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Thread: A Tale of Two Interviews (by request)

  1. #1
    The Dry Sweater hedgequant's Avatar
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    A Tale of Two Interviews (by request)

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    I realize that few econ programs interview, and given the different strategy of many schools that makes sense. A few people here asked me to tell a bit about my interview experience, so I figured I'd talk about the interview I just completed, and one I completed a few years ago (before I improved my profile 50x over). They were night and day, and I imagine if an econ department interviewed you, it would be much more like the "night" version described below. In case it's not clear, the one I just did is described as the "day" and the more intense as "night".

    ================================================== ==============================

    Notification/scheduling and arrangements:

    Day: I received an email from the head of the Finance Department on Dec 20th or so asking if I would like to come visit the campus with a group of applicants. I of course agreed, and I was told that 5 of us would be coming out (3 were semi-local and 2 from different parts of the country). I didn't get a formal itinerary until the day before, and it was roughly "go see a basketball game with PhD students, eat dinner, the following morning have breakfast at the department, have 2 45-minute sessions, eat lunch then leave." When I responded to the department head, we sent a few bantering emails back and forth.

    Night: I received an automated email from the department application system telling me I'd been selected to interview and that I would receive further notification of travel arrangements, etc. I got the email about in early Feb, about 3 weeks before the interview date. When I responded, I got a very short email saying "I look forward to meeting you later this month."

    Night before:

    Day:Go to dinner and a sporting event with 5 applicants and 3 PhD students.

    Eat a terrible chicken sandwich by myself in the hotel room

    Interview Day

    Day: Business casual attire, at their request. Group meetings in the morning for breakfast, going around the room introducing ourselves, and giving 30 seconds or so on our backgrounds. Then, talking generally with faculty asking broad questions to us in the group setting, sometimes individually relating to our own experience and sometimes asking a question for everyone. After breakfast, we split into two groups (I was part of a group of 3) and met with 3 faculty. They talked to us in a more general tone, saying things like "I wish I had known XYZ before I started my PhD", and just giving advice and answering questions.

    We then switched rooms and had 3 different faculty talk with us for another 45 minutes. This group included the head of the Department and was ever-so-slightly more "deep" with questions, but still very friendly and light-hearted in tone. The only way for a difficult question to come up would be if you invited it by saying something like, "you know, the equity premium puzzle is really a simple issue..."

    Following the "interview" we went to a casual lunch with more PhD students and then left for home.

    Night: Business attire, to be safe. We meet downstairs at the hotel at around 7:30am to catch the shuttle to campus, and realize there must be 20-25 of us interviewing. We all congregate in a large meeting room and have breakfast, with various students and faculty sprinkled throughout. Everyone has name tags, and everyone is much more on edge. We receive a schedule with individual interview times, each one set for about 20 minutes. In between interviews, we all sort of talk to each other, but there isn't much to do.

    During the interview I am asked a large number of questions:

    -why do you want to do a PhD in Finance?
    -what would you prescribe to fix the issues with banks taking on too much risk?
    -how would you explain CAPM to your mom?
    -what is a convex set?
    -what type of math preparation do you have?
    -what is a determinant?

    I am also given a chance to ask questions:

    -how have recent placements been?
    -what does voluntary turnover look like? (in finance, unlike econ, most people are accepted with the hope they will successfully complete the program)
    -what is the split between TA/RA, and what writing goals are in place before the completion of the program?

    After lunch, we do a walking tour of the university, led by a PhD student, and he answers any remaining questions we have. At the end of the tour, they give us the number to call a cab, and we are free to go. About 2 weeks later I noticed that offers were being made, but it was not for another month or so that I received my formal rejection.

    I'm too tired to type more on this post, but I'm happy to answer questions if I can.
    The long road has finally come to an end. Rice (3/11/13)

  2. #2
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    Hey hedgequant,
    first of all thank you for sharing!

    I have a little questione; what do you mean when you mention slightly more "deep" with questions"? do you mind to elaborate a little bit further?

    Thank you again!

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