the best of booth

In an attempt to laugh about the tragedy of MBA recruiting, I submitted the last four highlights [lowlights] to a group of friends also recruiting for investment management. Then, unexpectedly and immediately, everyone piped in with their own gems.

In old news, Chicago is cold. Technically it is four degrees out but the forecast is “feels like 0”, which … who knew zero felt like anything?


10:00am [Redacted / interviewee who already had an offer] enters interview room

Interviewer: So tell me what you think about….ah the railroad industry.
Me: Oooo….uhg, (no idea) fuel charges must be a big factor, aaaand I guess having access to railroads is important too….uhm…. what do you think about the railroad industry?
Interviewer: Well, usually we ask about basic industries so you would be able to walk through it.
Me: Oh, nice
Interviewer: Okay, do you have any questions for me?
Me: Nope
Interviewer: Nice meeting you

10:10am [Redacted] exits interview room

Interviewer: can you tell me what value you’ll be able to add to our firm?
Me: Well, I’m really interested in x and y and I have experience in z.
Interviewer: it sounds like you want a different job than what we can offer.

interviewer: so, how many people today have asked you about being an Eagle Scout
me: you’re the first one actually. Were you an Eagle scout?
interviewer: no
me: when I was a kid I tried to quit it. My parents … wouldn’t let me. You get to high school and everyone is out on dates and you are at a Camporee. But we all looked back at it and realized it taught us an appreciation of the outdoors and good respect for your elders.
interviewer: elders, you guys are all about that aren’t you. The elders.
interviewer & me: [extended awkward silence]

Interviewer: Tell me about a systematic investing mistake you make.
Me: I don’t know how to answer that question — if I were to recognize that I repeatedly make a certain mistake I’d change.
Interviewer: (pauses, furrows his brow) So you’re telling me that you don’t make mistakes…
Me: sigh

Me: Hi. I’m [Redacted]. It’s nice to meet you.
Interviewer: We already met at the info sessions.
Me: [looks at clock to gauge remaining time]

me: oh, thanks – you got me water!
interviewer: errr, no….but you can have it!
[at end of interview just a couple of mouthfuls are left]
me: I’m just gonna hang onto this I think…

interviewer: So you played at the World Series of Poker. What was
the greatest thing you learned? How about one thing you learned about poker, and one thing about life?
me: [silence / commence b.s.]

Interviewer: Well what other stocks do you like?
Me: Company X is a particular gem of mine.
Interviewer: I seriously doubt Company X is a gem.

Interviewer: Would you buy Company X.
Me: No way. Company X insured the crap of the crap back in ’07, has legacy ABS exposure, and is massively overlevered from an operating standpoint.
Interviewer: Oh ok. I own it in my portfolio.

interviewer: if we hired you, what is the minimum number of years you would stick around?
me: look, i can tell you’re skeptical of my background. i’m not playing games here.

interviewer: what are you looking for in your next job?
me: freedom.
interviewer: freedom?

interviewer: can you estimate the size of the ipad market in china?
me: sure [blah blah blah]
interviewer: now if you could only talk to the design team, what are three questions you would ask them to help you revise your estimate?
me: [stares blankly down, up, left, right…] this is really hard, i can’t think of anything to ask
interviewer: [waits patiently, expectantly]
me: well, i could ask them if they think changing the size of the ipad would be better for the chinese consumer, b/c, you know, they are smaller than the average westerner…
interviewer: [raises eyebrow]…out of all the interviews i’ve given, that’s a first
me: (thank god i look chinese)

Interviewer: You give great answers. I’m sure you would do well in the second round. Unfortunately I can only bring back 2 candidates.
Me: That sounds promising. It’s only 9:30.
Interviewer: Unfortunately it’s already 9:30.
Me: Oh.

Interviewer 1: What do you think are the biggest issues facing the economy?
Me: Well…(start 5 minute diatribe on all the potential macroeconomic risks facing the market)
Interview 1 and Interview 2 stare at me for a second, then look at each other.
Interviewer 2: Uh, yup.
Interviewer 1: I’m pretty much just worried about my company’s earning.
Interviewer 2: I think the market will be up 10% at the end of the year.

Interviewer: (describes a company). So what would you pay as an investor for this egg producing company?
Me: Well, I’m conservative, so I wouldn’t count my chickens before they hatch. (holding back my amusement)
Interviewer: (no response) So give me a number.

interviewer: so do you know the short interest on this stock?
me: no, i don’t
interviewer: do you know where to look for that?
me [thinking it is a trick question, pausing too long]: …
interviewer: bloomberg.

interviewer [in last five minutes]: so do you have any questions for me?
me: sure! can you tell me a bit about what brought you to FirmX? and what’s kept you there?
interviewer: well that was a waste of a question.

interviewer [in the last five minutes of a rough interview]: so do you have any questions for me?
me: sure…you mentioned you cover consumer staples, can you walk me through some of your thoughts on the Company X question you asked me earlier?
interviewer: i don’t cover Company X.

interviewer: so if not FirmX, what would be your number one choice?
me: FirmY. i liked that they were able to get at my thoughts and decision-making process with really [different] questions, somewhat tailored to my past. i loved that i didn’t have to give a stock pitch, which i feel isn’t a good indicator of much, since it can be scripted and memorized.
interviewer: right, i see…[awkwardly] so tell me your stock pitch.


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2 responses to “the best of booth”

  1. Brian Borton says :

    incredibly funny. please continue sharing these “gems”!

  2. pintotowncar says :

    hahaha glad you enjoyed! i forgot to add i have found my current nomination for Dumbest Question Asked Ever: “Tell me one positive and one negative from your CFA study / exam experience”.

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