Your Most Absurd IB Interview Questions.. and Answers

All, I am doing this because I haven't found a thread like this on WSO. I am curious as to everyone's most absurd ib interview questions that they have been asked, and their answer.

Funny, intense, irrelevant, etc... I am not looking for the usual: "How many ping pong balls can fit in a 747?", everyone has heard that. I want questions you've been asked personally, not friends of friends, cause that's all BS.

Also, I kid you not I was asked the following, no BS:

I only have one, but here we go, follow my lead:

Question: "If you were stuck in an elevator, with no way to get out, and every 30 seconds a 5th grader would fall through a ceiling tile of the elevator that would periodically open, and was programmed to kill you, how long would you last and how?"

Who: Big 4 CF asked me this

Answer: "Repeatedly curb stomp the children as they drop in, eventually build a wall and clog the entrance tile. I would give it at least 1 hour until I was safe from the children, then I would perish from a lack of water within 3 days."

Needless to say, I wasn't contacted back, but in all honesty I had received offers for SA positions in the week leading up to the super day, so I wasn't mad I wasn't asked back.

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Comments (103)

Jul 15, 2016 - 4:32pm

Not for IB, but for Corporate Strategy internship. My current supervisor asked me these, probably because I am an international student and he had a bad international job stint in the part of the world where I am from:

i) Are you biased towards women?
ii)) Did you work as a child?

I still don't know why I chose this over the other internship offer I got from a large AM company.

Jul 20, 2016 - 9:21pm
  1. I was at a two on one interview at a MM with an associate and an analyst. The associate asks what animal I am. The analyst bursts out laughing at the stupidity of the question, but the associate goes "I always got asked that question, so now I'm asking it too." I answered with "tiger" and explained how tigers can fit in, but also stand out when needed. I was very tempted to just answer with "human" since humans are part of the animal kingdom.

  2. A boutique female MD once asked how I feel about the rampant sexism in the industry. I really had no idea how to answer, so I just said that I'm sorry to hear about that.

Jul 15, 2016 - 5:19pm

You obviously didn't account for the amount of water in an average 5th grader's body. Poor analytical skills will get you dinged.

Commercial Real Estate Developer

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Jul 21, 2016 - 3:52pm

you prop them against the handrail

guess you didn't take an elevator on the rise to the top, lebron

Make Idaho a Semi-Target Again 2016 Not an alumnus of Idaho
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Jul 20, 2016 - 4:10pm

This is a tricky question.

You might be inclined to say that since it is non-cash, it does not affect your DCF. Depending on the nature of the impairment, it may be tax deductible. However, the nature of the impairment will also drive future revenues from the time of impairment recognition (as the impairment is a recognized loss in economic value of the asset).

DYEL
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Aug 7, 2016 - 3:39pm
IB_Dplease:

Could it have something to do with how impairment decreases amortization (assuming the intangible is not goodwill) - thus your free cash flow will be lower since you're adding back a lower # to EBIT?


Not quite. Not to derail this thread further into a discussion on impairments but this is a common area for confusion.

While indefinite-lived assets like goodwill or identifiable intangibles don't amortize for financial reporting purposes, they do for tax purposes (which is really what affects cash flows). So while a company might report no amortization expense, it might have an amortization reported on its tax returns. Usually indefinite-lived assets are amortized over a 15-year period and impairments won't have any effect on the scheduled amortization expense. For example, assume a company makes an acquisition in which goodwill is booked. If the acquisition doesn't perform as expected and the goodwill is determined to be fully impaired, the goodwill asset would be written off of the company's balance sheet; however, the company would still reap a tax amortization benefit over the remaining 14-year period of the goodwill's tax life. Similarly, a definite-lived identifiable intangible asset might have a different life for reporting and tax purposes (the IRS doesn't care if your company's customer relationships have a useful life of 5 years). So technically an impairment of an intangible would have no direct effect on a DCF result, however, the fact that an impairment happened would implicitly mean the business less valuable than it was at the last measurement date.

Source: my first job was with a really small boutique that did both IB and valuation advisory.

Jan 19, 2017 - 8:54am

Most Bizarre interview questions. (Originally Posted: 01/07/2011)

  1. "If you were shrunk to a size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out?" Asked at Goldman Sachs. Making money, which is what Goldman Sachs does, depends on creative ways to leverage disequilibrium in markets. You are rewarded for identifying and using what your competitors can't.

  2. "If you could be any superhero, who would it be?" Asked at At&T. The company depends on teamwork to design, produce and market products and services. A superhero like Superman focused on benefiting others is likely in the ballpark of right answers.

  3. "How do you weigh an elephant without using a weigh machine?" Asked by IBM. The company markets services that allow for efficient ways to conduct business, including making assessments with incomplete data.

  4. "Why do you think only a small percentage of the population makes over $150K?" Asked by New York Life. Your answer reveals both your political philosophy as well as how much fire you have in the belly.

  5. "How many bottles of beer are drank in the city over the week?" Asked by The Nielson Company. Your approach to answering would show your feel for the kind of demographic data Nielson depends on.

  6. "Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5 how weird you are." Asked at Capital One. Since this financial company has lots of consumer interface, you would answer that you have a protean or flexible self that can accommodate diverse people's comfort levels. Instead of calling it "weird," you would frame it as "emotional intelligence."

  7. "Explain to me what has happened in this country during the last 10 years. Asked at Boston Consulting. As a high-level analyst and problem solver, Boston Consulting is seeking someone who thinks on the macro level but can tie that to micro dynamics.

  8. "How many traffic lights in Manhattan?" Asked by Argus Information & Advisory Services. Obviously, this is a test of your knowledge of reference tools and their strengths and limitations.

9."Out of 25 horses, pick the fastest 3 horses. In each race, only 5 horses can run at the same time. What are the minimum number of races required?" Asked at Bloomberg LP. You will demonstrate your mastery of probability theory, including how you might introduce other variables to assist with the prediction.

  1. "How are M&M's made?" Asked by US Bank. Your approach to answering would demonstrate your understanding and assessment of production systems, ranging from globally sourcing materials to ensuring food and employee safety.

I guess its fair to say...be ready for anything and everything

Jul 16, 2016 - 10:12am

Question: If teleportation was invented tomorrow, how would it affect the markets?

Answer: Location would now be an irrelevant factor in property prices, good prices would no longer feature the delivery cost and most transportation infrastructure would be made redundant.

Not an overly hard question but really threw me as I had never been asked such an out of the box question.

Controversial
Jul 20, 2016 - 8:20pm
IncapableChimp:

Question: If teleportation was invented tomorrow, how would it affect the markets?

Answer: Location would now be an irrelevant factor in property prices, good prices would no longer feature the delivery cost and most transportation infrastructure would be made redundant.

Not an overly hard question but really threw me as I had never been asked such an out of the box question.

Honestly, I think that's a terrible answer.

Imagine a world where someone had just invented a teleporter and the risks and costs associated with it. I don't know what would happen if the teleporter malfunctioned, but you would have to assume that it would involve your death. Let's say it worked 99% of the time.....would you take a ride in it? If it was 99.99% effective, would you commute daily in it? Hopefully not, in both cases.

Would you send goods through it? Absolutely, if the shipping costs were much higher otherwise. How much would it cost to send a shipment through a teleporter? I have no idea, but if it was just invented, I guarantee you it would be high. There's certainly a break even between the cost of shipping normally and the risk of lost/damaged goods vs. what would occur through a teleporter. I mean, what size of things could you fit in the teleporter? An apple? A cargo liner? Makes a big difference and all of those factors (and many more) would influence how you would measure the impact to the markets.

You get the idea. I think you had a bit of a lazy answer. Kudos to the interviewer for a somewhat original question though.

Jul 21, 2016 - 6:23pm
DickFuld:

IncapableChimp:

Let's say it worked 99% of the time.....would you take a ride in it? If it was 99.99% effective, would you commute daily in it? Hopefully not, in both cases.

People still use condoms! But then again, there's the prospect of getting laid in that case. My guess is that if you are teleporting to get laid, people would do it.

Jul 22, 2016 - 7:01am
DickFuld:

IncapableChimp:

I don't know what would happen if the teleporter malfunctioned, but you would have to assume that it would involve your death. Let's say it worked 99% of the time.....would you take a ride in it? If it was 99.99% effective, would you commute daily in it? Hopefully not, in both cases.

Luddite.

On a more serious note, interested in finding out death stats on other modes of transportation to make an informed decision.

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Jul 28, 2016 - 3:06pm

Sorry Dick.

You're wrong, because 2.2% of the global population dies from car accidents. So I'd take 99.99% over 98% any day.

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller. "Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL
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Jan 19, 2017 - 8:55am

How would you explain the concept of time value of money to 3 year old?
-Morgan Stanley Public Finance

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Jan 19, 2017 - 8:57am

This one isn't really weird until you put it into context.

"where do you see yourself in ten years?"

I was sixteen and interviewing for a summer lifeguarding position.

[quote=patternfinder]

Of course, I would just buy in scales.

[/quote]

See my WSO Blog | my AMA

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Jan 19, 2017 - 9:01am

"do you wash your hands before or after you go to the bathroom?"

"One should recognize reality even when one doesn't like it, indeed, especially when one doesn't like it." - Charlie Munger
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Jan 19, 2017 - 9:03am

If you had to put a dollar value on yourself, what would it be? (I tried to use precedent transactions to get a laugh, but apparently the slave trade is not a funny thing to joke about).

What is the S&P divided by the DJI?

After I mentioned that I was the first person in my family to attned college: "So is your family dumb or just lazy?"

What is the square root of purple?

Jul 21, 2016 - 3:18pm

I really hope his wife used to fuck around with a guy who had your exact name or something and the entire time the interviewer felt like a cuckold

Commercial Real Estate Developer

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Funniest
Jul 21, 2016 - 8:53pm
ToWhomItMayConcern:

an associate asked me if i knew his wife, after i asked her name and politely said i have never met her he insisted that i knew who she was, he even told me at the end of the interview that he would tell her i said hello

no offer haha

You should have said, "oh that slut?" the second time he said her name.
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Jul 21, 2016 - 3:34pm

[for an internship after freshman year, i'm a little smarter now]

interviewer: why do you really want to intern here? please don't bullshit me.

me: uhhh well for starters, i love finance, and your firm seems like a great fit

interview went ok from there, definitely didnt do great, but it was such a basic internship and they needed someone last minute so they ended up giving me the spot

Jul 22, 2016 - 7:02am
Ape Town:

interviewer: why do you really want to intern here? please don't bullshit me.

me: uhhh well for starters, i love finance, and your firm seems like a great fit

HAHAHAHA +1

Jul 21, 2016 - 4:22pm

Make me a market on the number of monitors on the trading floor.

--Power trading desk at a utility

"Well, you know, I was a human being before I became a businessman." -- George Soros
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Jul 21, 2016 - 4:46pm

Not the hardest but the prob most annoying:

Guy walks into room
"Here is a pen and paper - do this in 60 seconds:
124 x 15 / 11+ 278
Take 5% of that
Multiple by 1,500,000
Split into three thirds
Increase one by 25 %, one by 40% and reduce one by 50%
What are the 3 numbers?
Thanks. "
Guy walks out of room

I just made those numbers up, the interviewer numbers worked out to so there everything was an integer. Still - was not enjoyable mid-superday

"If you want to succeed in this life, you need to understand that duty comes before rights and that responsibility precedes opportunity."
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Jul 30, 2016 - 1:08am
TheBigBambino:

Not the hardest but the prob most annoying:

**Guy walks into room**
"Here is a pen and paper - do this in 60 seconds:
124 x 15 / 11+ 278
Take 5% of that
Multiple by 1,500,000
Split into three thirds
Increase one by 25 %, one by 40% and reduce one by 50%
What are the 3 numbers?
Thanks. "
**Guy walks out of room**

I just made those numbers up, the interviewer numbers worked out to so there everything was an integer. Still - was not enjoyable mid-superday

Based on the example you gave, the "split into three thirds" part comes to a number very close to 500,000. So it wouldn't be too bad from there.

Jul 21, 2016 - 5:51pm

This wasn't really a strange question, but it has a really smart tactic to it that many wouldn't realize during the interview:

At the end the interviewer asked me a bit more about myself in a really informal tone, as if the interview was over. In fact he mentioned that was all the questions he had. We were standing and about to walk out, talking about his time on campus, how our days were going, etc. While we walked back he casually asked about my job on campus (at a food court) and started by asking what kind of food they served, how to get there, then eventually asked how the food court was laid out. He mentioned he knew where it was earlier in the interview and had been there, so when I noticed him taking down a final note after I answered I realized it was part of the interview.

Pretty smart way to gauge someone's verbal communication skills when in normal conversation.

Array
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Jul 25, 2016 - 2:18pm

Strengths? Chest and arms. Weaknesses? Legs.

Commercial Real Estate Developer

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Jul 27, 2016 - 8:20pm

Skipping leg day could get you dinged

Make Idaho a Semi-Target Again 2016 Not an alumnus of Idaho
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Jul 25, 2016 - 3:45pm

I usually love market sizing questions, but this one was just so convoluted and the timing was awful since I hadn't eaten all day, and it definitely didn't help my appetite.

"How many pigs could you fit into a Boeing 737?"
"Imagine the plane catches fire, and so do the pigs -- how many pounds of bacon would it yield?"
"Imagine that every third pig is diseased, and every fifth pig is a female pig. What are the odds that if you're eating that bacon with 4 other people, you get the bacon of a diseased female pig?"

this was around the time where I stopped seeing the point to this entire question

"Imagine that every 7th pig was actually X number of chickens. If you had to feed a restaurant full of X people, assuming each one ate X strips of bacon and X llbs of chicken, how many chickens would have to replace every 7th pig?"

why are you doing this

"Lastly, if you had to eat all the bacon and chicken on that plane before you could eat anything else, how many days would it take to finish it all?"
*
*
*
*
Needless to say, I went on a temporary vegan cleanse...

Jul 27, 2016 - 6:40pm
LizLemon:

I usually love market sizing questions, but this one was just so convoluted and the timing was awful since I hadn't eaten all day, and it definitely didn't help my appetite.

"How many pigs could you fit into a Boeing 737?"
"Imagine the plane catches fire, and so do the pigs -- how many pounds of bacon would it yield?"
"Imagine that every third pig is diseased, and every fifth pig is a female pig. What are the odds that if you're eating that bacon with 4 other people, you get the bacon of a diseased female pig?"

this was around the time where I stopped seeing the point to this entire question

"Imagine that every 7th pig was actually X number of chickens. If you had to feed a restaurant full of X people, assuming each one ate X strips of bacon and X llbs of chicken, how many chickens would have to replace every 7th pig?"

why are you doing this

"Lastly, if you had to eat all the bacon and chicken on that plane before you could eat anything else, how many days would it take to finish it all?"
*
*
*
*
Needless to say, I went on a temporary vegan cleanse...

You had to say bacon!

Jul 26, 2016 - 3:39pm

At the very end of the interview for an IB:
"You know, I already interviewed 10 guys and 10 are coming after you. You all have the same resumes. Same range of schools, same internships, same hobbies and same "I'm strongly motivated for your position"-blablablah.
Tell me something so I can remember you."

I was so lucky because he had a little plant getting dried.
Then I replied: "You should water your plant."

However, I'd have talked about the average tech BS, such as rumors about next iPhone, what would be the next unicorn? ...

Jul 26, 2016 - 4:18pm

That's a pretty solid question on his end, but I'm not sure I would want to be remembered as "the plant guy"

Commercial Real Estate Developer

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Jul 28, 2016 - 11:49am

I was recently looking back at an old practice interview I participated in while in college. It was obv video taped for training purposes.

The interviewer asked me: "Who is someone that you would consider an idol?"

For some reason this kind of threw me off, as it was an unexpected question. I quickly answered "Donald Trump, since he has outlasted a lot of hardships with his businesses (bankruptcies, lol), and still maintains a high level of success with his brand.

Answer was lolbad, and this was well before his presidential run. Guess I better vote for the guy now.

Jul 28, 2016 - 2:41pm

Got "how deep is Lake Michigan at it's deepest point" during a MM super day that had featured a ton of brain teasers/logical reasoning type questions. Thought about it for while and told the guy that there's no way to figure that out with logic - it's just a fact you'd have to know. He told me I was right and he was just messing with me.

At a superday for a consulting gig, got "what will be the Department of Defense's main concern relating to hydraulic fracturing three years from now?" Stumbled through it, basically admitted I had no idea how to answer that. Rest of the interview didn't go well.

Jul 29, 2016 - 5:09pm

On the Lake Michigan question, there is a logical answer but it requires knowing about physics/engineering. If you knew the volume of the lake and you took some water out and weighed it, you could make an approximation if you assume that the lake is roughly half oval shaped. It's tricky and that's not exactly how but you could definitely figure it out, that's how petroleum engineers figure out how much oil is in a formation except the formula is rearranged.

For your second question, depending on the political leanings of the firm, it's either total crap or a real risk. If one of our enemies had a device that could increase seismic activity, you could trigger earthquakes everywhere that was fracked and create some big problems. Then you'd talk about how they'd get the weapon onto US soil and what not. But that's a bunch of crap even if they think that fracking is akin to murder.

Jul 29, 2016 - 3:32pm

I worked in auto finance and these are some of the ones we used to use

If you were a car, what car would you be?

Group interview: If you had to hire someone else sitting here, who would it be and why?

Give me an email subject line to this list of 1,000 customers.

"You forgot your pet frog"

Jul 31, 2016 - 2:46pm

I had two though neither was outrageous.

It was one of my first OCR interviews and it was at 8AM. The interviewer introduces himself and says, "Hi, I'm Jack. Glad you made it. How was traffic? What's 7 cubed?"

I stared at him blankly for a second and then worked it out loud and said 243. He was like uh, and I realized I was 100 off and said 343. He didn't hold it against me because of I explained the process and didn't just give him an instant answer. Ended up making the super.

A few weeks later, I get asked how many games are in the World Cup but that one wasn't too hard.

Edit: I'm an idiot.

Jul 30, 2016 - 1:33pm

This was for BlackRock Investments Group superday in NY.

MD (youngest smartest guy I've met):
Q1. I love Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream - One day I walked 25 blocks down and went to every shop which carried the ice cream. I probably went into 30 shops and checked the prices for each pint. Turns out the pint can go from (lets say) $3.5 to $7.5 within these 25 blocks. Why do you think such mis-pricing exists and how can shops that sell at a higher price survive even though there are competitors selling at a discount a few blocks down? There were like 15 follow ups to this questions.

Q2. You are 1 of 3 selected for this super day. There were 500 extremely qualified candidates from the top schools around the country. Obviously you have an interesting background and your resume describes that well. Now, critique your resume and tell me what wrong with it.

Q3. Actually, this was the first question as soon as I entered - whats 2^50 ?

Not particularly hard questions but rather interesting ones. When I was done with my interview, I was happy that at least it was different for the 100 others i've given.

Jul 31, 2016 - 12:28pm

It's realizing first that its actually not that hard a problem so there's nothing to be scared of. Then understanding how to ballpark that number. Remember that in such interviews the real answer is never the correct solution but the path to that answer is.

2^50 = (2^10)^5 ~ (1024)^5 -> Answer: 1 followed by 15 Zeros (approximately).

Most people think at first that either the math is too complicated or the number is too large to be calculated (i.e dumbass me)

Aug 1, 2016 - 10:53am
berkeleyguy9:

Q2. You are 1 of 3 selected for this super day. There were 500 extremely qualified candidates from the top schools around the country. Obviously you have an interesting background and your resume describes that well. Now, critique your resume and tell me what wrong with it.

That's a cool one. Wouldn't mind that at all

Commercial Real Estate Developer

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Aug 1, 2016 - 1:41pm

Its a great one if you have a lot more to you than your resume and if you've actually spent hours and hours making that resume. Because then you know what all you couldn't fit on the page and why you prioritized certain things. Then there are sales skills as to why certain things are in a certain way on the resume.

Aug 1, 2016 - 2:41pm

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