Google has revealed that its infamous brainteaser interview questions were a bit pointless. Laszlo Boc, senior vice president of operations at the firm, told the New York Times they were, “a complete waste of time,” that they predicted nothing and that they primarily served to make the interviewer feel smart.
Someone may like to tell this to investment banks. Over the years, we’ve assembled a vast array of weird and wonderful interview questions sent to us by students who’ve attended investment banking interviews. We can’t guarantee their validity (the banks concerned didn’t confirm that these questions were definitely asked), but we can guarantee their weirdness. We’ve listed 11 of them below.
Fortunately, some banks may have reached the same conclusion as Google with regards to the worth of weird questions. Malcolm Horton, global head of recruiting at Nomura International, said Nomura stopped asking brainteaser questions some time ago. “When we train our interviewers, we make it clear that we don’t want weird questions designed to put people on edge. We’re running a competency-based interview system and we focus on competency questions that look at behaviours. We have numerical and verbal reasoning tests to assess analytical skills.
“Asking how many frogs you can fit in a taxi does nothing to assess someone’s ability to do a job,” Horton added.
Weird questions allegedly asked by banks at interviews in the past:
1. Why do bubbles not appear when sparkling water is closed? (Allegedly asked by Barclays during an interview for a technology internship).
2. Why, in this glass do the bubbles in the water sit at the bottom? (Allegedly asked during the same Barclays technology intern interview).
3. There’s a revolver, with two bullets in two chambers that are next to each other, and the rest of the four chambers are empty. The policeman spun the revolver and pulled the trigger at you, nothing happened. Suppose that you don’t want to die, would you prefer the policeman to spin the revolver again before the next shooting or shoot again directly? (Allegedly asked, again by Barclays, in a structuring and trading interview).
4. What can you do with an orange? (Allegedly asked by Berenberg during an equity research interview).
5. There is another candidate for the position. Should we interview him and decide who is better or would you prefer we make our hiring decision by flipping a coin? (Allegedly asked during the same Berenberg equity research interview).
6. I have two frogs and their population doubles in size every second. It takes 60 seconds to fill up a room with frogs. How long does it take to fill up half the room? (Allegedly asked during a Credit Suisse corporate finance interview.)
7. Imagine that as part of your contract for working here, there’s a clause saying that if you use Facebook again you will have your arms ripped off. What would be the price you’d request to sign the contract, and the opportunity cost of not using Facebook? (Allegedly asked during a prop trading interview with DRW.)
8. How many weddings are there in Germany in a year? (Allegedly asked during an investment banking interview at Macquarie).