Monday, December 1, 2008

Oxford MFE Interview Experience

One of my top choices for postgraduation in finance is the MSc in Financial Economics course at Oxford's Said Business School. The Business school is top-ranked, especially as an International school and the Oxford brand name, in some ways is iconic for the leaders( though more political, than busines ) it has produced. The 9 month course has another speciality: its underlying theme of economics that runs through all the courses. I believe this differentiates it from other courses. The average age group also matches mine and the avg work ex is 2.5 years, which makes it a more professional course than a academic one.

I applied to the school in late October 2008 and got an interview invite on 14th November. Since, I could not travel to Oxford within the short time frame, I opted for a telephonic interview.

I had my interview today with Celine Rochon, who is a Professor of Finance and teaches courses like Financial Risk management, Derivatives and Continuous Time Finance at the MBA and MFE courses. I knew this mapping was probably a result of my FRM background. The mail mentioned that technical questions could be expected. I had to go through my FRM material!!!

The interview started with Celine talking about what the interview expects to measure: my background, my future interests, fit with the course and my questions.

1. So.. was the usual.. please explain ur current work at Lehman/Nomura
Me: spoke about my profile at Valuations control and the work I did.

2. You dont have undergrad background in finance... u have a more "scientific" background..., so will u be able to cope up with the program?
Me: Of course, spoke about my FRM learning and CFA planning.

3. So, how will you contribute to the class?
Me: real-world experiences... matching theoretical learning with practical examples... crisis experience etc..

4. What do you want to do after course?
Me: corp fin, private equity, VC.. areas to explore..spoke a little on this

5. Do u want to do phD after this course?
Me: no..roles want to get into are not research oriented... more industry specific

Then started "technical questions"...
6. If you had to explain VAR to a non-professional wud u explain?
Me: if u had 100 pounds to invest, you wud def want to know how much u wud lose in worst case... so VAR helps u do that... but must be taken with pinch of salt... other measures of risk measurement...stress testing, back testing etc...

7. Considering current crisis, what went wrong with these risk measures? Do we need more regulation? Can regulation replace these risk calculations?
Me: these are tools, if not used correctly, of no use... need more regulation... but firms wud need to manage internal risk too.. cant rely only on regulations.

8. Do you expect structured products to be traded soon?
Me: (I hope so.. else Valuation control wud have no work haha)... yes, they wud be back probably mid next yr

9. When the trading starts for these products, do u expect that old models will be used as it is?
Me: they will be used.. but liquidity and risk weighted premium would be added considering lack of liquidity in mkt

10. Considering mkt scenario, do u think its a risk to go for this course now?
Me: no.. by 2010 things shud improve... and shudnt base career choices on business cycles.. in a recession best time to study

11. What do u want to do 5 yrs from now?
Me: start my financial consulting firm

12. Would Nomura.. want to sponsor you?
Me: dont know...will approach them when the time comes..

13. Would you want to come back to India?
Me: Ya.. probably in the future.

Any questions: asked something abt career placements wrt mbas and do mfe s get a place in traditional mba kind of jobs...

Thank you...nice talking to you.. we will get back to you in early jan..when results are announced..

Overall, a nice experience... did not grill too much... they just want to know your thought process and whether your application matches with your experiences.
Results to be declared on 9th Jan 2009... so keeping fingers crossed till then.


maxzara said...

I had an interview with Celine Rochon too for the MFE course this year. Your interview sounds a lot more technical than mine was, but then it sounds like yours went a lot better than mine.
Any luck with the application?

Would love to hear the results/your information like GMAT/Undergrad course as well.

EcoFin said...

Hey maxzara

Got the admit mail yesterday. How abt you?

Bhaiyyu said...

That is a very informative and detailed post. Thank you very much for it. Congrats on the outcome!

I have an interview with Mr Alan Morrison on 27th Feb.. Your post helped me a lot!

Debbie said...

Thank you for your posting and hope you enjoy your time in Oxford.
I am applying for the last round (June 5)(MFE) and struggling with my sop. five year plans.. I mean,, I understand it is a typcl career goal essay,, but it's hard anyway
any tips?
thank you in advance~

Soumya said...

Hi Pranav

I'm an engineering student from Chennai and I got an interview call for the MFE program. I'd really be grateful if I could contact you with some questions about the interview. My email is id, so drop me a line when you can!

Pradeep said...

Hi Pranav,
I'm applying for the program too, this application season. Glad if you could drop me a line at for a few tips :)

Maksym Antonov said...

Hi Pranav,

I had an MFE interview in 2011, and it looks like they have changed something. During my interview, there were no non-technical questions, and the technical ones were all problems and current situation evaluation.

However, I think it all depends on your interviewer, and I have not heard about Ms Rochon since. BTW, here is my interview experience:

Gabriel said...

rahHi I'm just finished my final year and would like your advice on getting into Oxford MFE please!

Undergrad: University of London BSc Accounting & Finance (First Class Honours)

Experience: One IB internship, one consumer banking job and a whole other host of random jobs

Referrals: Can most likely get 2 from Industry (one MD and my former bank, one former General Counsel
at a large conglomerate ($16b mkt cap) i used to intern at and one academic (my microeconomics lecturer))

GMAT: Not taken but working towards 700+

What kinda profile did you have back when you were applying?
Do you have any advice for me? What kinda GMAT score will give me a shot at an interview? Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much. Looking forward to your reply!