Bridgewater Associates Interview Questions & Reviews
Getting an Interview
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Administrative Assistant Interview (Negative Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through a staffing agency and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Bridgewater Associates in April 2014.
Interview Details – Similar to other interview processes below. They bring you in and video-tape the whole interview along with 5 or so others at the same time. Try to play out a game where you discuss leadership keywords and encourage you to speak up as much as possible. They give you lunch and then someone walks in and says the only person they want. Everyone else is expected to leave ASAP. They say they will contact you about why you did not get chosen but you will never hear from them. (Very disappointed in the interviewers - did not think they had much experience themselves in choosing proper candidates for such a prestigious company).
Interview Question – What is your biggest flaw/set-back? Answer Question
Technology Associate Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through college or university and the process took 2 days - interviewed at Bridgewater Associates.
Interview Details – I applied after attending an on-campus information session. They have a strong culture of openness and honesty, and there you get somewhat of a cult vibe from the recruiters. They were all very friendly and down-to-earth, and were also surprisingly fratty, to the point of referring to each other by callsign-esque nicknames. The interview itself was with two employees at once, and featured an audio recorder so they could review my performance after the fact. We dove straight into the case, and I had the chance to ask them questions afterwards. I performed poorly on the case (it was not a good fit, and I had lost my voice and had to speak in a whisper, pretty awkward) and did not get a second round. I believe second rounds were held the very next day, and offers were given out within several days.
Interview Question – The case was an open-ended invitation to identify a problem with elevators and design a software-based solution. The interviewers were aggressive about asking why I chose the topic I did, what I wanted to do with it, etc. They wanted to make sure I could have strong opinions and back them up. I think the process was supposed to mimic a three-way brainstorming session, with me coming up with ideas and them trying to pick them apart. It all felt quite fair. View Answer
Management Associate Interview (Neutral Experience)
I applied through college or university and the process took 5 days - interviewed at Bridgewater Associates.
Interview Details – Like nothing else. The interview is a mix of discussion of philosophical issues with your peers and a few BW people, and personal interviews where an employee asks you to justify your life choices. You are expected to engage on a level employers rarely expect — possibly for good reason. The interview, like the company, felt somehow both violating and revelatory. I was discussing my childhood, passions, relationship with my father at an interview to work at a hedge fund. This seems entirely irrelevant but is indicative of what you'll be seeing should you take a job at Bridgewater. The deep focus on individual strengths and weaknesses can be a beautiful thing and can be very, very unpleasant. Lots of personality testing as well; expect to spend a few hours testing in advance of your debate.
Interview Question – The interview is comprised of surprising philosophical questions. Traditional finance interview prep will not help you. Answer Question
Negotiation Details – No negotiation, the offer is absurdly good
Finance Interview (Negative Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through a staffing agency - interviewed at Bridgewater Associates in February 2014.
Interview Details – The whole process was really long and tiring. It started from a phone interview. They recorded the whole interview. It was an hour long. Once you passed, they will ask you to do personality test.
Interview Question – What would you do if your peers confronted you about something but you knew that you were right and they were wrong. Answer Question
Associate Interview (Neutral Experience)
Interviewed at Bridgewater Associates
Interview Details – I had a group interview with a few other people. Interviewer gave a topic for discussion. We sat around a table, and took turns talking about the topic while the interviewer sat in a corner taking notes. The topics were not finance related, and I'm not sure how we were judged. In the end, we got some feedback a few weeks later.
Interview Question – It was unexpected that we needed to do a group interview with a few other people. Answer Question
Software Developer Interview (Negative Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through a recruiter and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Bridgewater Associates.
Interview Details – It's one thing to hear about Bridgewater's strange culture, another to experience it firsthand. I interviewed for a Software Engineer position with them in 2010, and had been warned that it was "cult-like". I breezed through the initial call and programming challenge they sent me, and remember thinking "this seems pretty normal".
Then they sent me an electronic copy of Ray Dalio's book and told me I was going to be quizzed on it in three days.
This was where things started to get weird. I spoke with two people from management who seemed to be deliberately trying to throw me off balance. They briefly asked about the book, but I get the sense that the real test was in how I reacted under pressure, and whether I could offer "honest feedback" (read: blunt and critical to a point that would have been harmful to team cohesiveness in a work situation). They would deliberately try to lead me on to agreeing with them on things that were outright wrong, and seemed frustrated when I called them on it. They started probing pretty insistently into my personal life: what type of people did I hang out with? What do I do after work? Why? Do I really want the job? How do I know I really want the job?
After about an hour of this, I decided I actually didn't want the job if that was the way the culture was set up, and cut the interview process off myself.
Interview Question – What's the dumbest thing that a past company you've worked at has done, and how did you react to it? Answer Question
Technology Support Associate Interview (Negative Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through a recruiter and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Bridgewater Associates.
Interview Details – I received a call from a recruiter for a phone screening first. Then a couple weeks later somebody I was scheduled with a manager at bridgewater for a technical interview, the interview lasted for about 1hr. The interview was about soft skills and technical skills, even though you give the correct answer to their questions, you are always challenged on your responses, which is not bad until you realize that no matter what you answer you will be challenged. It makes you fill that they don't trust you and that no matter what you say it may never be enough. The interview sounded a little bit elitist
Interview Question – Tell me about your weaknesses Answer Question
Senior Technology Professional Interview (Neutral Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through a recruiter and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at Bridgewater Associates.
Interview Details – I had 2 phone interviews, one with the HR recruiter and then another with the hiring manager, and then flew in for an on-site interview. The on-site interview lasted a whole day (approximately 9:30am-5pm) and included 5 sessions with multiple people from different groups (who would be my managers/piers/employees) as well as sessions for listening to or watching recordings of meetings & sessions held at the company to get a better feel of the culture which is the most important thing at Bridgewater.
I also had to complete a couple of personality tests prior to flying in for the on-site interview.
Interview Question – I was pretty well prepared so nothing was really unexpected. You should be prepared for some questions related to your role but most of it will be around the culture to test your ability to handle criticism, feedback, disagreements, etc. Answer Question
Operations Associate Interview (Negative Experience)
I applied online and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at Bridgewater Associates.
Interview Details – Very strange, no typical interview questions, people interviewed with were very awkward. Was asked a lot of questions, but got very little feedback from interviewer. Any attempts at conversation were futile.
Research Department ( General Placement) Interview (Negative Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through a recruiter and the process took 2 months - interviewed at Bridgewater Associates.
Interview Details – The office visit "Blitz" lasts about half a day. You usually get an option to pick early morning (7am start session) and an afternoon (1pm start). HR meets you in the lobby and brings you up to your designated conference room and the interviweres come to you. The conference room has a whiteboard and dry erase markers,- which you should feel free to use liberally during your interview to help illustrate your points. You are not allowed to leave the conference room, other than for a potty break ( on which you are chaperoned). They take security really seriously there. They bring you food, coffee and water, paper supplies, etc. They also have someone ( not the interviewer) come to check- in on you between interviews, to make sure you are ok, and have everything. The chaperone will take you to their cafeteria. To pass time between interviews, you are given a computer to check out Bridgewater culture tapes, papers and videos. The reason you sign an NDA is so that you dont disclose the names of people mentioned in the culture tapes, who are real people. Most interviews sessions involve three people: you, the interviewer, and another BW person. I am not sure what the role of the third person in the interview is, maybe an observer? The observer doesnt talk much, if at all. The four interview sessions all have different interviewers. All sessions are recorded. Session 1: Debating your weaknesses ( here the point is for you and the interviewers to reach a consensus on what your weaknesses are. The interviewers will point out weaknesses they see in you , and ultimately you have to agree with the intervieweres that you have these weaknesses, and that they are right for poinitng them out. If at the end, you do not agree with the interviewers on the weaknesses they have pointed out , focusing on different weaknesses instead that you think are more apt, the interviweres will penalize you for it. What the interviwers really want is that at the end of the day you agree with their asessment of your weaknesses, if you want a job there.) Session 2: Debating a philosophical point of view ( Here the goal is for you and the interviewer to reach consensus on what is right given the arguements you've laid out. The interviewer acts as a devils advocate. Make no mistake, the interviewer already knows what the right answer to that question is based on BW philosophy. If you do not arrive at that correct answer with your reasoning, then you will be penalized for it. ) Session 3: Asking questions and discussing the different positions at BW and your interest in the company. ( This session is a lot more informal, but the goal is for you and the interviewer to come to a consensus about you being offered a job and if you want it) Session 4; Case Study - here you get to explain your reasoning about something that is in relation to BW current operations. I felt like the case study is the most difficult part, because they push you to move really fast on it, after the initial 5 to 8 minutes you have to contemplate it. I wasnt really able to step back, and revaluate the case study after it was in the "solving mode" , b/c the interviewer would constantly push me to make quick decisions on details, instead of giving me time to think about big picture. It is not like your consulting case studies, and I wish I had done some practice cases ahead of time. (The goal is for you and interviewer to reach consensus on how to solve the case study) . At the end of the interview, they ask you to fill out a an HR feedback form , which would be helpful if I had rememembered the names of all the interviewers. I never had an agenda ahead of time with a list of people who I was talking with, and none of the interviewers had any business cards on them, so that made giving feedback difficult. Overall advice would be that, BW does want you to ask questions, and to disagree and to debate, but ultimately they want to reach a consesus. And if they think you are not reaching consesus with them fast enough, within the time alotted, they will penalize you for not being able to reach consensus quick enough. But if you reach consensus too quickly, that is also not good. So if you want a job there, figure out what the interviewer thinks the rght answer is, and then pretend to reason to reach that conclusion/consensus.
Interview Question – BW wants to implement program X. How are you going to go about implementing it? Answer Question
Reason for Declining – The research department did not look like it was well run and organized, and the people did not feel genuine. BW has some great groups and departments. But Research is not one of them. It seems like they are terribly disorganized and struggle to get anything done there. Research HR had a real issue with reliability, lacked follow through, and would not get back at requests for status updates, and would not respond to emails. They were terrible at adhering to deadlines, providing details and sharing information in a timely and proactive way. Junior people looked exhausted, scared, lacking pride and confidence in themselves,- like they've been put through the ringer and the last drops of confidence have been sucked out of them. Overall, in my interactions with the interviewers, I did not feel like the Senior folks were truly comitted to BW spirit and principles as Ray intended it. Senior folks were more concerned with using the principles as tools of control to subjugate junior people to their will, they were only interested in discussion and debate as long as it supported their view and were not interested in an open debate where both sides are heard equally. Instead of consensus focused debate, its a forced consensus,- where its only consensus if the higher ups agree with it. Research requires originality and independent thinking, if the senior folks logjam in with their forced consensus, then independendt original thought is definitely not flourishing there, but stagnating. Add it to the long list of finance companies where young active smart minds become drones
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