The IQ test you may have to pass if you want to work for a hedge fund

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Faced with a growing number of junior applicants, banks, hedge funds and other sorts of financial firms have begun relying more on technology to help pare down the thousands of interested students to a reasonable number for in-person interviews. Some utilize software that can screen resumes, while others have incorporated recorded video questions as the first step in the interview process for prospective interns and analysts. Steven Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management even uses an online IQ test of sorts as part of its assessment process for juniors.

Those who apply for internships or full-time positions within the hedge fund’s Point72 Academy will be asked to complete an online version of the Wonderlic Test, which assesses an applicant’s cognitive abilities through logic and problem-solving questions. The Wonderlic is utilized by thousands of organizations to help screen candidates, though its pervasiveness among financial firms is somewhat unclear. A few posts on forum Wall Street Oasis mention the Wonderlic as part of the interview process at a couple lesser-known buy-side firms, but recruiters we spoke to say it’s not an industry-norm, at least at the moment. One equities trader said they used the Wonderlic as part of an “Intern Olympics” competition this summer.

The test is perhaps most well-known for its use by the National Football League on prospective players. Polarizing scores tend to find their way into the hands of the media, which often creates a PR firestorm. A source close to Point72 said the test is used as one data point in assessing candidates, though it’s not near as important as a student’s GPA, board scores or interview performance.

The traditional Wonderlic Test includes 50 multiple-choice questions that need to be answered within 12 minutes, so the ability to think quickly yet critically is a must if you want to score well. Many of the questions are math-based, though it’s more of a test of reasoning than accelerated math skills. A few examples from online practice tests:

  • What is the next number in the sequence: 4, 11, 25, 53...?
  • A gallon of gas costs $3.80. How many gallons of gas can be purchased with $19?
  • Two women start at the same point. They walk in opposite directions for 3 meters, then turn right and walk another 4 meters. How far apart are they?
  • The square footage of a room is 1,400 ft. If the one side is 25 ft long, what is the length of the other side?

We’re told the Wonderlic Test is only administered for junior applicants: prospective interns and candidates interested in joining the Point72 Academy, the 10-month paid training program launched in 2015 that the firm uses as an incubator for investment talent. The hedge fund formerly known as SAC Capital is said to hire most of its junior talent from the academy.

Click here to try your hand at a practice Wonderlic Test. The average score for an investment analyst is around 27 out of 50, according to one test prep site. That's bested by teachers, accountants, programmers and engineers (29). Systems analysts (32) are the Wonderlic kings.

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