Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Interview #6: FactSet (3rd Round)

I think I’ve found one nice thing about the 18:03 out of London – the sunset.  The sky is on fire outside west London and it has the train’s undivided attention.  Is this some sort of metaphor?  Is the sun setting on my constant back and forth from the big smoke?  Has a new chapter begun?

You’d like to think that, wouldn’t you.  No no, I’m still here.  Don’t you fret.

Currently heading back from my final interview with FactSet.  How did it go?  Well, I think it went quite well.  Have I been offered a job?  We shall wait and see.

I arrived at FactSet’s offices at 1 o’clock.  The day would consist of an interview with two consultant managers, a shadowing of a consultant, a brief demo of FactSet’s proprietary software, and finally an interview with an IM and an IB manager.  The last of which would require me to give a short presentation (I was instructed of its topic when they invited me for the second interview).  

The first interview was standard.  I had answered all the questions in other interviews and my answers were starting to flow more smoothly.  Questions on my CV, the economy (standard “What have you been reading about?”), and the company (what does it do, how does it do it, what an IB’r would use FactSet for, what an IM’r would use it for, what makes a good consultant).  I would estimate it lasted about 45 minutes.  My advice to you here, take them up on their offer of a drink!  They ask a lot of questions and the body chooses to respond in the most unhelpful of ways.

After the interview finished up I was introduced to a Consultant at his workstation.  Now, I learned a lot here about the difference between a starting position at FactSet, and a starting position at Bloomberg.  At FactSet, you’re given responsibility.  At Bloomberg, you’re not.  At FactSet, you interact with the customer through the power of speech.  At Bloomberg, you are an anonymous entity hidden from the customer, without ever speaking to them or giving them your name.  This is actually how FactSet’s client service differs from Bloomberg.  The MAIN difference.  The reason why FactSet is renowned for its customer service and Bloomberg… you’d think, was not.  The one company has a voice, a face.  The other is mute and faceless. 

My new Consultant friend, Harry, told me about his background, why he joined FactSet, and what he liked about the job.  He seemed like an honest guy so I took his word.  He noted how he had come from the big swinging **** world of investment banking (this blog isn’t anonymous enough for tongue-in-cheek stereotypes I’m afraid; the recruiting eyes are watching…).  And that surprisingly, he had more responsibility from the start at FactSet.  “In IB, you succeed by doing what you’re told, and doing a lot of it over and over again.  There is no analysis going on, you just gather information.  If you like money, and doing the same thing over and over again, then do IB.  But if you want to actually think on your own two feet and contribute, do anything but.” 

I do like money….

I don’t know the extent of this responsibility, but after joining the company last May, Harry already had an extensive list of clients he and his associate looked after.   We were meant to take some calls, but surprisingly, no one called whilst I was there.

Next up came the software demo with James, who had interviewed me in the first round last week.  He showed me a couple functions, and asked me a couple questions on what I would do if yada yada yada.  Should have been paying more attention here because I was then given a list of 10 things to do with the software.  Only had 10 minutes to do it, and I wasn’t able to complete it all.  But James assured me that it wasn’t meant to be finished within the time frame.  Fair enough.

I guess we finished earlier than expected because we found ourselves with half an hour to kill before my final interview.  So we just kicked back and spoke candidly about the company, the current job market and my time in Manchester.  Needless to say, there was some banter.  I found myself quite relaxed by the time the next interviewers came in.  But asked for another drink, just in case.

Louie and Alex were two managers from IB and IM.  Never met anyone in the UK besides my granddad named Louie!  It just sounded odd, in a good way though.  Louie is a fun name to pronounce.  I hesitated putting on a Brooklyn accent for the rest of the interview.  Alas….

What can I say about this interview?  It was pretty much the exact same as all the others.  It was more relaxed though I found.  There was a healthy amount of laughing.  I only lost my train of thought once during a “brief” explanation of my dissertation on Bear Stearns. 

As Louie was the guy who made the eventual hiring decisions, his main concern was if I actually wanted to work for FactSet.  As I’ve said before, the potential killer of any interview.  I think I handled it better this time though.  He understood that graduates had to apply to more than one type of job, but he underscored that I wasn’t applying to a financial company, I was applying to a software company.  So I tried to explain that overall career goals were more important to me than where that career took place.  If I could be working with capital markets, all the better.  Although FactSet was really a software company, I was able to stay within my zone of interest, and to boot, this software company was robust, and that offered job security.

I was then asked to present what I had been asked to prepare.  In no more than 5 minutes, answer the following:

  1. Describe the role of a FactSet Consultant
  2. Give skills that you possess that you think would make make you a good FactSet Consultant
  3. Give two practical experiences you have had that you feel demonstrates these skills
  4. Tell us why you want to be a FactSet Consultant.

Preparing for this was tough.  I got the call for the interview Monday morning on my way to Bloomberg for an interview.  And they wanted me in early Tuesday afternoon.  I could have done it on my train ride back on Monday, but then you very appreciated readers wouldn’t have been able to read about that experience.  I didn’t get home till about 9:30pm and after eating, when straight to bed.  So I had to write this presentation on the train ride in today.  Remember that prior lesson we learnt about preparation?  Well, I wish someone had reminded me here.

I spent the better part of the journey writing up my answers on my laptop.  With about 30 minutes left I started summarizing that on note cards.  As I began to write, my Morgan Stanley pen died on me (I’ll remember that).  And it was my only pen.  So I ran to the other end of the train to try and buy one from the catering coach.  No dice.  Went back to my seat and decided I had no choice but to break the cardinal rule of the English rail transport – Don’t Talk to Anyone. 

Well I threw caution to the wind and asked the lady opposite me if I could borrow a pen.  Thank the good lord!  Quickly scribbled out the remainder of my notes with seconds to go.  I was in a rush because I had planned my train journey without allowing for a normal coffee break before my regular 2pm interviews.  This interview was at 1pm, and there was no way I was going to retire exhausted to my bed on Monday and have to wake up at 5am to make the earlier train in.

Lesson #6: If you’re going to be late, call ahead.

I wasn’t too worried though because I had emailed Gary before I left that a highly plausible train delay could make me 10 minutes late.  No worries though, made it in on time (I think there’s a lesson on posturing in there somewhere if one looks hard enough).


So in summary, I think I stand a good chance at a job offer.  But they want me to start by November 1st.  And my current living situation (ie. not living in London) makes that kind of difficult.  London is not a fun place to need to move to at this current moment in time.  The supply for the less financially fortunate is at its worst.  Students, and recent graduates (with jobs) have gobbled up all there is.

Should hear back within the next couple days if I got the job or not.

We’ll let you know.

40 comments:

  1. I love your blog! I've got a first interview with FactSet soon and was wondering what is the difference between ib and im, in terms of what FactSet offers them??

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  2. Thanks Jessica! I love you too.

    The way I have pieced it together is, since FactSet doesn't offer its clients a 1-size-fits-all product, its account managers/sales personnel specialize in only one of the software packages. eg. If later on you choose to specialize in the investment banking software suite, you only work with investment bankers, and hence, are delegated to that department of FactSet.

    I could be wrong, but I don't see what else it could imply. But that is an excellent question for the end of your interview!

    Actually reading your question again, I'm not sure I answered it properly. Do you mean what do their respective software platforms actually do for IB'rs and IM'rs?

    Well, that is a question I was asked numerous times. What would an investment banker use our software for? I answered with "IPO data and M&A activity so that they can get an idea of where demand is for their services." As for IM I said something along the lines of, "portfolio performance comparisons, sector performance, company performance, etc etc etc anything to do with what is needed to know where to invest".

    Hope this answers your question and good luck with the interviews Jess.

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  3. I'm wondering what you stated as the Unique selling point for Factset as I have an interview with them coming up. i.e.

    Why are you applying to Factset and not Thompson Reuters? How do you think we are better than they are?

    Also, I'm struggling to find a succinct answer to the "What does a Factset Consultant do?" question. Any chance you could give me some pointers.

    Also - have you applied to the banks? and if not, why not?!?! You clearly want it real bad!!

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  4. Kenny,

    My USP for FactSet are my interpersonal and analytical skills, backed up by a solid 1st class degree in finance. This is different from motivation. USP is what you offer the firm, not why you want to work for the firm. With regards to the latter however, you need to get your priorities straight about why you'd accept a job from FactSet over another company (eg. Bloomberg, or if you are really into finance, a bank). You may think motivations behind applying for a specific company are trivial (after all, most of us would dog it with any job placed in front of us). But companies do not care if you are desperate. In fact, they see that more as a weakness because if they hire you, there is a risk of you jumping ship when something you see as better comes along. My advice? Get your BS'n up to par.

    They never asked me why I applied to them and not the competition. They just asked why I applied to them. However, they were quite surprised when I mentioned I was interviewing with Bloomberg as well.

    The differences between Bloomberg and FactSet are easy. Bloomberg offers its clients only 1 product for 1 price, whereas FactSet differentiates its software to different types of clients (eg. Investment bankers, investment managers, hedge funds).

    "What does a Factset Consultant do?" I am still not entirely sure. When asked that question I gave them a "from what I can tell...". And I based that answer on the "Financial Analytics and Sales" role described by some posters on the Bloomberg forums on WikiJob. Basically, you start on the helpdesk just like at Bloomberg. But you are allocated clients and personally address queries. Later on you can branch off into either sales or development. And specialize in either IB or IM. They don't expect you to know exactly what the job entails, but you should have a basic idea of what they are hiring you for.

    I am starting to apply to banks. Their application procedures are quite time-consuming though so it's slow going. I have all the time in the world you say! Yes, that may be true. But my recent surge in interviews has put constraints on my application assembly line.

    Stay tuned and good luck with your FactSet interview!

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  5. Thanks mate - appreciate ur help.

    I'm trying to decide if I should risk it all and ask what the salary is.... probably not a good idea!!

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  6. Haha I recommend you check out a website called glassdoor.com. It's a salary submission site for employees. It shows 7 Consultants in London earning an average of £31,607. That seems a little excessive. But I wouldn't turn it down!

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  7. so 0-ty Grad...
    Any feedback from either FS or BBG? I'm interested to see if you got any offers, and roughly how much (if you don't mind disclosing)

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  8. Heh, I got the rejection email from Bloomberg yesterday. No surprise there.

    Still waiting to hear from FactSet. Which is odd because they said they'd get back to me within a couple days. Interview was a week ago.

    Not sure if that's illegal or what to disclose terms of a contract (before accepting). Guess if I do get the offer I'll have to read the terms of the contract :P

    I'll keep the blog updated.

    -TNG

    P.s. I realize the awkwardness of addressing my tag. Should have called it Noughtie... a tad less flamboyant.

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  9. Dear TNG,

    I am writing following your recent application for the post of Consultant at FactSet Europe Limited. Thank you for attending and taking the tests.

    Unfortunately, I have to inform you that despite the most careful consideration, we are unable to offer you a position on this occasion.

    I do hope that this will not be too much of a disappointment. We would like to take this opportunity to wish you every success in your search for suitable employment.

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  10. Join the club! They rejected me too.

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  11. Ditto :(

    Make sure you ask for feedback.

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  12. Last time I asked for feedback with British Airways they said it was against their policy to give any. What the fuck does that say about a company? That they really just can't be assed or that they'd rather not confess that they just didn't like the look of you. Or maybe they read your blog....

    May not get anymore interview reviews from me for awhile. Nothing in the pipeline. But keep checking back! And good luck. Please do message me with any success stories or general rants.

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  13. I was also rejected, but after asking they provided me feedback.So,you can try it!Good luck in the next applications!!

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  14. I too got some feedback, all be it pretty vague!!

    I'm sure I remember reading somewhere that they are legally obliged to provide feedback if you get to interview. I think it had something to do with anti-discrimination legislation.

    I could be wrong though....

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  15. Yes, it's official. Never ever EVER tell the truth when asked what other companies you have applied for. You've applied to all their competitors and that's it!

    ^The reason I was turned down for this job.

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  16. Should we tell that we applied for all their competitors, or not?

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  17. Well that's what I just wrote haha. And that's what I'll do at my next interview.

    It's up to you what you want to say. But from my experience, and it seems quite logical, employers see you as confused when you mention applications to companies completely out of their sector. Makes sense. Of course... it's completely arrogant of the companies to reject someone on this basis.

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  18. Did you receive feedback from FactSet saying that this was the reason that you were rejected?!!

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  19. Dear TNG,

    "The interviewers felt you came across well and had some very good skills. However, they weren't convinced how much you wanted to work for FactSet specifically compared to the other roles you had gone for.

    Best regards"

    I believe I would have had this job if I didn't say what other companies I had applied to. Live and learn.

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  20. Oh, such a shame..You were so unlucky,but these guys must reconsider their way of thinking..It's natural to apply to many positions in order to maximise your chances..Anyway,good luck in your future applications, it's a fact that you'll get a job pretty soon.(unlike me)

    Cheers

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  21. Lost7,

    Hey now! None of that. I'm the same as all of you! Anyone can make a blog :P

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  22. Hey Noughty,

    first of all great blog! secondly, i was contacted today after submitting my application in the early hours of the morning and i have been asked to come in tomorrow to do the 3 tests and an interview so im short on time. I was just wondering if you could give me some more insight into the 3 tests so hopefully i can at least be a little better prepared?

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  23. Anonymous,

    I think I'm a little late replying to you, sorry about that. I've been traveling around the country attending careers fairs so my internet access has been limited.

    Did you read my other post on the 2nd round FactSet interview? I give quite a lengthy overview of the three exams. If you read those you'll do fine. Other than that I cannot remember anymore details/questions. I wrote that review on the train back from the interview and included everything my memory served me with. So sorry I couldn't have given you any more advice. I'm sure you did well though. They are easy.

    Let us know how it went.

    -TNG

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  24. Dear TNG,

    Do you see any point in going to these fairs?
    I tried them, but since they do not give me the chance to avoid any part of these lengthy applications,I find them useless!!

    Obviously you think that they have something to offer (as you travel to attend them),so please give me some info on this matter!

    p.s.How are your applications going?We look forward to your next detailed description!

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  25. Dear Devoted-Lost,

    I just got back from a week out and about. Although most of it was spent getting drunk with friends in Manchester, I did manage to attend two fairs. And my next post will cover how I got on at these (hopefully providing some do's and don'ts I picked up in the process). So stay tuned!

    As for applications, I'm not holding out on you guys, I've just got nothing to write on! I haven't had any interviews since the final Bloomberg one. I've just done some online numeracy and verbal assessments for two companies, but I'm pretty sure I bombed them.

    This week will be a busy one, but I'll try and get that careers fair article completed with haste.

    Thanks for reading!

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  26. Love reading your blog, seeing as thought I'll be applying for IB jobs once I've graduated it's very useful.

    Hope post-allen life is treating you well.

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  27. Cheers Anonymous,

    You should be applying for IB jobs at this very moment, not once you've graduated!

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  28. Dear TNG,

    Your blog is brilliant - I love it!

    This is my third application to FactSet and luckily I made it through the first round (three tests) and have been invited back for a second interview.

    Would you be able to give me any advice as to what competency questions will be asked?

    Ps. I hope you've found yourself a job and if not then I hope you find one very soon.... Maybe consider journalism?

    Kind regards,
    Dips

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  29. Thanks Dips! I very much appreciate your fanship.

    Wow, 3rd application, dedicated. I was considering reapplying, myself. It's a good company.

    I wish I could give you some more advice, but as this interview was ...over 3 months ago, I have no recollection of anything other than what I posted here.

    It didn't go at all like Bloomberg's though. The interviewers were very down to earth and calm. Try not to prepare your presentation on the train though.

    Haven't gotten a job yet. I'm actually on the train back from two interviews yesterday. They both went very well. One was a final round. Actually it was more like a bonus round.... the company's finance team just took me out and got me drunk! Excellent way of seeing if you get along with the potential new guy if you ask me.

    Good luck with FactSet!


    TNG

    P.S. I'm flattered you think I'd make a good journalist. But I think I'll just freelance for now ;) Perhaps in the distant future!

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  30. Dear TNG,

    What company was your final round interview with? (If you don't mind me asking). I really hope you get it :)

    Also I looked at your 'FactSet (Round 2)' article and it was extremely useful! I've been invited for a second round 45 min interview. Thank you very much! =)

    Anyway, do you have a system for answering general competency-based questions in a succinct manner? I've been using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) and CAR (Context, Action, Result) technique, but I've had little success. I believe this might be due to my lack of interview experience (as I've only had 5-10 interviews). I've been practicing, but my answers just don't feel right.

    Your help would be much appreciated.

    Kind regards,

    Dags2011

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  31. Hello again Dags,

    I generally stick with the STAR method. I've been asked so many competency questions, my canned responses - which I have tweaked over time - just seem to shoot out. The important thing to remember is to tell them what action YOU took, and try your best to give a quantitative result (eg. your project scored a first).

    If the job is an accountancy job, I try and use more examples which involve accountancy-related experiences of mine. But this doesn't always happen. I've used my past experience as a bartender before. Although I try and stick that in as a generic task-management response, balancing part-time jobs with uni.

    Sorry, I don't know what else to say other than that. Try and practice with a close friend? They'll keep you honest.

    That's awesome news regarding FactSet. Good to hear you've progressed!

    I'm afraid I can't tell you who the interview was with, as I'm still waiting on a response. And even if I do get it, I'm not sure I want to publish it on this blog. I will say though that it's for a private equity firm. Back-office accountancy work.

    Take it easy, and good luck with FactSet.


    -TNG

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  32. TNG,

    No worries about the firm. You've given enough information on this blog as it is lol. I was only curious for your interest (not my own). My brother works for Barclays Wealth. So I was thinking I could provide you with some tips for future applications to the Barclays Group.

    I really hope you get the job (from the bottom of my heart), because there are very few people out there who would do what you do. From this blog, I'm sure you've changed many people's lives. Job hunting can be a daunting/depressing experience but you've brought out the funny side of it. Which is a great thing! And most importantly, you given people the assurance that they're not alone, and what they're experiencing is not distinct to them.

    On a personal note, you sound like a really a safe guy and best of luck with the private equity firm.

    Thanks for the advice,

    Dags

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  33. Dags, that's easily one of the best reviews/compliments on the work I do here. I really appreciate that. Means a lot.

    You know when I was younger, I always wanted to make it big in a band, and one of the biggest motivations to do that was to have people enjoy what I wrote. Your kudos here today hits the same note (oh! rhyming pun!). So I guess I've accomplished what I set out to do.

    Cheers man, and all the best.


    TNG

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  34. Lol cheers mate. All the best again.

    Dags

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  35. Read some more Factset Interviews here:

    http://smartmentors.eduarena.com/2011/09/factset-interview-experiences-placement-questions/

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  36. Hey TNG,

    I just got through to the next stage after the 3 tests and I have been asked to prepare this 10min microteach thing. Did you ever have that? any advice?

    Jaz

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  37. Does anyone know a good current financial topic that might affect FactSet's business? A friend of mine got his interview in two weeks and they want a presentation about it for 5 min. I also applied but have not received any answer yet, just wanted to get ready beforehand if I got a positive answer..
    Very grateful for any tip!

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  38. Hello TNG,

    Firstly, can I just say that your blog is the most uplifting thing I have ever experienced as a job hunter! Kudos to yourself for keeping this up. I am sure there are many who already have benefited. Ever considered taking the next step and registering yourself as a charity? (just an idea).

    I am applying for the Graduate Consultant programme at Factset. Initially I thought there would only bea resume and cover letter but understand there are more questions.

    Why are you applying to FactSet?
    What attracts you to the role of a consultant?
    What do you think a consultant does at FactSet?
    What three skills do you think makes a good consultant? Please provide examples of how you meet these skills.

    I have written my response for most of them but would like to draw upon your experience too. Would appreaicate if you could give some pointers especially with the first question.

    Thanks very much. Keep up the good work!

    Azlaan

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  39. Hi Another one of those,

    Can you please tell if you received these questions after you submitted the application or they were part of your application?

    Also, can you tell me if you applied via wikijobs through email or you submitted application through their website by creating an account?

    hope you dont mind me asking

    Many thanks,

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  40. Hey TNG,

    Really enjoyed reading your blogs, despite them being a few years ago.
    I have a final round interview with Factset coming up and was wondering what you mean by questions on the economy - Obviously I will prepare for the usual "what have you read about, how does this affect Factset", but are there any others, like asking opinions on specific economic things? (If you remember, I realise this was years ago for you now!!)

    Thanks, and hope your current role is working out for you well!

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