Interviewing for a Financial Analyst Job? How to Answer Difficult Questions

Accountemps financial analyst

Let's say you're on the market for a new financial analyst job. You've researched the company you're hoping to work for before you meet with their hiring manager. You're ready to offer concrete examples of your skills in action, and you're confident you can ace all the most common interview questions.

But to land one of the most desirable financial analyst positions, you'll have to do more than just the basics. At the interview, you may end up across the table from a hiring manager armed with an arsenal of challenging questions. Although these types of queries may be scary, they're not impossible to prepare for. Get ready for them by following these tips:

Review key industry concepts. Say you're fresh from a job where the term EBITDA isn't in regular use, and even though you knew it once upon a time, you might not be able to discuss it confidently when you're put on the spot. Solve this problem by performing a quick overview of basic financial and accounting concepts before the interview.

Prove your commitment to the job. Most firms are thinking long term, hoping to hire a financial analyst who will stick around and grow with the company. A question such as, "What skills can you bring to the table?" may seem to be a simple, straightforward query about your particular talents. But it also provides a perfect chance to confirm your allegiance to the profession.

Share your own far-reaching goals, especially the ones that match with the future plans of the company and discuss your personal qualities, such as persistence and loyalty. Be sure to give solid examples demonstrating each characteristic.

Be honest about your job search. "What other firms are you talking to?" is a popular interview question. Answer truthfully but generally – avoid naming names. Be sure to make it clear why the job you're interviewing for is the one you want, and back that claim up with some evidence.

Be smart about questions that seem simple. Company cultures vary, and hiring managers will want to be absolutely sure you're a good match. To do so, they may ask a seemingly innocuous question that actually has a hidden agenda. For example, one way to determine whether you eat, drink and sleep finance is to ask, "What is the best story you read this week in the Financial Post?" If you get this sort of question, steer away from front-page headlines. Instead, pick something that related more specifically to your industry or profession, and you'll leave a more lasting impression.

Prepare for tough questions. There are the predictable interview questions, and then there are those tricky ones that can stump even the most experienced financial analyst. Familiarize yourself with the current in-demand skills for financial analysts and practice answering the following:

  • What processes do you use to create financial analysis reports?
  • What is your process for creating regular – monthly, quarterly, annual – sales reports?
  • Which profitability model do you consider best for forecasting projects?
  • Which methodologies do you utilize during financial analysis?
  • What licences, credentials and designations do you have?
  • How do they help you in a professional context?

Interviewing for a financial analyst position can be daunting, especially if you haven't been on the job market for a while. By following the above steps, you will be calm, more confident and better prepared to catch any curveballs a hiring manager may send your way.