Common Mistake #10: failing to respect the interviewer
As an interviewer, I saw many common mistakes committed by interviewees from all kinds of background. For example, I was often amazed at how many job candidates showing no respect for me or my coworkers at the job interview.
Yes, many quant job candidates are accomplished invidividuals. I have interviewed a world-class chess player, an accomplished violinist, an inventor with a dozen patents to his name (yes, I checked them out on the USPTO website), at least two writers who published through big-name publishers, and many very bright people who excelled in their academic fields.
No matter how accomplished you are, though, you need to remember that the fact you’re interviewing for a job means you need a favor from somebody else, and this somebody includes the people who interview you. They may look dumb to you, but behind that facade may be a multi-millionaire trader, an ex-rocket scientist who designed sophisticated navigation systems and who made a successful transition to quant, or an ace C++ programmer who can write lean and mean code and who at night is an avid contributor to open source projects. No matter how accomplished you are, since you’re looking for a job, you need to be humble. You need to be modest. You need to keep your ego in check.
And you need to respect your interviewers.
The dumbest thing an interviewee can do is show disrespect at the interviewers, to behave as if he or she is superior to the folks who interview him or her and who can decide if he or she gets the job. You can literally be the best candidate for the job, skill-wise, but if nobody on the team likes you, the boss is not likely going to hire you, because in today’s quant environment, nobody works alone, everything is done in teams. (For instance, ever heard of the term Extreme Programming?)
So, to maximize your chances at getting a job, learn to act and talk humble. (Don’t go the other extreme of self-deprecating, though!)