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dr
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May 11th, 2012, 4:26 am

In fact, I read all the brainteaser and interview question forums. I eat this stuff for breakfast. So if you ever interview me, please have the decency to come up with some original problems of your own instead of ripping them from known places like here or Joshi's book.That said, if you do decide to proceed with brainteaser and simple 2nd year probability questions, I'm going to ask you to solve one of my problems for every problem you ask me. Remember, an interview is a two-way process, I'm trying to determine if I want to work with you too.And if you ask every candidate the same questions. How do you know your question bank is not compromised and I haven't memorised them by heart?My suggestion is that we have a good technical talk about a model that we've maybe both worked on or some mathematical background that we have in common. It will be a much more enlightening conversation.Toy questions are fun, but only at breakfast time.
Last edited by dr on May 10th, 2012, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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frenchX
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May 12th, 2012, 12:32 pm

Agree with your comment. Brainteasers are just a banking tradition. A stupid one though.
 
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daveangel
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May 12th, 2012, 4:36 pm

sounds quite pompous imho.
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Cuchulainn
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May 12th, 2012, 4:46 pm

And 18592 views in one day; not bad.
Last edited by Cuchulainn on May 11th, 2012, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Costeanu
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May 13th, 2012, 12:12 am

Looks like this entry created quite some stir on Hacker News. Lots of insightful comments.
 
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dr
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May 13th, 2012, 2:02 am

Quotesounds quite pompous imho.As intended, I was hoping to start a debate by writing it that way.
 
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BramJ
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May 13th, 2012, 12:11 pm

Let us know how this strategy works out for you in getting hired.
Last edited by BramJ on May 12th, 2012, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Traden4Alpha
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May 13th, 2012, 5:22 pm

Overall, I agree with daveangel but think the issue is quite an interesting (and potentially counter-intuitive) one. I see at least four issues with dr's strategy:1) Challenging your interviewer with a brainteaser seems like a sure way to be branded "not a team player". On the other hand, if one doesn't want to work in a place that values form (i.e., adhering to a set of committee-created procedures and stock interview questions in the policy manual) over substance (i.e., smart people who can figure things out as they go), then losing some job offers is optimal.2) Perhaps people who are smart enough to find/read/remember/apply all the standard breakfast-time brainteasers are as smart (or smarter) than the people who haven't memorized them. So much of math and finances seems like clever use of a standard bag of tricks that it might not matter whether the candidate is the kind of person that has pre-memorized the bag of tricks or the kind of person that can derive one of the standard tricks from first principles. As my calculus teacher said, "catch as catch can."3) I would hope that a good interviewer would probe any candidate who doesn't "show their work" in some way. If one asks a Joshi brainteaser and the candidate provides a one-word (or one-number) answer, then one should ask how they got the answer. And if the candidate is smart enough to memorize both the answer and the method, then maybe they're pretty smart.4) Memorizing all the answers to all the published brain teasers seems like an excellent proxy for ambition and practicality. Would a bank rather have a smart but unambitious person who can derive an answer to a new tough brainteaser, or a person who figures out how the system is run and puts in hours and hours of labour figuring out how to maximize their performance within that system? The first person might be an excellent quant, but the second person is management material.
 
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neuroguy
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May 23rd, 2012, 12:47 pm

If you ask someone a brain teaser and they give a reasonable answer you might be more confident of the following:They were smart enough to figure it out. Not a surefire test for Nobel laureates, but equally its a fair bet that this correlates positively with general intelligence.They were smart enough to go through all the questions they can find and ensure they can recall them. Different smarts. Also shows motivation and the ability to do slightly adverse things if necessary to get to an objective.They don't see themselves as above your questionsThey don't take themselves too seriouslyAlternatively is they reply by whinging about the question then you might be worried that:Maybe they couldn't answer it. Not a sure fire test for learning disabilities but its a fair bet this correlates negatively with general intelligenceThey are not accustomed to brainteasers and maybe were not expecting to be asked one. Hence they cannot have done that much research into the hiring processes. Might correlate negatively with motivation to be in the job.They might be unable to deal with uncomfortable situationsThey might not deal very well with pressure.
Last edited by neuroguy on May 22nd, 2012, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Waynee
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June 10th, 2012, 2:39 pm

I see and acknowledge where you come from. That being said, maybe your perception of the process is a bit flawed.It is most likely true that for the most people who "quants" or aspire to become one, intelligence, or the perception of, is a pretty dominant part of their life. They went through school being the kid that is good at math, studied physics or mathematics or a similar "nerd" topic at a top institution and kept being one of the best. They enjoy what they do. And they develop some kind of arrogance, or confidence, or whatever you want to call it, about the fact that they are probably a bit more "intelligent" than other people. It is not unlikely that at more than one point in their life, they were "better" at what they did than some kind of teacher.This is a problem, because if you are that picky about your interview questions, how long into the job til you decide that this one stupid task doesnt live up to your aspirations of only doing the most cutting edge challenging work? A hiring manager cant hire something that might walk for such stupid reasons, and for that reason, youre out. This doesnt need to have anything to do with hurt feelings or some kind of inferiority complex. Managers are evaluated mostly by the bad hiring decisions they make. By making the hiring process deliberately boring for the "more intelligent" candidates, they can weed the ones with ego problems out.On the other hand side, if theres some guy who knows he cant beat the more difficult brainteasers and decides to overcome that hurdle by just memorizing all the brainteasers he can find, thats a person id want to have on my team, even if he lacks specific skills to do that one task he should have to be able to perform. Give him a book and 2 weeks later hell be able to perform that one.
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