There are a myriad of questions that Wall Streeters like to ask. You can Google the most popular ones. You will get questions like, "Sell me this pen?" "What's going on in the economy?" "What asset classes would you buy?"
I hated all those questions. The candidate will prepare answers and show me nothing about how they think. I wanted questions that had an actual correct answer. However, the key was to show me the easiest way to come up with the answer.
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Here is my favorite question:
In the NCAA basketball tournament there are 64 teams ( I know there are 68 now) that play a single elimination tournament. Say we expanded the field to 512 teams. How many games are played and what is the easiest way to figure it out?
Standard answer: Most of the time they would say its 256 games in the first round, then 128 so 256+128+64+32+16+8+4+2+1= 511. While that's right, that not the easiest way.
The follow-up question would really confuse them. Now we have 348 teams and it's still single elimination, so some teams have first-round byes (That's when a team doesn't play in the first round and automatically moves on). This is where they usually get confused. It takes them a while to figure out how many teams have byes.
Correct answer: 347. The reason is simple. In a single-elimination tournament, there is one winner. Everyone loses their last game. With 512 teams there are 511 losers hence 511 games. With 348 teams, there are 347 losers hence 347 games. You don't need to figure out how many teams get byes. In the 2014 tournament, there are 68 teams and 67 games. UConn was the only team that didn't lose.
Answer this question correctly and you are a winner.