Tuesday 19 January 2016 9:59 am

Job interview questions from the City's toughest banks including Barclays, HSBC, RBS, Lloyds, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs

There's nothing worse than going into a job interview without quite knowing what you're in for. And given that City institutions are notoriously tough on their interviewees, going for a chat at City banks is particularly nerve-wracking.

But worry no more: careers website Glassdoor.com has listed some of the toughest questions its interviewers asked potential employees. So you can go in ready for anything they can throw at you…

Goldman Sachs

  • Quantitative analyst: You have 10 mice and 1000 bottles of wine. You also have 24 hours before a party, and one of the bottles has been tainted with a slow acting poison, which takes 24 hours to kill a mouse. In the 24 hours you have remaining, how many bottles can you guarantee safe for human consumption (assume humans and mice react identically)? Assume the lethal dosage is insignificant relative to the size of the bottle.
  • FX options trading: There’s a 60 per cent chance it will rain on Saturday AND Sunday. What is the probability that there will be rain on the weekend.
  • Technology analyst: Assume that you are the minister of transport, and you have to change UK's traffic from left hand side of the road to the right hand side…

Read more: Can your boss snoop on your emails? Not quite…

Morgan Stanley

  • Quantitative analyst: You have a deck of 52 cards, and you keep taking pairs of cards out of the deck. If a pair of cards are both red, then you win that pair; if a pair of cards are both black, then I win that pair; if a pair of cards has one red and one black, then it's discarded. If, after going through the whole deck, you have more pairs than I do, then you win $1, and if I have more pairs than you do, I win $1. What is the value of this game in the long run?
  • Operations analyst: Name three regulatory bodies
  • Investment banking analyst: How would you value a biotech company?

JP Morgan

  • Structuring: Two buckets, 50 white balls 50 black balls. How do I arrange the balls so that, if I pick a ball from a bucket at random, I maximise my chance of choosing a white ball? What is the probability?
  • Quantitative analyst: A line of 100 airline passengers is waiting to board a plane. They each hold a ticket to one of the 100 seats on that flight. (For convenience, let's say the nth passenger in line has a ticket for the seat number n.) Unfortunately, the first person in line is crazy, and will ignore the seat number on their ticket, picking a random seat to occupy. All of the other passengers are quite normal, and will go to their proper seat unless it is already occupied. If it is occupied, they will then find a free seat to sit in, at random. What is the probability that the last (100th) person to board the plane will sit in their proper seat (#100)?
  • Investment banking analyst: Imagine a country with no mobile network which would like to sell some licences to network operators. How would you go about valuing the market?


  • Wealth management analyst: If I wanted to buy a house and I have money in different currencies, which currency is the most beneficial for me to use?
  • Summer analyst: You and I are sitting at a round table, playing a game of coin. By turns we put down a coin on the table until the table is full. The first person who cannot put down another coin has lost. Do you want to put down the first or the second coin?
  • Market risk analyst: How do you decide which discount curve to use when valuing future cash flows of financial instruments (bonds, IRS,…)?


  • ‚ÄčInvestment banking analyst: If you had a sizeable sum of money to invest in a company (with a large stake), what would you want to know when deciding whether to invest?
  • Sales and trading analyst: Do you prefer to be a leader or a follower?
  • Analyst – global markets: Where will the world be in 2050? What will be the banking landscape at that time?

Royal Bank of Scotland

  • Graduate analyst: Let’s play a game of Russian roulette. You are tied to your chair and can’t get up. Here’s a gun. Here’s the cylinder of the gun, six chambers, all empty. Now watch me as I put two bullets in the gun, adjacent to each other. I close the cylinder and spin it. I put a gun to your head and pull the trigger. Click. Lucky you! Now I’m going to pull the trigger one more time. Which would you prefer, that I spin the cylinder first, or that I just pull the trigger?
  • Markets summer analyst: There are two planes, one travelling at 500mph and another that leaves half an hour later at 600mph. How long until the second plane catches up with the first?
  • Investment banking analyst: I am the chief executive of SAS and would like to improve my image, passenger numbers and customer satisfaction. What are your ideas


  • Summer technology analyst: If you had the opportunity to create an IT system for a charity, what would you charge for it?
  • Summer intern – business technology: How would you handle an unethical situation?
  • Investor relations: Talk to us about how financial regulation has impacted banking in the UK over the last 10 years