Updated on August 30th, 2018
| 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
If you could analyze only one type of financial statement for your clients, which financial statement would you choose?
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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
"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."
Tell me about your experience with annual planning processes.
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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!
"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."
When did you start following the stock market? Have you had success?
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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!
"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."
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
- 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.
"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."
Tell me about a time when you presented an oral report to a client or employer. How did you ensure the information was absorbed?
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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.
"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."
6. 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. Here is an answer example: "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."7. 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 Here is an answer example: "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."8. 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. Here is an answer example: "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."9. 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 Here is an answer example: "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."10. In your opinion, which is more beneficial: To increase price by one percent OR To increase customer base by one percent? This question goes back to the cost of retaining customers versus acquiring new customers. It sounds more like a problem solving math question but it's actually pretty straight forward. To answer this question, explain your knowledge of customer retention and acquisition. You can share what you have learned from your clients and how you prioritize them in order to maintain relationships and give them the results they need. Here is an answer example: "I believe that customer retention and investing more in your customers should take precedence over increasing prices. You could lose your customers in the meantime, which will end up costing the company more in the long run. I do believe it is more beneficial to increase your customer base, every time."11. Tell me about the process you follow to create reports. Financial analysts are very organized and methodical. Sticking with a process in your reporting is essential to your efficiency and consistency. Your interviewer is interested in the aspects you consider in your research to prepare your reports. There is a structure most reports follow.
Talk about the basic structure of your report to show that you know your audience. In this example, you are thinking about investors, which will affect the layout of your report and the information you include. Review one of your most recent reports to refresh yourself on your process. Here is an answer example: "I start with a company overview, investigating all of the deciding factors an investor will need. I often include this information in my investment thesis. Next I will include the key risks and valuation. I am thorough and make sure I have reviewed every aspect of the business to help investors make an informed decision."12. Share with me your thoughts on the recent mortgage crisis. The interviewer wants to see that you have a pulse on major financial topics. Offer a personal analysis based on data, trends you have observed, and articles you have read. Even if you are not involved in mortgage lending, you can observe the bigger picture to make an accurate assessment, just as you would for a company or a client. Here is an answer example: "The major mortgage crisis in the United States started in 2007, but the effects are still in full swing, including the turmoil of un-affordable debt that many people now struggle with. From my understanding, the subprime mortgage crisis occurred because of a flawed financial model, far too much borrowing, and many people believing that home prices were soon to soar. Now, the mortgage crisis continues and it is incredibly difficult for home buyers to quality for a mortgage. In the end; however, I do believe that the stricter approval process has created a stronger financial system, overall."13. 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. Here is an answer example: "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."14. What unique qualities about yourself would you bring to our company? There are some things that your resume cannot do. Showing off your great personality is one of them, for instance! Talk to the interviewer about some of your unique qualities and be sure to tie these qualities into how they will benefit the company, should they hire you. Here is an answer example: "I have a unique ability to strike up conversation and build rapport with nearly anyone. This is a great help when it comes to customer service and sales. My up-selling percentages are always very high."15. 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. Here is an answer example: "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."16. What are your salary expectations? The best way to discuss your salary expectations are to use your current earnings as an example. Be open, and honest. Transparency is the best choice when salary based questions arise. Here is an answer example: "Currently, I earn a base salary of $,000 per 63,000 year plus a potential 10% annual performance based bonus. Last year my earnings were $68,000 and I would like to stay in the same range or slightly higher."17. Tell me about yourself. Take a few minutes to tell the interviewer a few things about yourself. You can begin with your recent education, family life, volunteer work, or talk about your travels. Bring up anything that is interesting and highlights your ability to be a responsible, reliable, and bright individual. Here is an answer example: "A bit about me - I love to travel, read, and conduct research. I am a recent grad from Columbia University and have spent the past 12 months traveling the world. It was the best experience that I could have given myself as I was able to learn so much from seeing how the rest of the world lives. I returned to the US just last month and have been actively looking for work the past couple of weeks. I am looking forward to getting into the routine of a career again."18. As a Financial Analyst, accuracy is of utmost importance. How would your co-workers describe your attention to detail? It is always best to support your reply with a real life example. Talk to the interviewer about your level of attentiveness when it comes to details on the job. Here is an answer example: "My co-workers would describe my attention to detail as very strong. I can very easily point out discrepancies in reports and will notice the small things. I think big-picture as well but have always had a knack for the finer details."19. Do you think honesty is always the best policy? Is honesty always the best policy? Talk to the interviewer about your thoughts on honesty in the workplace. As a Financial Analyst you need to be well trusted so be sure your answer is clear! Here is an answer example: "Sometimes full disclosure can damage someone's self esteem, and reality isn't always best expressed in full and can be self-indulgent based on the person's intention. In those instances, honesty isn't always the best policy. However, when it comes to financial matters I believe that full disclosure, transparency, and honest is a must at all times."20. 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. Here is an answer example: "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."21. When entering a new job, describe how you build relationships with your new coworkers and supervisors. Due to a wide variety of personalities, relationships can take time to form. How do you ensure that you have a strong line of communication with your co-workers and supervisors, right from the start? Here is an answer example: "I understand that some relationships come quickly and others take time to nurture. When starting a new job all that I can do is be my true self and let my personality, integrity, and reliability speak for itself."22. What type of manager brings out the best in you? The interviewer wants to see that you are self-aware and understand the type of manager or employer that brings out the best in you. Some individuals prefer a close working relationship with a lot of accountability, while others prefer space and autonomy. If you are unsure of the management style of the interviewing company, try to leave your answer as open as possible. You can certainly ask the interviewer to describe their management style. Here is an answer example: "I have worked with a wide range of personalities and management styles with great success. If I could express a preference, I feel that I am best with a manager who allows me autonomy while still investing time in me through mentor-ship and training. Can you describe the management style here?"23. 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. Here is an answer example: "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."24. When planning, how often do you create alternative scenarios to help you adjust to changing situations? Being able to problem solve and think outside the box when it comes to changing situations is a very valuable skill set, especially as a Financial Analyst. Talk to the interviewer about your ability to create a variety of potential scenarios when faced with challenging situation. Here is an answer example: "I feel that it is very important to create alternative scenarios in all situations. One cannot guess what will happen in the end so it is great to be prepared for all possible outcomes."25. 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? Here is an answer example: "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."26. How do you evaluate the financial health of a company? The interviewer is interested in knowing what the major factor is for you to determine if a company is financially healthy or not. You should give a straight answer while maintaining a stance that, overall, many factors are required before you can truly evaluate the financial health of a company. Here is an answer example: "I believe that the best way to evaluate the financial health of a company is to dissect their bottom line profit margin. This will always show me the long-term viability of a company. With that said, it is important to look at many factors before a final analysis is made."27. The financial industry is large; however, it is close knit. Describe your reputation in our industry. Every employer wants to know that they are hiring someone with a strong reputation in the industry. In finance, reputation means a lot because reputation equals trust. Talk to the interviewer about your reputation in the industry by drawing on compliments you have received from clients, reviews from current or previous employers, or co-workers. If you have any written references to bring with you - even better! Here is an answer example: "For me, reputation is everything. I have two written references for you from previous clients. You can also call my past 2 employers if you would like a character reference. I can best describe my reputation as honest, thorough, and invested. I want to see my clients succeed."28. Walk me through your finance related education. Which courses were your favorite? Where did you struggle? The interviewer wants you to bring your education to life for them. Be sure to talk about your reasoning behind your most favorite course, and also discuss how you overcame your greatest challenges. Here is an answer example: "I have a Masters' degree in Finance. I am also a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). I completed my Masters' degree from Stanford University in 2006. My CFA designation was awarded to me in 2010. During my studies, my favorite course was International Business. I found it incredibly eye opening to learn about financial matters in other regions. Statistics is the area that I struggled the most. I hired a tutor for that course and completed it with strong grades."29. In your opinion, what are the most important metrics when dealing with investors? The interviewer is interested in what you feel to be the most important metrics when working alongside, or communicating with, investors. There may not be a wrong answer; however, you want to ensure that your focus is on the areas that the hiring company also puts their focus on. You may be able to find clues in the company job description or the values / about us section on their website. Here is an answer example: "For myself, revenue growth is one of the most important metrics when dealing with investors. You must know your numbers clearly when it comes to revenue! For me, I look at month over month revenue, revenue quarter over quarter, and of course the bigger picture...year over year."30. 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. Here is an answer example: "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."31. What are the most important factors to consider when processing a loan application? The interviewer wants to be assured that you have a full understanding of the basic factors that go into loan approval. Take the interviewer through the steps that you consider to be the most important when reviewing a loan application.
Here are some important factors to keep in mind:
- Credit History
- Cash Flow
- DSCR (Debt Service Coverage Ratio) Here is an answer example: "There are many factors to consider, and these factors will change slightly based on whether it is a personal loan or a business loan application. For the most part, I believe that the vital factors are Debt to Asset ratio, Collateral, and Credit Rating."32. What finance related magazines, newspapers, or journals do you read? Part of your job as a financial analyst is staying up to date on the latest trends and growing in your overall knowledge. Reading up on current events and frequenting financial websites will help you to stay relevant. Show that you are knowledgeable and interested in the changing financial environment, because you know how much it affects the way you do your job. Knowing trends and understanding historical facts will make you that much better at what you do. Here is an answer example: "I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and the Economist. I make a concerted effort to take time out of my day and read about the latest economic shifts that will affect my job and my clients."33. When looking at the profitability of an investment, what other factors do you consider besides Net Present Value (NPV)? As you may have figured out by now, you will want to know terminology and formulas for your finance interview. The interviewer needs to ask these types of questions to make sure you know your stuff. NPV stands for Net Present Value, a factor that is used in assessing investments. Here is an answer example: "When looking at the profitability of an investment project, I consider future value calculations, compounding interest, and of course net present value."
Author of Financial Analyst Answers and Questions
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace.
Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career.
Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise.
Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
First written on: 02/27/2014 Last modified on: 08/30/2018
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