Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 3 of 3

Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 3 of 3

Question Category: Technical Competence

This is the third in a series of posts about how to best answer interview questions for financial analyst jobs, based on question categories: Education and Work Experience; Goals and Company Knowledge; and Technical Competence.

In the first two posts of this series, we discussed financial analyst interview questions you should expect to tackle in the categories of Education and Work Experience (part one) and Goals and Company Knowledge (part two). To wrap up the series, we will conclude with the category of Technical Competence.

As we mentioned in the earlier posts, interview preparation is key if you want to stand out as the best candidate for the job and advance your finance career. A seasoned interviewer will notice immediately if you are not prepared. Whether you are applying for an entry-level finance position or have a few years of work experience under you belt, do your homework.

Here are some of the questions regarding technical competence that you could face during your interview, along with some tips on how to approach them.

Technical Competence Questions

The interviewer will ask specific questions pertaining to finance terms, methodologies and your industry knowledge. Further, he or she will want to hear how your past experience (work experience, course work, industry involvement, etc.) has prepared you for the job duties at hand and which tools you have used. Some potential questions may include:

General Finance Questions

- What is EBITDA and how does it figure into revenues?

- What is a DCF analysis and can you walk me through how it works?

- What is EVA and in what scenarios would you use it?

- How do you define cash flow?

- What steps would you take to determine a company’s cash flow?

- When would you use a ratio analysis?

- How would you define present value analysis?

- What is a capital market and how does the concept apply to our clientele?

- What methods would you use to value a company?

- Can you explain in which scenarios you would use marginal costing, standard costing and activity-based costing?

- Which profitability models do you find the most accurate for forecasting?

- What impact can accounts receivable and inventory levels have on an income statement?

Questions Regarding Your Experience

- What quantitative coursework did you complete in college?

- Can you describe in detail a case study you completed in school, how you approached it and how the results would inform how you would approach this job?

- What software programs have you used for financial analysis?

- What types of charts and reports are you comfortable creating?

- Can you share a scenario (course work or real) where a company’s credit risk figured prominently into a financial analysis you performed?

- What stocks do you follow and why?

- Can you explain a financial analysis recommendation that you later regretted and what you learned from the experience?

- On a scale from one to 10, how would you rate your technical writing ability?

The interviewer is trying to: find out if you are well-versed in key financial terms and methodologies; learn how much experience you have making financial analysis decisions based on quantifiable tools and theories; get a grasp on how you approach a project; and determine how capable you are at formulating a recommendation based on the data and intelligence you uncover.

Prepare yourself for this series of questions by doing a thorough review of your past course work, case studies and job experience – essentially take a walk down memory lane. Refresh your knowledge of the different skills and methodologies you used, and think about how they would apply to the type of financial recommendations you would need to make if this specific company hired you.

The job description will help you focus in on the areas of expertise that the interviewer is hoping to find in a candidate, so review it closely and be prepared to address how you can excel at handling the specific duties and objectives listed.

There is no doubt that you will encounter a number of questions in your financial analyst interview that we didn’t cover in this series of posts. As we’ve said throughout, if you take the time in preparing for an interview and research the top companies on your list, you can increase your odds of standing out in this competitive job market.

Doostang strives to offer helpful insight here on our blog and offers a number of other great tools for recent finance grads and MBAs. Visit our website to learn more and search for the top financial analyst jobs, today.

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Careers in Investment Banking: The Inside Scoop

Photo Source: Flickr

Choosing to pursue a career in Investment Banking is an endeavor that requires steady concentration, relentless determination and an ample dose of business sense. But for those who are willing to put in the work, this professional track provides an immensely satisfying opportunity to exercise one’s natural strengths and abilities.

Kyle Schroeder found an outlet for his ‘affinity for numbers’ in a career as an investment banker. His story is proof that with hard work and razor-sharp focus, talented young professionals can achieve the same level of fulfillment with an occupation that will make good use of their skills, and keep them challenged on a daily basis. We asked Kyle how he leveraged his own academic and professional interests to prepare for his ‘dream’ job as an Associate at Citi Group.

________________________________________________________

Navigating the Finance World with Kyle Shroeder, Citi Group Associate.

Tell a bit about your background: What led you to finance?

I grew up in Wayne, NJ and have an identical twin brother Matthew who is an attorney. I was fortunate to have both a strong academic and athletic career in high school and was sought after by many institutions of higher learning including all eight Ivy League schools. I decided to attend Dartmouth College because of their excellent academic reputation, their access to professors and their winning football program.

Even as a child, I always had an affinity for numbers and attempted to place values on things such as baseball cards. I was the guy who ran the fantasy football league before the advent of the Internet and took much joy in adding the statistics after each game to figure out which team won. When I was introduced to the stock market, a passion for finance developed. The markets seemed like a natural place for me to turn a hobby and talent into a career.

How did you get your first job?

My senior year at Dartmouth I interviewed with multiple Investment Banks. However, it would have been impossible for me to pursue a professional football career as an Analyst, as they typically work 80+ hours a week. Therefore, I decided to look into proprietary trading for a firm in which my hours would be limited by the market, thereby allowing me to continue to train and work out for professional teams. A former classmate and friend was working for a proprietary trading firm at the time. When I asked them if they would let me take a sabbatical to join a professional football team if given the opportunity, their response was very positive. The decision to join a firm that would be that supportive of me was easy.

Why did you join a start-up company? What was the upside and downside of the experience?

I joined the start-up company after applying to and getting accepted to Tuck’s MBA program. While my motivation for attending business school was to land an Associate position in M&A, I felt that given the lack of access to programs for pre-MBA interns, the next best option for me would be to acquire additional experience in a field unrelated to trading where I could develop a skill set that was sought after by Investment Banks.

The upside was huge. I was able to acquire a diverse skill set such as modeling, time management, and the ability to work on multiple projects at once. In addition, I was surrounded by brilliant, passionate people working together to create a business that had previously not existed. The downside was the pay. I earned $500 a week as an Operations Associate. Although the firm offered to pay for my business school education if I stayed with them for another year, I declined in order to pursue my passion for banking.

How did working in operations prepare you for your next job (e.g., lessons learned, skills gained)

As I have stated, the hard skills I developed such as modeling, time management, and project management were critical in preparing me for a role as an Investment Banking Associate. I also took away the ability to successfully interact with highly intelligent, motivated people.

What prompted you to go back for an MBA, and how have you benefited from it?

My desire to obtain a career in investment banking was the main motivation in acquiring an MBA. There was no other way to transition into an Investment Banking Associate position without the skill set and network acquired through an MBA program.

The MBA program exponentially increased my ability to think critically and strategically as well as enhanced my skill sets and time management capabilities. In addition, I have gained an invaluable network of colleagues. There is no shortage of Tuckies who are willing to help out, in any way they can, other Tuckies.

How does Mergers & Acquisitions compare to equities trading?

There is no real comparison between M&A and equities trading. They are two totally different beasts. As an M&A Associate, you need to be exceptional at communication and meticulous at understanding the numbers that are driving valuation. In addition, you must totally understand the strategy behind the proposed combination or divestiture. On the other hand as a trader, you must be able to quickly calculate odds in your head and have the wherewithal to place your money on your calls.

What advice would you give our community members who want to do what you do?

Do your homework. You cannot be over prepared for any professional endeavor. Figure out what skills the job requires and be prepared to articulate how you have gained those skills and how you can apply them to whatever position you want. If the job requires skills you do not currently have, figure out a way to acquire them. Also, network with people in the industry and job function you are seeking. They will provide valuable insights into the job and may be aware of openings.

Among your peers in the industry, what do you see as the secret to their success in finding and keeping good jobs?

The most successful Investment Bankers are those who add value to their team and continually attempt to learn more so that they become an indispensable part of the team. The great thing about M&A is that no two transactions are the same so there is always the opportunity to educate yourself and provide unique insights into a potential transaction.

________________________________________________________

Regardless of current economic conditions, there will always be opportunities for talented young professionals to put their skills to use.

By challenging yourself to attain even greater achievements, you can find a career that will give you access to the means with which to pursue your passion.

Whatever path you choose, Doostang can put you in touch with hiring managers along the way.

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Doostang Success — An Offer from a Venture Capital Group in Boston

Connor

Villanova University, 2011
Analyst – Hercules Technology Growth Capital

“I recently received and accepted an offer to work for a venture capital group in Boston. I was in the process of interviewing for another 2 jobs I found on Doostang but immediately jumped on this offer with a great, young group back home.

I am a graduating senior from Villanova University and the on campus recruiting here is quite limited and quickly dwindles down by the end of the fall.

Doostang provided a constant stream of new job postings in much more relevant and interesting fields and was able to offer these quality positions in many cities across the country.

One of the biggest drawbacks to solely relying on campus recruiting is the limited types of positions (Villanova is BIG on accounting and operations jobs) and limited geographic options (heavy NYC, Philadelphia, NJ based companies).

Doostang has a very strong reputation amongst companies in the San Francisco and NYC area and my other 2 jobs I was interviewing for were in the San Francisco/Palo Alto area.

I was very pleased with the quality and frequency of jobs found on Doostang. The interface and web page set up was very user friendly and made tracking and submitting applications (with resumes, cover letters, messages) a breeze.”


Did you get a job through Doostang? Share your Doostang success story and get a $500 Signing Bonus from Doostang!

Here’s a small sample of the great jobs you’ll find on Doostang:

Equity Analyst-Industrials – Prestigious, Research-Driven Asset Management Firm, New York, NY

Sr. Manager/Manager – Boutique Strategy Consulting Firm, San Francisco, CA

Research Analyst – Premier Mutual Fund Manager, Denver, CO

Associate – Full Service Real Estate Brokerage & Investment Firm, New York, NY

Analyst Group Head – Top Wealth Management Service Provider, Miami, FL

Search jobs on Doostang

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Doostang Success — Job at a Prestigious Consulting Firm

Deotima

McGill University, 2010
Analyst – Compass Lexecon

“Being an international student who was working in Canada, it seemed almost impossible to land a job in the US in the current economic climate.

However after I started applying to jobs on Doostang, I heard back from a firm two weeks into my search and landed a job offer a month after at a prestigious consulting firm.

I think Doostang sets itself apart from the competition in that it has many jobs where your application goes straight to the Hiring Manager’s inbox, that is ultimately what set my job search apart from everyone else’s.”


Did you get a job through Doostang? Share your Doostang success story and get a $500 Signing Bonus from Doostang!

Here’s a small sample of the great jobs you’ll find on Doostang:

Analyst – Leading Alternative Investments Group, New York, NY

Consultant – Rapidly Growing Management Advisory Firm, Multiple Locations

Investment Banking Analyst – Premier Investment Banking Firm, Philadelphia, PA

Sales Intern – Data Analytics & Predictive Modeling Company, New Castle, DE

Equity Trader – Leading Proprietary Trading Firm, New York, NY

Search jobs on Doostang

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Who Makes a Good Professional Reference?

Analyst, San Diego, CA
Marketing Intern, New York, NY
Analyst, Colorado Springs, CO
Graduate Consultant, London, UK
Equity Research Associate, New York, NY

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Employers place a lot of value on references, because these provide both an insight into how well you work with other people, as well as a subjective perspective on who you are.  While a resume is something that you can spend time tweaking and perfecting on your own, a reference isn’t entirely in your control, and is therefore more honest in some respects.  For this reason, it’s crucial that when you are deciding whom to ask for a reference, you choose someone who will not only sing your praises, but who will also be able to speak intelligently about you and give hiring managers a more complete picture of who you are and how you work.  Here are some individuals you should consider:

Your Current Employer

Few people will have a better understanding of how well you work for someone than your current employer.  Hiring managers like to speak to referrers who have a current, realistic take on the candidate being reviewed, and so they will take a lot of stock in what your current boss has to say.  Before you list this person as a reference, however, make sure that you have discussed with them your plans to find another position – otherwise you could find yourself in some hot water.

A Past Employer

A past employer is also a good person to turn to, especially if you haven’t worked too closely with your current employer.  It’s especially helpful if you had a particularly close relationship with your previous boss, and if they can provide a more valuable insight into who you are.  Depending on how much time has passed, it’s probably a good idea to refresh this person’s memory by summarizing some of the highlights from your working relationship, as well as to update them on some of your current professional endeavors.

Your Professor

Many individuals just entering the working world will turn to professors to vouch for them, and this is just as acceptable as asking an employer to refer you.  A professor will have a solid idea of your work ethic, your ability to collaborate with others, and your overall intelligence.  He or she will likely focus on the transferable skills that you possess, which you can utilize in the workplace.

A Coworker

If you feel that you cannot turn to an employer for a good reference, consider asking someone you work with.  A coworker can speak to how well you work in a team; they can also discuss your ability to take the lead on certain projects or help others with their work.

A Customer

Depending on your line of work, another individual to consider as a potential reference is a satisfied customer with whom you have worked closely.  This person can speak about your professionalism, your ability to get the job done in a timely manner, and your communication skills.  A customer who is willing to go out of their way to provide a good reference speaks volumes about your character and working style.

These are just a few of the many individuals whom you can ask for a reference.  Other examples include business contacts, teammates, family friends, and more.  Any person who is able to speak about your work ethic, leadership skills,  ability to learn, value as a team member, and so on, is a possible reference.  Just make sure that you ask them before you start giving away their contact information to hiring managers!

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

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Doostang Success — Summer Associate Job and a Full-Time Offer before Summer’s End

Dave

Fordham University – JD/MBA, 2010
Sales & Trading Summer Associate – Miller Tabak & Co.
Analyst – Aleutian Capital Group

“As my graduation loomed, I found myself quite anxious regarding my job prospects.  I had exhausted the relevant job postings at a variety of websites and was left with little, if anything, to show for all my hard work.  It was around then that one of my friends recommended Doostang.  I was unsure about the idea of paying monthly fees, but I was assured that it would be worth it.

From the very beginning, I was impressed by Doostang’s listings.

The fact that I could not only send my applications directly to employers, but that I could actually ascertain the time and day that my resume was viewed made me feel like I was actually part of a job application process, rather than a wild goose chase.

Within two weeks I was already scheduling interviews.

I received a Summer Associate position from one of my first Doostang-derived interviews, then, having continued sending out applications throughout the summer, I received a full-time offer from another firm before summer’s end.

Doostang ended up being the most valuable tool in my job search and I recommend it to any and all.”



Did you get a job through Doostang? Share your Doostang success story and get a $500 Signing Bonus from Doostang!

Here’s a small sample of the great jobs you’ll find on Doostang:

Portfolio Analyst – World’s Largest Manager of Leveraged & Inverse Funds, Bethesda, MD

Chief of Staff – Top Social Gaming Company, San Francisco, CA

Sr. Research Analyst – Boutique Hedge Fund, Palo Alto, CA

Business Strategist – Leader in Innovation Consulting, Alexandria, VA

Equity Research Associate – Long/Short Equity Hedge Fund, New York, NY

Search jobs on Doostang

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Doostang Success — The Perfect Analyst Job at C1 Consulting

Kristi

UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO, 2010
ANALYST – C1 CONSULTING

“The very first day that I used Doostang’s Premium Service, I found a company and a job that was perfect for helping me transition my career from biotech research science to an analyst position in a biotech marketing consulting firm.

Without Doostang, I would have never seen the analyst position at C1 Consulting, even though I had been looking for similar positions/companies on other websites for over 6 months.

The entire process from job application through Doostang to offer letter was about one month.”


Did you get a job through Doostang? Share your Doostang success story and get a $500 Signing Bonus from Doostang!

Here’s a small sample of the great jobs you’ll find on Doostang:

Future Trader – Boutique Proprietary Trading Group seeks Futures Trader, Nationwide, US

Jr. Recruiter – Premier Financial Industry Staffing Firm seeks Jr. Recruiter, New York, NY

Risk Analyst – Leading American Financial Institution seeks Risk Analyst, Hartford, CT

Operations Intern – Leading Online Marketing Firm seeks Operations Intern, Chicago, IL

Associate – Early-Stage Venture Capital Firm seeks an Associate, New York, NY

Search jobs on Doostang

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Doostang New Jobs This Week: Dec 13 – 19


Doostang has thousands of highly sought after positions at companies like Google, Goldman Sachs, Bain Capital, Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts, Summit Partners, Time Warner, Facebook, and more. Looking to get ahead in your job search? Be the first to apply to these exceptional NEW jobs just posted on Doostang.


Private Equity Consulting Associate, San Francisco, CA – Leading Investment Advisory Firm seeks Private Equity Consulting Associate.


Product Marketing Associate, Jersey City, NJ – Rapidly Growing E-commerce seeks Product Marketing Associate.


Associate Analyst, Chicago, IL – Premier investment Manager seeks Associate Analyst.


Consultant, San Francisco, CA – Growing Sales Management Consulting Firm seeks Consultant.


Pre-MBA Private Equity Associate, Philadelphia, PA – Leading Publicly Traded Holding Company seeks Pre-MBA Private Equity Associate.


Business Analyst, Chicago, IL – Growing Sales Management Consulting Firm seeks Business Analyst.


Economist, New York, NY – High Profile Nation’s Economic Mission in America seeks Economist.

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Doostang Success — Interviews from Many Fortune 500 Companies

Heather

JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY 2008
SENIOR STRATEGY ANALYST – BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON

I recently resigned from my investment banking position in Hong Kong to move back to the US in search for a career change into corporate strategy. My friends had mentioned that Doostang was a great tool for recent grads and I decided to give it a shot with a 3 month membership.

In the first week alone I received several responses and shortly thereafter I was conducting nearly all of my job queries via Doostang. I really appreciated the feature that alerts me when an employer downloads my resume, which allows me to follow up with those companies.

This site definitely contains higher quality job opportunities than other recruiting websites, including even my university career site.

Using a better filtered site allowed me to be more productive with my time and helped me to better target my ideal job.

Initially I was afraid that seeking a career change would be difficult since I have limited experience and I was seeking a career change in a difficult economic environment.

However, Doostang helped me to obtain interviews from many Fortune 500 companies across many different sectors and all these interviews ended up being an extremely important self-discovery process that helped me to narrow down the type of job function and industry that fit my personality and career goals.

Doostang really made my career transition much easier than it otherwise would have been and I have recommended it to other friends who are in the job market. Thank you Doostang!



Share your Doostang success story and get a
$500 Signing Bonus
from Doostang!

Here’s a small sample of the exceptional jobs you’ll find on Doostang:

Private Equity Analyst – Premier European Alternative Investment Firm, New York, NY

Analyst – Leading provider of Program Management, West Los Angeles, CA

Financial Consultant – Premiere Independent Wealth Management, Knoxville, TN

VP of Marketing – Leading Special Care Provider, Philadelphia, PA

Hedge Fund Analyst – Premier Long/Short Trading Focused Fund, Avon, CO

More recent jobs you might like…

Happy Job Searching!

The Doostang Team

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Doostang Success — Two Job Offers in Three Weeks

Sergey
San Francisco State University 2010
Investment Operations Associate – Hewins Financial Advisors

In April of 2010, I decided to try Doostang’s Premium Subscription. My goal was to test it for my future job search, since I was graduating in May. Even though I didn’t send too many applications, I was able to land a few interviews in the investment field. No offers have followed, but I still was satisfied with the results – it was a test after all. I took some time off after my graduation. Well-rested, I went back to business at the full speed at the end of July.

Even though I used several sources, Doostang was the most useful one. There are no third-party recruiters on Doostang, and there are no anonymous posts.

Doostang customers always know for certain if their resumes have been viewed by a hiring manager. Therefore, it was very easy for me to create personalized follow-up strategies. Most of my interviews came after such follow-ups.

In three weeks, I received two job offers.

I have already recommended Doostang to at least three or four of my friends.


Share your Doostang success story and get a
$500 Signing Bonus
from Doostang!

Here’s a small sample of the exceptional jobs you’ll find on Doostang:

Capital Markets Analyst – Leading Full-Service Investment Banking Firm, New York, NY

Marketing Manager – Leader in Customer Experience Analytics, Atlanta, GA

Trading Assistant / Trader – Privately Owned Trading Company, Chicago, IL

Analyst / Sr. Analyst – Premier Global Healthcare Consulting Firm, New York, NY

Analyst – Prestigious Private Equity Boutique, Boston, MA

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Happy Job Searching!

The Doostang Team

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