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Recruiting season is basically in full swing/dwindling as superdays are approaching for many. What are some of the most vexatious WTF questions you have been asked thus far?

From my recruiting days, here are some of mine (the ones that made me want to punch my interviewer in the face kinds of questions)

Q1: Why did you transfer from Duke to your non-target?
A (truncated): I had a scholarship from Duke but couldn't pay for all 3 years, non-target offered me a full ride thus took it.
Followup Question: Why didn't your parents just pay for it?
Mental Answer: Did you just f* cking ask me that? What the f* ck you think???

Q2: That guy over there has an MBA/JD from harvard. Have you accomplished anything that amazing in your life?
Mental response: Your mom count? Why are you comparing me to people with grad degrees when I'm an undergrad?

Q3: Why am I successful?
Mental Response: Your good at lying to your LPs.

Q4: How well did you do in high school, what were your SAT scores and GPA? (this was after 3 interviews)

Q5: Tell me about yourself. What do your parents do for a living?

Q6 (more of a statement): We only hire kids from schools XYZ. Sorry but you sound smart and will do fine in the future.
Mental Response: Then why the f* ck did you interview me and waste 10 hours of my life over 4 days?

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Comments (48)

  • jt183's picture

    Q2 and Q6 made me want to punch my monitor

    so irritating

  • Government Sachs's picture

    I'm nerd raging hard just from reading those.

  • In reply to BTbanker
    mrb87's picture

    BTbanker:
    SAT scores are the biggest fucking joke.

    Yeah, I felt like a tool keeping mine on my resume but I was still getting asked about them for PE recruiting. Think I can take them off now.

    Dumbest questions:

    Anything Jane Street asks. Seriously, I remember being impressed by it in college but it's just stupid inane shit.

    The "weaknesses" question. Though I'll admit it to asking it in interviews myself, sometimes because I'm bored and sometimes because it's natural (if I'm sitting there listening to someone tell me how great they are and how much they've done).

    If you were a mathematical sign, which one would you be? (My answer was cringe inducing, though I immediately ruled out minus and divide)

  • computerized's picture

    ^ Something like "plus sign because I can be an addition to your team?"

  • In reply to mrb87
    prudentinvestor's picture

    mrb87:

    If you were a mathematical sign, which one would you be? (My answer was cringe inducing, though I immediately ruled out minus and divide)

    If by sign they meant symbol, I would have said something corny like sigma where n = my age and x = 0. Then proceed to say something stupid like I am the sum of all my life experiences.

    If I was the interviewer and heard that, I'd face palm myself.

    Or maybe worse, I'd say infinity.

  • SirTradesaLot's picture

    prudentinvestor:

    Followup Question: Why didn't your parents just pay for it?

    Wow. I hope you didn't end up there. That is an amazingly, even shockingly, stupid question. You should do WSO a favor and out that firm. People need to know where they are likely to find the dumbest interviewer known to man.

    adapt or die:
    What would P.T. Barnum say about you?

    MY BLOG

  • In reply to SirTradesaLot
    prudentinvestor's picture

    SirTradesaLot:
    prudentinvestor:

    Followup Question: Why didn't your parents just pay for it?

    Wow. I hope you didn't end up there. That is an amazingly, even shockingly, stupid question. You should do WSO a favor and out that firm. People need to know where they are likely to find the dumbest interviewer known to man.

    No, I did not end up working for this firm. I really wanted to punch that b*stard in the face after that. Approximately 1/3 of the questions from this dude was about my pedigree and my douche radar practically exploded.

    I had another offer on the table and as I walked out of the building I called my contact at the other fund to accept.

    I emailed them the next day to pull my app. Believe it or not, it was the final round and only 3 were left for 1 spot.

  • Billy Ray Valentine's picture

    How would you explain time value of money to a 2 year old?
    Mental Answer: Does a fucking two year even have teeth, are you serious?

    These are all questions to see how you handle stress/pressure/difficult situations. Just remain cool, that's the key.

    WSO guides have samples of how to answer some of these.

  • mango001's picture

    prudentinvestor:

    Q2: That guy over there has an MBA/JD from harvard. Have you accomplished anything that amazing in your life?
    Mental response: Your mom count? Why are you comparing me to people with grad degrees when I'm an undergrad?

    Icky stress question. I'd like to hear thoughts on how one should go about answering questions like this.

  • In reply to mango001
    phcap's picture

    mango001:
    prudentinvestor:

    Q2: That guy over there has an MBA/JD from harvard. Have you accomplished anything that amazing in your life?
    Mental response: Your mom count? Why are you comparing me to people with grad degrees when I'm an undergrad?

    Icky stress question. I'd like to hear thoughts on how one should go about answering questions like this.

    Like this?
    http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/BOOKS/Pix/pict...

  • clungeandman's picture

    Q1. You are going to a desert on your own. What 3 items would you take?
    Q2. If you are a sandwich, what would you be?

  • MFFL's picture

    Mine was very irritating, it turned into more of a conversation than a question..

    HIM: So why did you choose to join fraternity XYZ?
    ME: When I was going through the recruitment process I really got along with all the guys there and felt like I could see myself being very involved in what they were doing throughout college.
    HIM: Well yeah I get that, but why THAT fraternity?
    ME: I just really felt like I would fit in with the guys there. They were my kind of people and I could see myself becoming very close with them throughout the rest of my life.
    HIM: Okay okay, but even so, how did you come to that conclusion about those guys?
    ME: It's something I got a feel for through my interactions with them. The conversations were smooth and enjoyable, and it was evident that we shared a lot of the same values and outlooks on life. It was a good fit on a number of levels.
    HIM: Could you elaborate? What are those values and outlooks?

    In my head: "Are you serious..?"

    The fraternity was one of the standard ones on campus, nothing about it to make it look out of place or strange that I had joined.

    "Well that's even more than less than unhelpful." - Jack Sparrow

  • In reply to mango001
    VoidTrading's picture

    mango001:
    prudentinvestor:

    Q2: That guy over there has an MBA/JD from harvard. Have you accomplished anything that amazing in your life?
    Mental response: Your mom count? Why are you comparing me to people with grad degrees when I'm an undergrad?

    Icky stress question. I'd like to hear thoughts on how one should go about answering questions like this.

    Not really a stress question if you're asking an undergrad. To the interviewee it just sounds like the interviewer is trying to get to you but sounds like he's completely fucking stupid if he's comparing an undergrad to a JD/MBA. It is just a different way (Read: INCREDIBLY FUCKING DOUCHEY WAY) of asking you to talk the interviewer through your resume/list your achivements.

    So instead of cursing the interviewer out mentally, you can just opt to list some of your biggest achievements. Mention that you are yet to go for further education, but list stuff you have done recently. EG: Recent internships, difficult projects, writing your own ER reports, trading on your own, solving problems in the Middle East, fixing the US economy.

    You know. The usual stuff.

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  • ST Monkey's picture

    The most annoying question I ever got asked and gave my best was:

    Q: Insurance background huh? So you want to go from fucking old ladies to a job in S&T?

    A: nah, I only went from fucking you mom this morning to knowing the biggest jack ass ever. (I know the partner of the firm so I didn't really care about burning this guy)

    Needless to say, he was shocked I got the balls to talk back. I just got up and excused myself at that point.

  • ChasM01's picture

    Q: What is your biggest regret from High School? (note that this was the very first question for an executive level finance position and I was 15 years removed from HS).

    At the conclusion of the same interview:
    Q: Whats the hardest thing you've ever done?
    A: Raising twins (completely off the cuff and by that point I knew I wasn't a fit for the job)

  • In reply to ST Monkey
    prudentinvestor's picture

    ST Monkey:
    The most annoying question I ever got asked and gave my best was:

    Q: Insurance background huh? So you want to go from fucking old ladies to a job in S&T?

    A: nah, I only went from fucking you mom this morning to knowing the biggest jack ass ever. (I know the partner of the firm so I didn't really care about burning this guy)

    Needless to say, he was shocked I got the balls to talk back. I just got up and excused myself at that point.

    This has to be the best comment I have read on WSO.

  • Nefarious-'s picture

    I will never understand bullshit questions or statements like that. When I interview someone I ask them questions that force them to think on their feet while also giving way into their personality.

    Example: If you were a pro wrestler, what would your intro song be?

    Finance can be taught to anyone. I am much more interested in spending 50+ hours a week with someone I don't want to kill.

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • In reply to Nefarious-
    Febreeze's picture

    Nefarious-:
    I will never understand bullshit questions or statements like that. When I interview someone I ask them questions that force them to think on their feet while also giving way into their personality.

    Example: If you were a pro wrestler, what would your intro song be?

  • PeteMullersKeyboard's picture

    Some of these make me wonder how the interviewer got their place in the firm....
    I guess the best thing to do is remain calm and answer anything like this in the most clear and concise way possible, and maybe throw it back in their face just a little bit if they have the balls to ask you something like "why didn't your parents just pay for it"

    "When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."

  • In reply to PeteMullersKeyboard
    prudentinvestor's picture

    EvanM:
    Some of these make me wonder how the interviewer got their place in the firm....
    I guess the best thing to do is remain calm and answer anything like this in the most clear and concise way possible, and maybe throw it back in their face just a little bit if they have the balls to ask you something like "why didn't your parents just pay for it"

    Most of these firms were filled to the brim with Harvard, Wharton, Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth alums. Very few people from any other schools were there. The other candidates that I met at the time were pedigreed and had semi-notable experiences such as ops at GS or LevFin at Blackrock, etc., basically paper rockstars.

    I had experiences in PE, ER and at a prop group but at MM firms from a non-target. I was nailing the technical questions especially during my initial rounds/meetings with their recruiters thus they brought me in. Honestly, I got the feeling at a good chunk of these places I never had a shot to begin with and they were just humoring me (for me it was just interview experience). You kind of get to a point where your like, wtf this is annoying as hell, is it worth it and f*ck it I'm out.

  • nostromo's picture

    "Explain distressed debt to me as if I don't speak English".

    The interviewer then proceeded to interject my definition with a mock-Arabic accent, posturing as a clueless client from a sovereign wealth fund. "What ees thees 'collateral'? I don knaw thees 'collateral'?". Fun for him, a ball-ache for me.

  • In reply to nostromo
    Febreeze's picture

    nostromo:
    "Explain distressed debt to me as if I don't speak English".

    The interviewer then proceeded to interject my definition with a mock-Arabic accent, posturing as a clueless client from a sovereign wealth fund. "What ees thees 'collateral'? I don knaw thees 'collateral'?". Fun for him, a ball-ache for me.

    ahahahha

  • Chonch1224's picture

    If you vould be a Tree what kind and why?

    Palm tree so I can be in great weather and shadow hot chicks all day

    "When a defining momnet comes alone, you either define the moment or the moment defines you..." - Tin Cup

    Talent is hitting a target no one can hit.
    Genius is hitting a target no one can see.

  • cityandcolour's picture

    prudentinvestor: Q2: That guy over there has an MBA/JD from harvard. Have you accomplished anything that amazing in your life?
    Mental response: Your mom count? Why are you comparing me to people with grad degrees when I'm an undergrad?

    Here's my response:
    "Well yeah. I'm interviewing for the same job as a guy with a Harvard MBA/JD is, so either he's fucking shit at what he does or I'm awesome. I'm a positive person, so I'll take it as I'm just inherently awesome. Thanks for the compliment!"

  • In reply to prudentinvestor
    PeteMullersKeyboard's picture

    prudentinvestor:
    EvanM:
    Some of these make me wonder how the interviewer got their place in the firm....
    I guess the best thing to do is remain calm and answer anything like this in the most clear and concise way possible, and maybe throw it back in their face just a little bit if they have the balls to ask you something like "why didn't your parents just pay for it"

    Most of these firms were filled to the brim with Harvard, Wharton, Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth alums. Very few people from any other schools were there. The other candidates that I met at the time were pedigreed and had semi-notable experiences such as ops at GS or LevFin at Blackrock, etc., basically paper rockstars.

    I had experiences in PE, ER and at a prop group but at MM firms from a non-target. I was nailing the technical questions especially during my initial rounds/meetings with their recruiters thus they brought me in. Honestly, I got the feeling at a good chunk of these places I never had a shot to begin with and they were just humoring me (for me it was just interview experience). You kind of get to a point where your like, wtf this is annoying as hell, is it worth it and f*ck it I'm out.

    Yeah I can imagine. At some point, I know there's at least a handful of guys at each firm whose main source of entertainment is just being an asshole in interviews because it's funny on their end. And I feel like in a place full of guys like that, or guys from GS, Blackrock, other prestige places like you mentioned, this kind of thing is likely to happen. They think they're the shit, and even though they might be, they tend to be real assholes. I've met a couple people like that...it's funny for 2 minutes, then you just want to get away from them. I must say that getting in a room with someone like that is at once fun and frustrating, I love getting in discussions where I have a chance to take someone's smugness down a few notches, but if they're not just arrogant but dim as well, and they just keep hitting you with bullshit like that, it does get tiring.

    "When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."

  • The 'Murican's picture

    Mine was "What is the most common misconception about you?"

    I told my interviewer I'd have to get back to him. However, I never could think of good response to that one.

  • In reply to nostromo
    jt183's picture

    Funniest thing I've read on WSO yet lol!

    edit: quote didnt work but I was talking about the foreign accent guy asking about collateral lol

  • In reply to prudentinvestor
    reformed's picture

    prudentinvestor:
    EvanM:
    Some of these make me wonder how the interviewer got their place in the firm....
    I guess the best thing to do is remain calm and answer anything like this in the most clear and concise way possible, and maybe throw it back in their face just a little bit if they have the balls to ask you something like "why didn't your parents just pay for it"

    Most of these firms were filled to the brim with Harvard, Wharton, Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth alums. Very few people from any other schools were there. The other candidates that I met at the time were pedigreed and had semi-notable experiences such as ops at GS or LevFin at Blackrock, etc., basically paper rockstars.

    I had experiences in PE, ER and at a prop group but at MM firms from a non-target. I was nailing the technical questions especially during my initial rounds/meetings with their recruiters thus they brought me in. Honestly, I got the feeling at a good chunk of these places I never had a shot to begin with and they were just humoring me (for me it was just interview experience). You kind of get to a point where your like, wtf this is annoying as hell, is it worth it and f*ck it I'm out.

    Ops experience makes you a paper rockstar?
    If you truly think the vast majority of people are from harvard, yale princeton, ..., you either haven't actually had the interviews you claim you have or you only notice the people from top schools.
    There's probably just as many people if not more people from NYU, Georgetown, Cornell, ...
    For what it's worth, I think you're completely full of shit. I have a hard time believing you were truly asked the "why didn't your parents just pay for it".

  • In reply to reformed
    mrb87's picture

    reformed:
    prudentinvestor:
    EvanM:
    Some of these make me wonder how the interviewer got their place in the firm....
    I guess the best thing to do is remain calm and answer anything like this in the most clear and concise way possible, and maybe throw it back in their face just a little bit if they have the balls to ask you something like "why didn't your parents just pay for it"

    Most of these firms were filled to the brim with Harvard, Wharton, Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth alums. Very few people from any other schools were there. The other candidates that I met at the time were pedigreed and had semi-notable experiences such as ops at GS or LevFin at Blackrock, etc., basically paper rockstars.

    I had experiences in PE, ER and at a prop group but at MM firms from a non-target. I was nailing the technical questions especially during my initial rounds/meetings with their recruiters thus they brought me in. Honestly, I got the feeling at a good chunk of these places I never had a shot to begin with and they were just humoring me (for me it was just interview experience). You kind of get to a point where your like, wtf this is annoying as hell, is it worth it and f*ck it I'm out.

    Ops experience makes you a paper rockstar?
    If you truly think the vast majority of people are from harvard, yale princeton, ..., you either haven't actually had the interviews you claim you have or you only notice the people from top schools.
    There's probably just as many people if not more people from NYU, Georgetown, Cornell, ...
    For what it's worth, I think you're completely full of shit. I have a hard time believing you were truly asked the "why didn't your parents just pay for it".

    Seriously and wtf is levfin at blackrock?

  • In reply to Billy Ray Valentine
    Wall Street Jungle's picture

    Billy Ray Valentine:
    How would you explain time value of money to a 2 year old?
    Mental Answer: Does a fucking two year even have teeth, are you serious?

    These are all questions to see how you handle stress/pressure/difficult situations. Just remain cool, that's the key.

    WSO guides have samples of how to answer some of these.

    LOL

  • IvyGrad's picture

    ppl here mention how some interviewers from elite finance firms talk about school pedigree..

    I had an experience when I was interviewing for a boutique real estate investment management firm in Chicago, and most of their employees were big 10 state school grads. They just grilled me with the question "why did you decide to go to your college?" "Why not UIUC?" "Why not Indiana University, where you get hot girls, good sports, amazing academics, and cheaper tuition?"

    I was like dude. Do I really have to explain that I chose to attend Yale, over Indiana University? What the fuck.

    I tried best to answer those questions with bull shit like "well, when I visited my school I really liked the kind of students that attended my school, liked the building, and the school gave me good fin aid so I went, etc" I didn't end up with an offer from this firm.

    Another thing - I work in consulting so I travel a lot. I was working for a client in Houston, Texas, last month. The client took analysts from my firm out to dinner on our last day at the project, and he went on non-stop about how amazing his alma mater, University of Texas, is. Like "well, only the brightest and the best go to U Texas" kind of crap. He then asked my coworker where he went to college. When he replied "Stanford", this guy went on a 30 minute lecture about how my coworker made a horrible choice going to Stanford, and he should've chosen University of Texas where it's got "same quality academics, and it's 4 times cheaper to attend". After he said that, I just wanted to punch him like 5 times.

    In my experience, strong school pedigree helps, no doubt, with elite firms in NYC or Boston. In midwest (Chicago) or some other regions of U.S. like Texas or something, having gone to an Ivy school may actually be a minus for interviewing, not a plus. It all depends on the industry/ geography of the firm you are interviewing with, and also depends on the interviewers themselves.

  • marketbeater's picture

    10 demerits of yourself

    And when I talked something like EQ, over-confidence, they said "stop BS, I know you are just telling us how good you are, I need something really bad. For example I always say foul language. F*** it"

    I was like the first time which I feel so bad that I did not take drugs or being a gangster. Telling them 10 similar stuff is simply impossible for me.

    At last I talked something like "I fought several times on bball court few years ago", "I always used foul language", and went completely speechless after talking 5 of them. They kept on pushing me and asking for the last 5

    At last I did not get the job. I really wish to know what I should have answered. Maybe I should have made up some instead...

  • lifeofpurpose's picture

    Q: If you were a color, what would you be?
    Me well, it is not an "actual" color, but i would be black
    Q: why?
    Me: because once you go black, you never go back

    (we were both white males. He didn't appreciate me making a joke. )

  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    My most annoying question (this was from six years ago)

    "So, ah, I see you had a perfect score on your SATs, Eagle Scout, started your own business in high school- I'm assuming by your college grades you did well in high school. Why did you, ah, choose Illinois?"

    Response:

    "Because it was $15K/year and it's ranked #5 in CS and Engineering"

    I really wanted to add ", idiot." at the end of that at the time. Now I realize he (like many New York bankers) was just a tad bit ignorant about stuff outside the Northeast that's not Stanford or Cambridge.

    I was like dude. Do I really have to explain that I chose to attend Yale, over Indiana University? What the fuck.

    They may have been messing with you. One of my friends from Wisconsin once met someone from Harvard College and said "Ah, noh kiddin. I gotta friend who goes dere. I knew Harvard Illinois had a good high school, but didn't know dey had a junior college too!"

    If you talk about it too much, that gives them license to mess with you. Somehow Big Ten schools, even Chicago and Northwestern, don't carry the same douche factor in Chicago as some far-off school from the coast.

    But seriously, the firm is probably a bad cultural fit anyways. This could be their signal that the most intellectual conversations may very well be about which coach will replace Lovie Smith. I have no problem working at a firm like that- that's the culture I was steeped in for four years (actually maybe 22 years), but I can understand how people would go crazy with that, too.

  • In reply to mango001
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

    mango001:
    prudentinvestor:

    Q2: That guy over there has an MBA/JD from harvard. Have you accomplished anything that amazing in your life?
    Mental response: Your mom count? Why are you comparing me to people with grad degrees when I'm an undergrad?

    Icky stress question. I'd like to hear thoughts on how one should go about answering questions like this.


    MBA/JD from Harvard... And??? What has he produced?

    The job is probably going to go to a Northwestern or maybe MIT Finance PhD who could have answered "Uhh, a Finance PhD program is a bit more selective," but he'll get it by saying "Over the past four years, I discovered this strategy, I discovered that strategy. And I can prove they both make money."

    Unless, of course, it goes to an on the ball undergrad with less pedigree who can offer the same "hire me for my accomplishments, not my pedigree" pitch. Just make sure you have something truly good.

    I think they are asking you to stand in your accomplishments, not your pedigree with this question.

  • IvyGrad's picture

    They may have been messing with you. One of my friends from Wisconsin once met someone from Harvard College and said "Ah, noh kiddin. I gotta friend who goes dere. I knew Harvard Illinois had a good high school, but didn't know dey had a junior college too!"

    If you talk about it too much, that gives them license to mess with you. Somehow Big Ten schools, even Chicago and Northwestern, don't carry the same douche factor in Chicago as some far-off school from the coast.

    But seriously, the firm is probably a bad cultural fit anyways. This could be their signal that the most intellectual conversations may very well be about which coach will replace Lovie Smith. I have no problem working at a firm like that- that's the culture I was steeped in for four years (actually maybe 22 years), but I can understand how people would go crazy with that, too.

    No. They were definitely not messing with me. I had no intentions of mentioning my school pedigree at all, other than the fact that it was on my resume. I just wanted to sell myself through strong interviewing and show how my experience/ interests would make me a good fit for the job at that company.

    The interviewers kept mentioning my school pedigree in a negative/ cynical light. At the least, if these interviewers didn't hold my Yale background against me, I knew 100% that the fact that I went to Yale didn't help me one bit for getting an offer at this firm. (also many other firms in Chicago) I actually got the feeling that these interviewers would actually prefer grads of UIUC or U Indiana finance grads, over Ivy/ Stanford Econ grads, all else equal.

    My impression, based on living in Chicago for 1 year after college and interviewing for a bunch of firms there, is that many firms there don't give a squat about your Ivy diploma. Many of these clowns actually think Indiana University is more legit than Yale or Harvard. What a fucking joke.

    That being said, I am so glad I don't live in that back water 2nd tier culture known as Chicago anymore. NYC is where it's at. Whenever I see people making a comparison between living in Chicago vs NYC on this website, I chuckle. Chicago and NYC are worlds apart, in so many ways that it's ridiculous. NYC elite employers reward credentials, track-record, intelligence, and accomplishments. Chicago/ Texas/ bumb-fuck employers are much more centered on "bro-hood" factors when they consider candidates for the job: in other words, they tend to favor a guy who shares similar backgrounds/ networks/ credentials/ etc with that interviewer, over others who don't even if those folks may be more qualified. If an interviewer from a finance firm in Chicago happens to be a Indiana U grad, and if you are a Harvard grad, well sorry you will probably get edged out by an Indiana U grad for that job.

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  • SirTradesaLot's picture

    adapt or die:
    What would P.T. Barnum say about you?

    MY BLOG

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  • Esuric's picture

    "Elections are a futures market for stolen property"