Ten interview questions designed to stump bankers and consultants

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You won’t find many people out there that believe interviews are “fun,” particularly in banking or consulting. At best, they are an endurance test that you can derive some joy out of passing.

But some questions, at least for those who are inquisitive or mathematically inclined, can spark interest and curiosity, especially if you get to think about them at home rather than in front of a panel of suits.

Below are ten questions that were asked of MBAs over the last two years. Some have an actual answer. Others leave room for a bit more creativity. How would you do?

1. If I promised to give you a $1 every year for the rest of your life, what is that worth today?

2. So you play poker? What are the odds of flopping a flush if you have two cards of the same suit? What about the turn if one of the cards on the flop is off suit? How about the river? What if there is $200 in the pot and the guy ahead of you bets $40. Do you make the bet? How many people must bet before you have good “pot odds”?

3. Let’s say I have two envelopes. And I tell you that one has twice as much as the other one. You open the first one and it has $100. You may open the second one but you forfeit the $100. What do you do?

4. I’m going to give you five plays in baseball and you tell me which one you would rather complete. 1. Hitting a lead-off double. 2. Completing an un-assisted double play. 3. Sacrifice bunting a runner from second to third. 4. Hitting a double and scoring the runner who was on second base. 5. As a pitcher striking out the other team’s best hitter.

5. A coffin company in a little country called Moldavia makes budget-priced, machine-made coffins and hand-made, high-end coffins. The company’s craftsmen who make the hand-made coffins are slowly retiring and new people are harder to find. The company is thinking about revamping their factories to install machinery to manufacture high-end coffins. What issues would they have to think about to make this decision? How could we estimate the market size for coffins in Moldavia if there are 5 million residents, people only live to age 75 and coffins are sold at $1,000 each (you have to make your own assumptions)

6. How profitable would it be to serve a cup of coffee to a tourist on Alcatraz?

7. A private equity firm is looking to acquire a company that installs and operates independent banking machines/ATMs. It is looking to get a 25% return over the next five years. What factors should it be looking at when considering the acquisition?

8. Tell me a Microsoft product that you hate? How would you fix it?

9. If you could buy one stock for the next 50 years what would it be?

10. What will you do if the stock falls 30% after one month of your buy recommendation?

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