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The interview questions of Lex Van Dam

Lex Van Dam is not known for acts of extreme niceness. Head of hedge fund Hampstead Capital and a former trader at Goldman Sachs and GLG, he was the forthright investor in the BBC’s million dollar trader programme a few years ago.

Based on the assumption that an interview with Van Dam is likely to be as bad as a trading interview gets, we’ve elicited the questions he uses to identify potential traders. They’re below. If you can answer them, maybe you’re in with a chance.


1) To assess energy, drive, initiative

1.Why are you here?

2. How did you prepare for this interview?

3. What was on the front page of the FT today?

2) To assess personal growth and performance over time

4. Tell me about your job?

5. What could make you fail here?

3) To assess past accomplishments

6. What was the biggest success you had over the last 12 months?

7. What is the most pressure you have ever been under?

4) To assess problem solving skills

8 Is your intelligence above average? What percentage of people have above average intelligence?

9. Does the quality of your decision making improve under pressure?

10. How many buses are there in London?

11. What is 32*32? How confident are you about that answer?

12. How many degrees between the hands on the clock at 3.15?

5) To assess overall talent, technical competency and potential

13. What makes you a good trader?

14. What is the most money you have ever lost?

6) To assess management and organizational ability

15. If I gave you 100,000 what would you do with it?

16. What is the most difficult decision you ever had to make?

7) To assess team leadership and the ability to motivate others

17. Do you react better to compliments or criticism?

18. How do you deal with authority when you perceive them to be wrong?

8) To assess character – values, commitment, goals

19. What would you wear to the office?

20. How are you with money? Are you a big spender? Are you in debt?

21. Would you screw someone over to get ahead?

9) To assess personality and cultural fit

22. How do you measure success in your life?

23. Why should we hire you and not someone else?

24. If things go wrong do you tend to blame other people or take responsibility yourself?

25. How do you think the interview went? If you were me would you hire you?

Comments (26)

  1. I’ve got a question for Lex. If he is such a HF / Trader guru why has he spent the last four years working on a relaity tv programme and flogging self help books?

  2. Because he can. You are a recruiter – be quiet.

  3. Wallstreet/ City is finished. Fat bald men thinking they are the masters of the universe… not at anymore. Too much ego, not enough talent.

    HF are the way forward!

  4. What answer would you like for 21

  5. To ‘A Recruiter’ – because he can spell “reality” and you can’t.

  6. Total waste of anyone’s time. Maybe whoever thinks this is a cool set of questions they should read “Liar’s poker” once again as it seems they have gone back in time. And when they had enough amusement they can come back again.

    Fatbaldbutfromthisworld Reply
  7. I am everything what he is looking for.Love the questions.Hire me .

  8. 10. How many buses are there in London?
    How does this question indicate my problem solving skills?
    is there a universal equation ?
    Clock and 32X32 are fine.

  9. How many buses are there in London?

  10. Plz write the answer too so tht we can prepare according to tht..:P

  11. Your starter for 10…….

  12. @SD if you really need to ask that question, you’re not what he is looking for.

  13. I don’t care if he can trade, that is one Dam cool name

  14. He’s going to find interviewing people a little less interesting now everybody knows his questions

  15. Apparantly this guys made mega bucks trading, but had to give most away as part of a divorce settlement. Thats prob why he’s writing books etc

  16. The buses questions is a good one. It really shows the nature and character of a person for thinking jobs. Now what would your answer be and how would you deliver it?

    Wasfatandlarrestedbaldness Reply
  17. It would be nice if the best answers are also shared to get an idea what he feels is the best answer.

  18. I love how working for Investment Banks is always romanticised. I have worked as an M&A banker, as well as, a Trader (head of the desk at a BB US bank for 5 years) before setting up my own shop and have seen wide eyed graduates come in and think they are all going to be driving Ferraris in a year’s time.

    The number of graduates I have seen leave in the first year because of the “it’s not for me/ I need a social life and the hours are too long” syndrome goes to show this isn’t for everyone. Especially people who get in because their dad helped them or those that think they will be millionaires instantly.

    Money comes to those who work hard and love the job.

  19. if he gave away a major chunk of his money through a divorce settlement he is half admirable, half donkey goofy. Who would marry while having a 66% chance to give most har earned cash away to a gold digger?

    cantbelievehappens Reply
  20. I would have two questions:
    Do you know Jean-Claude?
    Do your parents are teachers in latin

  21. I think that the population of London is around 9 million.
    If we pick a person at random during the day, what is the estimated probability that they are on a bus? I dont know. But I know it is small. Less than 1%, so lets call it 0.5%.
    Therefore 45,000 people might be on the bus at any one time.
    From experience I estimate 20 people on a bus at any one time.
    Therefore the should be of the order of 2,250 busses.

  22. Message to “A recruiter”: shut up. YOU have nothing to say. You are a recruiter.

    Mesage to Van Dam: get a life. Take a look around you. You really just want clones working for you?

  23. The question about buses is very good one. The aim of that is not to tell exact/correct number of buses but to check how would you “solve” the issue. So you can start for example with the number of lines/routes, how often they run etc to get to the aprox number of buses. Similar questions are: how many hairdresser are in London/Paris/NY; how many chocolates are sold every day in London/Paris etc.

  24. You have to give a reasonable answer to the number of bues and you should be a ble to justify it. You have to work out some thing like, the population in London is x mn and the % of people with own wehicles is y% so the bus going population in x*(1-y%) and then devide it like 200 or 400 passengers per bus. (a bus does sevral trips a day) and give an answer. It need not be the correct answer at all. Even if you say it is 1500 buses he should accept since I’m sure he too does not have the correct answer. It is simmilar to asking how many steps did you climb to get to this floor, say 30. If its in the second floor. even the interviewer wouldnt have counted it when he was comming up. All the best Lex. Hire Me. Can I send you my C. :)

  25. I am a forex trader… and for all those who has made dumb comments, You should go re-evaluate yourself. Truth is- Money Makes The World Go Around. By the means of Lex Van Dam being able to take time away and do exercises such as ‘Million Dollar Traders’ and write a book is enough to show that he is following his dreams… How many people if not successful can go around and say im following my ultimate dream… If trading seems to hard for any of you’ll, to bad… But no need to show it here

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