A few months ago, I interviewed for a summer analyst position on J.P. Morgan's trading floor in London. The interview process was pretty rigorous and detailed and I want to share it here for the benefit of all of you who interview there in future.
The first thing to note is that I applied for a job in trading at J.P.M. When you're going for a trading role at the bank, you'll start out being interviewed by various different desks.
My first interview was with an investment grade corporate bond desk. I was asked all the standard J.P. Morgan interview questions, which can be pretty bland. Why J.P. Morgan? Why did I want to be a trader? What kind of trader did I want to be? Where did I see myself in five to ten years time?
They wanted to make sure that I knew the difference between proprietary trading and market making, that I understood I'd be a market maker if I worked for them, and that I was ok with that and wasn't going to run off and join a hedge fund. They also wanted to know which desk and I wanted to work on and why. They were expecting me to have a fairly detailed understanding of financial securities and to explain how the markets for trading those securities worked.
My second interview was with an exotic equity derivatives desk. They asked me some of the usual weird brainteasers ('How would you move a mountain?'), along with some more detailed questions about the workings for the market. We spent around 15 minutes discussing the crisis in Ukraine. They wanted my opinions on how it began, how it was unfolding, and the implications for the markets, with a particular focus on the energy markets and side effects of sanctions.
I was also asked for my opinions about the implications for the EUR/USD exchange rate as QE was ramped-up in the eurozone, and the for the impact of Ebola on the markets.
Before you step into a trading interview at J.P. Morgan, therefore, you need to know a lot about contemporary geopolitical events, and to have done some pretty hard thinking about how they might impact the markets.,
After making it through the first and second rounds of interviews, I was invited back to the final assessment centre. At this stage in the J.P. Morgan trading interview process, things become more focused. The assessment centres are broken down by role: sales, trading, or research, and you only participate in the stream that suits you.
I was assessed for trading; there was a three-stage process involving around 20 people.
Stage one involved a morning presentation. I was given a huge book with around 30 pages of information on a company. I had 20 minutes to prepare an investment idea on the company for presentation to a J.P. Morgan employee who was pretending to be a hedge fund manager. I presented my idea and was asked some detailed questions about my reasoning.
Stage two involved morning interviews. This was a bit of a free-for-all. Each of the desks that were hiring were given the option to interview the students in the trading pool. We each had anything from one to three interviews. At this stage, the questions were purely about motivation and competency. Some people got sent back home.
Stage three involved afternoon interviews. If you make it this far, it means you've attracted the attention of at least one of the interviewers you met in the morning. These interviews take things to a different level entirely. Firstly, they may actually take place on the trading floor. Secondly, there are a lot of them - anything from one to seven. They can involve questions about your motivation and competency, or they can be very technical about the particular market you're interviewing for.
If you make it through this final round of interviews, you're in.
You have been warned!
*Lewis Naylor is a pseudonym
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