The initial interview for the role was held at their office with the Head of Analysis and lasted much longer than any other interviews I had - about 90 minutes. I saw this position advertised on graduate-jobs.com and applied with my CV and cover letter.
Because the job position was maths based and a graduate role, the interview geared towards my mathematics degree and which modules I did - especially statistics ones. I thought it was quite casual so wasn't a typical style interview as the interview was mostly interested about what I had on my CV and getting more detail about the topics I covered to get an idea of where I was at. I really enjoyed this interview because it didn't feel like I was being tested to a standard, but more like what I'd already learnt and what level of training I would need on the job. The interviewer also went into a lot of detail about the job position itself and what the company actually did and how my degree is related to this field. As a keen problem solver, I really enjoyed on the spot questions like "how many airplanes are in the air right now" as it's all about how one would go about approaching the problem, rather than just getting the right answer. It was also quite insightful to compare our methods - we found one was qualitative and one quantitative!
Most difficult question
The most difficult question ironically seemed the most simple. I was asked to describe the term "variance" to someone without a mathematical background. Fellow mathematics graduates may understand why this task wasn't as straight forward as it sounds. While studying for our degree we are so used to listening to lecturers teaching us, being asked questions but also asking each other for help using the mathematical language we've been using since A Level. There hasn't ever been a time where we would explain mathematical terms to someone without the background. Although a bit taken aback by this request, with some probing and the help of a pen and paper I was eventually able to give a correct explanation of the term.
As a tip, I wouldn't recommend mathematicians to start practising explanations for every maths term we've learnt after GCSE. I find that explaining terms work best when knowledge is raw and not rehearsed. It's not a test, so questions aren't looking at if you know what it is, but how you can explain in different ways to others. I would definitely use this tip to describe my entire interview; it was a conversation and therefore not rehearsed. There were no competency based questions but based on my cv, my skills, my answers and my questions. Interviews should be unique to the interviewee so the main feeling you should have when leaving should be weather or not you enjoyed the conversation.
Experiences at the assessment centre
After the initial interview, I was invited back, along with 3 other candidates for the final stage interview with the Founder and Operations director. After passing the round to ensure I was capable of doing the actual job, this was supposedly how I would fit in the company as a whole and if I could cope with everyday things like presentations or meeting clients.
One of the questions I was asked was if I feel I was more outgoing or - the opposite. As an Analyst, there's a lot of data and independent thinking with deep concentration. However it was important that the company employed an analyst who was also comfortable with presenting their ideas and findings to their team or to clients. This second interview was more about the "soft" skills and personality traits shows a candidate can fit into their culture and working environments. Another interesting question was like "do you consider yourself to be unique?". These interviews are definitely much harder than initial technical interviews as it takes candidates out of their comfort zones. Being a company, a new graduate employee would be given significant exposure to the entire business so I understood how important it was for them to select an all rounded candidate.
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