As you have most likely heard, yesterday afternoon, DE Shaw cut ten percent of its workforce. The news probably suggests that anyone who's been trying to make a jump who'd been considering shooting the hedge fund a resume ought to shelve that idea for now. Looking down the road, however, the firm will at some point start hiring again. And when it does, should you get a call back, there's a question you may not get in interviews with inferior firms that you'll want to be prepared to answer.
An acquaintance looking for a new gig had dinner with a friend whose buddy worked at DES. It was an informal meeting, though knowing he was rep'ing the firm, the Shaw guy came armed with what is presumably the hedge fund's typical spiel. The conversation went like this (this was just after they'd sat down):
DE Shaw Guy: Did you go to an Ivy League school?
DE Shaw Guy: Did you have a 4.0?
DE Shaw Guy: Doesn't matter-- everyone at DE Shaw has that. You know who we hire at DE Shaw?
DE Shaw Guy: GENIUSES. [pauses for emphasis]. How do I know you're a genius?
I'm sure many of you likely consider yourself geniuses but right there, how would you answer that question? Would you whip out a nearly-finished Rubix cube, solve it, throw it on the table and walk out? Start working on figuring that out now.