…for port mgmt position- among other difficult questions for an interview, I was asked to essentially choose from 5 specific bonds (domestic and international)+ derivatives to create a combination that would satisfy a prespecified liability (due in 15 years). Something I could do if I had some time to think about it, or knew the question in advance. I kind of muddled through it, but def wasn’t confident in my answer. Other questions were just as detailed/ in depth. I was kind of shocked as I thought based on this guys profile I’d coast through it. Has anyone ever been given difficult scenarios during an interview and required to answer on the spot? Any tips? For some of the questions I was debating whether to ask if I could come back to it later, or call or send email to him later after I had some time to think about it
L3- I don’t agree with it, but I know a manager who will deliberately ask questions that stretch or go beyond a candidate’s skills. He does this because he wants to see how you react under pressure/when confronted with stuff beyond your expertise. -Do you freak out? -Do you BS him? -Do you just plain quit? -Do you get the answer ‘partly right’ and at least give it a shot? As I said, I don’t agree with this, but it’s a valid style of interview, I suppose. My suggestion for this would be joining a public speaking group if you’re really serious about improving. I’m a member of toastmasters and half of every meeting is dedicated to impromptu speaking [off the cuff, you don’t know the questions ahead of time]. Helps a lot when you get a tough interview question. You can still come across as composed even when you don’t know the answer, and you’ll deliver what you do know confidently and articulately. -SSF
SSF- Thanks for your suggestions. What you said makes sense. Possibly this was indeed his motive. I did feel I was composed the whole time in an outward sense (even though I was sweating bullets inside), but because of the extreme technical nature of the questions (which I completely wasn’t expecting) I flubbed a bit, probalby didn’t come off as BS though. The main problem I have, and something toastmasters probably couldn’t help me with, is that I am not very quick at thinking about complex issues “on my feet.” I need time to deliberate and weigh options. I am constantly editing what I say, so I need time, which this interview did not afford me. As I said in original post if I had been given the scenarios before the interview I would have been able to come up with what I think would’ve been a much more cogent answer. Now I’ll be ruminating on my answers and how they could have been different for the next few days!!
I have had interviews like this, and HATE them. While I like the idea of the interviewer giving you a problem that might be similar to what you’d face on the job, I think that asking overly difficult and complicated questions on an interview is poor style. It’s not necessary to crush the candidate to ascertain their knowledge. I had an interview like this at JPMorgan once, and Bloomberg is like this, makes me NOT want to work there. I actually wanted to call this guy for unsportsmanlike conduct. You know, when the score is 0-107 and the winning team is still trying to run the ball across the goal line? That’s how the Bloomberg interview was. It was super irritating also since the guy didn’t know what he was talking about in some cases but what could I say? In all the interviews I’ve experienced (and there have been MANY), experiences like you had have been rare, so hang in there. My advice in future is to take 30-45 seconds or so to think before speaking, don’t let them pressure you. And good for you for never letting them see you sweat. PS I agree on Toastmasters. I should get back in myself.
A friend told me that when he was interviewed for a top IB firm, he was grilled to the teeth by several people. I think he went through group interviews, one-on-one, and they eventually made him take a test in front of them… staring at him the entire time. Asked him to calculate stuff on the fly as well. He nailed it and got the job, which is rare because we went to a west coast school where IB is not as prominent and he had to fly east coast for the interview. Now, he might be promoted to VP pending on relocation. I have had difficult interviews too, but they were more theoretically-oriented. One person wanted to play hardball and asked questions like, “What differentiates you from other people, and what can you bring to the table that others can’t?” I had to go through 4 rounds and ended up getting an offer, but refused. (This position was in private investment for a family office of a billionaire.) I sucked at interviews at first, but got really got at them towards the end. (Cracked the code!) So much that I passed up a Rhodes scholar at one firm… Remember, it’s not all on paper that matters, but how you project yourself. Even if you don’t have good answers, if you have the “right” personality and act like you know what you’re doing, it can take you faaaaar. That, and asking good questions. ALSO, connections are KEY. You would be surprised at how connections to people can get you in the door for some interviews. Even here! ESPECIALLY HERE! (Did you read my “What’s your job” thread?) Sometimes, the connections come from random places too. I just found out that one of my teacher’s progeny had a top position at a fortune 500 company. A student of mine that is fairly wealthy is friends with partners at accounting firms and even offered to set up a meeting with me (out of the blue). This is not to mention how previous coworkers are also instrumental. Use your network. I think the most important thing is to cultivate relationships - not only on the professional level, but on a personal stratum. For me, the reason why people are willing to go out of their way to help me is because I have a genuine relationship with these people. Makes all the difference.
DoubleDip -> What kind of position were you interviewing for Bloomberg? I have a friend that works there.
L3BeatIt, to make you feel better, at my firm we do the same thing to an extent, although we typically warn candidates that they are not expected to know all of the answers and that we are asking them to determine the depth of their knowledge. We will ask a range of questions from basic questions that we expect them to answer quickly and concisely to very chalenging questions that we are looking to see how they reason through the response. Like supersadface said, their reaction to the question is almost as important as the answer in some cases. Granted, if a candidate doesn’t know the difference between a bond and stock and doesn’t know what the Federal Reserve does we have a problem, but if they can logically think through the effect of a better than expected employment report on an asset class, even if their wrong, it shows critical thinking, confidence and intelligence. When you don’t know the answer, use the opportunity to brain storm out loud, let the interviewer follow your train of thought and display an answer along with your reasoning.
Ocean Mist - quant positions. I have a friend there too, should have checked with him first. I’ve interviewed there a few times. They always ask definitions from textbooks as they like people right out of school that might have a chance at remembering these.
I had an energy trading interview and the guy asked me a question that has been the hardest to date. He more or less wanted to know how to use a certain product in a certain region given weather, transmission and price for certain hours, months etc etc… so a variable with the following 6 variables followed by three more variables. took me 20 minutes to explain my reply… which he said “cool”
goldenboy09 Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > I had an energy trading interview and the guy > asked me a question that has been the hardest to > date. He more or less wanted to know how to use a > certain product in a certain region given weather, > transmission and price for certain hours, months > etc etc… so a variable with the following 6 > variables followed by three more variables. took > me 20 minutes to explain my reply… which he said > “cool” Thats rediculous.
1morelevel Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > goldenboy09 Wrote: > -------------------------------------------------- > ----- > > I had an energy trading interview and the guy > > asked me a question that has been the hardest > to > > date. He more or less wanted to know how to use > a > > certain product in a certain region given > weather, > > transmission and price for certain hours, > months > > etc etc… so a variable with the following 6 > > variables followed by three more variables. > took > > me 20 minutes to explain my reply… which he > said > > “cool” > > > Thats rediculous. it sucked… the guy who asked me this owned about 70% of the fund so i see where he was coming from
Did you get the offer?
1morelevel Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > Did you get the offer? i did and declined
In one interview at UBS and I had lots of these questions along the lines of: What is the spread for triple B. After I answered: calculate the WACC for xx company based on this. What is the USD/JPY spot rate? After I answered: what is the spot rate if the Yen drops 10%. You expect inflation to increase. What positions do you take in the 2yr & 10 yr bonds? Correlation = 0. What is the portfolio standard deviation of two assets? And so on and so on and so on. Some hard, some relatively straightforward. In fact these are the only ones I remembered, I think the rest were more technical & complicated. Fact of the matter is, if I was sitting near a screen, I would have been able to get the exact numbers. I probably even said as much. Anyway, this guy had a phd in maths, I was a level 3 candidate. He was looking down his long superior nose at me. I was thinking he probably needs to get laid more often. It was not a match made in heaven. After talking a lot of sheeyat, I went to the pub and sunk a few with a mate. Didn’t get the job & probably dodged a bullet. There are ALWAYS other opportunities in life. I dare say working there might have been a PITA; I like to have fun while I work & I do.
supersadface Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > L3- > > I don’t agree with it, but I know a manager who > will deliberately ask questions that stretch or go > beyond a candidate’s skills. He does this because > he wants to see how you react under pressure/when > confronted with stuff beyond your expertise. > > -Do you freak out? > -Do you BS him? > -Do you just plain quit? > -Do you get the answer ‘partly right’ and at least > give it a shot? i once did a mock interview session with one of these guys. he grilled me on some stuff and pushed me in a lot of different directions (this was > 5 years ago so i don’t remember the details). but when it was over he basically explained to me what he was doing, trying to see how you react to the pressure, if you’ll drop the ‘interview facade’ or not, how well you can answer quesitons, etc. essentially how much you can ‘wow’ him or whatnot. he also told me about a guy who would ask the interviewee to open the window in his office to ‘let some air in’. the trick was that the windows in the office don’t open - so it was just a mind-fk; he wanted to see how long the person would try, if they’d ask questions or get po’d. i think this was at bear stearns.
Another question for you folks: Last night I spent a good deal of time ruminating on some of the more challenging questions asked of me yesterday (maybe this is OCD, but this is beside the point right now :-)). Anyway I was able to come up with much more cogent answers (on my own without referring to external sources) QUESTION: Would it be in bad taste to email the guy with my answers this morning, and preface by saying something like, " just wanted to add some clarification to my answers yesterday." He indicated they will be making a decision within the next two weeks. Please advise.
I’d leave it. What is done is done. You’ve had your 5 minutes of fame. Now you have had access to all your books & the internet & thought about it to get a better answer. If all the other candidates did that too, we’d all have perfect answers. Here is the issue in a nutshell: Lets say you already did enough and he’s going to make an offer. You send a follow up mail. You don’t get the job because of it. You win some, you lose some.
L3- You’ve got a similar mindset to me. I always second-guess these types of things. I’d suggest [as Muddahudda suggest] you simply let it lie. However, there’s no harm in working through your answers in your head again. To expand on the toastmasters/public speaking thing: The most important skill I’ve taken away is to get extremely comfortable with silence. A lot of people feel this INCREDIBLE pressure when asked a question to start talking immediately and not to stop until they’ve said everything they can think of. When given a tough question, this can kill you. Instead of blabbering, it’s far better to get the difficult question and… [Wait. One, one thousand. Two, one thousand.] You: [now having had time to organize your thoughts and compose yourself] It’s hard for me to answer this off the cuff and not working it out on a spreadsheet, but I think my thought process would be as follows. First, I’d [whatever]. I’d also want to check if [blah blah blah blah blah]. Then I would want to [whatever]. Ultimately [your conclusions]. Again, I think I’d be able to answer that a little better with access to a computer and some data, but fundamentally, that’s how I’d approach the problem.
Thanks Muddahudda and SSface. What’s done is done, and I will respect that. This interview was a very rare opportunity, and now I need to move on…
def let it go. send a thank you note and follow up in two weeks. if you feel you really need to clarify something work it into the thank you note - but very minimally, the note shouldn’t be more than three sentences.