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Can you answer banks' most unusual interview questions?

Alright. You know how banks recruit, right?

Well, then you probably know that interviews at banks are difficult. Each big bank has its own recruitment system and interview questions, although there is a lot of overlap, which means that preparing for, say, an interview at Citi is different to JPMorgan or Goldman Sachs. Or a hedge fund.

Either way, don’t expect questions to all be easy. A lot of them can be easily prepared for – there are only so many ways you can be asked to walk through your CV – and there’s no anecdote in the world that the S.T.A.R. technique can’t instantly enliven.

That is not, however, all that you will be asked about. You’ll probably get technical questions – you know, what’s a discounted cash flow, that sort of thing. If you’ve been keeping on top of your finance classes, these should be pretty straight forward.

You might be asked a brainteaser. These are pretty fun questions to debate with a friend (or two) over a drink (or two), but when half your body weight is currently sitting on your forehead in the form of sweat, they’re not so fun. You have to think on your feet – but even if you don’t give an exact (or correct) answer, it’s your methodology that’s being tested.

Investment banking interview brainteasers:

How many lightbulbs are there in America? (Morgan Stanley)

If you were an animal, which would you be? (Citi)

How many tennis balls could fit into a 747? (Evercore)

How many trips are there on the London Underground on a given day? (Lazard)

Name someone with integrity. (Lazard)

What is the meaning of independence and why is it important? (Lazard)

How many windows in the Empire State Building? (Lazard)

How many lightbulbs are there in New York? (Barclays)

How would you calculate the number of ants in the UK? (Barclays)

How many pigs fit in a sled? Explain your thought process. (Barclays)

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Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: Zeno.Toulon@efinancialcareers.com in the first instance.

Bear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t.)

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AUTHORZeno Toulon
  • Br
    Bruce Dwayne
    4 April 2023

    3 tennis balls could fit in a 747... they never said your answer had to be the maximum number of balls hehe

  • sp
    sphinx-muse
    1 November 2017

    X is an element of the null set because the egg will break from every floor.

  • la
    larssl780
    27 September 2017

    There's a typo in the drunk man question. The probability of the man falling off the cliff after 3 steps is ~41% (11/27). This is also easily borne out by simulation.

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