Corporate Culture and Your Investment Banking Job

Fitting into the corporate culture at a new firm can mean many different things at different places. It can mean hiring people with the same background as other team members. Or, idealistically, identifying the characteristics of a person who is most likely to help achieve the organization’s overall goals.

Yet all too often, “cultural fit” is a smokescreen, polite code words for hiring “people like us,” according to an article in Recruiter, an online magazine for UK recruitment professionals. People tend to hire others who fit their own image of the right candidate, a practice that perpetuates the culture that exists at the firm.

If you can’t do anything about more closely resembling the physical characteristics of the interviewer, or the majority of people at the firm, then you’d be wise to do your homework and uncover key phrases about the firm’s culture ahead of time. According to Andy Crossey, vice president and head of Capgemini’s HR consulting team in the UK, having the right “cultural fit” means having the ability, or inclination, to fit in with ‘how we do things around here.'” So you may want to blend key phrases about the firm’s culture into your interview answers.

Hiring “people like us” does not necessarily mean building an organization of clones. The recent banking crisis pointed out the shortcomings of the herd mentality. It has also pointed out the need to build a culture that has more of a long-term view rather than a focus on short-term profits.

What’s your opinion? Do you think the pressures to conform are overwhelming once you have joined an investment bank? Are contrary opinions quashed? Add your comments below.

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Lon June 19, 2010 at 4:22 am

Cultural fit is not a one time thing. Those guys are preferred who bring something fresh, something what they call it ‘out of the box’. and great cultural sensitization. Great with the book records but misfit with culture resulted in many firings.

Bradley Cooper June 28, 2010 at 12:22 pm

I think this article does a great job shedding light on the tendency of recruiters to seek a “cultural fit” amongst potential employees. The idea of a “cultural fit” may be perceived in many different ways, however the article provides excellent insight on how potential employees can appear to “fit” anywhere they interview. The company I work for has written some excellent articles on how to be prepared for any kind of interview, check it out at investment banking jobs. (revised link)

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