Financial Analyst Interview Questions: Money, Money, Money!

financial analyst interview questionsMoney makes the world go ‘round.  Doesn’t it?  Or do Financial Analysts make the world go ‘round?  After all, they are the ones dealing with everyone’s money, right?  Whether or not you agree with this, Financial Analysts are an integral part of decision making for companies, specifically, decisions where money is involved.  Financial Analysts know the dirty details of whether or not their clients or customers are in the green or on the path down the rabbit hole.  They are able to help companies and clients make decisions based on their data and their analysis.  Sounds pretty top secret, doesn’t it?  This could be your job if you nail your Financial Analysts interview.  Luckily, we have some tips, examples, and courses that will be helpful to you as you prepare to present yourself to your potential employer.

Possible Positions

Before we get into what to expect, let’s take a look at the possible positions that you may be gunning for:

  • Financial Analyst, Securities Analyst, Ratings Analyst, or Investment Analyst.

Whichever type of Financial Analyst you may be hoping to become, your job can cover a wide range of organizations, such as:

  • Insurance companies, security firms, pension funds, mutual funds, or investment banks.

Each of these Analyst jobs varies in their duties and responsibilities.  However, they do have one thing in common:  they all involve numbers!

Depending on your amount of experience going into your interview, you may be looking at a spot for a Junior Analyst or a Senior Analyst.  Senior Analysts general have more than three years of experience in their field.  Let’s take a look at the difference between a Junior and Senior Analyst position:

  • Junior Analyst:  As a Junior Analyst, you will spend most of your time developing an understanding of the sector or industry that you are working in.  You will do this by researching and gathering data, using spreadsheets, and familiarizing yourself with financial models.  At the same time, you should be keeping up to date on any financial news pertaining to the industry you are working in.  Many Junior Analysts also decide to take professional exams to up their salary or better their career advancement.  An example of one of these exams is the CFA.
  • Senior Analyst:  By the time you have acquired the title of “Senior”, you carry a rather sufficient amount of good experience in their industry along with a good network of clientele and contacts.  Your duties now include more decision making, and using the data you come up with to help your clients develop options as to where they want their money to go.

In the Hot Seat

So, you are in the interviewee chair.  What is your potential employer going to ask?  Despite the fact that the title of a Financial Analyst deals with a lot of specific position-related questions, interviewers will generally start out with some simple get-to-know-you type questions to break the ice.  They also want to find out why you chose this field.

  1. Why do you want to be a Financial Analyst?  What made you choose this field?
  2. What do you want to learn or accomplish from this position?
  3. What makes you a good fit for our company?

Your potential employer is then going to turn his or her questions into behavioral type questions. These types of questions are going to have you reference situations in your past, and describe how you might have learned, failed, or excelled in those instances.

  1. Describe a time when you made a mistake on the job.  What happened and how did you react to it?
  2. Tell us about a time where you had to meet a deadline and you fell behind.  How did you handle this?
  3. How do you handle stress in the workplace?  Give an example.
  4. Have you ever made a bad financial decision?  What did you learn from it?

Finally, your interviewer is going to pull out the technical questions.  These are probably everyone’s least favorite, but they are going to signify to your interviewer how ready you are for your position, and assess you knowledge pertaining to financial analysis.  Let’s take a look at some of these:

  1. Explain financial models and why they are important
  2. What do you use to create reports?
  3. What programs do you use to create graphs, charts, and spreadsheets for data?
  4. Explain how a company’s monthly cash flow is calculated.
  5. What types of profitability models do you use?  Which one do you feel is the best one and why?
  6. What is the importance of a monthly sales report?  How do you create one?
  7. Explain your method for tackling a financial analysis project.
  8. How do you monitor industry development?
  9. Tell us about a project you worked on and the financial practices that you investigated.
  10. What new technology do you use to apply to your financial analysis?  How is it helpful?

Opportunities for Advancement

Something you might consider inquiring about, if you are interviewing for a job as a Junior Analyst, if opportunities for advancement within the company.  Employers are impressed with individuals who are able to think ahead.  This shows that you have a clear plan and goal in mind towards bettering yourself.  In the financial analyst department, generally Junior Analysts can work their way up to a Senior Analyst within 3-5 years.  Senior Analysts who are interested in advancing their careers can go on to become partners or portfolio managers.  Even if advancing is not at the top of your mind, ask anyway— it will make you look good.

Look Sharp!

Computers are not always going to be right, and sometimes they make mistakes just like the rest of us.  For this reason, people are going to have to check the data that computers generate and analyze it for companies or businesses.  While this is not all that Financial Analysts do, it makes their jobs important in pressure situations.  You are going to be relied on in times of need, and there is no denying the importance of money.  Do not forget to brush up on your technical skills and programs that are used in finance, and get ready to have your skills speak for themselves.