The employment outlook for financial analysts is bright—with projected growth of 11 percent between 2016 and 2026, including the addition of more than 32,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the BLS also notes that the field is highly competitive, and that the number of potential candidates will far outnumber the number of available positions.
If you’re one of these potential candidates, check out this post for guidance on preparing a resume and cover letter, building a referral network, and choosing an industry alternative to score an initial interview with the firm of your choice.
But prepping for the interview itself will require an intense process of recapitulation—of scouring through academic notes, papers, text, and projects so that you’re quick-witted and smooth-tongued enough to answer an array of tough interview questions that will test your intellectual and individual mettle.
Many job sites have samples of the technical and perceptual questions you might expect at that first interview, based on what they assert are questions from actual first interviews for financial analyst positions.
But financial analyst positions—and their distinct responsibilities in any one firm—span several different sectors of the economy, in either the “buy” or “sell” side sphere of the finance world itself, embracing hundreds of different firms.
The exact interview questions you might encounter will vary widely throughout the finance industry.
The sample questions in this post will give you the intellectual and emotional versatility you’ll need in prepping for the interview—essentially covering the actual requisites for a financial analyst position. They will prepare you for the style and tenor of the questions in that first interview, whether it’s with a large or boutique investment bank, a brokerage house or hedge fund, an asset management company or corporate finance division, or an endowed university or a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit.
Grasping the Fundamental Requisites Is Crucial
The sample questions are categorized by what you must offer any financial firm or corporate division as a successful financial analyst.
- Financial data gathering
- Corporate valuation and profitability analysis
- Analytical modeling to support investment asset forecasting
- Financial reports
- ERP systems
- Sarbanes-Oxley and other finance-related legislation
- Investment vehicles
- Contemporaneous financial trends
- Verbal and written communication skills
- Strategic and creative thinking
- Excellent time management and organizational ability
- Professional maturity in the face of unremitting deadlines
- Willingness to be a team player and part of corporate culture
Answering the Questions
Experts suggest some general best-practices for responding to the questions in a finance analyst interview:
- Gather your thoughts before you speak—repeat part of the question if necessary.
- Formulate an answer structure, consisting of points A, B, and C.
- If you don’t know a technical or knowledge question exactly, say so—yet speak about what you do know on a related subject (don’t guess at or contrive an answer).
- Frame your answers as much as possible as logical, reasonable ways to solve a problem or address weaknesses.