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Goldman Sachs Adds 'Personality Tests' to Hiring Process

August 10, 2017

by Howard Haykin


Goldman Sachs, like many of its Wall Street competitors, has been “on a mission” to lure and retain top talent. To this end, the firm has implemented several changes to its hiring practices and personnel policies.


On Wednesday, Matt Jahansouz, Goldman’s global head of recruiting, said the firm would begin using a “personality test” when hiring for positions in its banking, trading and finance and risk divisions. The firm began testing this summer’s interns, who would start full time in 2018, for such attributes as teamwork, analytical thinking and judgment.  


Going forward, the test will be given before a candidate’s 2nd round of interviews at the bank; their answers would be compared with those of current Goldman employees, who have already been identified as exhibiting traits that mark high performance. The interview process will also include in-person interviews. However, the days of just looking at GPA and resumes from Ivy League candidates would seem to be numbered.


PRIOR HUMAN RESOURCES CHANGES.    Over the past couple of years, Goldman Sachs has reviewed its policies and procedures, relying in large measure on feedback from its staff. Here are some of the resultant changes that the firm has implemented.


     ►  Qualitative Performance Reviews.   In 2016, Goldman replaced its 9-point rating system for "qualitative" feedback that is "timely" and "constructive."  At the same time, the firm indicated plans to provide more frequent feedback by moving away from the once-a-year model of performance evaluations to one that is more continuous and "real-time" throughout the year. [CNN Money, 5/26/16]


      ►  Real Time Performance Reviews.   Goldman rolled out a new review system, in which employees will receive continual feedback from managers and peers. These reviews would supplement the firm’s annual review process and the bi-annual reviews (at which time the firm selects a new class of managing directors and partners). The idea behind the new software-based reviews, which would be extended to all 35,000 Goldman employees, is to give employees real-time feedback on their everyday performance.  [, 4/21/17]


     ►   Relaxed Dress Code.    In a move to make the firm more attractive to techies, Goldman Sachs’ new CIO Elisha Wiesel has relaxed the dress code for its computer engineers. While advising its tech division to “exercise judgment in determining when to adapt to business attire,” the firm’s directive did not specify whether hoodies or sneakers - the ad-hoc uniform of millennial tech workers - constitute acceptable dress. [Financialish, 7/13/17]