Elite firm recruitment

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Lauren Rivera's work=

A summary of her 2015 book


  1. "The best way to get into the tiny group of elite firms is to be studying at the tiny group of elite universities."
  2. Interviewer are "desperate for relief from the tedium. Be vivacious. Hang on their every word. And flatter their self-image as “the best of the best” and the most jet-lagged of the jet-lagged."
  3. Give the impression you will fit in by making sure you "speak to any friend-of-a-friend you can find on the inside, to learn about its internal culture and its inside gossip...you must at all costs avoid appearing nerdy or eccentric: there are plenty of jobs with tech companies for those types. The old-fashioned belief still prevails that playing team sports, especially posh ones like rowing, makes for a rounded character."
  4. "The final key to success is to turn your interviewer into a champion: someone who is willing to go to bat for you when the hiring committee meets to whittle down the list. Emphasise any similarities that you can find between the two of you. If the interviewer sees a little bit of himself in you, a phenomenon known as “looking-glass merit”, he will regard any attempt to eliminate your name as a personal slight."
  5. "If you belong to an underrepresented group and meet a recruiter over cocktails at a “diversity event”, exploit the connection ruthlessly....Recruiters love to hear stories about gritty candidates triumphing against the odds."
  6. "Those at the top of the consulting, investment-banking and legal professions know that the most prized possession in uncertain times is not brainpower, but self-confidence. For all the talk of the world becoming dominated by a “cognitive elite”, in reality it appears it is nothing more than a “confidence elite”."

A summary of her earlier work:


Disputed claims

Rivera's work has attracted criticism, including:

  • Her findings underplay the role of standardised test scores and academic performance, as well as structured interviews, which many recruiters say they put considerable emphasis on.
  • Her sample of recruiters may be biased. In particular, she seems to focus on "softer" professional jobs, rather than "hard" ones (e.g. trading and the more analytical end of consulting).
  • Her claims don't match up with the statistics around who gets selected for these jobs (e.g. non-elite students often have considerable representation).