The crew at CB Insights is the funniest and most intelligent team in finance and tech right now.
Today, their newsletter included a group of interview questions CB will use to screen candidates going forward, so we answer the questions below to see if we pass.
Our team has different skillsets that work together in concert. So even though CB originally intended to convey failure from mismatched skillsets with the image above, we altered it to show how we embrace our differences.
And there’s no question CB does too. They’ve flipped the script on management consulting to lead with data, intel, and content. You can’t do this at scale like they’ve done without mixing creative and analytical skillsets.
The Basis Point makes money in consumer finance/housing with management consulting and content/data analysis—we bring the same philosophy as CB to these sectors, but we’re a boutique that just got started so consulting is faster revenue for now (revenue funded!), and they’re a big dog who’s had time/resources to build a data/intel-led model.
So if we pass their their interview test below, we look forward to an acqui-hire.
Check it out and let us know what you think!
What is your spirit animal and why?
SPENCER: Spirit animal is a term that belongs to the indigenous people of North America, so I don’t use it (gotta lay your cards on the table right away in an interview).
JULIAN: Dog. Warm, fun energy. Loyal but independent.
DENNIS: Monkey, because I’m bananaz.
What is your favorite ninja turtle and why?
SPENCER: I’ll cheat on this one and say Master Splinter, because I’m older than most of my friends so I feel like a grizzled old kung fu master teaching them the ways of the world.
JULIAN: The one who likes pizza.
DENNIS: I don’t believe in ninjas, but I love to swim with green sea turtles.
What’s your favorite piece of CB Insights research and why?
SPENCER: The top 20 reasons startups fail, because it makes me feel smarter than the investors who gave money to people who didn’t know what they were doing.
JULIAN: Fintech quarterly report. Most relevant macro data on sector I care most about.
DENNIS: When you say CB Insights, I believe you’re talking about Charlie Brown Insights. This resonates—“Goodbyes always make my throat hurt…I need more hellos.”
Tell me about a time you were humble.
SPENCER: I play bass in a band, and my go-to pop song to play for sound check to get people excited is the bass line from Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble.”
JULIAN: When I sold my fancy car last year and started taking the bus again. It’s amazing how much material things make us think the wrong thoughts about why we do what we do.
DENNIS: It’s a toss up between that time I met the Dalai Lama and when I traveled with my 4 year old daughter and 1 year old twins and had to walk down the aisle with poop on my hands.
What’s your karaoke go-to?
SPENCER: MakeDamnSure, Taking Back Sunday.
JULIAN: Fight For Your Right, Beastie Boys
DENNIS: Baby Come Back, Player
If you could identify with a specific cheese (I was cautioned to be explicit that non-dairy and vegan cheese options were OK), which one would it be and why?
SPENCER: Pepper Jack, because under heat I don’t melt.
JULIAN: Wagon Wheel, Cowgirl Creamery. Because everyone likes it.
DENNIS: Blue cheese (in an olive, in a slightly dirty martini)
Teach me something. You have 10 minutes.
SPENCER: Luckily I’ve been planning to teach a university-level “history of heavy metal” class for the past 13 years of my life. Did you know the guitarist of Primus (you know, John The Fisherman?) was in Possessed, the band that invented death metal in 1987? Now you do.
JULIAN: There’s something called a 1031 Exchange which is the best tax benefit for investing in property you can get. It allows you to defer payment of capital gains taxes when selling a rental property as long as you invest in a new rental property with the sale proceeds of the one you’re selling. If you buy a new property for the same price or greater as the sale property and reinvest all sale proceeds into the new property, you can defer all the capital gains. You have to identity the new property within 45 days of closing the old one, and close on the new one within 180 days. Best kept secret in the tax code. And if you defer your gains into a property in one of the federal opportunity zones, and you hold onto that new property for 10 years, you’re exempt from capital gains when you sell after that.
DENNIS: Today is my daughter’s 5th birthday. Time flies. Couldn’t be more proud of the little girl she has become and how bright her future is. She’s extremely smart, funny, kind, and awful all at the same time. And so far today, I have no poop on me.
Tell me about the last time you did something that scared you.
SPENCER: I’m basically a mess of unathletic long limbs, so I was terrified I’d embarrass the sh*t out of myself starting to do yoga last year. I did, but I had a good time doing it. Embarrassment and failure are my greatest fears, and learning to overcome them in a physical way was really empowering.
JULIAN: When I finally decided to pursue The Basis Point full time as a consulting and media business last summer. Terrifying. But still loving it even with less income and more hours. Way happier.
DENNIS: You’d think my answer would be something involving poop, but I’m no longer afraid of it. I’m one with it now.
What are you passionate about?
SPENCER: I’m passionate about telling the stories that need to be told. There’s nothing I enjoy more than finding a story that people need to hear and translating it into a way that makes it matter.
JULIAN: Family/friends. Creativity. Hiking. Skiing.
DENNIS: I’m passionate about what Julian’s passionate about. Except replace hiking with surfing and skiing with snowboarding, and add wine, technology, typography and music.
What bores you?
SPENCER: Doing the same thing as everyone else.
DENNIS: Long winded answers bore me.
What are you interested in that other people think is boring?
SPENCER: I love hardcore science fiction short stories, which I imagine are radioactive in their level of nerdiness for 90% of people.
JULIAN: Housing data. Because I like to make it interesting to people, and to do that well you must study.
DENNIS: Checking billboard ads to make sure the kerning on the type is good.
Pitch me one idea to make CB Insights better.
JULIAN:Add a small business price tier. Please.
SPENCER: I want perpetual scroll on front page! (I changed this one to request something from Adam on our team instead—sorry, CB Insights!)
If your life was a movie, what would it be called?
SPENCER: Office Space Part II: Revenge Of The Student Loans
JULIAN: Movie Life. Lots of first world drama set among spoils you wonder how we afford. Apatow-helmed obviously.
DENNIS: The Big Pettigrew
So there you have it. What do you think? Do we make the cut? Sound off on our Instagram post.