8.04.2005

TIP: Speak your interviewer's language

A young boy was sitting in the back seat of the car eating an apple. He poked his father in the front seat and asked, "Daddy, why does my apple turn brown?"

His father answered, "When the skin is removed from the apple, air reaches the flesh of the apple and causes oxidation. This changes the apple's molecular structure and results in a brownish color."

After a long pause, a small voice from the back seat asked, "Daddy, are you talking to me?"

The boy's father seems to forget for a second who's he's talking to. Some job hunters make the same mistake when they speak the same language to all interviewers, technical or non-technical alike. In a financial interview, it's not uncommon to meet a wide variety of people from various groups. For instance, if you are interviewing for a Quant developer position, aside from meeting with your peers, you may also have to meet with Quants, traders, analysts and other people that you are gonna support and interact with. And if all goes well, you would get to meet with your boss's boss, who most likely is a Managing Director.

An applicant may be able to impress his peers and Quants with object factory, yield curve construction, and similar topics that shows complexity, but the same conversation would most likely put a trader or a Director to sleep. They are more interested in P&L, interest rates and things in the 'bigger' picture. And when they hear these things, they want them to be simplied too. In other words, simplicity raises the applicant's qualification in their eyes.

The ancient Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu once said, "You cannot speak of an ocean to a well-frog, a creature of a narrower sphere. You cannot speak of ice to a summer insect, the creature of a season.". Think about that next time you pass the technical interview with ease and yet come up empty.

Category: C++ Quant > Land the Job You Want > Interview

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