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Andy note: Best of WSO - this post originally went up December 2009 and we thought it deserved to go back on the homepage for those who may have never seen it.

So I just was in an interview for a student run Venture Capital fund. He asked what I would invest in, stocks or gold. If stocks what aspect. I went blank and just start bumbling. I ended up saying I am bullish and I would go with energy (because I just finished an internship in that sector and it was the one I knew the best.)

Anyone got any good screw up stories? Just want to make sure I am not alone.

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Comments (96)

  • hungry's picture

    I was fool enough to ask an MD if he would rather be doing anything else than IB. He said "Are fucking serious?! If it weren't for the money I'd rather be strung out and drunk on an island in SE Asia"

  • brotherbear's picture

    I once had an interviewer fart. LOUDLY. And it was rank.

    As a closet 10-year-old, I had a hard time not laughing.

    I didn't get the job.

  • awp's picture

    I had an interview for an ER internship in Europe.

    I was not prepared at all as I was actually called there in the last minute because somebody else was not able to make his appointment.

    I was asked to recommend a stock. I had no idea what to do. I was panicking and just said the name of the first company that came to my mind. This company however was not listed (one of the biggest private companies in that country) and went into insolvency one week before (which was major news in this particular country and on every newspaper due to the massive layoffs).

    I have never felt so stupid. I realized my mistake when I arrived home and wanted to check the performance of the stock i recommended. He didnt say a word and kept just looking all serious at me asking questions like: where do you see growth potential? What markets? etc.
    horrible.

  • Ruby Rhod's picture

    ^^ hilarious.

    ______________________________
    Freeze those knees, my chickadees!

  • WallStreetOasis.com's picture

    not as funny as some of the stories above but this reminds me of my first interview for a consulting internship as a junior in college (decided it would be good practice for IBD, get my story down and might be a good backup if i was actually able to pull it off). So while every other student was studying all of the frameworks and cases, I was just ready to bull shit my way through...this is back when I was 21 and had no real clue was IBD or consulting actually was.

    So you can imagine when they started asking me these case questions like, "how many ping pong balls would it take to fill up a 747?" i was like wtf and thought it was hilarious. At first I kept asking questions like there must be more info. here because how could anybody guess that number...but they wouldnt budge and eventually I caught on (after 5-10 painful minutes) that they wanted me to pull it all out of my ass.

    I proceeded to pull as much geometry bullshit and the most asinine assumptions from nowhere. the real funny part is I thought I would get credit for looking "genuine" / not overly rehearsed.

    nope. ding.

  • she_monkey's picture

    I was interviewing with a big asset management company. It said "entry level, trading" on the post on our OCR website.
    The company posted separately for this interview and its ER associate interview. so I figured it *must* be for its buy-side trading arm. I went on and on the whole interview about how trading on the buy side is so much more fulfilling and just basically why it's great(er than sell side s&t). Interviewer nodded.

    Then at the very end she told me that this was actually for the sell-side division (huh? it exists?), and recommended that I check their website (which was a different link from the one listed for the ER interview..) after the interview.

    Oops.

    (Strangely I did get past that round though...)

  • Aces High's picture

    I was interviewing last year in Philadelphia for an investment management summer analyst gig. There were two other students from my school and two others from Stanford in the waiting room. One of the Stanford candidates was called in and she stood up and walked over to the interviewer to shake his hand. She said, "excuse me one moment" and walks over to the corner and throws up. She was just really nervous and they eventually had to call an ambulance (office policy?).

  • SirBikealot's picture

    I was interviewing for this crappy boutique and in classic crappy boutique style they sent two of the frattiest guys ever to interview me. We started talking sports and stuff like that. Somehow we got on the subject of Vegas and they were telling me about how I have to go before I start a FT job. I mentioned that I hadn't gotten a chance to go because I had never had enough money to "make it interesting" - I believe was the phrase I used. What I meant was that if I were to go to Vegas and have a bad run at the craps table, my entire trip would be over. I want to have money to do whatever I want in Vegas without worrying about the repercussions. One of the interviewers replied "Well, if you want to have sex with some nasty girl, all you have to do is go prowling around circus circus after midnight." I didn't understand how that was related to the conversation, but didn't want to make it awkward. I just laughed and shrugged it off. A few hours later I realized that he thought I was saying that I hadn't gone to Vegas yet because I hadn't been able to save up enough money for a hooker.

    ding. knowing these guys, this probably wasn't the reason though

    "Ride your bike. Drink good beer."
    - Fat Tire Amber Ale

  • eresearcher's picture

    Was finishing an interview, waiting for an elevator in the bay. A guy looks at me and says, "Who are you?" I tell him my name. He says, "No, who are you and what are you doing here." Told him I was interviewing. Silence. I ask, "And what do you do for the firm?" He says, "I'm the CFO. Its ok. Relax."

  • Ballyman's picture

    My first interview with MS soph year was horrible since I didn't know what investment banking really was, and of course right after walking through the resume he asked me "what is investment banking" and I babbled for 5 minutes about how there are certain investments that might be made and how it requires money obviously, etc. The bad thing is, the guy just nodded sternly so it made me continue my obnoxiously ignorant rant.

    After that I did a lot of research and landed at a BB, but I will never forget being so clueless in an interview.

  • In reply to awp
    Boutique Banking's picture

    awp:
    I had an interview for an ER internship in Europe.

    I was not prepared at all as I was actually called there in the last minute because somebody else was not able to make his appointment.

    I was asked to recommend a stock. I had no idea what to do. I was panicking and just said the name of the first company that came to my mind. This company however was not listed (one of the biggest private companies in that country) and went into insolvency one week before (which was major news in this particular country and on every newspaper due to the massive layoffs).

    I have never felt so stupid. I realized my mistake when I arrived home and wanted to check the performance of the stock i recommended. He didnt say a word and kept just looking all serious at me asking questions like: where do you see growth potential? What markets? etc.
    horrible.

    The sad thing is that the guy probably didn't know either, unless the company was in his sector.

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IB Interview Prep Pack

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  • jerome123's picture

    These are hysterica. Keep 'em coming.

  • Banker88's picture

    Went to interview with an elite boutique which was held in a hotel room. I didn't realize until I actually walked in that it was just a room (was expecting a conference room or something). I was 15 minutes early and asked to use the bathroom. I took a shit while the VP just waited in the hotel room for me to come out and start the interview. Good times.

  • In reply to Banker88
    monty09's picture

    banker88:
    Went to interview with an elite boutique which was held in a hotel room. I didn't realize until I actually walked in that it was just a room (was expecting a conference room or something). I was 15 minutes early and asked to use the bathroom. I took a shit while the VP just waited in the hotel room for me to come out and start the interview. Good times.

    yeah i read that book too...

  • In reply to monty09
    Accidental Banker's picture

    monty09:
    banker88:
    Went to interview with an elite boutique which was held in a hotel room. I didn't realize until I actually walked in that it was just a room (was expecting a conference room or something). I was 15 minutes early and asked to use the bathroom. I took a shit while the VP just waited in the hotel room for me to come out and start the interview. Good times.

    yeah i read that book too...

    which book is this from?

  • In reply to Accidental Banker
    bstej's picture

    Accidental Banker:
    monty09:
    banker88:
    Went to interview with an elite boutique which was held in a hotel room. I didn't realize until I actually walked in that it was just a room (was expecting a conference room or something). I was 15 minutes early and asked to use the bathroom. I took a shit while the VP just waited in the hotel room for me to come out and start the interview. Good times.

    yeah i read that book too...

    which book is this from?


    Liar's Poker
  • wsofan2009's picture

    Depends on how long the shit lasted.

    ############
    ############
    ############

    The time is now, seize the day ...

  • In reply to Banker88
    jerome123's picture

    banker88:
    Went to interview with an elite boutique which was held in a hotel room. I didn't realize until I actually walked in that it was just a room (was expecting a conference room or something). I was 15 minutes early and asked to use the bathroom. I took a shit while the VP just waited in the hotel room for me to come out and start the interview. Good times.

    Did you get the job!!!!

  • Banker88's picture

    No I didn't get the job. The interview lasted all of 15 minutes.

    Also, pokersliar is definitely full of shit. You can't badmouth a firm and get through to the next round.

  • boutiquebank4life's picture

    This is true, why would you badmouth firms to begin with? Even if its their main nemesis, it's common sense you stay positive and never talk negatively about another firm, especially not the firm ur interviewing with.

  • Billy Ray Valentine's picture

    Long time ago... first ever SA interview. I had no idea what IB was, never read a guide, not a clue. Phone interview with Merrill. First off, I was emailed by an alum who asked if I was available for an informal first round phone interview. I was psyched and ready to go. He calls me up, and there ends up being five people on the phone, all firing questions at me. I was completely flustered and bombed basically every question. I think the best one was probably when they asked me something like "how would you estimate the number of ipods sold to college students in the US last year" where they were obviously looking for me to break it down saying there are X number of colleges, Y students per college, 1/3 have ipods, blah blah blah...

    I responded "I would call up Steve Jobs"

    Needless to say, I didn't move one.

  • NoLongerActiveHere's picture
  • themonkeybandit's picture

    That taking a dump story is awesome. Sorry you didn't get the job!!!

  • In reply to Billy Ray Valentine
    syncmaster's picture

    Billy Ray Valentine:

    I responded "I would call up Steve Jobs"

    Needless to say, I didn't move one.

    gold.

  • Boutique Banking's picture

    When I was applying for SA's I would send out lots of resumes and cover letters. I would cntl+F and replace the name of the previous firm with that of the new firm I was applying. While I was interviewing the MD pulled out my cover letter and started reading it. After a few times of mentioning the name of his firm he said the name of a totally different firm! He didn't get mad, just said it was unprofessional.

    I did not receive a call back.

  • ChemicalBank's picture

    During an interview on campus, the interviewer was wearing my school's colors on his tie (i.e. not normal colors). I asked him if he went to my school (regional private school), he said 'no, i went to harvard'. It was a nice awkward moment. Later during the interview, he reached into his bag & pulled out oreos & started eating them. He also answered his phone and had a brief conversation with a colleague.....needless to say, I didnt get the job.

    Another time when I was interviewing, the president of the Company gave me an office tour. We were in mid conversation and he was actually asking me questions as we approached the bathroom.....he went in and immediately asked me another question. I didn't know whether to wait outside the bathroom or go in....so being desperate for the job (not a BJ), I went in & answered his question while he was at the urinal. I ended up getting the job and worked there for a while.......I guess he appreciated the bathroom conversation.

  • SirBikealot's picture

    ^^ there was a thread discussing urinal etiquette. i think it's ok to continue a convo at the urinal. just don't start one. if i ever get to interview kids i'm definitely bringing some oreos.

    "Ride your bike. Drink good beer."
    - Fat Tire Amber Ale

  • Blackacre22's picture

    I was at a SuperDay for a boutique. All of the candidates and interviewers were in a large conference room eating lunch before the day got underway. The candidate (male) that was seated to the left of me had a gigantic ring on his finger. I looked at it closely and saw that it was a championship ring from Michigan State. Quickly ruling out that he might have been a member of the 2000 basketball team, I asked him what the ring was for. "Gymnastics" he told me. I don't know why this was so funny to me at the time but I immediately spit out all of my food and began laughing uncontrollably. Everyone in the room looked over and stared at me.

    Didn't get the offer. Oh well....

  • 1styearBanker's picture

    Reminds me of something similar I did at a superday. I had researched the people I would be meeting with beforehand but during an interview I mistook the guy for being in an industry group rather than a product group so when he asked me what group I liked I started talking about how much I wanted to be in an industry group, which was true, but I wouldn't have buttered it up so much if I remembered that he was in a product group.

    Halfway through my spiel he started selling me on his product group and then I remembered that he was actually M&A when I was promoting industry the whole time. I quickly switched gears and started spouting B.S. about how I was open minded and all that. I got the offer but it was very nerve-wracking to mixup the groups and diss product groups in front of this guy.

  • isic's picture

    Had an IB interview and during our casual conversation, out of a sudden the recruiter asked me what was 96 X 96?
    (I guess she wanted to test how I handle pressure and stuffs?).. I'm guessing she wanted me to use my mental skills but I took out my hp and used the calculator instead and said 9216.

    I remembered seeing her face and what she said next was.. no calculators allowed.. but hey, why bother using ur brain when they created calculator.. and I asked her that too, "if you were in my position, I am sure you would have used the calculator"

  • femtastic's picture

    nice

    !@#$%^&*()

  • AlphaGeneration's picture

    I interviewed with a firm that I thought was consulting (I interviewed with them the year before), but ended up getting the name mixed up. Ten minutes before the interview started, as I was sitting outside, I pull out the company's information that they posted on our school's career center. One of the lines said a position doing sales of XYZ product. I said to myself...that's odd, I didn't know consulting firms sold physical products, so I whip out the Blackberry and google the firm. Totally not consulting.

    Interview was terrible. Guy asked me why I wanted to work at the firm, and I bs'd some story about doing sales. Guy said the FT position was a financial leadership program, so there were no actual sales positions. Needless to say, I didn't get the offer... It was a little awkward during the interview when he discussed an internship I had at a F100 company and how when he graduated, it was everybody's dream to work there in finance, which made him question why I wanted to work at the firm he was at... that was a sticky one to get out of.

  • In reply to villagebanker
    BrownMan's picture

    villagebanker:
    At a superday for a BB I asked an interviewer how long he had been an associate. He responded that he was an MD.

    Haha classic -

    Somewhat unrelated but while attending a cousin's wedding in NYC (who used to be a banker in her previous life) - I came across someone from my firm (He was a MD in NY) while I am in London but we were in same sector team. I remembered being cc'd in on a number of emails during some cross-border projects so I started talking to him, telling him stuff about the London office.

    10 mins later I asked him how long he had been a VP - only for him to reply he had been an MD for 4 years :)

  • dweezy's picture

    When asked about leadership abilities, I responded "helped organize counter revolution and government overthrow". Did not get job. True story.

  • GordonsGecko's picture

    I got asked the population of China and the GDP. I said 1bn then said their GDP was 400bn ... the guy got offended when i said that

  • In reply to dweezy
    Mzz's picture

    lol

    dweezy:
    When asked about leadership abilities, I responded "helped organize counter revolution and government overthrow". Did not get job. True story.
  • In reply to Mzz
    SWF's picture

    When i was interviewing with a hedge fund, the PM asked me to go meet him on a basketball court on a cold winter morning. He then asked me to play 1-on-1 with him and in a casual tone said, "oh, did I mention that you have to beat me to get the offer?"

  • In reply to SWF
    lorican's picture

    SWF:
    When i was interviewing with a hedge fund, the PM asked me to go meet him on a basketball court on a cold winter morning. He then asked me to play 1-on-1 with him and in a casual tone said, "oh, did I mention that you have to beat me to get the offer?"
    That's quite similar to my story.

    I was interviewing with a blue-blooded UK bank and the MD was clearly an old boy type guy. The interview was going great, I played the Britishness game up untill he asked me "what was best feeling you've ever had?" I started telling him about fencing and how we slayed the Eton foil team hoping that he would say something like "good on you beating those scallywags". But he then took his hands from under the table and put them in a clear view. Then I saw the Eton ring on his little finger with the steely voice saying "I used to fence for Eton..." and I was like wtf what are the odds? The interview finished 30 sec later and I didn't get the offer. The feedback was that I "didn't show enough enthusiasm for the team."

    __________
    Just my 2c.

  • In reply to isic
    ShawnDU2009's picture

    Had a similar question asked to me during an interview but it's actually pretty easy to figure out. Just take 96*100 = 9600 and then just subtract 96*4 = 384. So 9600 - 384 = 9216. Hopefully that's right but ultimately that's what you do when you're asked a question such as that. Explain your thought process as well when you give the answer.

  • In reply to ShawnDU2009
    ShreddiesBrah's picture

    ShawnDU2009:
    Had a similar question asked to me during an interview but it's actually pretty easy to figure out. Just take 96*100 = 9600 and then just subtract 96*4 = 384. So 9600 - 384 = 9216. Hopefully that's right but ultimately that's what you do when you're asked a question such as that. Explain your thought process as well when you give the answer.

    Easiest way to do square mental maths questions is by using the formula
    x^2 = (x+a)(x-a) + a^2 and taking x+a or x-a to be the closest number that's a multiple of 10
    so
    96^2 = 100 x 92 + 16 = 9216

    Could knock out any square mentally in about 3 seconds if you did that

    Anyway, just remembered another one. Had an in-person informational interview with a top HF manager who let slip that he preferred to hire British analysts over Asian ones as "British analysts are more critical with investment ideas". I had a "wtf did he just say" look on my face for about 10 seconds, and realizing the implications of what he just said, he ended the interview shortly after. (I'm not Asian, but am an URM so I saw it as British analysts > all else)

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