This post is about the interview process at the high frequency stock trading firm, GETCO, that is no longer around. I almost worked at GETCO and glad I didn’t.
I’ve been in the tech support / IT industry / computers and networking since the late 1990’s. I swing trade stocks on the side for extra money, which is something that always interested me, ever since I was a kid.
One of the most interesting jobs I had was working on the trading floor of the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT.) The trading floor is an amazing place, as most can imagine. The CBOT building is filled with art deco, as the Chicago Board of Trade exchange floor has been operational since 1929. I can tell you many cool stories but that’s for another post.
The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), established on April 3, 1848, is one of the world’s oldest futures and options exchanges. On July 12, 2007, the CBOT merged with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) to form CME Group.
After the Chicago Board of Trade was bought out by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (I worked there as well, which wasn’t nearly as great as CBOT), I applied at GETCO.
GETCO was an incredibly large high frequency stock trading firm in Chicago. High–frequency trading involves buying and selling securities such as stocks at extremely high speeds. High frequency stock traders may hold the shares they buy for only a fraction of a second before selling the stocks again.
Remember how your grandparents bought stocks years ago and held them for years? That’s long term trading. GETCO would trade mass quantities of stocks, with a crap load of money, in milliseconds. Instead of selling stocks months or years later, GETCO would buy and sell literally milliseconds later. That is high frequency trading, automated by programming.
Many have questioned high frequency stock trading, saying it’s unfair and illegal. I could go on and on about how trading firms guaranteed faster trades technically, but won’t bore you with it. One way they do it is by moving closer to the trading floor, physically.
Trading firms would literally move blocks closer to the trading floor, making their network connections shorter. GETCO did this, building a new facility north of the Chicago River, which wasn’t used much after their merger. GETCO is gone and so is that location.
Small investors shouldn’t shrug off high–frequency trading as something that doesn’t affect them. … NEW YORK (TheStreet) — It’s clear enough that high–frequency trading affects professional traders and sophisticated market participants by obfuscating order flows and increasing short-term price instability.
GETCO WAS VERY SECRETIVE
GETCO didn’t want anyone outside of GETCO to know what happened on the inside. The interview process was very secretive.
I get it, it’s a trading firm, but we’re talking about job interviews here. I was told most don’t make it past the first interview and that GETCO was incredibly difficult to get into. The recruiter said I was not to talk to anyone about my interview process. That was 10 years ago and GETCO is history, so screw it.
The spacious lobby of GETCO in Chicago was very clean and white, much like the feel of an Apple store. It was trendy with a new age feel (and a side of creepy.) Most everyone I saw was in their mid 20s to 30s. GETCO employees wore jeans and casual dress shirts and street / gym shoes.
All interviews took place in a spacious side room with brick walls and tile floors, much like your typical Chicago studio apartment.
I had 7 job interviews with GETCO and passed them all with barely any issue. It was nothing too difficult. Most of it was meeting countless people during each interview to see if I could fit in. The first two interviews never seemed to end. A handful of people were brought in during the course of a few hours in one visit alone. I was put in various mental scenarios and asked how I would handle situations. The 7th, and last interview, was lunch with people I would work with. We had sub sandwiches in that same room.
I was offered the position of tech support analyst with GETCO and accepted. Salary was to be $70,000 plus a $7,000 bonus quarterly (every 4 months.) Full medical and dental was free from what I remember. They had tons of money and were ranked as one of the largest, if not the largest, high frequency trading firm in the USA. The position was contingent on a background check…no problem…so I thought. They had said if anything came up on the background check that I didn’t disclose, it’s grounds for a no hire. I told them nothing would be found so no worries.
A couple weeks later I received a phone call with the original GETCO interviewer and the HR person.
The third party company GETCO hires to run background checks did find something. Some lawsuit involving someone else with my name, who lived at a different address (in another state) and who was married to someone else, came up. This was easy to clear up. Someone else with my name, living in another state and married to someone else is who they found!
The idiots at GETCO wouldn’t listen and maintained a dull non-emotional attitude over the phone. The position was revoked. DECLINED. This was beyond ridiculous. Their mistake was obvious but they didn’t care.
I got ahold of the idiot running the background check at the 3rd party company. He admitted they use a google search as their main way to find background check info. He said when the name comes up, that’s what they go with. I told the background check guy it’s the wrong person! The other guy lives in another state! He said GETCO pays them for a basic search and that’s what he gives them. It’s out of his hands.
With all the crap ton of money GETCO makes per second, they’re going to base a new hire on some poor man’s 3rd party out of his apartment searching google. YEP. This is fact. I was told by GETCO and their HR dept. there was nothing they can do.
GETCO had to abide by policy. They said if it came out, in the line of work they do, that one of their employees was in a lawsuit, it would be bad for them. Yeah I get it, but that guy isn’t me! He’s in another state and I can furnish my marriage license to prove I wasn’t married to the woman that other guy is. GETCO didn’t listen and didn’t care.
Their stupidity was unreal. I needed a job. I wasted HOURS and DAYS interviewing. GETCO showed me where I’d be working, where I’d be sitting, who I’d be working with, etc. Declined because of a google search pulling up the first person with my name.
At the end of the day, looking back, I’m glad I never worked at GETCO. There was this jerk guy at the Mercantile Exchange who got a job at GETCO. He reported back via a chain of coworkers he hated it. For this jerk guy to hate it, it must have been bad. He said they worked him ragged and the atmosphere was very militant.
There was also the trip to Singapore I was told I would have to take, every couple months. That would have never worked out for me anyway.
One guy who interviewed me looked very slimy, like a pedophile who sells used cars at the neighborhood dealership that only has 20 cars in the lot at all times. This dude was a creeper. I see him from time to time on the streets of Chicago so he obviously doesn’t work for GETCO anymore. He has no idea who I am but I remember him. He’s 10 years older, with white hair now. Creepy as ever. Glad I never worked for that place.
Sometimes things you want most may not be the best for you. I found a much better job with outstanding people a couple weeks later.
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