Quant developer interviews: how to crack them
Hedge funds' appetite for paying quants huge amounts of money may be diminishing, but getting a job as a quant or quant developers is still highly competitive.
In a recent webinar, electronic market making firm Optiver offered some advice on pertinent advice on making it through a quant developer interview and the recruitment process as a whole.
Motivation in the cover letter....
Firstly, you need to show that you want the job. Optiver graduate recruiter Pamela Jensen said your cover letter needs to explain your motivation. “Why you are interested in our industry, why you are interested in the specific role. Additional information about yourself.”
Intelligence in interviews....
If you make it through to a quant interview, it's time for something different again. Here, you need to showcase your intelligence. Interviews will “test numerical skills, quantitative skills, coding skills,” said Jensen. They will be looking at how well you know the fundamentals of tech, your speed of decision-making and so on.
Finance knowledge isn't a necessity
Do you need to know about finance to get a job as a quant? Not exactly. Jensen noted that, although training in that area comes with the roles, “you need an interest" in finance.
For those wishing to brush up their information anyway, perhaps to gain that edge, a resource recommended by fellow campus recruiter Serena Riccomagno was the book Option Volatility and Pricing Strategies.
Communication skills are a plus
You may be a quant, but Jensen said you need to be a good communicator too. "You are dealing with people from a number of different backgrounds and will have to explain technical information to non-technical people.”
It's the engineering skills, stupid
Most of all, though, quant developers need to be accomplished engineers. Optiver software developer Jacob Maloney repeatedly discussed the importance of “strong engineering principles”, stating that people that already possess those principles “can be taught anything about the financial industry and move on from there… the way those systems work, interactions between things.”
Safety of code, efficiency of code and risk controls were all cited as being of importance by Maloney. So too was, “knowing your data structures and understanding how a machine works."
More important, though, was knowing which aspect of engineering (safety/efficiency/risk) to apply at the right time, "understanding when to value and lean on one thing rather than lean on another and get the correct balance.”
But it's the decision-making too
Ultimately, it's about showing that you can make good decisions. When presented with challenges and tests during your interview processes, make sure that your actions do not simply solve the task, but that you demonstrate that you understand the importance of each aspect of coding to the specific situation.
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