Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How to Interview For a Job: Three Keys

Mike at SMB Capital recently posted his ten interview tips for those pursuing positions with proprietary trading firms. Really, they're good tips for any position you might be interviewing for.

Here are my tips for interviewing, two of which dovetail with Mike's:

1) Outprepare Everyone - Know more about the firm you're applying to than any other applicant. Read about them, talk with people about them, know what they do--and be prepared to explain to them, specifically, why you are interested in *them*. Companies want to find a good fit between the interests and skills of applicants and the demands of the positions. Show them that you recognize that fit.

2) Don't Just Talk About Hard Work - Instead, show them hard work. Show them your achievements and efforts. Losers talk about their interest in trading. A winning interviewee will bring in his or her trading account statements and trading journal and *show* the interviewer the fruits of real labor.

3) Make a Connection - Here's where I might differ from Mike: research tells us that an interviewer's first impression really counts. Dress well. Make the most of eye contact, a handshake, and just plain good social skills. Looking and sounding good won't get you the job, but making a bad impression can lose you the spot. Remember, you're going to be part of a team. On average, people would rather have teammates they like than those they don't like.

Preparation and hard work: sound familiar? The same elements that make for a good interview also make for successful trading.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Brett ~

As someone who at different phases of his career has had responsibility for hiring and managing many hundreds of people, I second your observations: they are precisely correct.

Your points are correct not only when trying to get a seat at a prop desk, but in any field. Yours are wise words during tough economic times.

Interestingly, if TraderFeed readers will scroll back to and reread your recent, brilliant post about relationships being mirrors, they will find your points are keys to that sector as well.

Personally, I believe that the single most important point made in your and Mike Bellafiore's remarks on getting hired is "Don’t sell me." In an article to which you were also a contributor this was phrased as "Don't sell yourself, buy them." Every trader sharp enough to get a job at a prop desk understands exactly what this means: Outprepare.

I believe, though I am not particularly insightful and surely no psychologist, that Mr Bellafiore is underestimating the impact "likability" has on him in his hiring decisions.

Once one reaches a certain level of achievement, whether it be in elite athletics, university academics, or trading, everyone in the room has skills. At the end of the day our colleagues turn out to be those we want to spend time in a room with.