Question Categories: Education and Work Experience
This is the first 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.
According to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 236,000 financial analyst jobs in 2010 in the U.S. The job outlook for those seeking positions as financial analysts is also promising, as BLS estimates there will be 23 percent more financial analyst jobs (54,200 positions) from 2010 to 2020.
While this all sounds great, you will still have to contend with stiff competition if you’re looking for a financial analyst position with one of the top Wall Street firms or in a niche industry where there are fewer desirable jobs available. Acing your financial analyst interview is a must if you want to come out on top. And in order to succeed, you must take time in preparing for an interview and practice answering frequently asked interview questions.
Interview Questions to Expect by Category
Here are some of the questions you will likely be asked during your interview, along with some tips on how to approach questions about your education and work experience.
The interviewer will ask you questions about your education, how you spent your time in college and why you chose to focus on finance. Some potential questions include:
- Why did you choose to major in finance (or related degree)?
- When did you know that finance was the right career path for you (and why)?
- How did you spend your time outside of the classroom during college (what did you do for fun, what extracurricular activities did you choose)?
The interviewer is trying to find out if you have a passion for the finance industry. They don’t want to hear about the parties you attended, so if you can tailor your answers to experiences that tie into finance-related activities, you’ll be set to impress – as long as your responses are genuine.
Prepare yourself for this series of questions by asking yourself how your interest for a career in finance revealed itself (a job, a class, a competition, an article, exposure to a thought leader, a game, etc.) to you and how you chose coursework, study groups, finance competitions and the like to enhance your knowledge and feed your passion for the world of finance.
Work Experience Questions
The interviewer will focus on your resume and ask questions about past jobs in general, other entry-level finance jobs, volunteer work, etc. Some potential questions may include:
- Of the jobs listed on your resume, in which position did you feel the most pressure and why? How did you deal with the pressure?
- Tell me about a scenario where you made a mistake or missed an important deadline and how you dealt with it.
- What was the biggest challenge you overcame in a past job and how did you resolve it?
- Which on-the-job duties or experiences have frustrated you the most?
- Why did you leave your last position?
The interviewer is trying to assess your attitude toward the job at hand and what skills you use to overcome challenges.
Prepare yourself for this series of questions by making a list of the key challenges you faced in your work life to date, then think about situations where you can share a positive outcome.
It’s OK to admit that you faced some tough challenges, and even made a small mistake. You just need to show how you turned things around quickly and what skills you learned from the experience.
Most of all, the interviewer is trying to see if you can handle the pressure and do so with a positive attitude. Avoid talking about negative experiences, unless you can show how you turned that negative into a positive.
In part two of this series, we will take on the categories of Goals and Company Knowledge.
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“Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Financial Analysts.” Available at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm. Accessed Nov. 5, 2013.