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Job Skills How to prepare more quants interview?

  1. Jun 16, 2012 #1
    Hi All,

    I would like to seek advice from you guys, specially those how have experience in the finance field with a science background, on how to prepare interviews at iBank. First let me give some background about myself: I have a PhD degree in astrophysics from one of the Ivy League university (I hope it help to get me the interview). Most of my research is about modeling structure formation. I spent most of my time programming (in c++) and making measurements from simulations. I also do a lot of parallel programmings and analytical calculations (by this I mean writing down the formula and do the real computation numerically).

    I had interviews with some ibanks last year but none of them went through the first round. I would like to know if there is anything I would prepare -- last year experience is within 2 weeks of contacting the agents I had 5 interviews, leaving me not much time to prepare. I want to try again this year. Any suggestions are welcome!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 18, 2012 #2
    Look at your resume and that's your study guide.

    1) Review the math and programming that you did for your dissertation and make sure that you know that cold.
    2) For C++, make sure you know STL and basic algorithms
    3) For math practice with some probability questions (the puzzle section on Wilmott is good for these)
    4) If you have time, you can read some basic mathematical finance books (Hull or Baxter/Rennie) however don't go overboard with that.
  4. Jun 19, 2012 #3
    If you've done any GPU or parallel computing, I'd suggest reviewing that.

    As far as what financial things that you should know.

    1) It would help if you know some of the basic concepts and terms.

    risk-neutral pricing
    implied volatility

    Anything above that isn't bad. But it's not essential. There's also an excellent paper that just popped up in the quantitative finance section of arxiv.org by Brigo that provides a capsule summary of what people are currently worried about (and that will change in 3 to 6 months.)

    One thing that you should realize when reading Hull and other similar books is that 80% of what's in those books is either wrong or irrelevant.
  5. Jun 19, 2012 #4
    Thanks a lot! Your input is always brilliant.

    And should I send my resume to more than one agent? If agents receive more or less the same requests from clients then it may not help a lot -- and in fact I may be referred to the same client by different agents in this case.
  6. Jun 19, 2012 #5
    Absolutely. The quality of agents varies wildly, and for a newbie, you need to give your resume to lots of people.

    For the major markets (NYC/London) there are enough jobs so that there is very little overlap. The other thing is that depending on the firm it may be common for different parts of the same company use different agents. (I can go into detail about which firms do what, off-line).

    Usually the agent will let you know who they are sending the resume to, and you can mention if your resume has already gone there. Most firms will keep a database, so that if you are already repesented the database will keep someone else from sending the resume to the same position.
  7. Jun 20, 2012 #6


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    Highlight you selling points. The purpose of a resume is to get an interview. Its up to you once you get an interview. Its all about marketing.
  8. Jun 20, 2012 #7
    Thanks for the input.

    From previous discussions it seems that most of the positions are in NYC and London. However since I am not citizen nor president resident of USA/UK, is it going to hurt my opportunity if I would only apply to positions based in Tokyo/Hong Kong/Singapore?

    On a side note, if you would choose again, would you choose to work in non-academic environment or give a shot at postdoc position and hope for the best on a faculty position?
  9. Jun 20, 2012 #8

    Jobs in NYC/London + Jobs Asia > Jobs in Asia

    You need to put your visa status in your resume anyway, and it's probably better to just submit your resume to everyone. If someone in NYC/London passes on your resume for visa reasons that's fine, but if you start off by excluding jobs in NYC/London, then they excludes jobs for which the employer is willing to do visa sponsorship.

    The other thing is that London, HK, Singapore have immigration laws that are much less crazy than the US.

    Since I never had a real choice, it's not much of a question. If I had a real choice, then the world would have been different so the assumptions of the question wouldn't make sense.

    The reason I got into finance is that it was actually the path that seemed to maximize my long term chances of getting a faculty position. There are a lot of people in the industry that are adjunct faculty, and one reason I'm into this making extremely large amounts of money is that the more money I make, the more quickly I can "retire."
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2012
  10. Jun 20, 2012 #9
    Something to remember is that unlike most other industries, the person that makes the interview decision is likely a Ph.D., so when talking about your research, you need to target it so that another Ph.D. working in your field would be impressed by what you did.

    The initial person that looks at your resume is a head hunter or HR person. Your goal is to confuse them. If the HH or HR looks at your resume and is totally confused and has no idea what you did, that's good. They'll assume that you are Albert Einstein and forward your resume. They HH or HR is looking for keywords, and only keywords.

    Good words:

    monte carlo
    parallel processing
    high performance computing
    X lines of code where X> 100,000
    real time
    high frequency
    US citizen or permanent resident

    Bad words:

    hard working
    team player or any other type of management-speak

    One of the rules of writing a technical resume is never say anything about your personality or work habits. It's not that personality and work habits are unimportant, it's that most people have decent work habits and personality, and your personality is not what is going to get you hired.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2012
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