Study programme for quant researcher interviews

Study programme for interviews​

Hi everyone,

I was researching how to prepare for interviews and have ended up organising a decent amount of material into a study programme that I am sharing in this post, which describes:
  1. the technical skills needed during a quant interview
  2. a study programme to develop these skills
To understand what the interview process is like, read the respective introductions of this primer and "Quant Job Interview Questions and Answers" (2nd edition).

Technical skills​

Note that the technical skills I'm going to describe are the bare minimum you need at the interview, but you might need even more at the job itself.

If you highlight a specific technical skill in your CV, the interviewer is likely going to ask deeper questions about it.

For example, if I claim C++ as the language of choice for one of my projects, the interviewer might ask me harder-than-usual C++ questions to prove my claim.

I've listed the technical skills you need in an interview starting from the most important as I have gathered while doing my research.

Probability
At the interview, you need to show that you have a very good grasp of foundational statistical concepts. I will list some of these concepts in the section on resources.

Note: machine/deep learning, prediction, signal analysis, signal generation, etc, are the most desirable skills right now [thread 1, thread 2].

Coding
Quants have to be able to code well. Python/R are expected, and C++ is nice to have. You need to be good enough to do LeetCode style questions; such questions are becoming more common in interviews.

Brainteasers
These are puzzles/riddles; you won't be solving brainteasers on the job, but they are frequently asked in interviews so you need to be good at them to pass.

Maths
In addition to all of the above, you will often get general maths questions.

Finance
Depending on the your experience or the role you're applying for, you might asked specific finance questions. For example, if you are applying to be an interest rate option quant, the interviewer might ask you pricing questions.

Study programme​

I haven't included specific instructions for finance questions as this will depend on which specific role you are applying for.

However, probability, coding, brainteaser and and maths questions are going to pop up in any quant role, so I have divided my study programme into two parts.

The first focusses on making on making sure you can adequately answer probability, coding and brainteaser questions.

The second part lets you take a break from those questions by including general maths and finance questions.

Still, even in the second part, you should be regularly cycling through probability, coding and brainteaser questions.

Resources​

The programme uses the following resources:
  1. Primer
  2. Interview manual by the late Mark Joshi
  3. Jane Street guide
  4. Questions from Pete Benson of UMich
  5. 50 mixed questions
  6. 21 mixed questions, with answers
  7. Compilation from Aaron Cao

Part 1​

  1. Read the introductions of (1) and (2) to understand for yourself the interview process before starting any practice questions.
  2. Work through the Jane Street guide to find out the statistics concepts you have to know.
  3. Go through the probability questions in (2) and (4) that aren't too difficult for you.
  4. Do 5 - 10 LeetCode questions, starting with the "Easy" category.
  5. Do 5 - 10 brainteasers from (4), (5) or (6).
  6. Return to the probability questions you weren't able to do in (2).
  7. Do 5 - 10 more LeetCode questions; at this point you might be able to start doing "Medium" category questions. Example list of questions.
  8. Do 5 - 10 more brainteasers from (4), (5) or (6) (or wherever else you can find them, to be honest).
  9. Return to the probability questions you weren't able to do in (4).

Part 2​

  1. Go through the maths questions in (2) and (4) that aren't too difficult for you.
  2. Go through the options questions in (2) and (4) that aren't too difficult for you.
  3. Do at least 3 questions from each category of probability, coding and brainteasers.
  4. Go through the coding questions in (2) and (4).
  5. Return to the maths and options questions you weren't able to do in (2) and (4).
  6. Again do at least 3 questions from each category of probability, coding and brainteasers.
  7. Go through all the interview questions in (1) and the questions in the final chapter X of (2).
At the end of this programme you should be ok with handling interview questions.

If you want more complicated questions, do some of the more challenging ones in (7).

Suggestions to improve this programme are welcome and please let me know if I have said something factually incorrect.
 
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