Most uneducated/dumbest thing you have said in an interview?

I'll start us off. The first one is not quite dumb, but funny nonetheless. I applied to a retail banking (teller position) internship years ago to get some first-hand interviewing experience, knowing very well I didn't want to go into retail banking.

When the interview was over, I asked them how many students go into PE because I wanted to use this internship to springboard into that industry. They asked me what I meant by PE, so I said Private Equity. Then they asked some examples of PE companies and I listed off BX, Bain, and TPG. They still gave me an offer.

An actual dumb thing I said was at my first Private Equity interview at a search fund. Interviewer asked me why I wanted to go into Private Equity, and me being unpolished, I said that I had thought about IB and didn't want to work that many hours.

Interviewer responded with, "...You know Private Equity is right around the same work as IB, right?"

Lmao. You live and you learn.

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Comments (94)

Feb 27, 2018 - 1:29pm

My coworker's in-laws, who are first-generation immigrants with very little concept of finance, think he's a bank teller. He hasn't bothered to correct them.

Thanks, let me know if you ever need an introduction in the industry.
  • 11
Feb 27, 2018 - 7:52pm
Prescott Moncrief lll:

My coworker's in-laws, who are first-generation immigrants with very little concept of finance, think he's a bank teller. He hasn't bothered to correct them.

My grandmother couldn't understand why I had to be in NYC and couldn't just work for the bank branch in our home town. I was on a trading desk at GS at the time. Not a big deal, but explaining it garnered me no sympathy.

  • 15
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Feb 28, 2018 - 9:31am

I get the opposite in ER from people not in the know.

People: What do you do for a living?
Me: I do equity research.
People: What exactly is that?
Me: It's kinda like investment banking.
People: O...okay, got it, yea.

I think most people outside of financial have no "actual" idea what IB or ER does, but they have seen Wolf of WallStreet/Boiler Room and just think its that.

Feb 27, 2018 - 3:59pm

1 on 1 interview with an MD from a BB out of their NYC office (think MS/JPM/Citi/BAML) for a summer IB analyst role. My "about me" spiel was all about being a minority (Asian) in a very un-diverse school. (I should caveat by saying that I've used this angle in countless interviews in the past for consulting and the Big 4, and they ALWAYS ate that sh*t up). Anyway, about 2 minutes into my spiel of being a minority, the MD stops me and goes " Asians are by no means underrepresented in the field of finance."

Needless to say, I was on tilt the rest of the interview. Fastest 14-minute interview of my life.


  • 24
Feb 27, 2018 - 4:58pm

Not exactly something i said, however this is probably one of the worst things ever in an interview.
I was interviewing for a job (Non financd related) when i was 16-17. I was nervous and I had the habit of biting my fingernails. I bit them till i bled, and when i was getting up to leave and shake hands i bled on the interviewer. (Not alot, just a bit)

I guess the interviewer didn't notice / care because i still got the job .... Gross ikr

Feb 27, 2018 - 5:11pm

Wait, did you actually say PE ("pee ee," like the gym class abbreviation) to them? Because yeah, 99.9% of people in the greater workforce would have no idea what you were talking about if you said "pee ee." Performance enhancing? Hell, most of them wouldn't even know what it means if you just said "private equity." I can guarantee that if I swung by a retail bank branch and asked the first five people I saw inside (so probably 3-4 tellers and a loan processor or two), "hey, are you interested in private equity?" they'd look at me like my balls were hanging out of my pants.

Feb 27, 2018 - 5:11pm

Not really dumb, but one interview 'mistake' I made (though I would do it again under the same circumstances) was during a round of interviews in a room with two chairs, the two interviewees came in (one at a time) and sat across from me. They commented on how the chair they had was broken (dont think it was) and I assume wanted me to offer to switch with them.

I caught on during the second interviewer making comments, but this was right before I was having back surgery, knew after having to bring up up surgery a final round wouldn't be in my odds anyway, and wasn't going to risk further injury if the chair was broken as I could barely sit through the interview as it was. Talk about an awkward (and unlikely) scenario.

“I’m not fat. I’m cultivating mass.”
  • 4
Mar 6, 2018 - 7:32pm

I basically did the same thing on a hirevue question where I completely lost my train of thought in the middle of it leaving a solid 5 second pause of me just staring at the camera. I just quickly finished the answer and hit the stop recording button. I started to say "I fucked that up" and got to "fu-" before I realized it hadn't stopped recording so I clicked the thing like 5 more times and it finally stopped. Still somehow got the superday though.

Feb 28, 2018 - 6:00am

Helped my little sister prepare for her HireVue IB interviews. Told her that the last question is usually something like "Do you have any other things that you would like to tell us?" so I told her to prepare completary arguments on why she wanted to join this specific bank. She was so stressed that she didn't even read the last question and ultimately ended the interview offloading the whole argumentary she had prepared. The last question was: "Tell me about a time when you missed an important deadline for a Project?". She didn't get the F2F interviews and big brother was blamed for it.

Feb 28, 2018 - 8:58am

On an informal networking call with an associate from a top coverage group at a BB I was bitching about DCM and how I wanted to work for the coverage group because I actually wanted to learn stuff. Turns out the guy worked in DCM for 2 years before moving to coverage.
Still got an offer down the road

Feb 28, 2018 - 9:14am

This was during an interview for an internship at JLL..... i have PTSD from this moment.

Interviewer: So what's your favorite property type and why?

Me: Probably multi-family because of the current favorable economics

Interviewer: you know that we only cover retail-based properties right...?

Me internally screaming: fuck.

Feb 28, 2018 - 9:30am

Yes I'd love to work here.

Freshman internship

26 Broadway where's your sense of humor?
  • 1
Feb 28, 2018 - 10:51am

Nothing stupid but something funny that happened. I was interviewing for a BO analyst program at a bank in not a major city. I didn't know what I was getting into because i didnt know the difference between BO/MO/FO, but the interviews proceeded to say- Alright we have a few technical questions.

Whats the difference between "accounts payable and accounts receivable". I told him the answer and after then said "I don't think this position is right for me. Thank you for your time". What a joke

Feb 28, 2018 - 3:04pm

Once during an interview for IB at a BB with an MD and a VP, they asked what my least favorite class was, and I said Business Ethics, and they asked what specifically I didn't like about it.... and I couldn't think of an anecdote so I just said Euthanasia. It was in that specific moment I knew..... I fucked up.

I didn't get the offer at that bank lol

Mar 1, 2018 - 12:55pm

Had a grueling phone interview on a Friday afternoon full of tough technicals with an MD and VP.

Did pretty well and after hanging up, I looked at my roommate and in relief said "fuck me in the ass and call me a slutty bitch. let's go rage" ... except I didn't hang up, I accidentally put them on speaker. I heard the MD say "uhm excuse me?" and in panic I ended the call. Never heard from them again.

Mar 1, 2018 - 1:35pm

I had a first round phone screen with an EB that was going really well up until the point where the fire alarm in my building went off in the middle of them grilling me on technicals. I couldn't get up and leave because my phone would drop the call if I went into the hallway, so I just tried to get through it. I kept screwing up super basic technicals because my stress went through the roof, but the two guys interviewing me were laughing the whole time. By some grace of God I got invited to the superday a few days later because they must've thought it was funny.

Mar 2, 2018 - 10:18am

Probably not dumb per se as it worked out for me in the end, but during the final round panel interview for my bank's Commercial Banking grad program, they asked me which area of CMB I wanted to be in (between Business, Corporate/Mid-Market and CRE). I said Business Banking and spouted off some rhetoric (I just wanted a job, see) and after answering I turned to the CRE team leader to my right and jokingly said "No offense! I just don't know anything about Real Estate."

I didn't get an offer for Business Banking, but a week later they offered me CRE under the very director that I said that to. Funny how things work sometimes. I worked with him for over 2 years and learned a lot.

Mar 2, 2018 - 4:52pm

Back in undergrad, I was at a career fair interviewing with a company about a client service or ops role (can't remember which). I began overstating my interest in investments and markets and then proceeded to say " Honestly I think I would get bored" and the recruiter was absolutely stunned. Jokes on me because now I'm in ops...for now... :(

Mar 2, 2018 - 7:02pm

Was at a super day interview at a BB. I was interviewing with an MD who asked me what was the biggest animal I could kill with my bare hands. I spent a few years in the Army and was a Green Beret/Ranger. I think he read my resume but maybe it didn't click. I gave a tame response and asked him what were the strangest answers that he'd received. He told me that someone else interviewing at the super day told him "I would get scuba gear and swim in the ocean until I found a blue whale and then plug it's blowhole with my hands until it suffocated". The super day was for 1 slot open in the incoming class. I got it.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Mar 2, 2018 - 10:39pm

When I was a sophomore in college, during one of the first real interviews I'd ever had, the interviewer asked me me to "Tell me about a time that you've told a lie". I kind of froze and panicked and I responded "I have never lied." then paused for like 10 seconds and said: "One time that I told a lie was 10 seconds ago when I said I have never lied." Interviewer didn't like that answer.

Mar 3, 2018 - 3:13am

Story 1: Junior year internship interview season, I'm at this fancy evaluation dinner with an MD, VP, associate and analyst along with the other three candidates from my school the night after on-campus interviews. Topic somehow gets around to the fact that a few guys in the office played basketball in a league that played once a week on Saturdays, so I asked what the team name was. "T.B.T.F." they told me, then asked me to "guess" what that stood seeing as I really didn't know because I was honestly pretty clueless, and after 4 glasses of $200 cab, I just blurted out "what is it, 'too big to f*ck with'?!"

Still got the job.

Story 2: Again, junior year internship interviews, this one with a boutique, first round, on campus:

Interviewer: So, what other banks did you apply to and get interviews with?
Me: (rattles off the list...and then) ... but not Goldman, I definitely didn't submit my resume to them.
Interviewer (clearly puzzled): Why not?
Me: Oh, well I mean come on, they're evil!
Interviewer: Okay, so tell me more about why are they evil?
Me: (Proceed to give a ridiculous and nonsensical answer about how they started the financial crisis, threw in some main street vs. wall street bull, and added a conspiracy theory about the national debt in at the end.)
Interviewer: know our founder, the guy this bank is named for, worked at Goldman for 20 years, right?
Me: ......................................

No second round.

Mar 4, 2018 - 10:51pm

This wasn't in an interview but still pretty bad.

I had applied for an internship and (for whatever reason) emailed HR asking them if they needed anything else from me. I believe their application was small and didn't even ask for a cover letter. Not sure what I was expecting them to say.

Anyways, someone got back to me the same day saying "No thank you, we'll let you know if we do."

I scrolled down and she accidentally included the thread between her and someone else in HR. The initial email was "Don't feel like you have to respond. This one is a bit too eager."

As you can probably imagine, that one didn't work out.

Mar 6, 2018 - 12:03pm

Got asked a 'fit' question on what my ideal day would be.

I proceeded to give one of the best answers I have given about how to balance work, life, and learning from my job. Towards the end of my answer, I realized I was doing ok and relaxed which somehow prompted me to say "but sometimes I just can't be bothered so I relax and watch some tv" :/

I don't think I will ever forget that interview lol

Mar 6, 2018 - 2:02pm

A friend was having dinner/drinks with a couple VPs and an associate. In conversation, he's asked his favorite movies and lists Office Space as his all-time top comedy. The three interviewers light up because they love Office Space too. The rest of the meal is interspersed with random Office Space references and everyone's getting along great. He starts getting strong indicators the firm would like to make him an offer.

As the night winds down, one of the VPs asks my friend, "What would you do with a million dollars?" Without skipping a beat, he drops the line from Office Space: "I'll tell you what I'd do, man, two chicks at the same time..."

No one laughs.

He tries to backtrack and fumbles through some answer about investing it in emerging markets, but the damage was done. He did not receive an offer from that firm.

  • 8
Mar 6, 2018 - 10:56pm

I was interviewing a ton in 2009 and mistook a brokerage company as a company that purchased distressed debt because their web developer had the same name as a distressed debt shop. Website was very vague otherwise.

First questions was: "Tell me about our Company."

Mar 8, 2018 - 9:01am

"I'm known for my writing." To which the interviewer asked, "by whom? I've never heard of you."

“Elections are a futures market for stolen property”
  • 8
Mar 8, 2018 - 4:05pm

So back a while ago I was interviewing with an RIA and idk, I was off. I was just completely bombing the interview. It got to the point where the guy who ran the group point blank asked me "why do you even want this job?". At that point I responded with: "I want to make bank, bro".


Needless to say, they decided to go a different route with their hiring.

Mar 14, 2018 - 10:04am
The Warthog:

So back a while ago I was interviewing with an RIA and idk, I was off. I was just completely bombing the interview. It got to the point where the guy who ran the group point blank asked me "why do you even want this job?". At that point I responded with: "I want to make bank, bro".


Needless to say, they decided to go a different route with their hiring.

I think adding the word 'bro' was a nice touch.
Mar 9, 2018 - 12:02am

Interviewed with Bwater recruiter. Almost done with the interview but felt like I had to ask one more question. Panicked and asked what the hours are like (I don't come from finance). I knew IB hours were bad but, but genuinely didn't know what HF hours were like. Recruiter completely changes mood and grills me about why that's important to me for 2 minutes straight.

Mar 11, 2018 - 7:44pm

Did something similar where I got really nervous during a consulting interview, so when the Partner asked if I had any questions for him I blurted out, "so what's the work/life balance like?" (I meant to ask, how do people typically manage the work/ life balance? ) He literally laughed at me and then was like "well it's not a 9 to 5...." with a smirk haha. Did not get that job

Mar 9, 2018 - 12:52pm

During my senior year, I had a Super Day right before Spring Break with a large financial consulting firm. After speaking with 3/4 VPs/MDs, I was told we were going to lunch with one of the VPs. It was me, another candidate, and the VP squeezed into a taxi. During my interview at the office with this VP, I noticed some....let's say "feminine tendencies". Well, when I met the other candidate in the taxi, he also had some "feminine tendencies." For the ENTIRE LUNCH, all they talked about was BRAVO, HGTV, favorite places to get a manicure in NYC, and some club named Therapy. I sat there completely clueless thinking "how the hell did I end up here?" The damn waitress even got a few words in when she dropped off drinks and the food. "Oh, I LOVE that show! Those guys are so hot." Three glasses of wine and an hour and a half later, the VP realized he had completely ignored me and asked, "So, what do you like to do in your spare time?" I was pissed and knew I wasn't getting this job, but I at least had to try so I said, "I also like to watch HGTV. Those real estate guys really do a lot of business." He looked down at the table in complete disappointment. The other candidate then said, "Ummm... I think you mean Million Dollar Listing on BRAVO." There was a good 20 seconds of silence. Then the VP asked for the check and didn't say a word for the entire taxi ride back to the office. Needless to say, I did not receive an offer and the other candidate got the job (probably a blessing in disguise). To this day, I refuse to watch that stupid f*cking show and will leave the room if my fiance puts it on.

You eat what you kill.
  • 9
Mar 9, 2018 - 1:06pm

My senior year of college, I interviewed with a boutique investment bank on campus. They asked me the classic "What are your greatest weaknesses" question. I had watched the episode in The Office the night before when Michael interviews for Jane's position at corporate. So, naturally, I reply: "Well, you know, the funny thing is, my greatest weaknesses are also my greatest strengths. I work too hard; I care too much; I am too invested in my work."

They did not understand the joke and still didn't think it was funny when I explained it is from an Office episode. Needless to say, I did not get invited for a second round interview, but I didn't care. Wouldn't want to work with people who don't have a sense of humor anyways.

Mar 9, 2018 - 1:27pm

A friend of mine had a final round interview at a BB.

Interviewer: "So, to finish off can you tell us a joke?"

Friend: "If you look in the mirror, you'll see the joke!"

He later said that he couldn't think of an appropriate 'office' joke, panicked, and ended up reverting back to his early high school days.

Suffice to say, it didn't work out.

n.b. to this day I always have an office joke ready and holstered.

Mar 9, 2018 - 1:42pm

Years ago when interviewing for my first job out of college in Chicago, I tried to look cool and asked the younger analysts and associates if they all hung out at the Navy Pier bars on the weekends. To that point, I had only visited Chicago with my parents as a kid, and Navy Pier was the epicenter of Chicago fun for me. I now understand why they laughed and walked out of the room.

you didn't make good choices; you had good choices

  • 3
Mar 10, 2018 - 3:36am

Had a call with a big4 transaction advisory HR guy for an internship (they dont usually offer). I had prepared a full on argument as to why I wanted to work for them in their transaction support and small M&A shop, so when he asked me what I thought of financial services companies and banks, I thought he was preparing the why us question. Shoot out the full response about how much I'd rather work with them.

Turns out he wanted to put me in FIG, which in that office was their best division.
Let's say they did not have an internship opportunity afterwards.

Mar 10, 2018 - 12:46pm

It was my first time experiencing a super day at tier 2 BB for a summer S&T position. It started at 8am and I had already gone through 3 or 4 interviewers asking both fit and technical questions. This was the last interviewer and after a series of fit questions he threw out a random technical question but it was extremely easy one. Not sure if it was lack of sleep, not hydrating between interviews or what but he asked: "What is the square root of 800"?

I immediately went blank and instead of doing something logical like multiplying 20x20 to get 400 and then going up the number tree till I got somewhere close to 800 my response was "Um... I think it should be like .02".

The VP stares at me for 10 seconds with a confused look and says "Are you sure"?

My response "No"... "Actually, it is .002".

The VP looks at me then doesn't say a word and just starts writing on his sheet of paper. LOL, i knew it was over from there.

Suprinsgly, I must have done well on the other questions because I ended up getting an offer. Def stupid though...

Mar 10, 2018 - 6:01pm

I was interviewing w/ an associate at a MF over Skype in one of my school's study rooms when the lighting to the building cut-out.

When it happened,

MF associate: "BBA18?"
Me: "Fuck." 5-second pause "The lights went out."

I come from down in the valley, where mister when you're young, they bring you up to do like your daddy done

Mar 16, 2018 - 12:41pm

While reviewing a historical price chart in a technical interview I got confused between the impact of the financial crisis and the impact of shale oil. Given my age I wasn't necessarily reading all the relevant news for those two events while they happened so I still needed to build a timeline of those events into my understanding of the industry.

Long story short didn't get hired and later realized through Linked In the individual that interviewed me lost their job as part of the financial crisis.

Mar 12, 2018 - 1:18am

Not an interview but I got out of work and met up with my girlfriend in Bryant Park. I got a call from an odd number so instead of letting it ring out and see if there was a voice mail my girlfriend asks, "Can I answer the call?". I say sure and she proceeds to answer and scream into the phone "MOM!" (For about 5 seconds and hangs up). I am somewhat in disbelief but I laugh. A few moments later the same number calls so I actually answer. It was a recruiter trying to set up an interview time. So while I act like the first call never happened, my girlfriend has a face of horror and I am trying not to burst out laughing.

In the end, the recruiter never brought it up and we stayed in contact throughout the interview process.

Mar 14, 2018 - 1:03pm

Not terrible because I got the job and my interviewer appreciates a light sense of humor, but in response to the question, "what do you know about our firm?" I responded "Wikipedia tells me..."

In response to the question "if you couldn't do finance, what would you do?" My response was to shrug and say, "probably just start a hedge fund."

Metal. Music. Life.
  • 3
Mar 16, 2018 - 5:21pm

I was in an eq deriv interview for a jr position at top tier bank, I come from a systematic/quant background that is completely market nuetral/absolute return type investing. I always buy the wsj before an interview to know what's going on in the markets in case I get broader questions, and that morning a lot of bad news about brexit and other international issues had hit, and yet most equities (including bank stocks) rose a large amount-- this indicates that the markets still wanted to go much higher.

So my first meeting is with a jr guy and he asks me about my larger market view. I tell him the above and he goes 'what are your predictions for the DJ in the next few months?' I have no idea what number the dow is even at so I just vaguely say, 'oh very bullish probably up 5%+, same with the nasdaq and SP'. At that moment someone comes in the room to stop the interview and goes 'FB/GOOG/AMZN are crashing, we need all hands on deck, im sorry but we need to cut this short'. Turns out they all dropped about 5% while I said the market was going nowhere but up.


  • 2
Jun 11, 2018 - 4:26pm

Skype/first round with an EB. I asked one of the interviewers towards the end of the interviewer how he ended up choosing his coverage group. He went on to explain that it's all about culture and blah blah blah and then ended with something like: "You know, not all groups are that exciting, it's really about the people. No one comes in wanting to work the paper and packaging vertical"

I replied with a quip: "You obviously haven't interviewed Michael Scott yet"

two nervous half smiles on the interviewers' faces they didn't get the reference in the moment at least. The interview quickly ended after that

Still got superday..

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