Optiver Interview Process?

Hi,

So I passed the online numerical arithmetic test for Optiver (by the skin of my teeth!) and now I have a phone interview for a campus hire execution trader position coming up soon. I've been told it's an "informational interview" with HR, from what I've gathered it's also something of a behavioral interview.

Does anybody have any experience with Optiver's interview process? What kinds of questions do they ask?

Also can someone describe to me the difference between an execution trader and a derivatives trader? I know Optiver hires both straight from college but I'm not exactly sure what each entails.

Lastly, when answering a question like "why trading?" or "why are you interested in Optiver?" how should I answer? I.e. are they looking for someone who's driven by money? driven by competition/winning? Just likes to think fast on their feet with problem solving/math skills? Should I seem like I have always wanted to be a trader? Or should I seem like it's just a career option that I think might fit my skills and aptitude?

Yeah, I'm new to all of this (finance, trading, etc.). I have an educational background in mechanical engineering and worked in huge F500 companies the past two summers as an engineering intern, so I am quite lost in the world of trading. That said I definitely do think that I'd enjoy the fast paced and quantitative environment of trading much more than engineering as a career.

Thanks!

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Comments (50)

Nov 12, 2015 - 3:29pm

When you say that my behavioral skills will be tested does that mean they'll ask the usual gambit of behavioral quesetions like "tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult team member or coworker?" or "tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty for a task or project?" or "tell me about a time when you made a significant mistake and how you handled it?".

Those are the cookie cutter ones I've had interviewing for engineering internships the past few years, so I'm not sure if they're asking a different brand of behavioral questions or something...

If I were to honestly say something like "Well, I thought I wanted to be an engineer, but I was disappointed with the slow pace of work and the general lack of quantitative ability used day to day on the job. I think I would be interested in trading because it seems like a job where I'd have to think quickly and leverage my quantitative skills regularly." Does that sound too unmotivated (i.e. translation:"oh I didn't like engineering so this trading gig sounds kinda ok") or unknowledgeable? Should I mention anything about being money hungry (I'm not really) or being driven by competition/winning (I am definitely)?

I only ask because I'm pretty familiar with what sort of personality and mindset engineering companies are looking for (works well in teams, relaxed, etc.), so it's easy to present myself in a way that aligns with that for me nowadays. However I don't know if trading companies are looking for something different in particular.

Best Response
Nov 12, 2015 - 5:23pm

I have a mech/aero background and work in trading now. Yes to the competitive part of your description. No to the money hungry part. Other than that, I think your motivation for working in trading is a good starting point, but it'd be better if you were more descriptive. Why do you actually think that trading will be any more quantitative, than, say, trying to measure the exhaust temperature of a hypersonic aircraft engine? My point is that trading and engineering can be very or only a little quantitative, depending on what you make of your own job. So I'd focus on making sure you have a great reason for why you want to be in finance rather than doing what you're trained to do.

On a related note, make sure you really want to leave engineering behind. It was the right decision for me, but you have to be sure about it for yourself. After a year or two in finance there will be no turning back without going back to school.

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Nov 13, 2015 - 3:00am

This is for a full time position.

The area which I specialized in (perhaps foolishly) in terms of research and past engineering internship experience is very much not quantitative, much to my dismay. That said having had the opportunity to shadow other engineers during my internships in a variety of roles has still not resulted in anything which seems particularly interesting to me.

I will think on a good reason why I am interested in trading rather than engineering. I have a strong feeling ( a hunch?) that trading might be a good career option for me, I'll think on it more to put it into tangible words though.

And yeah, I realize that it's sort of a one way street going from engineering to finance. I have mulled over that topic for hours on end and I am pretty darn sure that I don't want to start my career in engineering and am willing to accept the risk.

Thanks for all the input so far!

Nov 22, 2015 - 7:29am

Had the interview last week, went well, told them an honest answer for why I was interested in trading and it worked out, so thanks for the (simple but useful) advice!

Anybody have any experience with the second round phone interview with someone from the trading team? I've heard it's at least part technical, so what types of questions would they be asking?

Thanks!

Oct 12, 2016 - 5:37pm

Optiver has the most ridiculous hiring practices. They will ask some 23 yr old to do a technical interview who would have no clue about what trading is or how financial markets work outside of what they do there. They have been screwing people on bonus as well, so the turnover is very high among good employees.

Oct 12, 2016 - 5:38pm

mcmoran23:

Optiver has the most ridiculous hiring practices. They will ask some 23 yr old to do a technical interview who would have no clue about what trading is or how financial markets work outside of what they do there. They have been screwing people on bonus as well, so the turnover is very high among good employees.

It's not a good place to work now. Those who were there pre-2009 made tons of money, and quite a few of them are retired.

I have no problem with the interview. Most top prop shops assume no prior market knowledge of trading experience and just care about how smart you're. Quite frankly, if you can't pass the Optiver math tests, you most likely won't do well in options market making, which requires tons of complex calculations on the fly.

Oct 12, 2016 - 5:40pm

Let X be a put option on a collar spread such that there exists and K in R satisfying the PDE Y_k' + Y_k'' = f_k(t,x) where f_n(t,x) is an alpha volatility spread.

What price would you pay for X given the gamma is retracting at a rate proportional to the PDE(that is a put option 2 minutes towards expiration and the markets are open).

Oct 12, 2016 - 5:42pm
blastoise:
Let X be a put option on a collar spread such that there exists and K in R satisfying the PDE Y_k' + Y_k'' = f_k(t,x) where f_n(t,x) is an alpha volatility spread.

What price would you pay for X given the gamma is retracting at a rate proportional to the PDE(that is a put option 2 minutes towards expiration and the markets are open).

Not a fan of these types of threads?

Oct 12, 2016 - 5:44pm
blastoise:
Let X be a put option on a collar spread such that there exists and K in R satisfying the PDE Y_k' + Y_k'' = f_k(t,x) where f_n(t,x) is an alpha volatility spread.

What price would you pay for X given the gamma is retracting at a rate proportional to the PDE(that is a put option 2 minutes towards expiration and the markets are open).

It is a second round interview, not the final round, will it be so technical?

Oct 12, 2016 - 5:47pm

blastoise:Let X be a put option on a collar spread such that there exists and K in R satisfying the PDE Y_k' + Y_k'' = f_k(t,x) where f_n(t,x) is an alpha volatility spread.

What price would you pay for X given the gamma is retracting at a rate proportional to the PDE(that is a put option 2 minutes towards expiration and the markets are open).

I believe its 24.5 - 25.5 but tbh if you were size I'd have to make it three ticks wide

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Mar 21, 2019 - 2:40pm
redrut:

blastoise:Let X be a put option on a collar spread such that there exists and K in R satisfying the PDE Y_k' + Y_k'' = f_k(t,x) where f_n(t,x) is an alpha volatility spread.

What price would you pay for X given the gamma is retracting at a rate proportional to the PDE(that is a put option 2 minutes towards expiration and the markets are open).

I believe its 24.5 - 25.5 but tbh if you were size I'd have to make it three ticks wide

This question does not make any sense to me, neither grammatically or quantitatively. I would be happy to have someone clarify/correct the problem statement?

Dec 28, 2015 - 3:43am

Not well, I got rejected the next day.

It was a skype interview with a trader (very cool guy) he asked me couple of usual question such as, present yourself, why trading, how market markers make an income etc..

Then i had guesstimates, and this is where I failed: he asked me to make a bid ask on the number of gas station in the Netherlands (with a max spread of 10%), then he asked me how sure I was of my answer (i said 30%), he said ok now the spread is unlimited, give me a bid ask so you are 80% sure that your answer is correct, (I tried my best but I don't have any clue of how I should have proceed), then he asked couple of questions about basic greeks.

Dec 28, 2015 - 11:04am
123ramoglio:

Not well, I got rejected the next day.

It was a skype interview with a trader (very cool guy) he asked me couple of usual question such as, present yourself, why trading, how market markers make an income etc..

Then i had guesstimates, and this is where I failed: he asked me to make a bid ask on the number of gas station in the Netherlands (with a max spread of 10%), then he asked me how sure I was of my answer (i said 30%), he said ok now the spread is unlimited, give me a bid ask so you are 80% sure that your answer is correct, (I tried my best but I don't have any clue of how I should have proceed), then he asked couple of questions about basic greeks.

If you're asked to make a highly-confident market with a spread of unlimited width, you should make the widest market possible (i.e. 10 at 10 billion). Obviously this market would never get taken in real life but you'll know for sure the number of gas stations is somewhere in that range.

When I had my technical interview with Optiver they asked me for my confidence after every answer. Even after "tell me about yourself", and asked me to make confidence intervals on my confidence intervals.

Oct 12, 2016 - 5:54pm

Any tips for Optiver phone interview? (Originally Posted: 09/27/2014)

I recently passed the first online quantitative test at Optiver and got scheduled for a phone interview with a recruiter in a couple of days. I would be really grateful if someone who already had a phone interview with Optiver (or similar firm) could shed some light on what I can expect from it. Will it focus mainly on motivation type questions (i.e. why trading?, why Optiver?) or also test logic/math/finance knowledge?

Thanks in advance.

Oct 12, 2016 - 5:59pm

Optiver interviews (Europe) (Originally Posted: 11/04/2010)

Has anybody on here had an in-house interview at their Amsterdam offices?

Got past those 3 barrier tests. I heard alot is about motivations about becoming a trader but I'm guessing there's alot of brainteasers in there too. Regards option knowledge I'm having a browse of Hull (Black-Scholes, theory etc. - how parameters can vary, pricing) but I'm not studying econ/finance/maths so not sure what to expect on this front.

Does anyone have any Europe-specific experiences to share?

Thanks in advance :)

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