Category Archives: Corporate Recruiting Folklore

Rope Burning Riddle

Genre and Sub Genre: Verbal Folklore, Riddle/Brainteaser

Language: English

Country where Item is from: United States

Informant Data: Brendan Krimsky is a Dartmouth ’17 majoring in Computer Science. He grew up in Florida and is a member of the Kappa Kappa Kappa fraternity. Brendan participated in the Summer and Fall 2015 corporate recruiting cycles. After college, he is looking to work in a tech company, possibly as a software engineer.

Social Context: This folklore was collected during an in-person interview in Baker-Berry library. Brendan participated in two recruiting cycles, but did not end up finding his internship on campus. He interviewed for technology firms, and this riddle is from an interview he had for Magic Leap.

Cultural Context: During in-person interviews, students will often be asked non-traditional questions such as riddles or brain teasers. Though this may seem off-topic and irrelevant, these questions are often seen as true tests of a candidate’s intellect. They also serve as stress tests for students to see how they handle questions they aren’t prepared for as opposed to the usual technical questions that everyone prepares for. Getting the correct answer isn’t necessarily the point, though; more so these questions are used to see how an applicant thinks through problems.

Item: During Brendan’s Magic Leap interview, he was asked to try to solve a brain teaser about measuring time with burning ropes. After answering several technical questions correctly, the interviewer told him that this would be his last question and asked him to think through the problem out loud. Brendan was given a minute to come up with his response, and though his answer was not the “right” answer, the interviewer said he was more interested in seeing how he logically broke down a problem.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file): Interview audio was not recorded.

Transcript of Interview: “I flew down to Florida where Magic Leap is for my second round interview. The interview went well at first, we started off with the usual technical questions about some of the languages I know and concepts like greedy algorithms and dynamic programming. After that, the interviewer paused, grabbed a cup of coffee and when he came back he said he was done asking me technical questions because it seemed like I knew my stuff. His last question was a riddle – he asked me ‘You have two ropes that each burn for 60 minutes, and a lighter. How do you measure out 90 minutes using just the ropes and a lighter?’
I didn’t know how to respond so I made something up about folding the second rope in half to burn it twice as fast. He said the right answer was to burn the first rope from one side and the second one from both sides, but he didn’t end up caring whether I got it right or not. He just wanted to see how I thought through the riddle.”

Informant’s Comments: N/A

Collector’s Comments: N/A

Collector’s Name: Sachin Vadodaria

Tags/Keywords: Verbal Folklore, Corporate Recruiting, Riddles and Brainteasers

“C’s Get Degrees”

Title: “C’s Get Degrees”

General Information about Item

Genre/Subgenre: Oral folklore: saying

Language: English

Nation of Origin: United States of America

Informant Data:

Peter Wang is a male, 21 year old Dartmouth College student in his senior year. He is currently studying Economics and is from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Peter participated in corporate recruiting during Summer of 2015, Fall of 2015, Summer of 2016, and Fall of 2016. He will be working for Applied Predictive Technologies consulting after graduation.

Contextual Data:

The saying in question is a common saying amongst those going through the corporate recruiting, or tough academic times in general. The saying “C’s get degrees” is meant to state that those with bad grades (C’s) can still obtain a degree and graduate. The saying is meant to humorously provide a sense of comfort during hard times. It is important to note that the saying is not exclusive to the recruiting process, but that it was quite popular amongst those going through the recruiting process, as it was a difficult time for all those involved.

Transcript of Associated File:

Q: Hi, what is your name and year?

A: Peter Wang, ‘17

Q: What is your major?

A: Economics

Q: What are you doing after graduation?

A: I’m working for APT in Washington DC

Q: Have you heard of any sayings, superstitions, or jokes about the corporate recruiting process?

A: Yea, there’s one sort of joke/saying that goes “C’s get degrees!”. I remember during corporate recruiting season, when interview decisions were coming out and no one was getting interviews, I would just burst out with “Hey, at least C’s get degrees!” and all my friends would start laughing.

Q: Interesting, what sort of role did this saying play amongst your friend group?

A: It was just a funny way to relieve stress and keep our minds off the bad decisions

Q: Would you say it’s specific to Dartmouth?

A: No, I would say I hear it the most at Dartmouth but I’ve definitely heard it at other schools

Informant’s Comments:

The informant stated that the corporate recruiting process can often be grueling and mentally straining, and in order to keep the mood lighthearted after a job rejection or other disheartening news, students would say “At least C’s get degrees”. Such a saying would generally elicit a chuckle from those surrounding and serve to keep spirits and morale high during difficult times.

Collector’s Comments:

This example of oral folklore illustrates the difficult and exhausting nature of the corporate recruiting process. It serves as a humorous, rallying saying intended to raise the morale of those who hear it. Its effectiveness may be debatable. It may also be classified as a joke or tease due to its humorous nature.

Collector’s Name: Matthew Kang, Dartmouth College ‘18

“Tie Color Superstition”

Title: “Tie Color Superstition”

General Information about Item:

Genre/SubGenre: Customary Folklore: Superstitions

Language: English

Nation of Origin: United States of America

Informant Data:

Shashwat Chaturvedi is a male, 19 year old Dartmouth College student in his junior year. He is currently studying Economics and Computer Science and is from Dallas, Texas. Shashwat participated in corporate recruiting during Summer of 2016 and tech recruiting during Fall of 2016. He intends on going into the tech industry after graduating.

Contextual Data:

The informant first heard of this superstition while in the midst of the corporate recruiting process at Dartmouth College, during the Summer of 2016. During interviews, both the interviewer and the interviewee wear business attire; if both are male, then a tie is considered part of business attire. The superstition is that if the interviewee wears a tie brighter than that of the interviewer, then the interviewee will be cursed with bad luck during the decision process for shining brighter than his or her interviewer. It is important to note that this superstition only applies when both the interviewer and interviewee are males, which may be an indicator of the gender imbalance within the finance industry.

Recording of Interview: 

Transcript of Associated File:

Q: What is your name?

A: Shashwat Chaturvedi

Q: Where are you from?

A: Dallas Texas

Q: What do your parents do?

A: My mom’s a banker, and my dad’s a software engineer

Q: What year are you?

A:  I’m an ’18

Q: What’s your major?

A: I’m a double major in Economics and Computer Science

Q: What extracurriculars do you do on campus?

A: I write for the DBJ, I’m actively involved with my fraternity, oh and I’m a part of the International business Council

Q: What do you plan on doing after college?

A: Uhhh I plan on going into the tech industry but I’m not sure at the moment

Q: So what do you know about corporate recruiting?

A: Uh I actually participated in it, during my uh sophomore summer, then I kinda got swayed towards tech because I realized it wasn’t for me

Q: Have you or anyone you know been involved in corporate recruiting?

A: Yea, most people I know actually have done it, it’s very easy to apply

Q: How did you personally get involved in recruiting?

A: Uh, just heard about upperclassmen doing it and they were like workshops, resources, emails about so I said why not?

Q: How did you prepare for networking?

A: They had a lot of information sessions from different banks and organizations, so went there and talked with people

Q: What were the info sessions like? The info sessions?

A:  I wouldn’t say they were info sessions, more networking, it was nice to meet a lot of alumni, they provided a lot of resources, only con was the amount of people there

Q: Did you ever follow up with anybody you met at these info sessions?

A: Yea, a couple for sure

Q: When you say that there’s a sort of implicit etiquette when talking to people when you’re following up?

A: Yea, I guess there is, you want to get to talk with them a bit more

Q: Is there a 24 hour rule?

A: Yea, you want to wait 24 hours since it’s a sort of etiquette

Q: How were interviews for you?

A: They were fine, what I was expecting

Q: Was there a specific way you prepared for them?

A: Yea, just using vault guides and talking with upperclassmen

Q: What did you wear and why?

A: A normal business suit and tie, not to the info sessions though

Q: Would you say that you have any superstitions when it comes to attire or what you’re wearing?

A: Yea, I try not to wear any bright ties or accessory pieces that are too bright because there’s a superstition that wearing a brighter tie than your interviewer means bad luck when your decisions come out

Q: Do you have any brainteasers or horror stories?

A: I got a few mental math questions but I’ve heard of other people getting brainteasers

Q: Do you have any stories of other people?

A: Yea, a lot of them got tripped up, you just have to think your way through them

Q: Would you view the corporate recruiting process as a sort of rite of passage for people at Dartmouth?

A: Yea, I agree, it’s way too common for it not to be at Dartmouth.

Informant’s Comments:

It is interesting to note that the informant stated that he is not normally a superstitious person, but that he abides by this superstition. Therefore, anything such as this superstition that may give the interviewee an advantage is abided by.

Collector’s Comments:

I believe that this piece of folklore is another example of the importance of social interaction during the corporate recruiting process. In any other situation, the color of one’s tie may be seen as an insignificant detail that is overlooked, but during the corporate recruiting process, it is considered taboo to have a tie that is too bright.

Collector’s Name: Matthew Kang, Dartmouth College ’18

Phone Interview Mishap

Genre and Sub Genre: Verbal Folklore, Horror Stories

Language: English

Country where Item is from: United States

Informant Data: This informant is a Dartmouth ’18 from Boston, Massachusetts majoring in Economics. On campus, he is a member of the Dartmouth Investment and Philanthropy Program. After college, the informant is mainly interested in investment banking at a bulge bracket bank or boutique firm. The informant wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the folklore being shared, so his name has been redacted.

Social Context: This folklore was collected during an in-person interview in Baker-Berry library. The informant participated in the Summer 2016 corporate recruiting cycle.

Cultural Context: Phone interviews are commonly used as a screening or personality interview that precedes an in-person, more technical round. Most firms operate this way and so most students expect this format. However, some firms do ask technical questions during the first round phone interview. If not prepared to answer technical questions, students can get flustered and nervous during an interview, and try to seek a peer’s help. In this particular instance, the informant was asked to walk the interviewer through a discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis. This is a common investment banking technical interview question.

Item: During a phone interview, a recruiter asked the informant a technical question about how to conduct a DCF. The informant was surprised that he was asked this and was unsure what the correct answer was. Still keen on that particular internship, the student decided to ask a friend to tell him the answer while he was on the phone. However, the interviewer overheard the informant’s friend giving the applicant answers. The interviewer asked the informant who was speaking in the background, and the informant got flustered and ended the phone call prematurely.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file): Interview audio was not recorded.

Transcript of Interview: “I was interviewing for a small i-banking firm, and it was just a phone interview so I wasn’t expecting any technical questions. Usually they reserve those for the second round when they interview you in-person. Every phone interview I’ve had other than this one was just general about my resume and background, but this guy decided to ask me to walk him through a DCF. It was an earlier interview in the term, so I hadn’t already prepared solid answers to the technical questions. I happened to be sitting near a friend who was also recruiting for i-banking, so I asked him to tell me the answer. Unfortunately, the interviewer heard him speaking and asked me who was talking; I didn’t know what to say, I got super nervous and just abruptly hung up after saying I had another urgent call I had to take.”

Informant’s Comments: N/A

Collector’s Comments: N/A

Collector’s Name: Sachin Vadodaria

Tags/Keywords: Verbal Folklore, Corporate Recruiting, Horror Stories

Exaggeration on Resumes

Genre and Sub Genre: Verbal Folklore, Horror Stories

Language: English

Country where Item is from: United States

Informant Data: Matthew Kang is a Dartmouth ’18 double majoring in Economics and Math. He’s from Tallahassee, Florida where his father is a chemist and his mother is a computer scientist; they both work for the Department of Environmental Protection. On campus, he is a staff writer and editor for the Dartmouth Business Journal, a member of Dartmouth Model United Nations, and a member of the Zeta Psi fraternity. After college, Matthew is interested in finance or potentially working for a startup.

Social Context: Matthew was interviewed one-on-one in a study room in McLaughlin. He participated in corporate recruiting during the Summer and Fall 2016 terms.

Cultural Context: Resume drops are a vital aspect of the corporate recruiting process and are standard for every job or internship. When submitting resumes, students implicitly agree to represent themselves fairly and accurately, but occasionally students exaggerate certain experiences or skills they have.

Item: Matthew recounted a story he heard regarding a fellow Dartmouth student’s on-campus interview. The student had taken some French courses at Dartmouth and on his resume had stated that he was fluent in French. During one of his interviews, the student got an interviewer who happened to be a native French speaker. The interviewer ended up asking him some of the interview questions in French and unfortunately his French wasn’t as good as he thought it was. He was unable to properly respond and ultimately did not get that internship offer.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

Transcript of Associated File: “One of my friends actually put that they were proficient in French on their resume. And it turns out that the interviewer was a native French speaker, so they conducted some of the interview in French. It turned out that my friend’s French wasn’t as good as he thought it was, so it went south pretty fast.”

Informant’s Comments: N/A

Collector’s Comments: N/A

Collector’s Name: Sachin Vadodaria

Tags/Keywords: Verbal Lore, Horror Stories, Corporate Recruiting

Explain Investment Banking to a Child

Title: Explain Investment Banking to a Child

General Information about Item:

  • Verbal Folklore, Horror Story
  • English
  • Country where Item is from: US

Informant Data:

  • Josh Alexakos is a Dartmouth senior government major from the outskirts of Boston, MA. His father is a banker and his mother, an anesthesiologist. He is involved on campus in the Christian Union, DREAM, club basketball, and his fraternity. After graduation, he is looking to go into finance. He became involved in the corporate recruiting process during his Sophomore Summer when he saw his friends “stressing out” over applying and felt the need to participate as well.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: Corporate recruiting has a stress-interview component, where candidates are expected to respond to difficult questions under stressful conditions to test how well people stand up to high-pressure environments. How these stressful conditions are created varies from interview to interview.

Item:

  • Josh heard this story from a friend, who was asked in an investment banking interview how he would explain investment banking to a five year old. The friend proceeded to answer the question, and once finished, asked the interviewer how he did with his explanation, only to be told that the response was not effective at all and actually made investment banking harder to understand for the interviewer, never-mind a five year old.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

Transcript of Associated File:

  • “I had a friend who was in an investment banking interview how… by the interviewer, how he would explain investment banking to a five year old, which is kind of a rough question to be in. And he explained it in a way, probably about toys, and about merging toys… and afterwards, he asked, ‘does that make sense?’ And the interviewer said ‘no, that makes less sense. I understand investment banking less now.'”

Informant’s Comments:

  • Hearing this story from his friend made Josh more nervous about the interview, because he thought that if he had received a response like that, “I might have just cried, or like run out of the room because that is just not a fun reaction to get.” Thus, the tale made him prepare more for stress interviews afterwards to overcome his nervousness.

Collector’s Comments:

  • Josh’s reaction to hearing this story serves as an illustrative example of how corporate recruiting horror stories function. After initially wincing and laughing along to the story, Josh took the tale as a word of advice and prepared more for such stressful situations in interviews afterwards than he otherwise would have.

Collector’s Name: Aime Joo

Tags/Keywords:

  • Corporate Recruiting Folklore, Verbal Folklore, Horror Stories, Investment Banking

Leaning Tower of Pisa Brainteaser

Title: Leaning Tower of Pisa Brainteaser

General Information about Item:

  • Verbal Folklore, Riddles
  • English
  • Country where Item is from: US

Informant Data:

  • Thomas Ware is a Dartmouth Senior from Wisconsin and a government major, involved in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and IM sports. His father is a Dartmouth alumni who currently works at a company that does credit scores for smaller companies. After graduation, he will be working for a consulting firm in Boston, a position he got by undergoing corporate recruiting. Thomas got involved in corporate recruiting during Sophomore Summer when he went along to a few events and information sessions with his fraternity brothers.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: During the second part of corporate recruiting interviews, candidates are often asked difficult questions (brainteasers) to evaluate how they approach problems and how they logically solve unexpected tasks. Because much of consulting revolves around problem-solving and working under pressure, brainteasers are aimed at testing these skills.

Item:

  • Thomas received this question during a consulting firm interview: “how many donuts fit in the Leaning Tower of Pisa?”

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

Transcript of Associated File:

  • “I was given and I practiced this brainteaser — How many donuts fit in the Leaning Tower of Pisa.”

Informant’s Comments:

  • Thomas commented that for brain teasers, the questions were never really about how close you got to the actual answer, but how you broke down and approached the problem because interviewers were more interested in the thinking process and the logical approach rather than how close an estimate was.

Collector’s Comments:

  • Like riddles, corporate recruiting brain teasers serve the purpose of testing the wit of the interviewee and also forces the candidates to push cognitive boundaries of what is considered “normal knowledge” to best answer the question. Although they lack the metaphorical component of true riddles, the cognitive and testing purpose these brain teasers serve are similar.

Collector’s Name: Aime Joo

Tags/Keywords:

  • Corporate recruiting folklore, Verbal folklore, Brainteasers, Leaning Tower of Pisa

How to Follow Up: The 24 hour rule

Genre and Sub Genre: Customary Folklore: Implicit Etiquette

Language: English

Country where Item is from: United States of America

Informant Data: Milan Huynh is a Math major in the class of 2017 at Dartmouth. She is from Mclean, Virginia, where both of her parents work for the US government in computer networking and data base work. Milan has participated in corporate recruiting twice at Dartmouth, and been successful in receiving internships through the program. After college Milan is currently debating between accepting offers at different consulting firms. She is a member of Kappa Delta sorority and is a peer tutor on campus.

Social/ Cultural Context: Milan was interviewed, one-on-one, in a common space on campus.  She has gone through the process of formal corporate recruiting at Dartmouth twice, and when interviewed was interviewed just after completing her recruiting this term. The corporate recruiting process is highly structured, including an implicitly expected “follow up” email from students after networking interactions with recruiters.

Item: If a prospective hire is really interested in a job, it is in their best interest to follow up with recruiters after meeting them at networking events. This follow up is implicitly understood to need to occur within a certain time window after your conversation with the recruiter, and is generally a short thank you email potential requesting a phone call to learn more about the firm.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

Transcript of Associated File:

 Did you follow up on info sessions? What kind of etiquette do you think exists in terms of conversations? My way to do it, is if I really want a job I tend to follow up within 24 hours after an info session.  You always try to have a maybe 5-10 sentence, at most 10 sentence follow up email saying how much you enjoyed meeting them as well as maybe an anecdote that you shared with them and why you want the job and maybe one lien about why you think you’re good for the job. I feel like the ways to get the job are very mechanical, and definitely feels forced at times but every sign of persistence matters.

Informant’s Comments: n/a

Collector’s Comments: Informant is able to give a detailed and experience driven commentary on recruiting after going through the process not once but twice over the past six months. She has a wide breadth of experience to draw from regarding what kind of etiquette she has learned exists simply from being exposed to the process.

Collector’s Name: Bridget Dougherty

Tags/Keywords: Corporate Recruiting, Customary Lore, Implicit Etiquette, Follow Up

The Art of Networking

Genre and Sub Genre: Customary Folklore: Implicit Etiquette

Language: English

Country where Item is from: United States of America

Informant Data: Angela Cai is a government major in the class of 2017 at Dartmouth. She is from Dover, Massachusetts, where her mom is a professor and her dad works in  software engineering.  Angela has participated in formal recruiting twice at Dartmouth. She is a member of Kappa Delta sorority, is an undergraduate UGA in McGlaughlin, and she participates in the Women in Business club.

Social/ Cultural Context: Angela was interviewed, one-on-one, in a common space on campus. Angela has gone through the process of formal corporate recruiting at Dartmouth twice, and when interviewed was interviewed just after completing her recruiting this term.  Networking is a buzzword surrounding corporate recruiting, and it often consists of conversations following a generic structure in order for prospective hires to evaluate a firm and for recruiters to review potential candidates.

Item: The actual act of going to networking events and having conversations intended to help build your network is guided by lots of implicit etiquette and customary folklore. Networking conversations are not normal every day conversations, they require preparation. Angela prepped for her networking events through her Women in Business network, and when at networking events she found that there are more barriers to conversation because both sides have goals, and you have to be conscious of the recruiter’s time and do your best to be professional, beginning each conversation with a handshake.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file): 

Transcript of Associated File:

What kind of etiquette do you think that you use when you’re networking? I think in general I try ot be conscious of people’s time and also do my best to be professional. So, in terms of reaching out to people just like, first try to make that connection in as professional way as possible.

What were info sessions like for you, if you went? They were rough. It’s kind of overwhelming to get a lot of information thrown at you, and a little bit overwhelming that all of them sound essentially the same thing within the same industry across companies. Having groups of people like surrounding professionals and trying to like get to know them, its kind of hard to have a real, or normal conversation, face to face.

How do you think these kinds of conversations differ from regular conversations? Well I feel like there are more barriers to open conversation in networking conversation because both sides have goals, and from a recruiter’s perspective or from like a professionals perspective, they’re just there to try to find the best people who might be fit for the role or like to try to tell people about the company. But from your perspective, there’s kind of the underlying tensions because you’re probably there because you want an internship or a job.

 Informant’s Comments: Corporate recruiting takes up a lot of time and energy, but ultimately it was helpful for her.

Collector’s Comments: Informant is able to give a detailed and experience driven commentary on recruiting after going through the process not once but twice over the part two years at Dartmouth.

Collector’s Name: Bridget Dougherty

Tags/Keywords: Networking, Customary Lore, Implicit Etiquette

‘Stretching the Truth’ on Resumes

Genre and Sub Genre: Verbal Folklore: Horror Stories

Language: English

Country where Item is from: United States of America

Informant Data: Ziqin Yuan is a government major in the class of 2018 at Dartmouth. She is from New Jersey, where her mom is a scientific researcher and her dad is a computer programmer. Ziqin participated in formal recruiting during her sophomore summer. She is planning to potentially work in education or the corporate/law world after college. Ziqin is a member of Kappa Delta sorority and is a student coordinator for OPAL.

Social/ Cultural Context: Ziqin was interviewed by Bridget, one-on-one, in a classroom at Dartmouth. Ziqin has gone through the process of formal corporate recruitng at Dartmouth once, and when interviewed was still in the midst of interviewing for winter positions. Resumes are vital to the recruitment process, and it is a big faux-pas to lie on resumes, and this can often lead to offers being rescinded or a candidate failing to advance in the interview process.

Item: During recruitment, every participant is required to construct a personal resume listing their achievement in order to be evaluated by firms. Generally, a resume paired with a cover letter is submitted for review by the “resume drop” deadline, and a week afterwards, candidates are notified which firms they received interviews from based on this submission. Resumes are based on an honor system, and often in interviews the interviewer will ask questions about the resume in order to ensure that it is all true. Ziqin had taken a computer science class that focused on a code called “python” so she listed “python” under her skills on her resume, but she could not recall all of the specifics of the code. Unfortunately, her interviewer asked her multiple questions about the code, and even though it was a phone interview and she was trying to research answers, she gave an incorrect response regarding the code. This would appear as a red flag to the interviewer because she was not able to back up the skills she claimed to have on her resume. Ziqin has shared this story with many friends in order to warn them about the consequences that come from lying on resume. Stories such as this have been passed between students undergoing the recruitment process in order to warn future students and keep them from making similar mistakes.

Associated file: 

Transcript of Associated File:

Do you have any anecdotes about your experience, or any horror stories? I had this awful interview… he like asked me questions such as, he really grilled me on my resume, so like I guess it was just like a personal story that really scared me. I put that I knew python on my resume ‘cause I took CS1, and he asked me about my favorite object, and I didn’t know what that was. So I was like googling, because it was a phone interview and I ended up saying was a “four loop,” which I asked Emma [CS major] about and apparently four loops aren’t objects. And I also described it wrong.

Informant’s Comments: Informant was able to laugh about this incident now, but definitely remembered this particular interview as being really unpleasant.

Collector’s Comments: Informant’s perspective is really fresh on corporate recruiting because she has done most of it, and is even still going through it.

Collector’s Name: Bridget Dougherty

Tags/Keywords: Horror Stories, Verbal Lore, Resume