As a sociology major, I have a particular interest on how to move up from a upper-middle class status to a upper-class status. After finishing my two internships, I started to read books on this topic, and getting into a top-tier company is undoubtedly a quick way to achieve the social mobility goal. Surprisingly, these books reveal several “back-door” myths of big companies’ recruitment that you may never get a chance to know.
1. They hardly review any online applications.
There’re always “advertisements” on some prestigious companies’ website, encouraging graduates to apply for a position or an intern. It seems that they're friendly, positive, and acceptable for any candidates, and will recruit the one who is most capable. On the contrary, it’s a lie. HRs from both top law firms and consulting companies confess that they seldom go through these applications because they are lack of time. Their new employees come from schools which are labelled as “cores”, such as Harvard, Yale, or Princeton. Other than these four or five “cores”, where companies host most of their on-campus interviews and events, they would list another 10 “target schools”. Although “target schools” can also be seen on the top list on US News Universities’ rankings, like NYC or University of Virginia, resources and money that a company invest on these schools are only half as those “cores”. The ideology of a top-tier company is: best kids should go to the best schools. They have faith on Ivy League’s admission office, and believes that they’ve already picked up the brightest ones in this country. What these companies would do as a next step is to take the best of the best. That’s why they usually only host annual on-campus recruitment for “core school” students. HRs’ workload is enormous during these two periods that they have to go over 100+ resumes fewer than an hour and a half. That’s why they never get a chance to care about those applicants who’re not from certain schools that they’re looking for.
2. Interviewers are not all well-trained.
From our perspective, interviewers should be someone who are well-trained or at least are somehow well-acknowledged on their company’s history. However, it’s not true again. For prestigious companies, employees are already under high pressure for the clients that they have, and they’re not able to afford extra time on interview skills’ training. Therefore, interviewers who are sent to recruitment are usually the ones who are “off work” at that day, or begged by HRs. They only receive a package about interviewing ethics such as some prohibited questions on their trip to schools, without any instructions on how to evaluate a candidate. Four or five categories are listed that interviewers have to fill out after each interview which normally lasts between 30 to 45 minutes for each person. In this case, the process of estimating an interviewee is subjective and biased. Interviewers tend to choose potential “working buddies” who have similar educational background and life experience as themselves, as they proclaim that “progressing interviews is rather an art.”
3. Your past working experiences and GPA are not the most important.
Although GPA and summer internships are on the “important factors” list for HRs, they’re not among the top 2. Educational background and extracurricular activities are the ones that weigh more on a resume. As I mention above, HRs not only trust the “brands” of their “cores”, but also believe that students from these schools have better social skills. Additionally, a company usually use activities outside classroom to judge whether a candidate would fit its inside culture or not. A potential employee can’t be someone who only knows how to study or get 4.0s on transcript; he/she has to present that he/she is not hard to get along with as a workmate in the meantime.