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Western Asset Interview
Questions

27 Questions and Answers by Ryan Brunner

Published August 6th, 2020 | Ryan has over 10 years of experience interviewing
candidates in the healthcare, public service, and private manufacturing/distribution industries.
Question 1 of 27
What statistical models are you familiar with and which do you feel would best apply to the financial field here at Western Asset?
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How to Answer
Financial Engineers and Quantitative Analysts are relied upon in the financial industry to utilize complex algorithms and math to predict the trading market's immediate future. For this question, your interviewer will be looking to get the sense that you have the skills to apply statistical model in finance by having you talk about the models that are familiar with and have worked with in the past. While being honest about your experiences, be sure to point out that you are aware that some apply more to finance and the market to set yourself apart during this question.
27 Western Asset Interview Questions
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  1. What statistical models are you familiar with and which do you feel would best apply to the financial field here at Western Asset?
  2. If hired to this role here at Western Asset, what do you see as one initial hurdle you will have to overcome in your first weeks on the job?
  3. If I were to hand you $100,000 to invest today, where would you put that money and why?
  4. What statistical analysis tools do you have experience working with?
  5. We pride ourselves on our interdepartmental teamwork here at Western Asset. If hired for this role, what kind of team player could we expect you to be?
  6. Take a couple of minutes to sell this notepad to me.
  7. If you joined the team here at Western Asset, how would you build relationships with those that you would be working closely with?
  8. At Western Asset, we pride ourselves on providing the best overall customer experience. Talk about your customer service experience and explain why it will help our clients here.
  9. The day-to-day life at Western Asset can be hectic and stressful at times. If hired for this role, how would you keep yourself motivated when working with stressed colleagues and pushy clients?
  10. In your work as a Portfolio Administrator, what kind events cause you the most stress on the job?
  11. What is your familiarity with debt-to-equity ratios and what would you consider a good debt-to-equity ratio?
  12. Here at Western Asset, we are expecting someone with strong leadership skills to take this role. How would you describe your management style?
  13. One huge philosophy that we believe in at Western Asset is professional development. How have you worked to develop yourself professionally throughout your career?
  14. To help us understand your need for initial training and orientation in this role with Western Asset, can you tell me what financial software you have familiarity working on?
  15. Think back over your career up to today and tell me about the most difficult day on the job you encountered. What made the day difficult and how did you handle that situation?
  16. How long will it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our team at Western Asset?
  17. Among the common issues that are faced by Data Analysts in their work, which one or two problems do you feel really challenge analysts in the financial industry?
  18. If hired for this role at Western Asset, how would you help make sound investment decisions for our clients?
  19. How do you believe your coworkers would describe you?
  20. Western Asset strives for client loyalty to keep us running strong into the future. What do you feel are the keys to retaining clients for the long haul?
  21. A key task in this role with Western Asset is assessing an organization's weighted average cost of capital. Are you familiar with WACC calculations and when have you used them in the past if you are?
  22. What software programs do you use in your current work and how adaptable would you say that you are in learning and using new programs?
  23. The clients of a financial firm like Western Asset can display an arrange of emotions when they work with our Client Services team. How would you handle a situation where a client was very angry?
  24. We pride ourselves on teamwork here at Western Asset and this role in Client Services relies on teamwork. What are the top qualities would you would bring to a team based atmosphere here?
  25. When it comes to financial services, which focus do you find the most rewarding?
  26. If you notice right now, the time on that clock reads 12:15. What is the angle between the minute and hour hands on that clock?
  27. Data Scientist is a fairly new role here at Western Asset. Why do you feel that you can make the jump into the financial industry as a data scientist?
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15 Western Asset Answer Examples
1.
What statistical models are you familiar with and which do you feel would best apply to the financial field here at Western Asset?
Financial Engineers and Quantitative Analysts are relied upon in the financial industry to utilize complex algorithms and math to predict the trading market's immediate future. For this question, your interviewer will be looking to get the sense that you have the skills to apply statistical model in finance by having you talk about the models that are familiar with and have worked with in the past. While being honest about your experiences, be sure to point out that you are aware that some apply more to finance and the market to set yourself apart during this question.

Ryan's Answer #1
"As a data nerd, I love the realm of statistics and I am very familiar with all of the unique statistical models and how to best apply them to different situations. I've applied linear regression when predicting the outcome based on two historically known data points. I've also applied multivariate models when looking at the distribution of multiple data points. Having dabbled a bit in the market myself and now looking to bring my quantitative analysis skills to the financial field, I am very familiar with the Gaussian model for predicting market changes and would love to bring the knowledge that I have of this model to your team here at Western Asset."
Ryan's Answer #2
"As you can see from my prior experience in data engineering and financial analysis, I have extensive experience in time series modelling that utilized both univariate and multivariate models. Multivariate time series modelling has proven to be very effective when looking at and predicting the S&P 500 performance and I think my skills in this arena would greatly benefit your team."
2.
If hired to this role here at Western Asset, what do you see as one initial hurdle you will have to overcome in your first weeks on the job?
At the heart of this question, your interviewer is asking you to take an honest look inside of yourself to discuss what you feel is the biggest learning curve you will have if offered this position. This will give your interviewer a sense of how to handle your onboarding process if hired for the position and give them a sense that you have the ability to see what your biggest need would be. Similar to the what is your greatest weakness question, the key to answering this question is humbly pointing out a flaw that you may see and making a plan for how you will overcome that flaw.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Having put a lot of thought into this even before submitting my resume for this position, I realize that my greatest hurdle would be making the leap as an Auditor into the financial focused industry. My five years of experience out of college have been focused on management and technical consulting services, but I feel that I've built a very good knowledge base and experience for this role here at Western Asset. If given the opportunity to join your team, my initial focus would be to get enthralled in auditing in the financial industry and I'd do this by being attached at the hip to my colleagues and taking the time to talk one on one with a lot of other staff to help better understand what they'll expect of me in this role."
Ryan's Answer #2
"Understanding that my role here at Western Asset would have me working with the entire advisory staff, the first hurdle would be getting to know everyone on that team and showcasing the skills that I could bring to their work. If hired for the job, I would hope to be invited to team meetings where I could introduce myself and my role with the team and I'd invite an open conversation with the entire team."
3.
If I were to hand you $100,000 to invest today, where would you put that money and why?
As a simple tool to gauge how you will both satisfy clients and make a profit for Western Asset, your interviewer is looking to hear how you would invest money right now if given the chance. While there is no right or wrong answer for this question, show them your knowledge of breaking up assets based on age if possible. As well, don't hesitate to call out your knowledge of specifically allocating funds into different sectors or individual businesses or industries. In the end, make sure to give a full explanation of why you are choosing what you are to sell it to your interviewer.

Ryan's Answer #1
"If the money was given personally to me to invest for myself, I would go for a 50-50 split between stocks and bonds being that I'm 37 years old. This would provide a good mix of funds that could be placed into aggressive IT and healthcare type stocks with a lot of growth potential while keeping half safe in the bonds market."
Ryan's Answer #2
"Being that I am young and willing to wisely be aggressive with money invested for myself, I would look for gems in certain industries like social media and internet retail sales. Amazon is expected to see prosperous growth and so are places like Pinterest and Facebook. I'd be wise with these investments while being sure to pay close attention to futures forecasts as those could change quickly, meaning a shift in my direction as well."
4.
What statistical analysis tools do you have experience working with?
As a successful and resourceful Data Analyst, your interviewer at Western Asset is expecting you to be knowledgeable and well-versed in the many tools available to you. In your answer, be sure to show diversity within particular programs like SAS and SPSS while also explaining that you are very proficient in Microsoft Excel. On top of the programs, talk about any experience you have with programming and database language like SQL and Python.

Ryan's Answer #1
"In my current role, most of my analysis is handled in SAS and I've really grown to appreciate the program's ability to to manage large data sets and create predictive modeling in the financial field. From a past job, I have experience on SPSS and also with the SQL programming language to build robust databases. Of course, I have received expert level training in Microsoft Excel and consider myself a master of the program."
Ryan's Answer #2
"Having been in the field for over 15 years, looking back at the technological advancements in the tools that we use is very amazing. I consider myself very fluent in both the Sisense and KISSmetrics programs. I also have a good amount of experience in Crystal Reports."
5.
We pride ourselves on our interdepartmental teamwork here at Western Asset. If hired for this role, what kind of team player could we expect you to be?
In the financial world, teamwork at an organization is the key to success and life at Western Asset is no different. As you talk about your abilities and experiences in being a great team player, try to highlight certain themes like building trust, gaining respect and being a subject matter expert as part of a larger team. Don't hesitate to show flexibility in your ability to both lead others and be lead by others and use examples of times that you've done both. To seal your answer for this question, talk about your desire to work as part of a team and do your research on this position to find out what types of colleagues you will be working with.

Ryan's Answer #1
"My colleagues that I work closely with would tell you that I'm knowledgeable in my area of expertise to contribute to the much larger team and do so without hesitation. As well, I'm able to communicate effectively, take direction and run with when needed and always willing to help out other areas if I have free time. I understand that I would be working very closely with the Advising staff here at Western Asset and know that they would have high expectations out of my work."
Ryan's Answer #2
"I prefer to work in an environment that promotes teamwork and collegiality. If I were fortunate enough to join the team here, I want you to know that I love being in a leadership type role on a team where I can delegate work and help train others to better the organization. As well, I also thrive in a role where I am the minion and taking direction from others. I'd say that my key skills in working as a team are my ability to friendly, honest and trustworthy with my team."
6.
Take a couple of minutes to sell this notepad to me.
To be successful in the financial advising field, one top key to success is your ability to sell your service to your clients. For this task, your interviewer will slide a notepad (or other item) to you across the table and ask you to sell it to them. First and foremost, your interviewer will be looking for you to project confidence in your pitch and your ability to find their own needs in what they're looking for in a notepad while you give them your pitch. As you sell them the notepad, be sure that you are confident, creative and that you ask questions of them. Overall, see this question as a fun opportunity to show your advising skills in a very nontraditional way and it will be a success for you.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Well Mr. Jones, I know in your line that you definitely in high need of notepads to help you succeed in your industry and I'm here to show you a new product we have put out to market that can exceed your needs. You'll notice that it features very wide margins that accentuate the note taking procedures for all who use it. You'll also notice that each individual sheet is carefully perforated to make separation from the binding an easy task compared to other notepads. The last feature of our new notepad is that it comes in many different paper colors that suit your needs. If you want, take this sample to your office for a week and put it to use. If you and your staff would make use of it, I can set you up with your first shipment in no time!"
Ryan's Answer #2
"Mrs. Jones, we at Notepads, Inc. are excited to announce a new line of notepads for our exclusive customers. If you can, tell me a bit about your frustrations with your current line of notepads that you use. Wow, thank you for that. I can tell that functionality, cost and supply are all issues that are of concern and I'm happy to tell you that this fantastic notepad meets your needs with the brightest white paper, narrow ruled, right priced and readily available features. I'd like to talk about you further about pricing and delivery options when you are ready."
7.
If you joined the team here at Western Asset, how would you build relationships with those that you would be working closely with?
For this question, your interviewer will be looking to get the sense that you would be proactive about getting to know your colleagues and fitting into the culture of the organization. Use a personal approach to talk about ways that you have done this in the past and how you would do it if hired for this position. Talk about the importance of relationship building in your line of work and how it helps the overall good of the organization if you take the initiative to do this.

Ryan's Answer #1
"From my first day on the job, I would take the time to break the ice with my colleagues by introducing myself and setting up an individual meeting with each person. In the past, I've done these meetings over lunch or in an office where I've had questions prepared for me to get to know the person both personally and professionally. I want to ask my colleagues what they expect from me and what I can expect from them. I've found that these conversations really help to open up doors for working with each other moving forward."
Ryan's Answer #2
"Being the new person on the job can be a very high anxiety time for some people, but I love the opportunity to break the ice with my coworkers by making that first contact. I think it's important to get to know each other on a personal level because we spend so much of our lives together in the workplace and I am a caring person that wants to know how last night's soccer game went for the kids. Beyond that first ice breaking conversation, my work relationships are then bonded through my work ethic and helping others on my team to show that I am a true team player."
8.
At Western Asset, we pride ourselves on providing the best overall customer experience. Talk about your customer service experience and explain why it will help our clients here.
In the financial services industry, overall client experience is a major predictor of business growth and the team at Western Asset takes the overall client experience seriously. For this question, your interviewer will be looking for you to expand upon your customer service experience past what they can see from your resume. To seal the deal for your interview, try to talk about times that you have went above and beyond the call of duty to provide the best service possible for a customer.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Over the past five years in my current role in customer service, my number one mantra has been to create the most personalized experience possibl for each person. I have done this by taking the time to get to know the customer, find out what their needs are and creating an experience unique to them. Where my time in automotive sales has really prepared for this role with Western Asset is in this approach. If hired for this role, I know that I will be relied upon to use open and honest communication skills, time management skills and to take a empathetic and personalized approach with each client and I can definitely be relied upon to do that."
Ryan's Answer #2
"In my years in a front facing customer service role, I've prided myself on being the face of the franchise. More often than not, my interactions with customers can be the difference between a repeat customer and a person who never comes back again. To ensure repeat customers, I make sure that I am knowledgeable about our products and services, I'm proactive with their needs and I'm always accountable for any mistakes that are made on my organization's side of things. If given the opportunity to join the team here at Western Asset, I will work hard to be highly educated in your services and be proactive and accountable in every interaction that I have."
9.
The day-to-day life at Western Asset can be hectic and stressful at times. If hired for this role, how would you keep yourself motivated when working with stressed colleagues and pushy clients?
The daily life at Western Asset is naturally very fast paced and because of that, both the colleagues and the clients that you may be working with have potential to be stressed, needy and downright mean at times. For this question, your interviewer is looking to get a sense that you would be able to work in this type of environment. In your answer, talk about the fact that you are cognizant of what this job entails as far as personal interactions go and talk about times where you have worked successfully through situations like this in the past. As well, don't hesitate to talk about your own personality traits that help you thrive in these types of situations.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Being a person that thrives in a fast paced work environment, I have the ability to handle stressed colleagues with a grain of salt. As you can see from my resume, I've spent the last five years in the manufacturing industry where my department worked under tight deadlines all of the time. If I noticed that a colleague was under stress, I offered my help if I was able to and down the road that was usually reciprocated back to me. This unselfish attitude and realizing that someone else's stress wasn't directed at me was the key to maintaining personal health and balance on the job."
Ryan's Answer #2
"In my current role in client services with a large hospitality group, some days can go off the rails and it feels like I'm working with enraged customers all day long. I have the attitude that their anger isn't directed towards me, but I'm the face of the company that they are currently working with and I need to do my job in helping solve their issue. While I do have great resources at my hand to help solve customer issues, I think that taking the time to get to know all of our management team and how they solve problems is key as well so I know who to put customers in touch with if needed."
10.
In your work as a Portfolio Administrator, what kind events cause you the most stress on the job?
The high demands of a position as a Portfolio Manager or Administrator bring a lot of stress. Market volatility, greed, underperformance and tough clients can all contribute to a high level of stress in this field. For this question, your interviewer is looking to gain insight on how you handle these stress factors on the job by having you talk a bit about what types of things cause you stress. While you talk openly about what it is that causes you stress or discomfort, make sure that you also talk through how you handle that stress in a safe, healthy and good for business manner.

Ryan's Answer #1
"While overall market volatility does stress out a lot of Portfolio Administrators, I have a very good way of explaining this volatility to my clients to the point where it doesn't stress me out. For me, any stress that I feel is usually put on me by myself in having very high expectations for my work with clients. To help alleviate this stress, I've learned over time that the goals and expectations that I put on my work have to be realistic and attainable when they sometimes weren't early on in my career."
Ryan's Answer #2
"In reality, our work as Portfolio Managers for our clients is almost like trying to do the impossible. We are relied upon to make sound decisions for clients based on insufficient information, all while trying to maintain confidence in our decisions. This in itself is a daily stressor on the job and one that I don't take lightly. To help myself with this daily stress, I've learned to accept mistakes as they happen, own up to them with clients and work hard to alleviate those mistakes to put my clients back in the best position possible."
11.
What is your familiarity with debt-to-equity ratios and what would you consider a good debt-to-equity ratio?
For this question, your interviewer will be looking to hear that you understand the basics of calculating a debt-to-equity ratio and why it is used. In your answer, be sure that you talk about the ratiosd importance in considering debt financing. As well, if you have familiarity with ifferent industries and what is considered a reasonable ratio for each industry, be sure to talk about that as well because what is considered reasonable can differ widely between industries.

Ryan's Answer #1
"I am very familiar with debt-to-equity ratio calculations and know that ratios lower than 1.0 are desired to consider a firm financially stable. When I've worked with ratios exceeding 1.0, I've provided further examinations of the industry and the organizations stance within the industry to further determine their overall risk to hopefully provide a win-win situation."
Ryan's Answer #2
"Simply put, the debt-to-equity ratio is found with two easy figures found on a company's balance sheet: their total liabilities and shareholder equity. Swaying away from the norm, I know that the financial and banking industries often have to consider debt-to-equity ratios higher than 2.0 to be common and acceptable due to the large amounts of loaned money and high financial leverage by those institutions. "
12.
Here at Western Asset, we are expecting someone with strong leadership skills to take this role. How would you describe your management style?
Prior to your interview, try to take a long, hard look inside your skills and styles as a leader of others and prepare to present the best management style possible to your interviewer that fits the role that you are interviewing for with Western Asset. Your answer should also involve solid research into the culture of Western Asset and the details of the role you are interviewing for. Some important things to touch on are your ability to promote a team atmosphere and your ability to delegate responsibilities when necessary.

Ryan's Answer #1
"My overall management style is the belief in building a positive team atmosphere. I'm a firm believer that each person and role brings a specific skill set to the ocverall goals and purpose of a team and I promote a team based atmosphere by larifying everyone's role on the team, keeping every person's objectives clear, rewarding great performers on the team and holding people accountable for their actions. If hired for this role at Western Asset, you can be assured that my promotion of a team based atmosphere would help achieve even higher goals than you have set right now."
Ryan's Answer #2
"I think that it is crucial for a leader of others to be flexible in their style rather than relying on just one of the canned management styles. I'd like to highlight my abilities to lead as being a manager that works to grow and develop my staff to help them achieve their career goals and a leader who is able to provide direction and authority when the time for it arises. By knowing my team well and promoting our goals, I have the ability to assign work to the right people and follow through with my team on meeting all objective necessary."
13.
One huge philosophy that we believe in at Western Asset is professional development. How have you worked to develop yourself professionally throughout your career?
In an ever-changing field like financial services, Western Asset knows that professional growth and development is vital to them staying at the forefront of their industry. For this question, your interviewer is looking to ensure that your values surrounding professional development match the values of the company. Use this question as an opportunity for you to highlight the many ways that you grow and develop yourself to be the best that you can be in your career. Highlight any continuing education you have completed, any societies or groups that you belong to and any publications that you read on a regular basis that will prove to your interviewer that you aren't comfortable being stagnant in your career.

Ryan's Answer #1
"I am a firm believer in being a life long learner in my work as a Data Analyst. As technology and times have changed over the course of time, I see it as very important to be learning and changing along with the times. Just over the past two years, the Data Fest and Data Summit national conferences and participation in these events on a yearly basis is super important to me to help me grow and develop."
Ryan's Answer #2
"In the financial field, I have to stay at the top of my game to compete with other advisors and keep clients happy and flourishing. To do this, I subscribe to and read many of the great publications that are out there. Some of my favorites include the Wall Street Journal, Money magazine and Forbes. I also subscribe to many others. As well, I am a member of NAIFA and I have attended the organization's Congressional Conference on a few occasions."
14.
To help us understand your need for initial training and orientation in this role with Western Asset, can you tell me what financial software you have familiarity working on?
Financial software, in particular software geared towards financial analysis, is widely available to the industry with many options available for use. While this won't be a make it or break it question to see if you are experienced with the program that Western Asset utilizes, your interviewer will be looking to hear that you have experience on some of the available systems and that you are ready and willing to take on the challenge of learning something new if hired for this role. In the end in answering this question, make sure that you reiterate that you have the ability and the desire to learn a new program if needed to be successful in this role.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Over the past ten years, I have pretty extensive experience working on Windham Portfolio Advisor and a program called LogicGate. Windham is a program that is used by my colleagues that are building client portfolios and I work on the risk management pieces with each advisor. LogicGate is a program that I completed an RFP to bring on to my department and it has helped us immensely. I do consider myself to have a very high technical acumen surrounding new software. Right now, what programs are your Risk Analysts using?"
Ryan's Answer #2
"Being a computer junkie in my spare time, I have a wide array of experience with many of the different types of financial and risk analysis software. I'm a big fan of the MATLAB program because of its ability to build my own algorithms and customize the data analysis within the program. This has significantly impacted my firm in my current role. With my firm recently moving to an Oracle platform, I've become very familiar with Oracle Crystal Ball over the last two years and really like its ability to visualize forecasts."
15.
Think back over your career up to today and tell me about the most difficult day on the job you encountered. What made the day difficult and how did you handle that situation?
We've all had our share of difficult days on the job and how we handle those days in particular can really make or break where our careers go in that position or with that company. Think of a particular day ahead of your interview that really outlines your ability to handle adversity and proves that you were able to handle it with grace rather than turning your uniform in and heading home for the day. Another important piece of your answer should be discussing what lessons you learned from that particular day moving forward that you still carry with you to this day.

Ryan's Answer #1
"It's funny that you ask this question because I can honestly say that my worst day on the job happened just a few short weeks ago. Upon arriving to work in the morning, I quickly learned that our entire network was down and we wouldn't be able to work within our CRM or other programs that day. Many of my coworkers were visibly upset and questioning how we would be able to do our jobs that day. Rather than joining the crowd and freaking out about the situation, I huddled our group together to talk about solutions to the workday after we found out that the network likely wouldn't be fully up and running until late afternoon. While some colleagues carelessly went home for the day, I helped brainstorm how we could keep our phone lines open and my boss was very grateful for my efforts that day. Looking back, what made this the most difficult for me was seeing how others responded so negatively over an issue that we had no control over."
Ryan's Answer #2
"Early in my career, I had a day where my entire office came down with the flu and I was left alone with the receptionist for the day. Being trained and working Financial Advisor, my colleagues also handled market analysis, retirement plans and insurance plans. At first, the receptionist and I went about our business. After being flooded with calls and in-person visits into our office, we connected again to talk about a plan moving forward. We discussed what types of calls she could handle and which ones I would handle and she triaged from there. I made contacted with my personal clients I had scheduled that day to reschedule and we worked well from there. If I couldn't answer a question for a client of one my colleagues, I ensured they knew that my colleague would follow up as soon as possible. Looking back, I learned that on days where you have to break routine like we did then that it was important to make a plan as early in the day as possible."
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