IIT_Bombay_Logo.svgOptiver is a worldwide trading firm, active on all major financial markets. While it’s originally a Dutch firm, the CEO is a German and the employees come from all over the world (40 nationalities, according to their latest annual report).

Landing a job at Optiver isn’t easy. The mathematical tests are notorious. Optiver and Flow Traders also recruit in India, at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay. The IIT is the most prestigious university of country.

Malayali at Optiver

When Optiver hires you, you can hit the news. Enter Alan John Maniamkot in the Manorama Times. He comes from the south-western state of Kerala, which is inhabited by 33 million Malayali’s. While it’s one of the most well-educated states, they are proud when one of their own people attend the IIT Bombay in the north. And even better, when Optiver hires them for a salary of 80 Lakh a year.

The Malayali media outlet brought the news about the guy hired by Optiver. The piece reads like he was elected as president of the USA. A funny read, about the guy who survived all tests and will start soon in Sydney or Amsterdam. For a reported salary of 80 Lakh. That’s equal to of € 110k. At first assumed it would be a little exaggerated, but I’ve understood this salary is correct.

Optiver’s recruitment procedure

The best part is his description of the recruitment procedure.

The first round of interview centred on mathematical puzzles, probability and speed math games. The second round was an HR interview which also examined the candidate’s financial expertise and general knowledge. The devaluation of the yuan, the debt crisis in Greece and the oil price crash were all subjects of the interview. Allen said his habit of regular newspaper reading paid.

Financial expertise and general knowledge. Most people don’t prepare for such interviews. Such kind of requirements are usually more demanded by asset managers. Probably not a mission critical part of the test. Even more likely the journalist got carried away with some imagination.

The intimidating part of the test is another nice one. Then again, everything is in the eye of the beholder.

The interview board also put into use stress interview techniques. The interviewers sounded intimidating. They gave you looks even if you answered them right, Allen said. The trick was to assess the confidence level of the candidate. Rapid-fire questions were another stress technique.

Expensive interviews

El Chapo lost his freedom after an an interview with Sean Penn. Alan John could lose his new job after an interview with the local magazine. “If Optiver didn’t initiate this interview, I wouldn’t be surprised he can pack his bags”, according to a veteran in the industry. Optiver has an obsession for secrecy, and has a culture to be modest.

However, the times are changing and so is Optiver. Bragging still isn’t their thing. But I’m confident they will forgive Alan John about his open interview to a local newspaper. After all, you could say a new wind is blowing at the Optiver offices.