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Sg Cowen Case

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Category: Business

Autor: anton 17 March 2011

Words: 1026 | Pages: 5

SG Cowen Analysis

Problem Identification:

SG Cowen’s strategy is to recruit the best possible MBA candidates from the top B-schools in the country into their associates program. However, unstructured interviewing and hiring processes may not allow for the overall best candidates to be chosen.

Problem Analysis:

SG Cowen’s hiring process is very challenging to its candidate in order to secure only the best talent available to them. The candidates that are even considered for interviews must have top notch educational and/or job accomplishment. The process begins as early as the fall with core B-school visits and info sessions, followed by campus interviews in closed sessions1 . If selected for the final round, candidates are invited to Super Saturday where the associates’ class will be selected. It’s an exhausting experience for candidates and the interviewers. The day consists of a formal dinner with leadership the night before where candidates are sized up, even in a non-business setting2. The next morning, each candidate is assigned (5) thirty minute interviews with assigned SG Cowen bank associates and leadership3. After the interviews take place, all the interviewers meet to determine who gets job offers.

There are many flaws with SG Cowen’s procedure that are indicated in the case. First, there are no HR representatives available, only bank professionals. These people are not formally trained in giving interviews which can easily lead to stereotyping candidates. This could be in regards to how a person talks, their marital status, education history, and/or physical appearance. This is a big deal since the prejudice of one individual could sway the group to pass on a solid candidate due to the individual interviewers personal beliefs. This could also take place because the interviewer could be fatigued from long drawn out process and subconsciously be annoyed at some of the later interviewees. This makes the process unfair. In addition, the thirty minute interviews are too short to determine if a candidate is capable of performing for SG Cowen or a “culture fit”. There must be a common measurement that weighs all the candidates, such as a common exercise, which is discussed in the alternatives sections.


1) No Change – SG Cowan will still bring in top talent of MBA candidates that have the “culture fit” the firm is looking for. Candidates who want to join SG Cowen’s class of associates will still do what is asked of them and that it is difficult for a reason. Making any of the processes easier will only make it less stressful on the candidates, something that is not SG Cowen’s main concern.

2) Case Analysis/Presentation – This job is considered very selective by SG Cowen and it’s important that all candidates are measured using the same guidelines. Assigning a business case to the candidates. This will allow them to promote their problem solving, creativity, fast thinking, and presentation skills to the interviewers to collectively see if the candidate is the right person for the job.

3) More HR involvement in process – Let the recruiters out of human resources determine the candidates. These personal are trained to be objective in each of the candidates. Recruiters know what SG Cowen is looking for and will search for those people without prejudice. Since there are no compensation rewards for recommending successful candidates, there is no motivation for the interviewer to put any real effort into this task. This would also allow the bank professionals the day off from Super Saturday and let HR do their job.


Of the three alternatives, the most effective on is the case analysis / presentation at Super Saturday. If SG Cowen is very selective in their candidates, they might as well make the candidates earn it with a common case analysis presented by all candidates to all the interviewers. Those who present themselves well in the spirit of the SG Cowen culture will get offers. Interviewers will all get to see at the same time a candidates strengths and weaknesses in action. Interviews would be a formality and the case / presentation technique will be the standard. The only drawback would be the topic, so careful consideration on the topic must be given to make sure it is fair to all candidates. In regards to the other options, it is obvious that change needs to take place in the process which would eliminate alternative #1 as the best option. In regards to using recruiters, it would be the second best alternative. However, since the potential candidates will be working with bank professionals, who directly deal in the day to day operations, they must have their input in the matter.

Plan of action

Candidates invited to Super Saturday will be given the case study to prepare to present prior to the event. They would have a couple days to prepare for the presentation. The topic will be a fictional case that could mask a potential SG Cowen business problem. Candidates will be asked to use their creativity to analyze the case, recommend a solution and how to implement it in a 5 minute presentation. Interviewers will key on communication, problem solving skills, presentation appearance, creativity, but most importantly structure. How well does the candidate get their point across. This follows the McKinsey and Co. belief “structure is less a toll and more a way of life”4. The question the interviews need to ask themselves when viewing a candidate is “Would you want them in the board room presenting for you to leadership?.” If the answer is no, then they are not the caliber that SG Cowen is looking to obtain.


1) Thomas J. DeLong , Vineeta Vijayaraghavan, SG Cowen: New Recruits Harvard Business Online,

May 13, 2002 page 3

2) Thomas J. DeLong , Vineeta Vijayaraghavan, SG Cowen: New Recruits Harvard Business Online,

May 13, 2002 page 6

3) Thomas J. DeLong , Vineeta Vijayaraghavan, SG Cowen: New Recruits Harvard Business Online,

May 13, 2002 page 6

4) Ethan M Rasiel, Paul N. Friga, The McKinsey Mind, Macgraw-Hill, New York, 2002 page3

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