Paige Ross, global head of HR at Blackstone, offers insights on what the highly selective firm is looking for—and how candidates can stand out (2023)

For recent college graduates, one of the most coveted jobs on Wall Street is the Blackstone analyst role. Competition is fierce for a position that has helped launch countless careers, including that of Jon Gray, Blackstone’s president and chief operating officer, the executive who is expected to take the reins from cofounder and CEO Stephen Schwarzman.

This year, Blackstone had 169 first-year analyst positions available and received applications from 62,000 candidates worldwide, Schwarzman said during a July 20 conference call to discuss BX’s second quarter earnings. This translates to a selection rate of less than 0.3% and means that getting an entry-level job at Blackstone is 12 times as tough as getting accepted to Harvard, Schwarzman noted. “I doubt I would be able to be hired today; not sure that’s a great thing,” he said during the call.

The Blackstone analyst role is a full-time, entry-level position. The majority of Blackstone’s investment analysts are hired fresh out of college, said Kate Holderness, a Blackstone spokeswoman. “We also have analyst opportunities for people with some experience,” she added.

Founded in 1985, Blackstone is one of the original private equity firms, a list that includes rivals such as the Carlyle Group, KKR, Apollo Global Management, and TPG. All of these firms have expanded beyond private equity and now call themselves alternative asset managers or investment firms.Blackstone currently invests in real estate, infrastructure, credit, and growth, as well as PE. It employed nearly 4,700 people as of Dec. 31, 2022. Blackstone is the biggest of the alt managers and was the first to surpass $1 trillion in assets under management.

For years Blackstone has been known for hiring only the best, or those who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Ivy League schools like Harvard or Yale. That’s changed somewhat. Technology has helped Blackstone expand its reach, said Paige Ross, the firm’s global head of human resources. In 2015, Blackstone’s in-person approach meant the firm recruited from just nine schools. It currently uses a hybrid in-person and virtual recruiting strategy to connect to more than 1,000 schools, including historically black colleges and universities, Ross said.

The private equity industry has long been criticized for its lack of diversity. Women account for 32.5% of junior-level roles at alternative firms, which include private equity, hedge funds, and venturecapital, but hold only 13.6% of senior positions, according to the Preqin report, Women in Alternatives 2023. Like many firms, Blackstone has sought to widen its recruitment and hiring funnel for many years. The firm uses programs like Future Women Leaders and Diverse Leaders to build relationships with underrepresented students starting in their sophomore year. In 2023, 43% of Blackstone’s global analyst class were female, while 59% of its U.S. class were ethnically diverse, Holderness said.

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“We reach places that we historically didn’t reach before, like every school out there, pretty much. We’re able to get to any school and any student that wants to apply,” Ross told Fortune.

GPAs are important and do play a role in hiring, but Blackstone is looking for well-balanced people, Ross noted. The firm favors candidates who take a leadership role in school activities or on sports teams, she said. “We fundamentally believe that investing and business is a team sport,” Ross added.

Blackstone hires candidates from many different majors, not just finance and math. “We have people that [were] English majors,” Ross noted. Blackstone is known for its dealmaking, but it also hires analysts for its non-investment positions, including roles in accounting, communications, and technology.

The most famous former Blackstone analyst is Gray, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. (Gray earned two degrees from Penn: a BS in economics from the Wharton School and a BA in English from the College of Arts and Sciences.) He’s spent his entire career at Blackstone, starting off as a private equity/M&A analyst in 1992, according to his LinkedIn page. A year later, Gray switched over to real estate, becoming head of the Blackstone unit in 2005. In 2018, he was named president and COO of Blackstone and is widely considered the heir apparent to Schwarzman.

Blackstone typically does not use recruiters for the analyst position. The window for applications opens in the fall, Holderness said. Candidates should head to the Blackstone website and send in their résumés. “Cover letters are important, but the résumé is what will really play into it,” Ross said. Pay for a first-year data science analyst, located in New York, is $100,000 to $110,000, according to the Blackstone website. Analysts also usually receive an annual bonus.

Blackstone did not disclose how many interviews are involved. But applicants who are selected will initially meet with someone from human resources and then with executives from the divisions for which they are applying. Blackstone also uses Pymetrics, a game-based recruiting tool that uses A.I. to measure attributes like risk tolerance, fairness, and attention span in candidates.

The easiest way to snag a Blackstone analyst spot is to serve as a summer intern. The 10-week internship is a major feeder for the Blackstone full-time analyst program, Ross said. The window for internship applications runs from January to March. Ross said her team will usually ask each Blackstone business unit how many interns it needs that particular year. “That’ll determine the size of the class,” she said. These positions are also highly sought after, she noted.

The Blackstone internship occurs during the summer between a candidate’s junior and senior year, Holderness said. This means students should begin applying in their sophomore year, she advised. When it comes to majors, it depends on what group the student is applying to, Ross said. “We have summer analyst positions across the board as a firm, not just for our investment roles,” she said.

Blackstone summer interns are eligible to receive full-time offers in August for positions that begin the following year. For example, if a student finishes the internship in August of 2023, and receives an offer for a full-time spot, they could start working at Blackstone during the summer of 2024. Any full-time positions not filled by the interns will become available on the BX website in August, Holderness said. (There are several internship positions available now on the Blackstone career site but only a few of the more permanent analyst roles.)

Interviewing at Blackstone for the analyst position is a rigorous process. One former Blackstone analyst said they completed 13 interviews, including meeting with the head of the team they were applying to, as well as with a senior managing director, over a three-week period. The former Blackstone analyst, an economics major who attended a New York City college and had a 3.8 GPA, said they were quizzed on what was happening in the market, given ethical problems to solve that had no clear solution, and questioned about two case studies. The former BX analyst even gave a presentation, which included Excel modeling, to executives. The interview process culminated in a team lunch, where candidates were judged on whether they were a good overall fit, the former analyst recalled.

“It was exhausting…I spent more time preparing for the interviews than in the interviews themselves,” the ex-Blackstone analyst said.

Blackstone wanted to see whether applicants had a basic grasp of the market and economics, and to gauge their problem-solving skills and how they presented themselves verbally, the former BX employee noted. To prepare, the ex-Blackstone analyst recalled reading the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Wall Street Oasis, and Reddit. Candidates should know what is happening in the world and in their particular sector, the former analyst advised.

Blackstone employees, like most Wall Street staffers, are back in the office. For many at BX, the day starts between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. each morning and finishes whenever the work is done. (The former Blackstone analyst said staff will work until 9 p.m. when their managers are in the office. When they’re not present, employees typically leave between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.) Blackstone staff don’t watch the clock, Ross noted. “We hire people that are really talented and professional, and we ask them to use their judgment,” she said.

Here are some tips for navigating the Blackstone interview process:

1. Be on time for your interview. Blackstone won’t hold arriving late against you, but it’s not a good thing, Ross said.

2. Be a team player. Blackstone likes people who are friendly and know how to work well with others. Candidates who can speak about their experiences in teams or clubs, as well as their leadership roles, typically do better. Those who emphasize their accomplishments alone (i.e., “I did this, I won that”) don’t.

3. Send thank-you notes and make sure to get the proper spelling of the executive’s name. While emails are acceptable, Ross said she has received about a dozen handwritten notes in her career and appreciated each of them. “I don’t really get [handwritten notes] anymore. When I do get one, I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s so nice,’” she said.

4. References are more important for senior hires and less so for analyst roles.

5. In interviews, candidates should be prepared to speak about themselves while answering questions. One question that Ross said she often asks is: “Give me an example of something that you didn’t do well. What did you do to fix it, and what did you learn from it?”

Another possible question is: “What advice would you give your younger self?”

6. When answering questions, candidates should avoid blaming others. Throwing others “under the bus” is a red flag for Blackstone.

7. Make sure to check your résumé for spelling and grammar. Firms will often throw out résumés with errors, the former BX analyst said.

8. Prepare for interviews by doing more than just reading up on salient topics during your subway ride to the meeting. When interviewing with a specific group, learn what they do and come armed with good questions.

9. Update your LinkedIn profile and make sure it’s correct.

10. Double-check that your social media is private and/or clean.


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