the ‘One Blackrock’, principle, for example.
It’s important to think broadly about how you fit with the principles. “The first principal about fiduciary duty is about serving clients, so be sure to highlight any real world examples of where you’ve met the needs of customers, even in the broadest sense,” says the specialist recruiter.
3. If your last position didn't work out, why was that?
“Tell the truth,” Wilbanks says. It’s important to take ownership here without being offensive or blaming others. Be honest but use softer language. Say ‘I wished I’d don’t more due diligence before joining’ rather than ‘they lied to me about the nature of the job.’
4. Describe your experience leading a team, including at least one challenge you faced as a manager/team leader
Any time you’re asked to describe challenges, be sure to include what you learned as a result. “Come prepared with case-study-style stories about real experiences that that the interviewer can verify with a reference call,” Wilbanks said.
5. Why financial markets advisory ? What do you think about the market?
This was a question asked by a graduate looking for a post in the firm’s financial markets advisory business. It’s an opportunity for you to show your technical knowledge, so be concise but use it well. Try to focus on how what’s happening in the markets could be relevant to working at Blackrock . For example, how inflation and interest rate rises could affect asset allocation or mergers and acquisitions activity. It shows you are interested in the role you are looking to secure.
6. What do you think about all the volatility in the markets and how retail and institutional investors are reacting to the current macroeconomic environment?
As an asset management professional, you should be able to talk about this until the cows come home. This also works as an ice-breaker at conference cocktail hours and other networking events.
7. How would you forecast our business in the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific (likely to be specific to the region in which you’re applying)?
This is where the research you’ve done on BlackRock and its various business units before the interview will pay off.
8. Why are you interested in this role?
Be well-informed about the organizational structure, the backgrounds of peers and superiors, the competitive framework and performance of products of the prospective employer.
9. Tell me something about yourself I cannot find on your CV
This is a platform for you talk about something you might have done that has benefitted society, or another aspect of your personality. Some recruiters call it a ‘hinterland.’ “Even though a lot of interviewing is about box-ticking, as you move through the process, employers want to know what sets you apart. You’re obviously top of your class, but what about that army training endurance weekend you went on? It might not go on your resume, but it’s a great thing to be able to talk about,” the recruiter said.
10. How do you manage difficult situations?
Be honest about a tough situation where you had to resolve conflict or get a project over the line. Highlight both your leadership skills and how you work in a team.
11. How would you build your portfolio?
This is an opportunity to show your technical knowledge and awareness of the prevailing market situation, drawing on macro trends such as bond versus equity yields.
12. When can you start?
Resist the temptation to show your eagerness to join the team by saying ‘tomorrow’. Remember, you want to arrive at your new role in peak physical and mental conditions.
The consensus from specialist recruiters here is to consider the notice period at your current firm plus any additional notice that may be expected to leave on good terms plus garden leave, if applicable, plus working in one or two weeks’ vacation.
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