Let's say you're in the market for a new financial analyst job, and you've just been invited for an interview. To prepare, you've researched the company you're hoping to work for, and you're aware of the latest hiring and salary trends for financial analyst positions in your city. You're ready to offer concrete examples of your skills in action, and you've studied the most common interview questions and how to answer them.
But to land one of the most desirable financial analyst positions, you'll have to be ready for 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 they can be intimidating, you can prepare for these questions. 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 financial analyst 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 can you bring to the table?" may seem to be a pretty simple and straightforward query about your particular skills. But it also provides a perfect chance to underline your loyalty 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, especially those qualities important for financial analysts. 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 financial analyst 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 want to be confident 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 Wall Street Journal?" If you get this sort of question, steer away from front-page headlines. Instead, pick something related more specifically to your industry or to the day-to-day tasks of financial analysts, and you'll leave a more lasting impression.
Prepare for tough interview questions
There are the predicable 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, annually — sales reports?
- Which profitability model do you consider best for forecasting projects?
- Which methodologies do you utilize during financial analysis?
- What licenses, credentials and designations do you have? How do they help you in a professional context?
Some interview questions are targeted to test for very specific knowledge. These are drawn from actual interviews reported to Glassdoor by financial analysts interviewing with some top companies:
- Is it better to increase price by 1 per cent or increase customer base by 1 per cent?
- What is an EBITA and what doesn't go into it?
- What are the three financial statements and how do they appear?
- If you invested $100 right now and earned a 10 per cent return in your first year and then lost 10 per cent in year 2, how much money would you have at the end of year 2?
Interviewing for a financial analyst position can be daunting, especially if you haven't been in the job market for a while. By following the above steps, you will be calmer, more confident and better prepared to catch any curveballs a hiring manager may send your way.