Some Red Flags During an Interview?

GingerGuy's picture
Rank: Gorilla | banana points 570

What are some factors that we should look out for while interviewing, that would either

  • automatically ding us

OR

  • We should watch out for from the company's side

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Comments (38)

Nov 14, 2018

I was alongside a SVP who interviewed a potential intern. The guy had made it all the way through HR to eventually flub the questions: "why do you want to be here?" and "what do you hope to get out of this position?" that took him out of the running immediately despite being in the final three for the position.

Nov 14, 2018

By flub the questions, do you mean they were being too general? Back when I was recruiting, I remember sometimes kicking myself after easy questions like these, thinking, "Man, they're going to see right through my bullshit."

Nov 14, 2018
robbyboyjohnny:

By flub the questions, do you mean they were being too general? Back when I was recruiting, I remember sometimes kicking myself after easy questions like these, thinking, "Man, they're going to see right through my bullshit."

Straight up couldn't answer. Like "this is expected, but I have no justification for being here other than having a really good math background.

hominem:

I automatically dinged people if I thought they were socially awkward.

We wanted a quant so -_(tu)_/- (edit: this is supposed to be the "SHRUG" icon, sorry.)

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Nov 24, 2018
Whatever1984:

I was alongside a SVP who interviewed a potential intern. The guy had made it all the way through HR to eventually flub the questions: "why do you want to be here?" and "what do you hope to get out of this position?" that took him out of the running immediately despite being in the final three for the position.

This is such a stupid question. Why the fuck do we think the person wants the job? To exchange his labor for a financial benefit. Are we expecting some kind of answer like, "I'm intrinsically motivated to build financial alogrithms"? Jesus fucking Christ.

Nov 24, 2018
real_Skankhunt42:
Whatever1984:

I was alongside a SVP who interviewed a potential intern. The guy had made it all the way through HR to eventually flub the questions: "why do you want to be here?" and "what do you hope to get out of this position?" that took him out of the running immediately despite being in the final three for the position.

This is such a stupid question. Why the fuck do we think the person wants the job? To exchange his labor for a financial benefit. Are we expecting some kind of answer like, "I'm intrinsically motivated to build financial alogrithms"? Jesus fucking Christ.

Jah. The closer I get to retirement, the more tempting it becomes to have a recruiter set up interviews just for shots and giggles so I can go and spit back answers like these. "Why do you want to work here"....."I don't, my first choice didn't work out and I need a paycheck." It would be funny to see how they react.

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Nov 25, 2018

No, it's a perfectly basic and reasonable question and it's surprising that the candidate made it that far without having to answer some version of it. The interviewer basically just asked him for his 2 minute elevator pitch/"about me" pitch. Other than knowing your resume cold, that's the one thing you should be able to answer in an interview.

Nov 24, 2018

Why do you feel the need to ask a quant why he wants a job as a quant?

Nov 25, 2018

Why should you ask a consultant why they want a job as a consultant or an accountant as an accountant or whatever?

I work in management consulting now and did more quantitative consulting work in the past, and if I had a candidate who couldn't even tell me what they wanted out of the position, it would be an automatic ding. I don't want to have to work with and rely on someone who doesn't want to be here and who doesn't even have some sort of vision of what they want to get out of working there.

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Nov 26, 2018

what if he/she just wants a job...

excel is my canvas, and data is my paint - new york - brunch conesseiour - atheist - centrist - ENFP - TCU alum

Nov 24, 2018
Hayek:

Why should you ask a consultant why they want a job as a consultant or an accountant as an accountant or whatever?

I work in management consulting now and did more quantitative consulting work in the past, and if I had a candidate who couldn't even tell me what they wanted out of the position, it would be an automatic ding. I don't want to have to work with and rely on someone who doesn't want to be here and who doesn't even have some sort of vision of what they want to get out of working there.

If a 22-year-old couldn't accurately assess what he or she wants out of a particular job--with no context at all on what the real world even holds or any real, actual, tangible knowledge about the business or industry they will work in--then that's an automatic ding? That's just a ridiculous position. A 22-year-old college student doesn't know anything, and he sure as hell doesn't know what he wants out of life or out of a job. I know--I was 22 once.

To brotherbear's point below--"It would be better to ask a prospective consultant or I-banker what they imagine they will be doing on a day-to-day basis." At least this would assess whether or not they've researched the position. But asking a college student why he wants a particular job is just setting yourself up for 1) a lie (bullshit) or 2) an answer that ultimately turns out to be wrong.

Nov 25, 2018

Yes, it would be an automatic ding. They don't need to provide a super detailed answer but they should be able to explain why they want to work there and what they hope to get out of beyond "I need a job and this looks like it pays a lot."

When I was in college I interviewed for economic consulting, management consulting, and investment banking jobs. For each of those interviews I was able to connect something from my background to why I wanted to work there and why I found it interesting. Beyond being able to talk about your resume, being able to talk about why you want the job and what you hope to get out of it is the most important thing you need to be able to discuss.

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Nov 24, 2018
Hayek:

Yes, it would be an automatic ding. They don't need to provide a super detailed answer but they should be able to explain why they want to work there and what they hope to get out of beyond "I need a job and this looks like it pays a lot."

Again, any answer provided has a 95% chance of being wrong or bullshit. It's a completely pointless question.

Hayek:

When I was in college I interviewed for economic consulting, management consulting, and investment banking jobs. For each of those interviews I was able to connect something from my background to why I wanted to work there and why I found it interesting.

Because you're a fucking precocious nerd. Normal college students don't "connect their life experiences" to the prospective job because they don't know what the Hell the job really entails BECAUSE THEY'RE COLLEGE STUDENTS! All you're really admitting to is bullshitting your way through the interviews.

Hayek:

Beyond being able to talk about your resume, being able to talk about why you want the job and what you hope to get out of it is the most important thing you need to be able to discuss.

No, it's not. And just because you say it is doesn't make it so.

Nov 25, 2018

Google exists. So does WSO, LinkedIn, and alumni. It really isn't hard to roughly figure out what a job entails and why you think it might be a good fit for you; this isn't "bullshitting," this is taking a few minutes to actually think about why you want to work in a particular industry. I've interviewed lots of college students and they generally haven't found it too hard to explain why they want to work somewhere.

You guys are hilariously wrong on this. I've been in hiring meetings where we're trying to choose between very well qualified undergraduates, and their enthusiasm for/knowledge of the industry definitely plays a role in whether they get an offer or not. Why should we hire someone that doesn't want to be there and that didn't take the time to figure out why they want to be there?

For any undergrad reading this: you'll lose nothing by assuming that I'm broadly right on this point. There are plenty of other "precocious nerds" in this industry, prepare accordingly!

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Nov 24, 2018
Hayek:

Google exists. So does WSO, LinkedIn, and alumni. It really isn't hard to roughly figure out what a job entails and why you think it might be a good fit for you;

This is an utterly asinine statement. At no point can you figure out from a Google search what a job REALLY entails. I've worked at 7 companies since graduation and that's NEVER EVER EVER been the case. This is such a stupid statement that I struggle to even fully respond to this.

Setting aside the asininity of this statement, people should prepare to the best of their ability for job interviews, but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about the response to why they want the job.

Hayek:

You guys are hilariously wrong on this. I've been in hiring meetings where we're trying to choose between very well qualified undergraduates, and their enthusiasm for/knowledge of the industry definitely plays a role in whether they get an offer or not. Why should we hire someone that doesn't want to be there and that didn't take the time to figure out why they want to be there?

No one is saying you should hire people who don't want to work the job. We're saying that no one is intrinsically motivated to take these jobs. People want these jobs first and foremost to receive a return on their academic investment. That you would ask them why they want the job is just setting yourself up for intellectual dishonesty. It's just a dishonest question asking for a dishonest response.

Hayek:

For any undergrad reading this: you'll lose nothing by assuming that I'm broadly right on this point. There are plenty of other "precocious nerds" in this industry, prepare accordingly!

Nobody is debating whether or not you should be prepared to answer the question. The debate is about whether or not the question is worthwhile. Reading comprehension much?

Nov 26, 2018

Couldn't agree more. I think it's a bit ridiculous to ask people going into finance why they want to do so. The answer is pretty straightforward You want to make a good living for yourself and you think finance will set you on a path toward doing so. Virtually everyone who gets an interview is smart enough to do the job, so you want to stress that you're hardworking enough to do the job.

I mean--we're not splitting diamonds with our minds. We're doing bullshit Excel spreadsheet and PPT work that I could have done when I was 12-years-old. And we're not doing it to save the world. We're doing it to make money--both for ourselves and for our clients. Because money makes the world go round, people closest to the purse string tend to accrue the most of it. You want to work in investment banking due to its natural proximity to that purse. It puts you in the middle of conversations that are grander in nature than those discussed in most other professions.

But nobody wakes up when they're 12-years-old thinking, "I want to be an investment banker." Therefore, asking for someone's modus operandi for entering high finance is a bit inane. You know where they don't ask that question? McDonald's. You know why? Because the answer is always some variant of. "I want to work here because I'm poor and I need a job." It would be better to ask a prospective consultant or I-banker what they imagine they will be doing on a day-to-day basis. At least that question shows whether the kid has done his homework. The other question essentially asks kids to concoct believable lies to satiate the retards in HR. It's just not a useful exercise for anyone involved and insults the intelligence of virtually everyone at the table (except the HR representative whose intellect is so low as to preclude that possibility).

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Nov 26, 2018
brotherbear:

Because money makes the world go round, people closest to the purse string tend to accrue the most of it. You want to work in investment banking due to its natural proximity to that purse.

Wait to Esuric and Isaiah_53 hear this.. They lost their shit when I said this same thing. People are delusional and like fairytales more than reality.

But with that said, I do think there's some degree of a softball question in this one "why do you want to work here". People who are "passionate" and "genuinely interested" will have an answer about how the world would be a better place if they could work at the job--with a lot of polish on it of course.

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Nov 14, 2018
real_Skankhunt42:
Whatever1984:

I was alongside a SVP who interviewed a potential intern. The guy had made it all the way through HR to eventually flub the questions: "why do you want to be here?" and "what do you hope to get out of this position?" that took him out of the running immediately despite being in the final three for the position.

This is such a stupid question. Why the fuck do we think the person wants the job? To exchange his labor for a financial benefit. Are we expecting some kind of answer like, "I'm intrinsically motivated to build financial alogrithms"? Jesus fucking Christ.

To Skankhunt, UFO Insider, and Hayek, I apologize. I took the holiday off.

This was a straightup math major undergrad intern for a rather skilled position. He couldn't articulate why he wanted to go into finance overall, much less asset management. Given that this was possibly one of the 10 best AM internship positions in that city that summer (and there was only one spot, paying what would be considered a good salary for a first year analyst there) we ditched him for an experienced intern, with a hedge fund background who was in a top 5 MBA program.

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Nov 24, 2018
Whatever1984:

This was a straightup math major undergrad intern for a rather skilled position. He couldn't articulate why he wanted to go into finance overall, much less asset management.

Wrong. He couldn't articulate that he wanted a high return on his academic investment without coming off like a douche, and not being a pathological liar was unable or unwilling to produce a lie--again, I know, I've been faced with this same dilemma in job interviews. The guy you hired was able to bullshit an answer on the spot because he's good at lying.

There are 0 people who are intrinsically motivated to work in asset management. If the guy you hired won the lottery he'd either tell you to go f*ck yourself in the face or simply never show up to work again.

Again, a completely pointless question from a completely shallow mind.

Nov 14, 2018
real_Skankhunt42:
Whatever1984:

This was a straightup math major undergrad intern for a rather skilled position. He couldn't articulate why he wanted to go into finance overall, much less asset management.

Wrong. He couldn't articulate that he wanted a high return on his academic investment without coming off like a douche, and not being a pathological liar was unable or unwilling to produce a lie--again, I know, I've been faced with this same dilemma in job interviews. The guy you hired was able to bullshit an answer on the spot because he's good at lying.

There are 0 people who are intrinsically motivated to work in asset management. If the guy you hired won the lottery he'd either tell you to go f*ck yourself in the face or simply never show up to work again.

Again, a completely pointless question from a completely shallow mind.

I rather like my extremely specialized position, and have literally written the book on our funds investment strategy. If I won the lottery I'd negotiate a 3 day work week with 20 days off. I guess your statement is a bit off the mark.

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Nov 26, 2018

agree with your perspective on this

excel is my canvas, and data is my paint - new york - brunch conesseiour - atheist - centrist - ENFP - TCU alum

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Nov 14, 2018

I automatically dinged people if I thought they were socially awkward.

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Nov 26, 2018

(Walks away from this thread....)

Greed is Good!

Nov 15, 2018

I was interviewing for a small company and reached the final stages. I met the top dog and we had coffee at his members club. It was very strange but through our interactions my direct superior and the CEO seemed to have such a political relationship, like the former was actively trying to manage relationship.

It was a red flag for me when the middle manager answered 'I don't want to get into the politics of it' to a basic question I had - thus confirming my suspicions.

You don't want to have that kind of manager over you.

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Nov 15, 2018

Mate, welcome to IBK at a big shop. You want to make VP, Director or MD, you need votes, and it won't be enough to just get votes from your team, you need other teams' leaders to vote for you.
That means, if you're in an industry team, you need to make sure the MDs in the regional coverage and product teams know you and like you. Lord help you if you're a satellite office; every deal you do, every good idea you have, you need to make sure that people back at the home office know what you've done. A buddy of mine at the VP level makes a trip to the home office once a month just so that no one forgets about him, and he has to stay political the whole time he's there. That's a lot of time he could be spending doing his actual job, but he needs to stay visible, and just doing a good job isn't enough. Office politics man.

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Nov 15, 2018

Kind of a fun point...

Once I added that our operations are bullshit/politics-free the amount of applicants went up about 12% overnight to all job listings across all port co's.

Nov 15, 2018

You are 100% spot on, and so accurate in fact that I felt like i was sitting back at my IB desk as I read your post.

What I don't get about the politics in IB is, does it really have to be that way? I'm not naive, in fact I'm about as cynical as it gets. But even I was blown away by how much asskissing mattered compared to doing good work. Especially since the clients seemed to actually care about good work. I saw a lot of "good guys" . . . you know, the smart/trustworthy type that you'd want working leading your deal . . . get passed over for slimy political types, which would make sense except everyone knew it. Everyone knew who was the good guy and who was the politician, which makes the politician a pretty bad politician no? Yet somehow he wins that battle 9 times out of 10. Speaks pretty poorly of the value the bank adds the the deal, that it can afford to promote people based on their smoothness instead of their ability to give the best advice.

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Nov 15, 2018

This is such a solid insight. I've worked at a few companies now and there's always been this particular type of person that makes me uncomfortable and always proves to be bad news in the end. But I could never quite describe that person, and you just did a pretty good job of it. It's this political type who is described by others as "good at managing upward" but never described with the more traditional compliments: hard worker, good teammate etc.

Nov 15, 2018

A huge red flag when I interviewed a company was when they threatened to move on from me in the process when I told them about the week of vacation I planned that would push the start date back a bit. A week isn't that long and I considered that a massive red flag on the fund's respect for any work/life balance, especially considering I planned this well ahead of time.

My suspicions turned out to be true when the guy who took my spot left after 3 months (according to LinkedIn)

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Nov 15, 2018

If they company says "we have an incredible culture here and very low turnover" and then you realize all of the people in the role you are interviewing for have left the firm and not been promoted. Always try to find old employees on LinkedIn see what they are up to

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Nov 15, 2018

Huge understatement. My old firm did have a great culture (and incredibly low turnover). However, that was mainly because 1) the firm was so new, there weren't alot of data points for exit opps and 2) everyone was extremely scared to leave because quality of life and pay was alot better than our previous industry (we pretty much all had the same background)

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there" - Will Rogers

Nov 15, 2018

I usually ask the interviewer why they have stayed at the company as long as they have and/or what they've liked about it. You can tell if they give a genuine, great answer or if they're spinning their wheels.

Not too high, not too low

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Nov 15, 2018

^^^This. I always ask what keeps you here and what keeps you from leaving. It is a somewhat canned question but can definitely reveal a decent amount of info indirectly.

Nov 15, 2018

Red flags from prospective employer

  1. Person interviewing you is botching own technicals/not articulate
  2. Group consists of people stuck at certain positions for years (lack of growth and career development. If they acquired skills and didn't get promoted in 3+ years time, presumably they would have jumped ship)
  3. Group consists primarily of new hires (toxic culture)
  4. Person interviewing you is complaining about job/culture
  5. Interview process is easy and moves very quickly (they're desperate to take anyone that's even remotely qualified on paper)
  6. You don't get to meet team/direct report during hiring process (hiding people from you)
  7. Dont allow you to give proper notice to previous employer
  8. Dont give you sufficient time to make decision once offer is extended
  9. Take it personally when you counter
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Nov 15, 2018

Wish I can +1 SB but almost all these happened when I got hired. Thank god I'm leaving this company with its toxic culture.

Most Helpful
Nov 15, 2018

As a senior hire, a few things to consider:

  • Fully understand why the position you are applying for is vacant, what the expectations are for the position and how you match up to those expectations - make sure they are being honest about what they want, and you are about whether you can meet the requirements.
  • Get a sense for the culture and how it will match to your personality. If you are part of a team, try and meet with other members of the team - talk with them about their experience, likes, and dislikes. It's so important to ensure that you at least will be compatible (don't need to be best friends forever) with the team you'll be on
  • If you interview with multiple people, ask them what they feel the most important things this role should do are, their expectations for the role, and even for a description of the role - if they are all over the place, or not contiguous with what the recruiter/hr person told you - be up front about that and/or just run the hell away
  • Make sure that the resources you need are in place and clear - and both you and your employer are clear on what you need. If you need sole access to something - and they say sure, you'll have access and it's only a shared access - that's not a great starting point. Get. Things. In. Writing.

When hiring a senior person:

  • Being evasive about their experience. This can be hard since you need to be careful about what you say, but you should be able to articulate clearly where you've been, what you've done and how that matches what the position is. If you need to qualify everything you say, couch yourself in answers, or stretch to answer something - that's generally not a good sign. Ideally, folks should be secure in their experience
  • Being rude or impolite to anyone involved in the process. I watch how people interact with others around them, including administrative staff who help set things up, HR, etc. I also always like to watch them interact with people who will be more junior than them in the group or company - to get a sense (and of course they normally are on their best behavior) for how they interact up and down the chain. There are plenty of smart, successful people who aren't dickheads or full of themselves - i have no time for those that are.
  • How they handle stress. At some point, you should always 'stretch' them in the interview - not impolitely or rudely, just ask questions that might be out of their wheelhouse or something like that. If they react really poorly, or break down, it's generally not a good sign for the long term. Not an automatic DQ, but depending on the role could be a red flag.

Those are the big ones. In most cases, I've found that if you are getting the interview you've already passed most of the 'tests' and in reality it's about personality, culture fit and nit picking in most cases.

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Nov 15, 2018
Addinator:

As a senior hire, a few things to consider:

  • Fully understand why the position you are applying for is vacant, what the expectations are for the position and how you match up to those expectations - make sure they are being honest about what they want, and you are about whether you can meet the requirements.
  • Get a sense for the culture and how it will match to your personality. If you are part of a team, try and meet with other members of the team - talk with them about their experience, likes, and dislikes. It's so important to ensure that you at least will be compatible (don't need to be best friends forever) with the team you'll be on
  • If you interview with multiple people, ask them what they feel the most important things this role should do are, their expectations for the role, and even for a description of the role - if they are all over the place, or not contiguous with what the recruiter/hr person told you - be up front about that and/or just run the hell away
  • Make sure that the resources you need are in place and clear - and both you and your employer are clear on what you need. If you need sole access to something - and they say sure, you'll have access and it's only a shared access - that's not a great starting point. Get. Things. In. Writing.

When hiring a senior person:

  • Being evasive about their experience. This can be hard since you need to be careful about what you say, but you should be able to articulate clearly where you've been, what you've done and how that matches what the position is. If you need to qualify everything you say, couch yourself in answers, or stretch to answer something - that's generally not a good sign. Ideally, folks should be secure in their experience
  • Being rude or impolite to anyone involved in the process. I watch how people interact with others around them, including administrative staff who help set things up, HR, etc. I also always like to watch them interact with people who will be more junior than them in the group or company - to get a sense (and of course they normally are on their best behavior) for how they interact up and down the chain. There are plenty of smart, successful people who aren't dickheads or full of themselves - i have no time for those that are.
  • How they handle stress. At some point, you should always 'stretch' them in the interview - not impolitely or rudely, just ask questions that might be out of their wheelhouse or something like that. If they react really poorly, or break down, it's generally not a good sign for the long term. Not an automatic DQ, but depending on the role could be a red flag.

Those are the big ones. In most cases, I've found that if you are getting the interview you've already passed most of the 'tests' and in reality it's about personality, culture fit and nit picking in most cases.

Shits spot on here. When you're cracking in, some of this stuff will come off strong. When you're experienced and looking, all this will avoid a bad company or culture.

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Nov 22, 2018
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Nov 23, 2018