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Financial Analyst Interview

33 Questions and Answers by
| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Question 1 of 33

How would you explain your job as a financial analyst to someone with no financial background?

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Financial Analyst Interview Questions


  1. How would you explain your job as a financial analyst to someone with no financial background?
    • The financial world can be overwhelming to those who have no experience in it! There are terms, acronyms, and phrases that the average person may not be able to understand. Your ability to explain your job to a financial layman will show the interviewer that you are capable of meeting your clients, experienced or not, on their level of understanding.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "When I need to explain my role as a Financial Analyst to anyone without a financial background, I break it down into very simple terms. I say that I provide financial guidance to individuals and businesses based on a set of financial based data and criteria."


  1. How do you like to be recognized for your accomplishments?
    • We all like to be recognized in some way for our accomplishments in the workplace. Share with the interviewer how you would like to be recognized for your hard work. Through gifts? Financial perks? Public recognition? Kind words? Title promotions?

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I am very much an over-achiever and find that the best way for me to be recognized for a job well done is to be given words of kindness and recognition. I am easily encouraged and the best reward for me is to know that my hard work is being noticed."


  1. Where do you see your finance career, five years from now?
    • It's impossible to know where you will be in 5 years but do assure the interviewer that, given all possible circumstances, you could see yourself as a long term fit for their position.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Ideally, 5 years from now, I would love to see myself growing into a more prominent leadership role within your organization. My career interests align very nicely with your company's growth plan, which helps me to see a great long term fit here."


  1. How long will it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our team?
    • If you were to be the successful candidate, when do you expect to make a viable contribution to the organization? Talk to the interviewer about your plan to make a fast impact.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I am interested in making an impact on your organization right away and have already crafted a plan to make that happen. In addition to my stellar skills in finance, I am a very strong relationship builder. I plan to bring my existing portfolio and expand it by 15% this year. This should amount to a strong increase in clients for your firm within the first 9 months of my on boarding."


  1. If you could analyze only one type of financial statement for your clients, which financial statement would you choose?
    • The interviewer is looking for your personal preference. Technically is no right or wrong answer; however, be sure to think about the job description. You should recall if there was an expressed preference on the type(s) of financial statements they want you to be well versed in. Once you state your preference, explain why you chose that particular statement over the others.

      Choose from the four main types of financial statements:

      - Balance Sheets
      - Income Statements
      - Statement of Cash Flows
      - Statement of Changes in Equity

      Rachelle's Answer

      "From a logic standpoint, the Statement of Cash Flows makes the most sense if you had to choose just one financial statement type to analyze. The cash flow statement would tell me the ins and outs of cash movement, current liabilities, investments, and operating needs."


  1. Describe for me a time when you made the wrong career decision. How did you correct your misstep?
    • Everyone has had a misstep in their career at one point or another. Perhaps you took a job with a company who was not as reputable as you originally believed. Maybe you took a role that was 'oversold' to you. Or, maybe you declined an opportunity that you now regret passing on. The key to a great answer is to discuss what you did to correct the misstep.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Last year, I was offered a management position that would have offered me the leadership experience I was looking for. Unfortunately, I turned down the offer in fear that I was not yet ready for the responsibility of being a leader to so many people. My lack of confidence in myself got in the way. I recognized that lack of confidence in myself and changed turned it around by attending 3 leadership workshops over the next year. Now I am bursting with confidence and am ready to take on this leadership role with your company."


  1. Tell me one thing about yourself that you would like to improve upon.
    • Self-improvement is required by everyone, no matter what stage we are in, in life and career. Talk to the interviewer about something that you would improve about yourself and what you are planning to do to achieve that.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I would like to improve upon my computer skills. I am currently at an intermediate level with Microsoft Office Suite but would like to advance. I have enrolled in a class this Fall which should help me to reach that goal."


  1. Accuracy is very important when making projections based on financial data. How do you ensure accuracy?
    • There are many factors and changing conditions that will affect financial business decisions. When you talk about your process for accuracy, show how you are consistent and precise. Attention to detail, the ability to see the big picture, and the willingness to reassess, are key skills that will aid in accuracy.

      Your steps to accuracy may include:

      - Staying current on the changing economic environment
      - Accounting for potential losses and unexpected expenses
      - Ensuring your costs/expenses are accurate
      - Looking at multiple scenarios / potential outcomes
      - Comparing the financial data of a similar project / company / situation
      - Willingness to reassess regularly

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Accuracy is very important to me when I am making projections. I ensure accuracy by triple checking that my numbers are correct, looking at multiple potential outcomes, and comparing the financial data with that of a similar project. This helps me ensure that I am not leaving out any important factors."


  1. How does the current monetary policy affect your decision making?
    • The interviewer is interested in your knowledge of our current monetary policy; however, they also want to see how knowledge of factors such as inflation will affect how you invest money. Assure the interviewer that you have sound decision making skills. Show that you trust your own judgement and that your decisions are always research based.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I am always careful to research and assess economic factors that could affect any of my big investments, always taking into consideration the amount of risk that is reflected in the trends."


  1. Explain one financial concept to me.
    • As you work with your clients, you will need to be able to take complicated financial concepts and explain them in terms that are easily understood. Review industry concepts that you may not use every day so that you can confidently discuss any term the interviewer throws your way.

      Here are some concepts you will want to familiarize yourself with:

      - Risk/Return Tradeoff
      - Asset Allocation
      - Random Walk Theory
      - Optimal portfolio
      - Net worth
      - Liquidity
      - Inflation
      - Risk Tolerance
      - Bull Market

      These are all concepts you will want to familiarize yourself with. Maybe crack open that textbook you used to study for your CFA exam and quiz yourself. As you review these concepts, take some time to write out their definitions in simple terms you would use to explain it to your client.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "The most common financial concept that I find myself explaining to my clients is the Random Walk Theory. Many new investors believe that the Stock Market is somehow rigged so I like to teach them that stock prices are random, and unpredictable. The Random Walk Theory is also called the Random Walk Hypothesis."


  1. Tell me about your experience with annual planning processes.
    • The interviewer wants to know that you understand the process of annual planning. Giving a detailed example of a process you followed and the results you achieved will make your skills and knowledge more tangible for the interviewer. Be sure to give an example of a time when your assistance attributed to a clients' success!

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I was hired last year by a local software startup to create an annual corporate plan. The plan helped them to define their scope, which in turn gave them a better perspective on what customers they should be targeting. My goal was to help them increase their profitability. Over the next year their sales increased by 120%. I use an annual plan process that included considerations such as market changes over the past 12 months, what business characteristics gave them an edge over competitors, any potential threats to the business, the strengths/weaknesses of the business, as well as a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time driven) objective."


  1. When did you start following the stock market? Have you had success?
    • The interviewer wants to understand how deep your interest goes, in the world of finance and investments. Share a bit about what initially sparked your interest in the stock market and feel free to talk about your current involvement in the stocks. Perhaps you would like to discuss a successful investment you made!

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I have always had an interest in the calculated risk and required patience that comes with the stock market. Many years ago, before I started a career in finance, one of my friends walked me through the stock market, taught me a bit about how it works, and he told me about a company I might want to invest in. I started following their stock prices and reading articles to understand the market better. I have made some great investments over the years including some very profitable ones with Edwards Lifesciences Corp. and Under Armour."


  1. Tell me about a time when you presented an oral report to a client or employer. How did you ensure the information was absorbed?
    • A good presentation tells a story. How do you make numbers interesting and relevant? If you are presenting to investment bankers, they may be interested in different information than the CEO of a startup marketing firm. Thus, it is critical that you know your audience prior to presenting. Think of a time when you did just that! Highlight for the interviewer how you presented in a way that made the data understandable and absorb-able.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I worked as an in house financial analyst at a marketing firm this past year and gave a presentation on their financial forecast. I wanted to tell the story in a relevant way, so I put the information into perspective by showing them how my research would affect their business growth and help them get where they wanted to go. I hired a graphic designer to make the presentation visually engaging and also compared their brand story to one of their strongest competitors, using numbers and potential outcomes, to capture their attention."


  1. In your opinion, what profitability models are most accurate for forecasting?
    • As a Financial Analyst, forecasting is a topic you need to feel confident discussing in depth. This question gives you the opportunity to share your experience and your analytical skills. Test your business market knowledge by thinking back on the research you have done for companies in the past.

      Use what you have learned to impress the interviewer by showing that you understand the different models and when to use them. Accuracy will be dependent upon if you are using the right model with the right situation. Share the factors that you take into account, such as operations, financial results, the company's position in the marketplace and the different characteristics of the current market.

      The most used profitability models are:

      - Historical Model
      - Trends Based Model
      - Analytic Model
      - Financial Model

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I have worked primarily with startups, so I have found using the financial model and looking at trends is most effective. For companies with a more stable financial background, I would use the historical model. It really depends on the company; however, I have found the analytical model to generally be the least accurate. In the end, most models still heavily lean on educated guesswork."


  1. When reviewing investment programs, how do you interpret data?
    • Interpreting financial data is the main responsibility of a financial analyst. Your task here is to explain your process for data interpretation so that the person interviewing you feels confident in your skills. Go into as much detail as you need to in order to prove your competency. Explain the factors you take into account.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Using my knowledge of business practices, I take a look at the financial data considering trends, price, and economic conditions. I organize my forecasting reports based on the results and the concerns of the investors."


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