Wednesday, October 25, 2006

IMF Interview

IMF preliminary interview at the Westbury hotel in London's West End at 9:30 am.

Interviewers are the chief recruitment officer from human resources department and a senior economist (who turns out to be a former member of STICERD).

The recruitment officer first explains briefly what the Economist Programme is like. Then she asks me if I can finish my PhD next year. She says it will be very hard to do the IMF work and the PhD thesis at the same time. She suggests to apply next year if I don't think I can.

The senior economist asks me about my AEA Papers & Proceedings paper written with Tim. He asks if that paper is related to my job market paper, and which paper I'm going to present at Namur.

The recruitment officer also asks me if I apply for the World Bank's Young Professionals programme.

Then she asks me to describe my research.

I first explain the research question and its importance (academically rather than practically). While I'm explaining my methodology, the senior economist asks, "What's the definition of democracy?" So I explain it. Then he asks, "Is Cameroon democratic?" I say no. I'm lucky as Cameroon is one of the sample countries. But I may be asked about other African countries outside my sample. I'd better prepare for such questions.

After explaining my main results, the interview moves on to the next section in which they test my knowledge of macroeconomics. The questions they ask are

1. Regarding the monetary union, what characteristics do member countries of the union need to share? How does the union affect the labour force? Does the monetary union play a role of risk diversification in terms of macroeconomic fluctuations?

2. Regarding Japanese deflation, why is deflation problematic? How did Japan get out of it? (I was asked this question presumably because I'm from Japan.)

3. Regarding China's increasing foreign reserves, who bears the cost of it?


I can't talk almost anything. I have absolutely no interest in macroeconomics of rich countries. An overnight review of chapters on open economies in Mankiw's macroeconomics textbook does not help at all.

They seem to be disappointed by my interview performance. The recruitment officer says, "When I saw your CV, I thought you were more suitable for the World Bank."

The interviewers end up advising how to get a job from the World Bank. The facts that (1) I'm a Japanese citizen---international organizations all look for Japanese citizens as we are underpresented in the international organizations compared to the money the japanese government contributes to them---(2) I'm getting a PhD from LSE, and (3) my research is interesting, all go in favour of me. If I have a working experience in a developing country, it will be perfect because the Bank is looking for those with working experience in poor countries. The senior economist suggests working with, say, the ministry of education in an African country next year and then applying to the Bank.

I don't know how to respond to this. Maybe I should ask why then they wanted to interview me? But I don't know such a question is acceptable in this kind of situation...

Leave the hotel and take a stroll of Saville Row, nearby the hotel, for the first time in four years of my life in London. Ozwald Boateng, whose catwalk show I watched at V&A, looks the coolest in the show window.


Arrive at Sticerd and start making presentation slides for this Friday. I end up 22 slides for 45 minute presentation. It seems I should forget about a couple of main results and focus on one main result to convince the audience that this main result shows the effect of democracy, not something else. That will be closer to the real job talk. Covering all the main results in a superficial way does not provide a good practice for the coming job talks.

Submit my CV and job market paper to the Royal Economic Society Second PhD Presentation Meeting. To do this, revise my job market paper slightly (just by correcting typos, editing figures, etc.). As one of requirements is an email from the supervisor confirming that I will be completing my PhD by October 2007 and does not hold at the moment a regular position in a department or equivalent institution in the UK or elsewhere, email Sue (my supervisor's secretary) about this.

1 comment: said...

Good! I am going to have an interview by IMF as well. Your experience is of help. Any more suggestions?