Questions to ask Quant Employers in Interviews
A list of good questions to ask during a quantitative finance interview.
Learn About the Company
Interviews are not only an opportunity for an employer to learn more about you but also an opportunity for you to learn more about the company and whether this position aligns with what you're looking for in your next role. The best way to identify this is by asking deliberate questions at the end of your interviews that will you give a sense of the company's culture, values, and daily work environment.
But what questions should you ask? And what answers should you be looking for? In this article, we'll share a handful of questions that you should be thinking about during your quantitative finance interviews. Some of these may be answered incidentally throughout the duration of your conversation, while others may require more probing to find their answer.
A List of Questions
1) How are trading and research teams organized at X firm?
Quantitative trading firms often have differing philosophies on internal collaboration versus competition. Oftentimes, competitive firms tend to have high turnovers and a zero-sum culture making it difficult to advance in your career. However, if you are someone that thrives in a competitive environment, a firm like this may be right for you.
2) What exchanges and financial products does X firm trade on?
Each quant firm will trade on a set of exchanges and financial products. Some quant firms are purely focused on crypto while others may focus on stocks and commodities. Understanding this early on will give you a good idea of what you should become acquainted with prior to starting a position at that company if you were granted an offer.
3) Are brainteasers, poker, or mental math part of the interview process?
Some quant firms are notorious for asking challenging brainteasers or mental math questions. Sometimes, these types of questions give insight into the fact that the firm prioritizes trader intuition versus automated decision-making through the power of algorithms and models. For quants, this could mean that the firm won't have many growth opportunities due to the fact that most of the trading strategies that are executed aren't built by the quants.
4) How much turnover exists at X firm and how long is the non-compete clause?
High turnover often indicates that employees at the firm get burned out and that the firm isn't focused on growing their traders/researchers. Furthermore, a non-compete clause greater than two years entails that you won't be able to find another quant role for a significant period of time, which would derail your career progression.
5) To what degree is the codebase accessible to other members in the firm?
Some firms limit access to parts of the codebase to the individuals directly working on that particular component. While this makes sense given the proprietary nature of the firm's systems, this can often limit the opportunities available to learn, take on more responsiblity/new projects, and make a larger impact.
6) Is this role more research-oriented or focused on trade monitoring?
Front-office quants often tend to work very closely with traders on the ground floor to implement pricing models that they can use. Furthermore these quants are responsible for monitoring the operations of the firm's trading systems. If you're looking for a more research/innovative type of role, a trade-monitoring position may not be the right fit for you
7) What processes exist for quants to understand the PnL of their strategies?
If there are no systems in place for quants to understand and evaluate the performance of their algorithms, it will be very difficult to make improvements to existing models. In essence, being unable to see the PnL of your strategy means that no feedback loop exists.
Thanks for reading this article. I hope these questions come in handy during your next quantitative finance interview. If you enjoyed it, feel free to check out more of our content on our quant blog. Also, if you’re looking for job openings in quantitative finance check out OpenQuant for the best quant jobs.