Alpha Lane Logo

How To Get A Job At Goldman Sachs: An Honest Guide From Someone Who Did


Getting a job at Goldman Sachs: the ultimate goal of legions of ambitious students aspiring to work in investment banking

Some candidates would murder an entire family of kittens or sell their left kidney to get an offer from GS. 

And it’s no surprise if the firm is the subject of so much fascination. GS is arguably the most esteemed investment bank in the world, and it does represent something special among finance candidates and corporate clients alike

An image of prestige, uncompromising professionalism, and extreme competence. An experience there offers nearly unlimited professional opportunities. 

And having worked at Goldman Sachs, I can tell you that people start looking at you differently when they learn you’ve worked there…

The question is: how do you get in? What does it take to get a job at Goldman Sachs?

In this article, I’m going to share with you my very best pieces of advice to go from desperate student from a non-target school to full-time analyst at the #1 investment bank in the world. 

Expert Tip #1: Cultivate at least one area of excellence, and show it on your CV

There is a common misconception among candidates which is that to get a job at GS, you need to be a financial genius. This is completely false

GS is primarily looking for top performers. They look for people who have clearly displayed a sense of excellence in at least one field – and it does not have to be finance-related. 

They assume that if you’re capable of excelling in one field, you’ll also be able to excel in finance after sufficient training. They’re looking for a demonstration of your ability to reach mastery in a certain discipline

It does not matter if you’re a chess prodigy, a master archer, or a prodigious cook: as long as you excel in at least one area, GS recruiters are likely to be very interested in your profile.

I know this might sound different to the pieces of advice you’ve heard so far (perhaps because most of the tips you can find online come from people who’ve never worked at GS)…  But trust me, recruiters love this.

Let me give you a brief example. When I was working at GS, there was a girl who joined the London office as a Summer Analyst. 

Surprisingly enough, she had zero experience before joining GS. Zero. 

BUT, she was among the top 20 tennis players in Denmark in her age tranche, and dedicated most of her life to becoming a world-class tennis athlete. 

She connected with an MD at GS, who was very impressed by her background, and immediately forwarded her CV to HR. A few weeks later, she had a Summer Analyst offer. 

Having worked with her for a few days, I can assure you that she was indeed a top performer, even though she never worked in finance before. 

But the skills that enabled her to become an elite tennis player – extreme discipline, persistence, and an inexhaustible drive to excel – made her a very talented employee. 

Now, don’t get me wrong: you don’t need to become an elite athlete if you want to have a chance to join GS. 

But if you want to maximize your chances, I strongly advise you to develop one area of expertise in which you are exceptionally skilled (or in which you have the potential to become extremely good). 

It can be almost anything: cooking, karate, painting, writing, Youtube blogging, whatever you want. As long as you’re doing it at the highest possible level, recruiters won’t stay indifferent. 

Then, once you’ve developed this expertise, don’t forget to market it properly on your CV, so that recruiters can clearly see that you’re a champion (one of my students was one of best poker players in France and used to put a simple “Poker” on his resume, effectively wasting his biggest opportunity to impress)…

Expert Tip #2: Network aggressively with people working at the firm


If you want to join a firm as selective as GS, you will need more than a great CV

The firm receives hundreds of thousands of applications every year, and HR people don’t have the time to go through all of them. As a result, thousands of very talented candidates get rejected from the process without even knowing why…

I’ll tell you why: if you don’t actively network with GS employees, your chances of getting an offer from the firm are close to zero

I’ll repeat that: you MUST network with their people if you wish to get a job at GS. 

Why? Because just like other bulge-bracket banks, GS has a referral system in place: candidates that are endorsed by senior employees can make it to the interview round

Without any insider endorsement/referral, it’s close to impossible to get far into the recruiting process. 

The question is: how do you get a referral to get invited to interviews? By networking.

You’ve probably heard the word networking dozens of times by now, and you’re probably sick of it (which I understand, since most people are overcomplicating it)…

Yet at the core, networking is a very simple thing to do: it just means getting in touch with people working at the firm you want to work for, and making sure they like you enough to push your application internally.

You can do this by sending emails to alumni of your university who have worked at GS. 

Or, if you come from a non-target school like me who doesn’t count many “Goldmanites” among its alumni, you can send cold emails to senior people working at the firm, in order to get informational calls. 

That’s the strategy I’ve used to secure over 90% of all my investment banking interviews

If you wish to learn more about the exact strategy I’ve used (including which cold emails I sent and what to say on the phone to secure referrals), I encourage you to check out our course here.

Expert Tip #3: Get CV feedback from a professional, ideally someone working at a bulge-bracket


This is the piece of advice that I wish someone had told me when I first started…

I wasted two complete student years before getting professional feedback on my resume. At the time, I thought that my CV was good enough. 

I had read articles online, and followed the advice I’d seen from there and there. 

And after getting rejected hundreds of times, I finally came to the following conclusion: “Ok. My CV probably sucks. I’m going to ask for professional advice.”

So I paid roughly £120 to get a professional CV review from an active investment banker. 

He absolutely demolished my resume, and gave me some tips to rebuild it that I would have never thought of…

In hindsight, it was arguably one of the best investments I’ve ever made. I noticed an immediate increase in my number of interviews, and my interviewers were much more engaging than before. 

My advice to you is: don’t make the same mistake I did. Don’t wait two years to get your CV professionally reviewed. 

And most importantly, don’t think cheap. £120 is nothing in comparison to all the money you’re going to make in your career. 

But if you’re not willing to invest in your success, you won’t have the caliber of career you’re after

Now, by professional CV reviewer, I don’t mean these “career experts” working at your university. Most of the time, these people are useless, because they’ve never stepped one single foot in investment banking

They may be able to give general advice about CV formatting and layout, but they have no idea of what type of content and phrasing work to actually impress investment banking recruiters. 

If you want to receive professional feedback from me, and obtain the best possible version of your CV, learn more here.

Expert Tip #4: Build smaller experiences first. Only see an offer at GS as a long-term goal.

I got rejected 8 times by GS before getting a job there. 

Thinking that you’ll get an offer on the first attempt is unrealistic. You really need to see this as a long-term goal instead of a pass or fail test. 

You will probably get rejected multiple times as well, and it’s perfectly OK. 

If you want to increase your chances, I’d recommend building smaller experiences first – for instance, internships at small IB boutiques – which you can then leverage to strengthen the attractiveness of your profile. 

Nothing in life is 100% guaranteed. But if you keep trying every year while constantly increasing your market value as a candidate, you strongly increase your odds of success. 

Hard goals – like getting a job at GS – are not achieved overnight. 

They require extreme, long-term commitment. So keep that in mind whenever you receive another rejection email from Goldman…

Expert Tip #5: Be extremely well prepared on fit questions, and become a master at telling your story in an interesting way.


You may have heard that already, but GS put a very strong emphasis on the fit side, i.e., motivation and competency-based questions. 

If you’re very strong technically but are not extremely well prepared on fit questions, you will never make it to the offer. 

They’re looking for exceptionally driven people who are highly skilled at showing they’re a great fit for the team. 

In practice, it means that your answers to questions like “Why GS”, “Tell me about yourself”, or ”Why investment banking”, to name a few, must be exceptionally convincing

If your answers to these fit questions do not create a “wow factor” in the head of the recruiter, you probably won’t make it to the next round. It may sound silly but it’s true. They can afford to be extremely picky. 

As such, if you want to stand a chance, you need to become a master at telling your story, at demonstrating your interest in finance, and at showing that you have the skills to perform the job at the highest levels. 

In order to achieve this level of mastery, I have three main pieces of advice to you, which I’ve followed myself to get multiple offers at top-tier investment banks, including GS:

  • Try to anticipate as many interview questions as you can. If you know exactly what to expect, you know what to prepare.
  • Do NOT prepare completely by yourself. Ask for advice from competent people, ideally active or former investment bankers. If you want to prepare excellent answers, you need to receive feedback from people who have made it.
  • Do NOT over complicate your answers thinking you’ll sound smarter. Usually the best performing answers are the simplest ones that first come to your mind.

If you want to get access to a list of 125+ most commonly asked interview questions at bulge-bracket banks (with examples of great answers), click here.

Best of luck for your applications, and keep improving yourself until you get what you want. 

The cold reality is that most of you probably won’t get a job at GS, but if you’re doing everything in your power to achieve this goal, you can’t have any regrets.


A word about the author

Aurelian Tran is the founder of Alpha Lane and an ex-Goldman Sachs analyst who has spent 4+ years working in the investment banking industry.

He founded Alpha Lane to help students and young professionals achieve their highest professional ambitions, by securing offers at top-tier financial institutions.