Interview Question: "Prove to me that you are smart"

HairyHilary's picture
Rank: Baboon | banana points 153

This is an actual question I got and completely f'd up the answer... How would you go about answering this question?

It seems like a lose lose scenario. If you answer it seriously, by explaining your high GPA/relevant experience then its a really boring answer and you might even come off as really arrogant. If you don't take it seriously and give a joke response, that might also not go over well, depending on the interviewer. I really can't think of a reasonable answer to this question.

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Comments (68)

Funniest
Jun 2, 2018

This is exactly why I used to bring certified IQ test results to every interview.

Think like the interviewer for a second: High GPA? Probably just a nerd. Perfect SAT? Dropped 5k on a prep course. But IQ ... that is something you can't fake.

Now, make sure when asked the question you slowly open up your padfolio and slide the results across the desk to the interviewer. Don't hand him the damn thing; make sure he has to work for it. Assert dominance.

    • 35
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Jun 9, 2018

.

Jun 3, 2018

Begs the question. What IQ do you have?

Jun 15, 2018

142.
High powdered.
What' you IQ ?

Jun 15, 2018

138

Jun 8, 2018

Disagree. Pick up your 2400 SAT results. Walk around the table. Smack him in the face with them. Allow for no confusion.

    • 6
Jun 17, 2018

I chuckled for half an hour visualizing this. Well done.

Jun 15, 2018

To be honest, I got 146 IQ but don't consider myself that smart. Would probably answer based on character and how I make decisions.

Jun 15, 2018

Well technically, depending on when you took it, the test results can be very different...

Jun 16, 2018
Arthur Digby Sellers:

This is exactly why I used to bring certified IQ test results to every interview.

https://media.tenor.com/images/b4d3e059164c307999773b19c86d1e92/tenor.gif

Jun 17, 2018

Where did you go to get your IQ tested? And would you recommend it? I've done "IQ" test for BB banks (and landed a job) but never saw the results. Thanks!

Jun 3, 2018

Begs the question. What IQ do you have?

Jun 3, 2018

My intelligence comes from, not what I think about myself, but rather, what people have to say about my skills and leadership qualities. If I am smart, then it's based off of what my coworkers and friends think of me. If not, I try to grow from my shortcomings. Either way, there's a certain humility that one should always have even if you are smart.

    • 24
Jun 8, 2018

Nice. Bookmarked

Jun 3, 2018

Tell them you watch Rick and Morty.

In all seriousness I'd probably give an interesting story of you being clever or showing out of the box intelligence vs. regurgitating anything on your resume which they would probably already see (ex. Relevant Experience, GPA etc.)

Array

    • 6
Jun 3, 2018

Is this an actual question you received or is it one you fear getting?

Jun 3, 2018

This is an actual question I got and completely fucked up the answer, so I am just curious as to how other people think they would answer it

Jun 8, 2018

soo... what was your answer?

Jun 8, 2018

I talked about my grades, work ethic and my work experience. I was just so shocked by the question and unprepared that I rambled and wasn't able to clearly articulate any of my points (which then made me look not smart).

Jun 8, 2018

Honestly idk what else you'd come with w/o sounding arrogant or having prepared for that beforehand.

To answer your question, I've got a strong GMAT score on my resume, which often gets good feedback/seems to give interviewers comfort around my intellect. Otherwise I think a good example of a time you solved a complex challenge on the job should do it (probably better than a good test score/GPA).

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Jun 3, 2018

no one would ever ask this

    • 1
Jun 8, 2018

With some firms asking ridiculous questions like 'What song describes your work ethic?' or 'If an actor had to play your life in a movie, who would it be?' (Both real questions by Centerview Partners) questions like this are rare but possible.

Jun 8, 2018

I'm curious as to how people responded to "What song describes your work ethic?" without preparing beforehand. Even with time to prepare, this sounds like such a strange question to ask lol. What if the interviewer doesn't know the song? I doubt they'll actually look it up,

Made ya look

Jun 9, 2018

I gave an obscure Italian actor when they asked about who would play my life so they had no point of reference

    • 1
Jun 11, 2018

For IB, the only correct answer to this is "Master of Puppets".

    • 1
Jun 22, 2018

I was thinking of "Princes of the Universe" or "I want it all".

Jun 15, 2018

definitely 'Work' By Gang Starr:D

Jun 15, 2018

Danger Zone by K. Loggins
My man: Christopher Walker.

    • 1
Jun 8, 2018

I was posed almost this exact question in an interview last year.

"So, you think you're smart?"

"In the grand scheme of things, I suppose so"

"How smart are you?"

I just said that my academic history and prior workplace experiences indicate that I have some degree of intellect, but that there are lots of smart people in the world and particularly in finance. That was my most honest assessment at the time. If someone asked me now, I'd say I'm not that smart just have a more obsessive personality than average, lol.

    • 1
Jun 8, 2018

I guess I'm wrong. I personally would never work for someone who would ask this question on an interview. If I did get it, I would be sure to report it to their HR department afterwards.

Also, knowing me, I would probably get mad and say something along the lines of "I'm smart enough to never ask a question like this on an interview. So, at the very least, I'm likely the smarter one out of the two of us."

[EDIT] I've interviewed people in the past. If my boss found out that I asked this, I would likely be in deep shit.

Jun 9, 2018
Esuric:

I would be sure to report it to their HR department afterwards.

What exactly would you expect HR to do? It's not an illegal question.

Jun 15, 2018

Something doesn't have to be illegal for it to be inappropriate. I would expect HR to talk to the guy asking inappropriate and idiotic questions on interviews, assuming that it's a legit place that cares about its rep.

Jun 16, 2018
Esuric:

Something doesn't have to be illegal for it to be inappropriate. I would expect HR to talk to the guy asking inappropriate and idiotic questions on interviews, assuming that it's a legit place that cares about its rep.

Imagine it was illegal....how would you prove it?

Jun 15, 2018

You're sawft

Jun 22, 2018

As a recruiter I don't think I would be put off by your answer. I would yet ask you "why this question made you so mad?"
Even recruiters love feedback.

Jun 3, 2018

Tell him you watch Rick and Morty and understand all the subtle jokes and references.

Jun 5, 2018

I'd just slide him a second copy of my resume. Haha. That only works if you have a baller resume though

Most Helpful
Jun 8, 2018

Easy. Tell the interviewer, "You're a smart guy and wouldn't waste your time interviewing an idiot, right?"

    • 73
Jun 15, 2018

Savage! Bookmarked

Nicest haircut than Bateman

Jun 17, 2018
Jun 8, 2018

Interesting one. I'd probably play ball, but in a way that made the interviewer walk it back.

"Fascinating puzzle Mr. Interviewer. I guess we'd need to start off by establishing what standards of proof you would accept"

The question is asinine because when something is "proven", it is only done so with respect to an established set of evaluation criteria:

-Proven "guilty" means "shown to be guilty beyond the standard of reasonable doubt"
-Proven mathematically means shown to be true in accordance with the laws of mathematics
-Proven character is only so in light of specific trials/gauntlets through which it has passed.

So, to ask some kid to prove that they are smart, full stop, is a pretty weak question. But like I said, since you can't say that outright, you should play ball in a way that makes the interviewer realize it on their own.

Jun 22, 2018

This is pretty along the lines of what I would answer: "this is a very smart question, by my standard. But I need to understand what's your idea of smart. Can you define it more clearly?"

But I came up with this answer after some minute thinking about the topic.

Jun 8, 2018

Where's Jeff Skilling when you need him

    • 4
Jun 8, 2018

i played sc2 at grandmaster level

    • 2
Jun 8, 2018

I would just walk out because smart people don't associate with dotards who ask questions like that.

Jun 8, 2018

I would just ask the interviewer to give me the hardest problem/issue/question that he or she can think of that they know the answer to and then work through it.

    • 1
Jun 8, 2018

I would be very tempted to say one of the following:

  1. Option A: Since I'm still sitting here after being asked a question like that, makes me wonder if maybe I'm an idiot after all.
  2. Option B: I am here to interview for a highly demanding job where for the next two to three years of my life I will get barely any sleep and say goodbye to my family and any meaningful social interaction. Does that sounds smart to you?
  3. Option C: Just get up and walk away. If he says "Where are you going?" just say that smart people don't have time to waste.

These options only really apply if I had many choices lined up and a rich pool of better shops looking at you. Chances are that if the shop was somewhere I really wanted to get in, I'd kiss the proverbial ring and say some bullshit about my achievements and commitment to ongoing learning and development.

Either way, the thing we can all probably agree on is that any douche who asks a question like that is going to make your work life a general living hell.

    • 4
Jun 22, 2018

I cannot really agree. Considering how many answers we are getting here, and how oddly aggressive some of them are (IMHO), I think it is a very smart question.
It seems very provoking without being unpolite.

However, maybe there is some misunderstanding. I wonder if it was a cold thing or related to a previous part of the interview. Did the recruit told he was smart? Was the voice tone friendly, or dismissive, or overconfident?...

Jun 8, 2018

Tell him you crushed the Marshmellow Test as a kid and its been nothing but uphill from there.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_marshmallow...

    • 1
Jun 8, 2018

"I did what it takes to not only prepare for this interview, but also set up a framework in my life that I had to strategically plan years in advance that allowed me to get here, where I am - sitting across from you being interviewed to become an investment banker"

? would something like that be acceptable?

"It is not our circumstance that controls us, but our thoughts that control our circumstance." -James Allen

    • 1
Jun 8, 2018

I would love to replicate this scene from Good Will, but I'm guilty of sprinting for the carrot at the end of the stick.

    • 1
Jun 8, 2018

You come in prepared knowing every possible detail about the guy's life (his upbringing, children's names and activities, car he drives, color of his ballsack, scars he has), then you recite it back to him but as if you've only gleaned it all through deduction in a Sherlock Holmes style speech.

E.g.:

Holmes: "You appeared to be surprised when I told you, on our first meeting, that you had come from Afghanistan."

Watson: "You were told, no doubt."

Holmes: "Nothing of the sort. I knew you came from Afghanistan. From long habit the train of thoughts ran so swiftly through my mind that I arrived at the conclusion without being conscious of intermediate steps. There were such steps, however. The train of reasoning ran, 'Here is a gentleman of a medical type, but with the air of a military man. Clearly an army doctor, then. He has just come from the tropics, for his face is dark, and that is not the natural tint of his skin, for his wrists are fair. He has undergone hardship and sickness, as his haggard face says clearly. His left arm has been injured. He holds it in a stiff and unnatural manner. Where in the tropics could an English army doctor have seen much hardship and got his arm wounded? Clearly in Afghanistan.' The whole train of thought did not occupy a second. I then remarked that you came from Afghanistan, and you were astonished."

    • 1
Jun 8, 2018

"I can recite every word of 'I should be so lucky' by Kylie Minogue, go ahead, try me."

    • 2
Jun 8, 2018

This question seems like the dating-neanderthal equivalent of "negging" designed to do exactly what it did, knock you off your game and make you "prove" yourself to him. As others have suggested, I wouldn't necessarily follow up with resume facts, but rather challenge him (appropriately) about what he is really after. If someone attempts to neg me IRL, I call them out immediately. I would have done that here...turn this warped psychology game back around on him..."I understand that by asking me this question you are attempting to assess my character, responsiveness & reactivity more than my intellect as you already have all the information you need to assess by your own standards my intelligence. What you seem to really be asking me about is......" etc etc Sometimes a bit of irreverence can be good in these situations, depending on how much you are willing to gamble...

Jun 8, 2018

My response to such an asinine interview question-

"You're either trolling, or (if your intent is sincere) an ignorant fool.
Because genuine genius is knowing that you know absolutely nothing."

A man (or company) that cannot accept such humbleness deserves to go bankrupt (financially and socially).

Jun 9, 2018

Tell them you watch a lot of Rick and Morty with a serious face.

Jun 11, 2018

Interesting question.

I would probably answer in some sort Holmes-ian way as suggested by redbeard402. Something along the lines of:

"I am not sure what you define as smart but personally I do not think I smart. I guess I can try and convince you that I am smart by saying that I had over 2300 on the SATs or that I am in the MENSA society since I was 15 but these are just arbitrary methods that really don't mean anything in banking. I don't think that is what you are asking. I think you're asking, and correct me if I am wrong, you're asking if I am observant enough to know when to speak and when not to, when to back channel to get some information from a client, and when to know my place.

Those are just a few of the skills that matter in banking and I have learned to recognize that through sheer hard work and many experiences. So, to answer your question, no, I do not think I am smarter than most analysts that work here. However, I can prove to you that I will work harder, harder than most people I know if I am accepted here at Bank X. "

Or something along those lines. Interesting question though, it will certainly throw anyone off!

Jun 11, 2018

You could sit for a moment and ask the interviewer if he/she knows about the Dunning-Kruger effect. Then go on to explain the effect, implying that since you do not think of yourself as particularly smart or gifted compared to others, you are actually probably quite smart:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Krug...

    • 5
Jun 12, 2018

Fantastic! thanks for posting

Jun 14, 2018

Invert the question. "I don't know if i'm smart, but here is a list of things that show i'm not stupid"

    • 1
Jun 14, 2018

Thus you don't sound like an asshat and answer his question

Jun 15, 2018

This is definitely a trick question. Isn't there a phrase along the lines of "the more you know, the more you know that you don't know everything", or something like that.

I would answer in humble terms, tell them that you don't actually think you're smart, but you read a lot in order to educate yourself every day because there is so much that you don't know, but you make an effort to make yourself smarter every day.

Jun 16, 2018
HairyHilary:

This is an actual question I got and completely f'd up the answer... How would you go about answering this question?

It seems like a lose lose scenario. If you answer it seriously, by explaining your high GPA/relevant experience then its a really boring answer and you might even come off as really arrogant. If you don't take it seriously and give a joke response, that might also not go over well, depending on the interviewer. I really can't think of a reasonable answer to this question.

Jun 16, 2018
HairyHilary:

This is an actual question I got and completely f'd up the answer... How would you go about answering this question?

It seems like a lose lose scenario. If you answer it seriously, by explaining your high GPA/relevant experience then its a really boring answer and you might even come off as really arrogant. If you don't take it seriously and give a joke response, that might also not go over well, depending on the interviewer. I really can't think of a reasonable answer to this question.

Jun 16, 2018
Jun 17, 2018
Jun 22, 2018
Jun 22, 2018

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