With the start of the new school year, finance interviews for AIM students (and others) interested in internships and entry level jobs will soon be taking place. On this blog we will be publishing some of the most frequently asked technical finance interview questions and answers across a variety of topics. Here are some of the most likely questions you’ll be asked. (Note: some of the questions relate to prior work experiences).
1. Tell me about yourself.
This sounds like an easy question to answer. After all, what is so difficult about talking about yourself? But not preparing for a question like this could cause you to bring up points that might be irrelevant for your job candidacy.
Review the job requirements and see how your strengths and qualities can support the position. Write down your responses and rehearse your delivery so that it sounds natural. You will have done much of the groundwork in your self-review.
Be concise but informative in your response. Depending on your career stage, this answer should take two to four minutes and include the highlights, and sometimes lowlights (remembering to provide examples of how you overcame challenges), of your career background. Focus on your professional work but include significant personal events and experiences if they have affected your career.
Display your competence and interest in the position but do not start going into your personal history. If the interviewer wants more detail about a specific incident or phase of your life, he or she will probe further.
2. What is your greatest accomplishment in your career or personal life? Tell me why.
The interviewer is interested in the accomplishment you have chosen to share and its context in your personal and professional background. You should choose a significant event that demonstrates such personal qualities as persistence or ability to overcome adversity and, ideally, an event that displays something a little out of the ordinary.
You can broaden your answer to include a selection of accomplishments. For example, “I’ve been pleased with a few accomplishments, such as X, Y, and Z, but I would have to say that my proudest moment was Y because of reasons 1, 2, and 3.”
3. What value have you added to your company in your current role and what value has your company added to you?
This question enables you to demonstrate your expertise, but remember to answer both parts of the question. For the first part of your answer, outline your accomplishments in your current role and include measurable outcomes.
Be able to identify and quantify specific ways you have benefited your organization. Outline the challenges or issues you faced in your position or your desired outcomes for the role when you started.
Ideally, you want to be able to find similarities between the challenges faced in your current role and the challenges that could arise in your prospective role. This strategy can help convince the interviewer that you are the best choice for the position.
In the second part of your answer, identify how you have progressed and what skills and experiences you have gained. Employers like to meet people who are aware of key issues and perceptive of changing situations. Present yourself as having arrived at a situation in which you are now ready — and very able — to take on the new job.
4. Describe how your division/company is organized and how you fit into its structure.
This is a popular question because it gives the interviewer a better understanding of where you fit within the organization. Your answer also demonstrates your verbal skills in explaining your company’s structure and how clearly you understand your role and the chain of command.
Start with your job, its title, and a brief summary of your responsibilities. Then, describe your colleagues’ titles and responsibilities and whom you report to. Finally, identify people who report to you. This is a factual answer and doesn’t need to be a sales pitch; just ensure that you are succinct and confident in your answer.
5. What did your latest performance appraisal highlight about you?
Although you should portray the good points from your performance review, you should also be prepared to discuss some of the issues that were raised, if any, and how you are overcoming or improving on these limitations. Most interviewers will also be asking your references this question, so be careful about coming across as sugarcoating the facts.
6. (a) What are the qualities required for the position for which you are interviewing? Why?
Research is important for this question. Before the interview, study the top three qualities required for this position as per the job description, and be able to discuss why they are important to the job. In doing so, be aware of the next question that will be asked once you have completed your answer.
(b) Do you think you have these qualities? Can you give me examples of recent work situations that would suggest you do?
As long as the qualities you chose in the previous question (6a) correspond with the qualities that you possess, this answer should be easy.
7. If you were to stay with your current organization, what would your career path be?
You should be able to outline a potential career path (if one exists) within your organization and why this does and doesn’t appeal to you. You should have already gone through this thought process before commencing your job search. Your answer should be logical and sensible to the interviewer because any hint of an illogical approach may indicate to them that you are hiding something.
8. Putting this job aside for one moment, describe your ideal next move in terms of your career.
Since you have mapped your career plan and done self-analysis before your job search and this interview, this should be a relatively straightforward question. Nevertheless, it is an important question because the interviewer wants to understand whether you have thought carefully about your next move and whether your analysis and your plan sound logical and achievable. There needs to be some congruence between your career plan and this role.
9. Are there situations in which you have received instructions from your manager you believed to be morally or technically wrong? What did you do?
Answers to these questions can be interpreted in different ways. Do you display initiative, or do you flout authority? Are you loyal, or do you follow instructions blindly? What are your values, and how do they affect your work? With the recent emphasis on corporate governance, many more organizations want to discuss your ethical perspective and whether you would be the whistleblower if you observed impropriety in the organization.
Whether you have had such an experience may depend on your career stage, but the interviewer wants what your approach has been or would be. Ideally, you want to explain that you would want to further discuss the issue with your manager to better understand why he or she made such a decision. The interviewer wants to hear that you know it’s a complex and delicate issue and that you have the ability and experience to read the situation and act accordingly.
10. If you could change one thing about your personality, what would it be?
The interviewer is seeking more information about how self-analytical you are and is trying to see what negative personality traits you may be prepared to reveal. You want to be able to identify one characteristic that you would like to change or develop and this should be significant but not fundamental to the role. Depending on your rapport with the interviewer, an appropriately light-hearted and/or self-effacing comment might be appropriate.