Optiver office lobby

The Ultimate Guide to the Optiver Interview

Published February 4th 2024
Last edited May 8th 2024

The Optiver interview process is a comprehensive and multi-faceted application process which is designed to evaluate your capabilities and suitability for a career in trading.

This article aims to offer you an in-depth overview of the entire procedure, emphasizing not only the structure and contents of each stage but also providing guidance on how to effectively prepare for every segment of the interview. The complete process consists of four main stages, each focusing on a specific aspect of your skills, knowledge, and personality traits.

Stage 1: Online Assessments

The initial stage requires you to complete a series of online assessments, designed to evaluate your numerical proficiency, analytical abilities, and decision-making speed. The assessments, listed in the sequence they should be taken, are:

  1. 80-in-8 Math Test (Arithmetic): This high-pressure test challenges you to solve 80 arithmetic problems in 8 minutes, assessing your rapid mental calculation skills.
  2. NumberLogic (Sequences) Test: This test assesses your ability to discern patterns and predict subsequent numbers in a sequence, examining your logical reasoning.
  3. Zap-N (Mini Games, Cognitive Test): Comprising nine mini-games, this test evaluates a variety of your cognitive abilities, cumulatively lasting about an hour.
  4. Beat The Odds (Probability Test): Your grasp of probability concepts and quick thinking are put to the test in this assessment.
  5. Zap-Q (Personal Questionnaire): This personality assessment aims to construct a profile of your characteristics, which will be referenced in subsequent interview stages.

Preparation Guidance:
The first two tests, 80-in-8 Math Test and NumberLogic, are skills-based and can be practiced for using our Orange Test which has separate dedicated practice modes for both the arithmetic and sequence test.

To prepare for the Zap-N Test, you can review our guide to the Zap-N Test.

Preparation for the Beat The Odds test can be carried out by working through our brainteaser database, which includes a large collection of Optiver interview questions. To find these go to our brainteaser database and filter for firm Optiver.

The Zap-Q test, being a personality assessment, cannot be practiced for in a traditional sense. You should approach this test with authenticity, but should be mindful of the personality traits required to be a trader. It's crucial to present genuine responses, as the traits signaled may be scrutinized in later HR stages of the interview process. If you've never taken a personality test before and are curious as to what they look like roughly, consider taking this personality test to get an idea of what to expect. 

Stage 2: HR Interview

If you successfully navigate the online assessments, you move on to the HR interview. The HR interview at Optiver is a critical component of the selection process, designed to assess not just your technical capabilities, but also your motivation, cultural fit, and overall understanding of the trading industry. This interview goes beyond the usual resume walkthrough and delves into your personal attributes, your genuine interest in Optiver and trading, and your knowledge about market trends and theories. Let us explore the key focus points for this stage:

1. Motivational and Content-Driven Focus: The HR interview usually starts with a strong emphasis on your motivation and reasons for applying to Optiver. Questions like "Why do you want to work at Optiver?" and "Why choose Optiver over others?" probe into your understanding of the company and your genuine interest in being a part of it.

2. Understanding of Market Dynamics: The interview also touches upon current market trends and basic trading concepts. Questions such as "What is going on in the markets right now?" and "What do you know about options?" assess your market awareness and your grasp of essential trading principles like option theory and market making.

3. Personal Evaluation: The HR interview is keenly focused on you as an individual. Questions like "What are your weaknesses?" or "How do your friends describe you?" are aimed at understanding your self-awareness and personal attributes. Similarly, inquiries about hobbies or leisure activities provide a glimpse into your personality and life outside academics or professional work.

4. Behavioral Assessment: Questions like "Have you worked in teams?" or "What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?" are designed to evaluate your teamwork abilities, problem-solving skills, and resilience – all crucial traits for a successful career in trading.

5. Technical Understanding & Analytical Skills: The interview may include brainteasers or numerical questions to assess your analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. Things to be expected are questions like "Make me a market on the number of planes currently in the air" or a probability brainteaser to test your ability to think on your feet and your understanding of trading concepts.

6. Knowledge of Financial Markets and Instruments: You are expected to have a solid understanding of financial markets and instruments. Questions such as "What is Market Making?" or "What are the Greeks?" test your knowledge of trading terminologies and concepts.

7. Alignment with Optiver’s Culture and Values: The HR interview is not just about assessing your skills and knowledge, but also about gauging your alignment with Optiver’s culture and values. Questions like "What do you think makes a good trader?" or "What are 5 qualities that are important to being a trader?" aim to understand if your personal and professional traits align with what Optiver seeks in its traders.

You are advised to prepare thoroughly for this stage, not just by understanding Optiver’s business and the trading industry, but also by introspecting on your own motivations, strengths, weaknesses, and personal experiences.

Stage 3: Technical Interview

In this stage, you engage in a one-on-one interaction with a trader, delving deep into the technical aspects of trading. You will undergo a comprehensive evaluation of your analytical skills, problem-solving abilities, and understanding of trading and market principles. It's designed not only to assess your technical knowledge but also your ability to think on your feet, make quick calculations, and develop strategies under pressure. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the various components of the technical interview:

- Introduction and Motivational Questions: This segment involves standard introductory questions to understand your motivations and interest in trading and Optiver specifically. Questions like “Why trading?” and “Why Optiver?” set the stage for a deeper dive into your personal connection and commitment to the trading field.

- Analytical Games and Brainteasers: The interview includes a variety of games and brainteasers designed to assess your analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. For instance take a look at Dice Game 3, Dice Game 4 and Dice Option Game 1.

  - Market Making Games simulate real trading scenarios, requiring you to quickly analyze information, make decisions, and calculate your positions and potential profits or losses without the aid of paper or calculators. Practice the basic intuition behind market making games here.

  - Strategic Decision Making: Games like the Card Market Making Game assess your ability to formulate strategies and make decisions that optimize outcomes. This involves understanding the rules, evaluating probabilities, and making calculated choices to maximize expected values.

  - Quantitative Analysis: You are expected to demonstrate your proficiency in quantitative analysis by solving problems related to probability, statistics, and basic mathematical concepts. This could involve calculating expected values, standard deviations, and making market predictions based on given data.

  - Real-time Calculation and Market Analysis: In various market-making scenarios, you are required to perform real-time calculations, understand market dynamics, and make quick decisions. This not only tests your numerical agility but also your ability to remain calm and focused under pressure.

  - Deep Understanding of Trading Concepts: Questions related to specific trading concepts like option theory, the Greeks, or market-making principles test your technical knowledge and understanding of the trading world.

  - Estimation and Confidence Intervals: You may be asked to estimate certain market-related figures or probabilities and provide confidence intervals for your estimates. This tests your ability to gauge uncertainty and make informed decisions based on partial information.

  - Mental Agility and Calculation Speed: Fast-paced mental calculation questions demand quick thinking and a high level of numerical agility. You are expected to perform complex calculations rapidly and accurately, often without the aid of pen and paper.

For candidates looking to prepare effectively for this challenging interview stage, it’s highly recommended to practice the types of questions mentioned above. A helpful resource for this preparation is the brainteaser database on Tradermath. By filtering for the company 'Optiver', you can access a variety of relevant practice problems and brainteasers, allowing you to sharpen your problem-solving skills, understanding of trading principles, and mental calculation speed in a targeted and efficient manner. A thorough grasp of statistical concepts, probability, and the ability to think strategically under pressure will be crucial to succeeding in the technical interview at Optiver.

Stage 4: Optiver Superday

The final stage of the Optiver interview, the Superday, is an intense, full-day session involving various segments to test your decision-making skills and readiness for a trading career at Optiver. In most cases, multiple candidates are invited to participate on the same day. This stage takes place at the Optiver office and includes:

1. HR Interview: A deeper, more personal interview to assess your commitment and fit for Optiver.
2. Desk Chat: You get a chance to observe a trader at his desk, providing insight into daily life on a trading floor.
3. Technical Interview: A further assessment of your technical knowledge and problem-solving abilities, potentially introducing new challenges or variations from previous stages.
4. Card Market Making Game: A strategic game where you and other candidates act as market makers, aiming to make profitable trades based on the expected value of playing cards.

Throughout these stages, you are rigorously tested on your numerical and analytical skills, your understanding and interest in the trading industry, and your cultural fit with Optiver. The process is demanding and requires thorough preparation, quick thinking, and a genuine passion for the field of trading. Let us delve into the different parts of the Superday:

HR Interview: This a deeper, more personal interview, often conducted by two individuals: oftentimes the HR representative you’ve previously interacted with and the head of the onboarding program. It's an opportunity to express your genuine interest and fit for Optiver. Be prepared to articulate why Optiver stands out to you compared to other offers, focusing on your enthusiasm for the firm and your alignment with its values. Be prepared to answer personal questions based on the results of your Zap-Q questionnaire and your resume.

Desk Chat: You will be given a chance to step onto the trading floor and stand beside one of the traders. This is an observational phase where you can ask questions and gain insight into the daily life of a trader. Meanwhile, the trader may assess your basic understanding of trading and fundamentals of option theory through technical questions. Many candidates feel this is the most relaxed element of the Superday. While this chat is generally considered to be relaxed, it's advisable to maintain a humble demeanor and steer clear of overly intense discussions and difficult questions, focusing instead on learning, listening and getting to know the person you’re there with.

Technical Interview: This further assesses your technical knowledge and problem-solving abilities, conducted by two (oftentimes more senior) traders. It might include variations from previous stages or introduce new challenges. Expect a focus on expected value card games or similar strategic assessments, building on the knowledge from earlier rounds. Don't forget to practice Numbers Game, Coin Flipping Game, Coin Flipping Game 2 and Coin Flipping Game 3.

Card Market Making Game: A strategic game played in a group setting where you act as market makers. This game is not only a test of your analytical skills but also a chance to demonstrate your ability to communicate and make decisions under pressure.

Closing Remarks

The guide underscores the importance of intense preparation for each segment of the process. It provides insights and resources for practicing specific tests, understanding the nuances of behavioral interviews, and honing the analytical and strategic thinking necessary for the technical interviews and Superday challenges.

In essence, success in the Optiver interview process demands a blend of sharp intellect, strategic acumen, and genuine passion for trading, along with a personality that resonates with Optiver's culture. Aspiring candidates are advised to approach this rigorous process with thorough preparation, a mindset for continuous learning, and an authentic representation of their skills and character.

The big mistake that many candidates make is that they do not take enough time to prepare for the Optiver interview. Be aware of the fact that these jobs are hyper-competitive and that Optiver only selects the cream of the crop. Many candidates spend many months preparing for the different stages and assessments and leave no stone unturned in their preparation. Therefore, in order to stand out of the crowd and maximize your chance of landing the job you need to work hard, be self-critical and take your preparation serious to ensure that you excel at each of the individual stages of the Optiver interview. 

Regardless on whether you succeed, embarking on this journey with Optiver can be both challenging and immensely rewarding, offering a unique opportunity to grow, excel, and potentially be part of one of the most influential trading firms in the world.  And always remember, each stage of the interview is another opportunity to showcase who you are and how you can contribute to the innovative culture and continued success of Optiver.