Why Do Investment Bankers Love Asking Brain Teasers?

“Who gives a f*** if 1.3 or 1.8 million tennis balls can fit in the Empire State Building?”, goes the usual line from a disgruntled student fresh from getting dinged at a Goldman’s super day.

Well, we give a f***, comprende?!

Brain teasers may seem like a waste of time.  As if they are inaccurate barometers of a student’s intelligence.  But this is so far from the truth.

You see, brain teasers are the easiest and fastest way for bankers to weed out the smart kids from the also rans.  With just a few questions (and after just a few minutes) bankers can see if you possess the critical thinking and quantitative skills needed to make it as a junior banker.

When we ask how many balls fit in the Empire State, we’re trying to see whether you can reason out an answer; work through the complex idea, break it apart, assemble answers for the various parts, and then bring it all together in a reasoned conclusion.

Whether you get anywhere near the approx value is not however important.  It’s much more useful to see how you thought through the answer.

As you can see it’s your thinking that’s getting tested.

And unlike some exam you took a year ago for some BS riddled unit like “Picasso Deconstructed 101″, these brain teasers are hard to answer, easy to mess up and offer irrefutable evidence of a student’s intelligence (or lack thereof).

Clearly then, knowing how to answer brain teasers well is a huge skill to possess going into your investment banking interviews.

So what will bankers ask you, what are you expected to reply, what sort of things do they look for, what are the biggest killer mistakes students make, what are the most powerful secrets to answering them well every time and how can you prepare for them…we answer all these questions and more throughout this site.

And if you want to access all the insider secrets on investment banking brain teasers right now, including perfect answers to 88 of the toughest brain teasers in banking then check out our kickass course “88 Investment Banking Brain Teaser Q&As“.

Photo by Ami’s