The quant shops want malleable intellect untainted by Wall Street dogma — i.e., not buy, sell, or hold” types. “They’re not really looking to make money on corporate events like takeovers,” says Emanuel Derman, director of the financial engineering program at Columbia University and head of risk for quant house Prisma Capital Markets. “They’re looking to make money on mathematical models.” Top funds often advertise in esoteric scientific journals. “You’ll not likely find our ads in a dentist’s waiting room,” says D.E. Shaw’s Gianakouros.
If yours is one of the lucky 1% to 3% of resumes to survive an exhaustive initial culling, you can look forward to an hour-long phone interview peppered with thought problems and brain teasers. Pass that test and you will then be summoned as many as three times to undergo up to a dozen grueling interviews. “Every interviewer uses a different approach,” says Gianakouros, citing programming problems and math proofs. Expect to be asked to build an intricate Excel model on the spot. Whatever the case, advises Derman, “don’t say anything unless you’re ready to be quizzed on it.”