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What are questions you would ask if you are conducting an interview for hiring a Operations Research Analyst?

asked 15 Jun '10, 19:41

Venky's gravatar image

Venky
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retagged 26 Nov '11, 14:28

fbahr's gravatar image

fbahr ♦
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I wasn't quite sure how to interpret this question - whether you are going to be hiring someone and were wondering what to ask, or whether you will be job hunting and want to prepare...?

(16 Jun '10, 00:06) DC Woods ♦

We are hiring a Senior OR analyst in our group.

(16 Jun '10, 04:43) Venky

I've been involved in the hiring process for quite a few of our staff - not specifically for OR people, but for analytics consultancy in general.

I don't like the "prepared question and answer" approach. My method is just to chat generally with the candidate about their experience, what they've done, the results and methodology. For students, about what they've studied, how it was presented, etc. You can usually detect pretty quickly whether they actually know what they're talking about or are just using words and concepts they read in a Wikipedia summary.

Sometimes I briefly discuss areas that I find interesting, or have been in the news lately and see how they respond. If they run with it and contribute original ideas (even if they are a bit weak or naive) then thats a good sign. If they just just nod and look scared its a bad sign.

Instead of putting people on the spot to respond, as with an "interview question", I prefer to give them the opportunity to respond and see whether they take it. Its more how a consultant has to function once they're out with clients.

All that said, if I was hiring an OR analyst I would mainly be concerned with how they are able to apply their knowledge. I don't care if they know every algorithm or theoretical problem. I'd probably describe a real world scenario and ask them to describe how they would go about solving it. A typical answer would be describing which theoretical problem and algorithm has to be used, an impressive answer would concentrate more on the process - including interactions with the client (sourcing business requirements, data availability, domain knowledge, project constraints, etc).

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answered 16 Jun '10, 00:03

DC%20Woods's gravatar image

DC Woods ♦
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accept rate: 5%

Yup, interactions with client is the most important skill you are looking for. Couldn't agree more with you.

(16 Jun '10, 04:47) Venky

Case-based interviews seem to be pretty popular these days. If you're hiring someone who will work with client firms, I'd be tempted to describe (in very general terms) a typical client's initial contact with the company and then ask the candidate how she/he would proceed from there. Among other things, I'd be very curious as to whether the candidate would go in with an open mind and ask the right questions, versus the "I have a hammer so every problem is a nail" approach, as well as whether they would question why constraints exist versus just accepting them as given.

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answered 16 Jun '10, 15:44

Paul%20Rubin's gravatar image

Paul Rubin ♦♦
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accept rate: 19%

These are the questions that I have had in interviews (mostly for quant finance jobs though)

  1. Coupon collection problem (how many cereal boxes you need to buy on average to collect n different kind of coupons)
  2. Handshakes in the room (if the number of people in the room are N how many handshakes are possible)
  3. We have two cars one goes with 30miles for half of the way and 90 mph for the next half. the other goes with constant speed of 60mph what is the length of the road for each of them to win (or something like that I cannot really remember)
  4. If you position involves managing programmers (or development) you will get some questions revolving around programming buzz words (design patterns, generics, hadoop,...)
  5. Most of them want to know how you solve a problem. Make sure that you are demonstrating your problem solving abilities.

Good luck with job hunting and hire me later ;)

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answered 15 Jun '10, 21:38

Mark's gravatar image

Mark ♦
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accept rate: 9%

I am not job hunting though, but we are actually hiring a senior OR Analyst. Thanks for your answer. We didnt think of asking simple OR puzzles.

(16 Jun '10, 04:46) Venky

I like to present a problem that I'm currently working on, or that i've worked in the past, and just see how they think about formulating a solution. I don't think there's much value in presenting someone with a problem they can reasonable work and solve during the course of an interview, but if you can talk back and forth about a real world issue that they might face if employed there, then you should be able to get a sense of how well that person would perform in the situation--how they think about problems, how they explore different options, what questions they ask you etc.

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answered 04 Feb '11, 02:48

Jon%20Davis's gravatar image

Jon Davis
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accept rate: 16%

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Asked: 15 Jun '10, 19:41

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Last updated: 26 Nov '11, 14:28

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