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Equity Research
I interviewed for a junior/mid-level sector specialist position. The job was based in the Netherlands (The Hague) and in London.

I applied online (linkedin). The recruitment process was in three stages: 1. A phone interview with the head of the department. 2. In-person meeting in London, then the Hague with members of the team I was to work directly with. 3. Case study in front of a panel, in The Hague. It took about 2 months from start to finish (I got a job offer).

Here my five takeaways
1. The HR department is in charge.
This is a slightly bureaucratic European bank, and I found that HR had a disproportionate role in the process… A lot more than in a US or British bank, typically. It took more time to organise all the logistics (with a couple of mishaps along the way – keep all your receipts!), more scrutiny of my motivation (in writing and in interviews), and two interviews with HR instead of one, usually.
2. Mind the (cultural) gap.
This will sound like a cliché, but after years working with them I can confirm: you will face people during the interviews that you may find blunt... If you come from an English background, they may look downright rude, but they see it as being honest, upfront, and efficient. Besides, even if their English is really excellent (far better than their continental neighbours), it is not their mother tongue – some things might get lost in translation for some of them. So don’t get offended! The Dutch I have worked with were relaxed, welcoming and it’s usually not meant in a bad way.
3. LOTS of questions on motivation.
Expect to get asked by everyone what attracts you to ING, and to working in the Netherlands. They are well aware that London is a big financial centre and Amsterdam is not. The best answer you can provide? Claim that you want a quieter, more balanced lifestyle. Whether you really want to move to the Netherlands or not, they will appreciate the thought, and most of the people you’ll meet love that lifestyle (i.e. cycle to work, skating in winter etc etc). Meet them in the middle.
4. Technical questions – you can relax
My role (Tech investment specialist) was not extremely ‘technical’, but the questions I got were quite basic: calculate a WACC, the Free Cash Flow, how you build conviction on a stock, a few basic questions on derivatives. So, to ace those questions, you have two possibilities: either you get even more sophisticated on the calculation (break down some assumption in smaller pieces), or you can take a concrete example of a company you know well. The former may impress them, but the latter may be a good segue into a conversation on a stock you like, and help you redirect the conversation, in a subtle way.
5. Think Green if you want to turn Orange
The Dutch take ESG and SDGs very seriously, and have for a while. Some of the earlier ESG strategies I have seen there are now more than ten years old. It is not something they were forced to adopt recently, under pressure from their clients, and it is not a rebranding exercise. So you’ll need to show real conviction here, because ESG considerations will permeate every aspect of your professional and even personal life.

Good luck!
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