What Consultants Can Teach Aspiring Bankers About Brain Teasers

Consulting-wannabes are the kings of answering questions they don’t readily know the answer to…hello banking brain teasers!

It’s an important trait for people who will talk sh*t for a living for the next five years and help CEO’s realize ‘value’.

How can we harness their brainteaser prowess for banking interviews?

Brainteaser Type A

Like every accomplished McConsultant you should understand with some brainteasers there’s no exact answer; e.g. how many pitch books would fit into a Lear Jet.

With this in mind you’ve got some license to roam free in BS-land, but there are rules.

First always ask clarifying questions when you feel it is necessary – e.g. what type of plane is it?  But don’t be a smart ass with “Are the balls Spalding or Wilson?” even though it would be oh so sweet to stump a banker hellbent on your destruction.

Second, always state your assumptions – e.g. the seats are in the plane.

Third and most importantly, ensure you explain to the interviewer every step of your working out.  Whether you do your working out on paper or in your head you still need to communicate it verbally.

Finally, arrive at an answer, whether that’s an approximate number or a range.

But clearly Type A brainteasers are more about how you get to the ‘answer’ – not the answer itself.  This might explain why consultants can hand in 80 page reports where the conclusion is “inconclusive” and still get paid!

We spend significant time running through exactly how you should answer a mindf***er Type A brainteaser in Best Investment Banking Brain Teaser Example.

Brainteaser Type B

What about exact-answer brainteasers, like 99 squared?

Although there is an exact answer you’ll get double points for explaining how you got there and you’ll safeguard your ass in case your calculations deliver an incorrect final answer.  So as with Type A brainteasers spend time working the answer out verbally and you should be fine.


Photo by moaskey