Career Paths

Top 5 Financial Analyst Interview Questions

3
min read
Vera Chan

Interviewing for a job you just found can be stressful. But interviewing for a role as a financial analyst can be that much tougher. Why? Because some questions are designed to throw you off or they are technically heavy. In any interview, a job hiring manager is looking to set apart the star candidates from the mediocre ones. In the world of finance, this is particularly true. Employers would rather hire the right fit than fill in the role with someone they feel so-so about. Landing the right candidate means getting the right attitude, motivation, and skills. All in the name of helping the company succeed. Leaving a seat blank for a period of time is not as big an issue as hiring the wrong person for a role.

What is a Financial Analyst?

A financial analyst is a position that can be at a bank, pension fund, insurance company or others. The position requires evaluation of company financial data in order to make decisions. This can be of their own company or other companies. Decisions are made about investments such as stocks or bonds through guidance. Responsibilities might include assessing financial data, giving presentations, or preparing reports. A financial analyst might also consider business trends or comb through financial statements. At times, meetings with senior management might be necessary to present your evaluation.

How to Answer Financial Analyst Interview Questions?

The first goal of any interview is to impress. Knowing how to answer a question is only part of the solution. Knowing how to apply a winning strategy to your answer is the other half of the solution.

The first step is to comb through the job description and pick out keywords. Choose keywords in relation to the capabilities of the role. Then, insert yourself into the equation. You want to match your skills and traits that you have, so that you seamlessly integrate into the picture. This will make it easier for the hiring manager to envision you in the role.

The basic skills a financial analyst requires are mathematical skills and analytical skills. An understanding of micro and macroeconomics is also necessary. This will be true for students who have studied this in preparation for a career in finance.

Show your statistical mindset when answering questions by quantifying your answers. This will emphasise that you are a numbers-oriented person.

Below are some ways to win the job hiring manager over for key questions that you are most likely to get asked.

Why Do You Want to be a Financial Analyst?

This question may be basic but it goes to show your intrinsic motivation for wanting to be in this role. The employer will want to know your reasons for pursuing a career as a financial analyst. You can talk about your short- and long-term goals. By asking this question, they can find out how you think and discover some of your key traits along the way. Be sure to include a mix of soft and hard skills, while expressing your profound interest in the field.

Do not give a generic answer such as "I love numbers." Be able to back-up your reasons for feeling the way that you do. Such as "I gravitate towards problem-solving due to my analytical mindset. I enjoy finding solutions through a process of number reviewing and spotting patterns. I am also very detail-oriented which helps me to find gaps in problems and fix them.

You can also incorporate some technical jargon into the mix. That is, technical terms from the industry. This is different from using big words to impress. You want to strike a balance between sounding confident and knowing your stuff. Make sure that you know the terminology well before using them in the proper contexts.

How Would You Put Together an Investment Analysis for Senior Management?

This is a chance to show your process to your prospective employer. Like the cogs in a wheel, the hiring manager wants to know what makes you tick and how you think to get to a solution.

In your answer, you want to show traits that bode well for the company. This includes teamwork and independence. Show that you can do both. Talk the hiring manager through the layout of your plan. Show how you would do due diligence and review analytics. Talk to them about what the market conditions are that you need to consider. In the end, present three to four options to stakeholders with different outcomes.

You can use "firstly, secondly, thirdly, and lastly" to help with the sequential flow of your answer. This will help keep the listener on track. And be sure to explain your reasoning for choosing said step, every step of the way.

Give an Example of Where You Had to Meet a Tight Deadline?

There will be times where you will have to work under pressure. Demands may be high and timelines short in the role of a financial analyst. To show that you can handle the workload, show that you can gain control of a situation by using the STAR method. This will help show meeting a deadline in a positive manner. All without stepping on people's toes and creating drama.

  • Assess the situation with the five W's (who, what, when, where, and why.)
  • Explain your task in the situation. What was your role to play or assignment?
  • Talk about your actions. That is, what did you do?
  • End with the result. How did you accomplish the solution and what happened along the way to get there.

What is EBITDA?

Chances are high that you will get asked this question. The EBITDA is important for a financial analyst to know. Express your knowledge of the acronym and elaborate from there. You will be expected to know this as one of the basics of finance. Do the research beforehand so you can nail the answer confidently.

  • Earnings
  • Before Interest
  • Taxes
  • Depreciation
  • Amortisation

Explain why it is important in the finance world. How is it a useful metric? How does it analyse and compare financial health across organisations? Are there any drawbacks to EBITDA? If so, why?

In addition to EBITDA, there is also a chance that you may get tested for your technical skills. So be sure to brush up on these before your interview. Hone your mathematical skills that can help if you get asked to do a task. Such as analysing a financial statement or a spreadsheet. This is a curve ball test, so be prepared for ten technical questions that you may get asked.

In your Opinion What Do You Think Are The Most Important Skills to be a Financial Analyst?

Business acumen and planning skills are two essential traits a  recruiter looks for. To show these, below are some of the qualities an interviewer will look for:

Analytical

A candidate must be able to decipher and breakdown components of financial documents. Such as a financial statement or even industry news. Stay on top by showing that you can think logically and critically.

Technical

You can talk about software, platforms and programming languages that you know. Such as, SQL, Quickbooks, Microsoft Excel, SAP and etc. You also might need to pick-up and learn how to use new software. Show agility and that you are a fast-learner. In this case, this will help reassure the employer that you can hit the ground running. Express that you can learn new skills without much hand-holding. Independence is key in this instance.

Communication

There may be times where you will be asked to present your findings. This could be to top management or co-workers. In both cases, you will need to learn how to effectively articulate how you got from point A to point B.

Problem-Solving

Explain your analysis and why you chose a certain solution over another. This is a time to show initiative and that you have the analytical skills to solve a problem. Show that you can do it without asking for help. But also show that you are not afraid to escalate a problem if it comes to it. Or if there are many facets to a problem, that you can collaborate with team members if necessary.

Attention-to- Detail

This is an important trait as you will be working with numbers and important financial data. Calculations must be accurate and so you want to give examples or scenarios that show this skill.

The Takeaway

Practice, practice, practice. Practice makes perfect is true in this instance as it means you can nail your answer in the most succinct way. When it comes to explaining yourself, you want to ensure you make sense while being accurate. Practice with friends or mentors in the industry or in front of a mirror. Sound confident while answering, but not scripted if you have rehearsed too much. You can also ask the hiring manager or recruiter if it is acceptable to bring notes with you to the interview. And do not forget to brush up on those technical skills in case any practical tests come up.



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