Interview: Bloomberg (2nd Round)

Position: Sales & Analytics

I’m going to jump straight into the interview here, simply because it was the defining part of my day at Bloomberg, and the memory is fresh.

After discussing my interest in finance, Sales Manager John posed the following question to me:

“Your CV is great.  But if you want learn about finance, you’re better off going to a bank.  Why do you want to work for Bloomberg?”

Here is where the interview could have gone one of two ways.  Both paths crossed my mind.

Response 1:  You’re right, John.  Sorry for wasting your time.  I’ll go work for a bank.  It’s an easy thing to get into after all.

Response 2…

Well it couldn’t exactly be summed up into one response.  Because what Sales Manager John had just shot at me was a bullet.  And I knew that what he was really asking me was, “How can I be sure you’re not going to just stick around here for a year, get the experience, and then shoot off to UBS across the street?”  A killer question that will easily end any interview.  I began to dodge the bullet.

“Well, I believe Bloomberg can offer me the chance to advance my career much more rapidly than I could at a bank.  It has a flat, meritocratic structure that encourages development and gives employees a firm grounding in many aspects of capital markets.  Where as at a bank, you focus on one thing only.”

Yeah… that did it, good response.  Dodged.  Forgot I was dealing with a salesman here…

“…Okay.  Say we offer you a job here at Bloomberg, but UBS across the street offers you a position there at the same time.  Who do you choose?”

Okay, how does one even begin to form a reasonable response to that?   To anyone with even the slightest bit of interest in the financial markets, getting offered a job in investment banking is like winning the job lottery.  Well… it is to me at least.   He knew this, somehow.

Now what I should have said was,

“I don’t think the lifestyle of an investment banker is suitable for me.”

What I ended up saying was,

*Takes a deep breathe* “Well part of why I’m here is to learn if Bloomberg is a suitable company for me.  Does it offer me the future that I want?  I’m not sure what UBS can offer me.  I haven’t applied to them.  I don’t think I’ve applied to any banks actually.  Well I applied to a lot in my 3rd year but never heard back from any so developed somewhat of a distaste for them.”

John doesn’t look satisfied.

“Well I mean, if Goldman Sachs offered me a job tomorrow… I’d probably go with Goldman Sachs, but that’s not even a reasonable scenario because there’s no chance of that ever happening.”

Shot dead.

“Okay, let’s get something straight.  What I want out of a career is something I will enjoy, something where I can be in a position that allows me to leverage my leadership skills, to exert a positive influence to those around me, and where I can contribute to the bottom line and make a name for myself.  If that career can be in the capital markets, something I’m really keen on, then all the better.  But that’s not the only industry I’m looking at.  I’ve applied for finance positions in a range of companies, such as GE, Caterpillar, GlaxoSmithKline (lie, but will do), Imperial Oil.  So if Bloomberg can offer me a career that answers to my career objectives, then I want to work for Bloomberg.”

John and the other interviewer seem to accept this hastily assembled last ditch effort.

…Think I might still be in this.

So to anyone on their way to Bloomberg’s next recruitment event, seriously think about the following before stepping foot into their lovely London headquarters:

Why did you even come here? (Lesson the 4th)

The rest of the interview was standard.  You already know to have your CV written on the back of your hand.  With any financial services firm, you should be going in with a recent news story you can discuss.  And this isn’t just quoting the news of the day.  The interviewers are looking for you to actually comment on the story.  They want your opinion.

Also since this was a sales-specific role (even though the position isn’t sales at first, and you don’t have to end up in sales either), they are going to ask you to sell something.  My fellow applicant friend was given the ol’, “Sell me this pen” treatment.  I on the other hand was given a job-specific version based on my prior expressed interest in taking on a development role in emerging markets.  “We send you to some country in which we have zero presence in order to sell our product, what’s the first thing you do?”  Another one was, “There are 2 banks beside each other.  They are the exact same except one uses a competitor’s product and the other uses no product at all.  Which bank do you choose to pitch to and why (there is no wrong answer)?”

A word of caution though, there is no preset interview structure at Bloomberg.  And I have this straight from our event guides.  The interview goes according to where you take the interview.  So a lot of my interview for instance was spent trying to prove to them that I actually wanted the job.  But everyone else I spoke to had to answer the same question to some degree.

WHAT ELSE HAPPENED

Couldn’t think of a better subheading, but aside from the interview, this is how the day went.

Arrived at the building, chatted up the reception talent, told to stare into the camera in the wall.  What?  Yeah, never experienced this kind of security before.  I looked around.  There were in fact a lot of security guards.  Oh right, today’s terrorism colour code is reddish-orange:  “Be vigilant. “  Oh really?  What’s going on?  Who’s in danger?  “We can’t tell you.  Just be vigilant.”  I guess someone actually takes the government seriously.  Was given an orangey-red name badge to wear around my neck and told to go upstairs.

Was greeted by the hustle and bustle of employees grabbing drinks and snacks at what appeared to be an open plan cafeteria on the mezzanine foyer, free of charge.  Sweet.  Bloomberg gets a point.

Introduced myself to some other applicants and was then taken to a meeting room at the end of one of many floors filled with Bloomberg terminals.  A very nice building indeed.  Giant aquariums filled with coral and tropical fish.  Art displays dotted about.  One of which was a pond made from computer screens showing a pond.  Nice one guys….  I pointed out its assured green power source.  To which our guides candidly replied “No comment.”

So we were given a short introduction to the firm by what was probably one of the company’s most attractive analysts.  Extra point for your salesmanship here Mr. Bloomberg.  A brief Q&A followed.

We were then taken to the helpdesk area where we each shadowed a generalist.  My generalist wasn’t really interested in me really.  Just kind of sat and did her thing.   Mind you she was already busy helping a person who actually worked there and needed to be shown what to do.

The helpdesk is where all graduates start.  From what I saw, you don’t actually speak to any clients; the process is all taken care of via the terminal’s instant messaging system (how does one then develop their communication skills in preparation for sales?).  And you can be answering a number of client queries at the same time.  There didn’t seem to be any pressure to answering questions quickly.  And if you didn’t know the answer, you could just transfer them to a specialist without the client even knowing. The questions I saw being asked sounded very basic.  “How do you make a chart comparing daily volume and volatility?”

I must interject here and mention that all employees do get a key card that allows them to log onto Bloomberg from their home computer, mobile or laptop.  A private trader’s wet dream.

So after the shadowing, we were split up and one group was sent for their interviews, and the other was sent on a tour of the building.  I was in the latter group.  No need to elaborate on a tour.  We saw many floors of terminals.  The one cool bit though was seeing the newsroom for Bloomberg TV.  They were doing an interview and we walked past.  A fellow applicant, Vladimir, and I gawked at anchor conducting an interview.  We were motioned by the producer to get lost.  Extra point.

Then came the interview.  Won’t go into that again.

My summary?  I think John had a point.  Maybe Bloomberg isn’t for me.  I got the impression that I was a bit too qualified for the job (not to sound modest).   But you didn’t need a university degree to do this job – just an interest in financial markets and a passion for customer service.  Getting into sales and getting the chance to work internationally in an emerging market would be the bee’s.  But the competition to do that is immense, and I wouldn’t gain much personally if I failed to do that (and I imagine it would take years to get to that position).  So where am I meant to go?  I’m not experienced enough to get into IB, but my ambitions are too great for it’s auxiliary markets.  With every interview I go through it seems I get further and further away from the answers.  Maybe this lost generation crap has some substance to it after all.

Lesson  #5: Fuck that shit.

Tomorrow I have my second stage interview with FactSet (one of Bloomberg’s competitors).  I have to give a 5-minute presentation on why I think I’m right for the company.  Here we go.

UPDATE: Read about my next interview with Bloomberg here.  Go Figure.

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27 thoughts on “Interview: Bloomberg (2nd Round)”

  1. just had a quick read through your blog, nice to see another job seeking graduate other than myself still trying to find out where they fit into the world too!

  2. p.s loved that bit about the IQ dropping while in the interview and also the fact that sometimes even when you say something completely stupid you tend to have to follow through with it and there is nothing you can do to stop.

  3. First off, thanks for the comments Anonymous #2. Hopefully not lost for too much longer though (the both of us).

    There seems to be a negative correlation between how much you freeze up and how much you are able to bullshit in an interview. And the more you interview, the more that correlation begins to work in your favour …should you find yourself going down that all too familiar “Road to Nowhere”.

    Haven’t managed to get to that point myself yet though so… let me know how you get on.

  4. Hi, Thanks for your commitment to helping others!!!

    I too got through to 2nd round at Bloomberg. It actually pissed me off that they wasted my time. I mean a help desk is a help desk, don’t call it “analytics” and waste ppls time getting them to interview, right?

    On the plus side, I was able to practice interviewing and to get some valuable feedback to hopefully help me improve.

    FYI, even at 2nd round, there are no language tests for those who speak 2nd languages.

  5. Hi Noughty Graduate,

    Your blog is awesome I thoroughly enjoyed reading all your posts. i am ever so thankful coming across your blog, not only documenting your experiences but providing further advice.

    Nearly a year graduating and countless of rejections, I passed the telephone interview and got invited for the second round for Bloomberg. I was hoping you could give me some further advice in the second round and the final round. In terms of what questions they asked and share your experiences etc. I have been looking online information to this but don’t get anything.

    Thanks again.

    I hope to hear from you soon.

    Kind regards,

    M A S

  6. Hi Noughty Graduate!

    I have discovered recently your blog and really like it. I’ve the feeling to read exactly what I am experiencing! And that’s so relieving to read that your are not alone…

    MAS, I went to the second (and last) round interview for Bloomberg recently. It was basically the same type of questions than during the first in-house event. NO surprises!

    Unfortunately, they were above all interested in the reasons why I wanted to work in analytics; what I did not really want because I have the feeling to be a bit “too qualified” for a help desk…

    So job hunting, here we go again!

  7. Hi Thank you for your reply. I can safely say we all have mutual feelings and what Noughty Graduate states.

    I had a phone interview the other day, I prepared well for it and she asked lots of questions from typical competency questions to scenario based. It was a refreshing as i have had so much rejections. it was really nice to see something different in my inbox.

    Ok so the final interview was abit like the second one. Interesting you wouldn’t be able to tell me about the questions they asked would you?

    I read the description to be of different to what she had said – but I hope you and i get something soon. I don’t mind progressing up the ladder.

    Thanks again,

    Hope to hear from you soon

  8. Hey MAS, I’m very happy that you find my writings helpful. And I’d love to help you out with what other questions they asked. But like I stated in this post, the interview structure goes according to where you take it. So my interview was most likely unique to me, and yours will be unique to you. The interviewers will ask you a question that ties in with your answer to the previous question. So it builds and builds and build until you’re talking about how you think your dog Rufus would make an excellent truffle hound and that you think next year you’ll plant tomatoes instead of onions in your mother’s allotment garden.

    Just make sure you don’t digress 😉

    I’m currently working on my final round interview post for Bloomberg and will hopefully have it up later today.

    Just an FYI, as I write my “Interview” posts I try not to repeat questions I’ve mentioned on previous posts. So for example, in the “Interview #4 FactSet” post I stated a long list of questions, the first of which was “Tell us about yourself.” This request comes up in EVERY interview so I’m not going to repeat it every time I write about a new one and what I was asked. So if you go through all my posts and note down the questions I bring up, you’ll get a pretty solid list of ones in which to practice. OR, you can buy the book I mention in the “A Guide: Applying for Graduate Jobs” post as there is an even better and more extensive list in the back of that.

    But like I’ve tried to accentuate in this post, you need to know WHY you want to work for Bloomberg, what the job entails, what skills are needed to do this job, and how can you demonstrate that you have these skills. And the basics in how to sell something. Google: “how to sell a pen”, or general sales tactics.

    Good luck

  9. And thanks for reading Anonymous, 8 October 2010 14:15

    It is VERY wrong that Bloomberg have advertised this position using the title for the role that they did. There has recently been a surge in employee-initiated lawsuits against companies who falsely advertise positions. I do hope Bloomberg learn from their mistakes here.

    Anyways, expect a rather unlike-me rant in my upcoming post on the final round interview with them.

  10. Great read. I tried and failed during the summer to get this job, ended up with one of the big 4 accountancy firms instead by some miracle! From shadowing a guy on the helpdesk it did seem a cushy little job but I agree the analytics aspect is non existent! Just a heads up to others using this blog, I got exactly the same questions as the noughty graduate, including the “what would you do when entering a new emerging market?” why not join a bank instead? (because I got a 2:2 you tool!) and sell me a tv (which was based on my own sales work experience).

  11. Hi Thanks for putting the effort into updating this blog. An informative/entertaining read.

    The analytics position isn’t sounding to fantastic given the feedback but I could use the interview practice. Ive got my phone interview on Tuesday. I’m sure i’ll pass it but just to make sure, could you tell me what questions they asked during the phone interview (if you remember)?

    Thanks

  12. Hi isti,

    Thank you for reading.

    The position may sound uninspiring, but in hindsight, I probably would have accepted it had I been given an offer, if only for the CV brand-padding alone.

    I cannot recall the exact questions asked in the telephone interview, but I prepared using a review posted on wikijob. Check it out here at http://www.wikijob.co.uk/forum/investment-banking-financial-services/telephone-interview-bloomberg

    As well I prepared for the usual interview questions asked.

    Good luck!

    And remember, you’ve only applied to financial services data providers because you love technology and you love finance.

  13. HI there!

    I really enjoyed reading your blog!
    it is so refreshing to read. :)
    i also have the financial product sales assesment day coming up!
    now i know what type of questions to expect !
    I will keep u posted!

    Good luck with everything

  14. Hi Guys,

    TNG as promised I will keep you updated I was prepared but not enough for some angry looking managers one was head of sales the other of analytics.

    It was the worse interview I have ever had. It felt like an interrogation than an interview. I could go on and on but I won’t!! After getting feedback their said everything was good but your financial knowledge…correct me if i am wrong but it did state a mere intrest of finance from any discipline.

    Factset…I’m all yours :p lol. all the best guys if i can help just message me im following this great blog!!

  15. Hey MAS, good to hear from you again.

    I think you are forgetting that you did give a detailed response about your final interview on the “Interview #7: Bloomberg (Round 3 – Final) posting. Which I very much appreciated!

    But thanks for posting the feedback you received. Bad luck of the draw I suppose. They probably would have said the same thing about me if I had bothered to ask for feedback. I bombed their finance questions and I majored in the subject, even scoring an upper first!

    So did you receive an offer from Factset? Not sure if that was sarcasm or not :S

    Anyway, thanks for your support, MAS. Be sure to follow my new twitter account to stay up to date on all new posts (if you have twitter, and I don’t blame you if you don’t… not sure what all the fuss is about).

    -TNG

  16. Hello TNG, how long did it take between your second and your final interview? when did they tell you you that you have to go in for final interview? many thanks

  17. Hi TNG. I take it you are rather busy with your job (oh, the envy…) but my question is rather simple, you refer to this interview as 2nd round. This assumes that the phone interview was ‘1st round’?

    I am stubborn enough to but plain tix to London next month for the 2nd round, or assessment center as they call it. And to come back on what “anonymous” said back in July, how long was it before you had to go to 3rd round? [in short, how many plain tix would I have to buy] :)

    Hope you’re having a glorious week.

    Christina

  18. Hi Christina,

    Incredibly busy, but thanks for the comment. To answer yours and Anonymous’s question, I cannot recall!! It was such a long time ago. But a good approximation would be the time between when I wrote this post and when I wrote my final round post – as most of the time I wrote these things on the train ride home.

    And yes, you are correct in assuming that the 1st round was the telephone interview.

    A word of caution, please confirm with Bloomberg that they are going to pay for your plane tickets beforehand! Because as I learned the hard way, 2nd round interview travel expenses are NOT reimbursed. Luckily though, TNG doesn’t take inconsiderate wiliness from just anyone – they paid up after I hounded them.

    I wonder if they are still using the same interview template. Memorise my third round interview and you’ll be golden (I think it’s implied that I mean that in the ‘what not to do’ sense).

    Good luck,

    TNG

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