SERVING THE QUANTITATIVE FINANCE COMMUNITY

 
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tavisor
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November 14th, 2010, 2:32 pm

OK! so, as it turns out the phone interview went very well and I have to go there in one week for an interview. I have known this for a week now, but I just received a confirmation email also from the bank and not only the headhunter. They say the interview will begin with a written test which will test the candidates on basic math, programing and finance. What should I expect? Any hints/past experiences?
 
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Steilermeier
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Theoretical Physics Ph.D. looking to get into the Quant business

November 15th, 2010, 5:34 pm

Hey tavisor,don't know whether it is of any help for you but I got an internship at Top10 I-Bank by using this CV template:https://www.tug.org/texlive/Contents/li ... te.pdfIt's still LaTeX (don't know if you know that), so it's still kind of academic, but by using the moderncv package it looks pretty nice I think. What do the experienced guys think?!?CheersSteilermeier
 
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mj
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November 15th, 2010, 10:23 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: tavisorOK! so, as it turns out the phone interview went very well and I have to go there in one week for an interview. I have known this for a week now, but I just received a confirmation email also from the bank and not only the headhunter. They say the interview will begin with a written test which will test the candidates on basic math, programing and finance. What should I expect? Any hints/past experiences?you know which book to buy!
 
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tavisor
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November 15th, 2010, 10:27 pm

@ MJ Thx! One copy is enough unless you send me a signed one for a discounted price... since I already have one copy!
 
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twofish
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November 16th, 2010, 8:07 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: SteilermeierIt's still LaTeX (don't know if you know that), so it's still kind of academic, but by using the moderncv package it looks pretty nice I think. What do the experienced guys think?!?1) Never include your photo on a resume.2) The contact information should be near the top3) The headers seem too large and the body seems too small4) Also if you are going to use LaTeX, make it look like LaTeX. For technical people, the fact that you can and use LaTeX is going to be an advantage.
 
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tavisor
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November 16th, 2010, 8:21 am

Well, so I started with a CV in LaTex... but like 2fish says, with a much more technical look. Then I learned that headhunters ask you for your CV in .doc format, and I was done with LaTex.
 
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Steilermeier
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November 16th, 2010, 9:22 am

@ twofish: Alright, ya, I didn't include a photo. The link was just a rough idea what a good CV might look like. On mine the contact details are moved towards the right top corner and I included a Profile and Objective Section at the top. Profile summarizes my skills and experiences, Objective states what kind of position I am aiming at. These parts were included because of a headhunter's suggestion. Beneath that I included Professional Experience, Education, Publications, Skills (IT, Language), Miscellaneous (Scholarships etc) and Interests. I might delete some of the stuff at the end. But since I already canceled out the teaching part, my heart needs a break... But I am as keen as tavisor to learn some new things. Thats what its all about I think (I might still lack the greedy attitude a little, but I am working on that...).I think its standard for a mathematician to know LaTeX. How else would you write your thesis (Master / PhD)? I think that holds true for physicists and chemists as well. I guess its kind of 'you know C++, you learn MATLAB in one day' thing. LaTeX comes with the technical guy package for free. But by the way from my experience nobody ever cared about my LaTeX skills... But I can live with that. Hahaha!
 
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Steilermeier
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November 16th, 2010, 9:28 am

@ tavisor:Yeah I had the same problem when I was applying for internships on the big banks webpages. Word all over the place. The thing you send out and the thing coming out at the other side of the ether are totally different things. Kind of annoying! But the headhunters I dealt with until now were all totally fine with the PDF I sent them. We will see how lucky I am in 6 months since I have to finish my thesis first.
 
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tavisor
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December 9th, 2010, 11:32 am

Well, so I had my first interview. Failed it. We had a written test. Math+Problem solving+ Statistics+ Programing+ Finance. The math was much too basic, problem solving also besides one problem which annoyed me. We were given about 15 numbers and asked to calculate mean, std. dev. and things like that. I did not bring a calculator, so I just put a smiley. Anyway we were asked to write 3 pieces of code in VBA and I didn't do very well there. After the test and an interview I had a discussion with one of the members of the team who told me the following: "We cannot see where your motivation to move into finance comes from!"I knew I would have trouble with this since after a Ph.D. and a postdoc in theoretical physics it is not so easy to motivate moving into finance. I mean how does one motivate changing from an academic route which is obvious considering my postdoc experience to finance? My real motivation is that I saw what doing postdocs means and what sacrifices one needs to make by continuously moving from place to place. I don't really wanna do that anymore. I want something stable, and given my theoretical/mathematical orientation, finance looks like my best bet. The problem is that my decision does not really come after being "Woow!"-ed by my discovering Black Scholes! I mean tell me a theoretical physics Ph.D. who was swept of his feet by the math needed for finance. That was the actual question from the interview. "which was your turning point which made you want to do finance and nothing else?" I told him that for me it was not like a dramatic phase transition but a smooth one and I cannot think of a well defined point.
 
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DevonFangs
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December 9th, 2010, 12:32 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: tavisorAfter the test and an interview I had a discussion with one of the members of the team who told me the following: "We cannot see where your motivation to move into finance comes from!"I knew I would have trouble with this since after a Ph.D. and a postdoc in theoretical physics it is not so easy to motivate moving into finance.Yes, and then one should be absolutely welcome if he tries to get into finance straight from the MSc because finance is really what he wants to do and doesn't want to waste time, not trying academia first and then see what happens (like most of the researchers I know have done), but go and learn the job on the desk. Guess what? It's not like this.And BTW, failing the first interview is practically obvious
 
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tavisor
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December 9th, 2010, 2:46 pm

Well, I am not saying that one thing might be more convincing than the other. I am just worried about my case. Do I have to invent a convincing story about some finance seminar that I attended which completely blew my mind and never wanted to do anything else ever since? Do I tell them that after realizing I don't wanna keep loosing friends and relationships and furnish new apartments once every 3 years because my next postdoc offer is across the ocean, and the next best thing after academia for someone with my background is finance? That would be keeping it real... but then again, it is not your drive to finance as the only thing you wanna to. It is just the next best thing! Do I tell them I just wanna make a whole bunch of money? Anyone ran into questions like this before? How did u answer?
Last edited by tavisor on December 8th, 2010, 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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endian675
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December 9th, 2010, 2:55 pm

Phrases like "next best thing" will get you booted out in my opinion. How about accentuating the positives of corporate life over academic life - the opportunity to put theory in to practice, working with highly-motivated like-minded individuals, and perhaps looking for a different challenge that isn't just publishing an article in a big journal.Remember, what you tell them doesn't have to be specifically true, it just has to be plausible. I think most of all you need to go to some interviews and see what you actually get asked, worrying about what you might be asked is daft.
 
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Hansi
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December 9th, 2010, 2:59 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: tavisorWell, I am not saying that one thing might be more convincing than the other. I am just worried about my case. Do I have to invent a convincing story about some finance seminar that I attended which completely blew my mind and never wanted to do anything else ever since?Don't lie, just tell them the truth. If you have a passion for finance then tell them about it if you don't maybe you should be looking at something else.QuoteOriginally posted by: tavisorDo I tell them that after realizing I don't wanna keep loosing friends and relationships and furnish new apartments once every 3 years because my next postdoc offer is across the ocean, and the next best thing after academia for someone with my background is finance? That would be keeping it real... but then again, it is not your drive to cinance as the only thing you wanna to. It is just the next best thing! What's to say you won't be moving about all the time and never managing to keep the same friends in finance?QuoteOriginally posted by: tavisorDo I tell them I just wanna make a whole bunch of money? No, everyone does this stuff for the money but most feel it's taboo to say so.QuoteOriginally posted by: tavisorAnyone ran into questions like this before? How did u answer?That's going to be quite individual.
Last edited by Hansi on December 8th, 2010, 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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yaourt
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December 9th, 2010, 3:41 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: tavisorWell, so I had my first interview. Failed it. We had a written test. Math+Problem solving+ Statistics+ Programing+ Finance. The math was much too basic, problem solving also besides one problem which annoyed me. We were given about 15 numbers and asked to calculate mean, std. dev. and things like that. I did not bring a calculator, so I just put a smiley. Anyway we were asked to write 3 pieces of code in VBA and I didn't do very well there. After the test and an interview I had a discussion with one of the members of the team who told me the following: "We cannot see where your motivation to move into finance comes from!"I knew I would have trouble with this since after a Ph.D. and a postdoc in theoretical physics it is not so easy to motivate moving into finance. I mean how does one motivate changing from an academic route which is obvious considering my postdoc experience to finance? My real motivation is that I saw what doing postdocs means and what sacrifices one needs to make by continuously moving from place to place. I don't really wanna do that anymore. I want something stable, and given my theoretical/mathematical orientation, finance looks like my best bet. The problem is that my decision does not really come after being "Woow!"-ed by my discovering Black Scholes! I mean tell me a theoretical physics Ph.D. who was swept of his feet by the math needed for finance. That was the actual question from the interview. "which was your turning point which made you want to do finance and nothing else?" I told him that for me it was not like a dramatic phase transition but a smooth one and I cannot think of a well defined point. What kind of position was that? the interviewer is probably aware of the fact that you prefer more money to less money and that being a post-doc is crap in the long run is pretty obvious too. he probably tries to find out if your expectations match the reality of what the position can offer you, as you obviously have never worked in a Bank before. thats absolutely reasonable.
 
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twofish
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December 9th, 2010, 4:04 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: tavisorWell, I am not saying that one thing might be more convincing than the other. I am just worried about my case. Do I have to invent a convincing story about some finance seminar that I attended which completely blew my mind and never wanted to do anything else ever since?Probably not. Different interviewers look for different things, and what turns off one interviewer may be good for another. Since you really don't know what the interviewer is looking for, you might as well tell the truth. One danger is that if you make up something, and they like you, then you are going to have to keep pretending that you like something that you don't for the next several years. QuoteDo I tell them that after realizing I don't wanna keep loosing friends and relationships and furnish new apartments once every 3 years because my next postdoc offer is across the ocean, and the next best thing after academia for someone with my background is finance?If it's the truth, than sure.QuoteThat would be keeping it real... but then again, it is not your drive to finance as the only thing you wanna to. It is just the next best thing! Except that it's not. There are a lot of other less stressful jobs that you can get with a Ph.D. in physics. They pay less, but they are more stable. QuoteDo I tell them I just wanna make a whole bunch of money?They probably have already figured that one out.QuoteAnyone ran into questions like this before? How did u answer?Basically, that I want to go into finance because I want to be part of history. I don't think I mentioned this directly, but I once had this horrible, horrible thought that I'd end up eighty, someone would ask me "so what did you do with your life" and I wouldn't be able to answer. I have this hyper-ambitious, hyper-competitive streak inside of me, and I was just wasting away where I was.I should point out here that I bombed a few interviews with that answer, because this wasn't what the interviewer wanted to hear. But it's the truth.
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