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Launch Your Quant Career: Quant Interview Essentials

Quantitative finance is a daunting field, and is notoriously difficult to understand from the outside. As a result, it might not be clear exactly what you're expected to know going in for the first time. In this article, we will discuss in-depth how the typical application process goes, and what you can do to maximise the chances of passing each round to land an excellent career out of university.

Submitting your CV

The first step is practically always getting in touch with a hiring firm by submitting your CV via their website, a jobs board (such as LinkedIn or eFinancialCareers) or through a headhunter. Your CV will be reviewed by a recruiter or a member of the trading team. First and foremost, they will be looking to see that you have a strong technical background. This is evidenced by a technical degree such as mathematics, physics, engineering or computer science from a reputable university. For quantitative researcher or analyst positions, a master's degree is often, but not always, required. It is not uncommon to see very strong candidates with a Bachelor's degree be accepted for these roles.

Covering certain topics in your degree will give you an advantage, and the most highly valued topics depend on what type of quant career you're aiming to enter. Linear algebra, statistics, probability theory, stochastic calculus and machine learning are perhaps the most valuable mathematics modules, and some experience in programming in Python or C++ is always desirable. Financial knowledge and interest is also desirable, but it is more often expected that you will learn the requisite finance on the job. Given that quant jobs are typically research positions, completing independent research projects as part of your university course is a strong advantage. It is worth tailoring your CV to highlight these valued modules, and particularly if you have applied them in a research project.

The Recruiter Call

The initial face-to-face you have with the firm is usually with a recruiter, and they are trained to ask you basic questions about the firm to test your understanding of the role. They will also examine your soft skills. Common questions are

  • Why do you want to be a quant?
  • Why do you want to work at company X?
  • What does company X do?
  • What will you bring to the company?
  • What do you think you will be doing in the role?
  • How does company X make profit?

You should absolutely research everything you can about the firm, what they do and how they make profit. If you prepare well-thought answers for each of these questions, this stage should be straightforward.

The Automated Test

Often firms will implement an automated test to test your technical skills, lateral thinking and problem solving abilities. This may or may not include

  • A timed programming exercise
  • A take-home mathematical problem to solve
  • A timed set of technical questions
  • A psychometric test

The timed programming exercise will usually be some LeetCode style questions. At most, you will need to solve medium difficulty questions. If you know that this will be one of the stages, then it's worth spending some time practicing on LeetCode. Often times, there will be edge cases (an extreme example of an input to your problem-solving function) you must consider and going in without much programming experience will make it more likely you don't take into account the edge cases and fail the test.

The take-home test is a mathematical problem that takes a few hours to solve. You then submit your solution to the firm. Here, the firm is looking for attention to detail, clear explanation of technical details and of course, a correct solution. The question will often be wordy to test your reading comprehension.

The timed set of technical questions is a simulated technical interview. Here, you'll be given a set of mathematical questions you need to solve quickly, and your score will determine whether or not you proceed to the next round. Practicing technical questions is key for passing these type of round. FutureQuant offers a library of technical questions and a Mock Interview tool which replicates this type of test.

Psychometric testing is often used to test candidates looking to be a trader in quantitative finance rather than quantitative researchers, but it can still be found in the application process of some firms. Psychometric testing might be

  • An IQ test
  • Rapid mental arithmetic and sequences
  • Reaction-time testing
  • Interactive problem-solving
  • Personality testing

For these, it is worth just having a good night's sleep, a coffee and doing these tests as best and as honestly as you can (for personality testing, they can determine if you lie or give conflicting answers).

The Technical Interview

This round is the usually the real filter which will determine whether or not you succeed, and it is considered to be the most challenging stage of the interview process. All firms will have their own version of a technical interview. You are allotted between one and two hours to speak with experienced quants within the firm. They will begin by going through your CV and assessing your motivation. Here, you will explain what you did in university, covering notable modules, specialisations and projects. It is worth preparing a good explanation of your CV and in particular writing up a draft explaining your projects clearly and concisely so that it is fresh in your mind.

Next, you'll be given a series of technical interview questions, covering a range of mathematics, derivatives pricing, brainteasers and programming. The exact tilt towards a given field will vary depending on your background and the role you're applying for, but mathematics is the most common type of question. FutureQuant offers a variety of example interview questions to give you a feel for the type of question you'll be asked. Most often, they are centred around linear algebra, statistics and probability theory, but you can get a feel for the type of questions you'll be asked by examining the role specification.

When preparing to be a quant, practicing technical questions should occupy the majority of your time. If you are able to answer every question on the FutureQuant website without any hassle, you will be well-placed to excel in the technical interview. Preparation is absolutely key.

When going into a technical interview, you should heavily prioritise being well-rested. A great strategy is to have a sugary drink or a light meal before your interview to increase your blood sugar levels. This will mitigate against feelings of nervousness you might feel in the interview. Don't underestimate nerves - they can impede your ability to think clearly and jeopardise your performance. Interviewers will deliberately put you under pressure to test your stress-tolerance and your ability to think clearly under intense conditions - this is a key part of the job, and don't take it personally. As a result, it is quite normal for your first interviews to go poorly, don't be disheartened! Acing the technical interview is all about practice.

After the Technical Interview

Firms will often have several rounds of technical interviews with increasingly senior members of staff. This doesn't necessarily mean that the questions will be more difficult, but usually that your areas of expertise will be questioned more. Since you will be joining a trading desk, the senior staff will be examining what knowledge and skills you will bring to the firm. If you have spent significant time in your field and have a high level of confidence in it, you should have no issues.

Sometimes you will have a final interview with other staff to assess your soft skills and fit for the company. If you're genuinely interested and motivated to pursue a career in quantitative finance, then this should be no issue. Firms will often look for candidates with honesty and a desire to improve. As a result, I would strongly recommend being as honest as possible about your strengths, weaknesses and how you intend to improve on weaknesses. Self-awareness is a highly sought after trait in candidates.


In conclusion, getting your first job as a quant can be a long and tiring process. Sometimes you can be rejected simply because of the hiring needs of the firm at the time, or the state of the markets can determine how selective hiring firms will be with candidates. Once again, don't take this personally. Recruitment is a ruthless game and if you're well-prepared, the right opportunity will come. The key is to be determined and persevere until you find a great job for you. Getting your first job is by far the most difficult: with a year of experience on a trading desk, many doors open for lucrative experienced quant roles and other jobs within the quantitative finance space. Experienced quants are highly sought after, so changing roles is usually much easier. FutureQuant offers a range of tailored resources in trading, mathematics, derivatives pricing and programming to fast-track you into a career in quantitative finance. Our technical question directory and practice tools will rapidly improve your ability to ace the technical interviews, and our company directory will provide you with an extensive list of firms in the space to minimise the time spent searching the internet. If you want to maximise your chances of landing your first quant job in as little as a couple months, consider checking our our free lessons or purchasing a premium membership for our website.