The finance industry is competitive, and you need to bring your a-game to all interviews. While this may seem nerve-racking, the secret to being successful is simple: preparation. Preparing for each interview, whether it’s your first or fifth, will help you set yourself apart from other candidates. Each company is different, and you will need to do your research on them to show your interviewer you’re interested and how you’d be a good match for the role. In addition, you can prepare ahead of time for how you will answer some general questions that usually get asked in a first interview.
You need to show your potential employer you are ready for the responsibility and open to learning. Use your preparation time to sharpen your technical skills and also keep in mind the soft skills you have developed over the years.
10 Common Entry-Level Finance Questions to Prep For
Here are 10 questions you may be asked by your interviewer. These are questions you should think about ahead of time and have a response ready:
1. Tell me about yourself.
This question is extremely common and asked in almost every field. It’s important because it will set the tone of the interview and will allow you to share your background and experience with your interviewer. Keep your story relevant to the job and company and include information about what sparked your interest in the field. You can talk about the measurable impacts you’ve made and how your experiences have evolved. Keep it professional at this stage of the conversation.
2. Why do you want to work for us?
Here is when you tell your interviewer why you fit in with this company and why you stand out from the competition. Tell them what interests you about their organization, and why you think you will be the perfect fit. This will require you to do your research and learn more about the company itself.
3. Explain a cash flow statement to me.
Being in the finance world means that you will need to know basic financial models, calculations and other measurements. Besides knowing the textbook definition, it might be a good idea to see how you can go a little deeper in your explanation and show how it can be useful, how you can use it to help the company and any additional details associated with the model.
4. How would you measure a company’s financial health?
Knowing ratios such as debt to equity is essential to show the hiring manager that you understand how to measure a company’s financial health and improve it. Being able to conduct a financial analysis can help you understand if the company is profitable or needs a change in the way money is managed. When you show understanding of this and are able to dive deeper, you can impress your interviewer with your knowledge, interest and relevant experience in the field.
5. Have you worked under pressure? What was your response?
Working in finance often means tight deadlines and high-pressure situations. This means that you will need to be able to juggle multiple tasks and be able to perform during busy times. Your manager will need to know how you handle being in situations like this. Will you get extremely stressed and take it out on your team or will you focus on time management and find healthy coping habits? Think of an example of a time when you successfully juggled multiple projects and discuss your strategy with the interviewer.
6. How have you handled conflict in your team?
This is a question to see how you react in certain situations. Your manager wants to see how you work within a team and what your responses are when your opinion or thoughts are challenged. Their main focus here is to understand your communication skills and how you deal with conflict. Did you show empathy and listen? Did you try to understand everyone’s challenges and their sides? Again, any specific examples will bolster your response.
7. What do you wish to accomplish in the next five years?
The interviewer is likely trying to understand how you stay motivated, how you want to grow, and where you see your career going. You should be prepared to talk about how this company will help you evolve and grow in your career and how you want to continue to grow in the field. Talk about your goals and aspirations and how you wish to accomplish them.
8. What would your previous manager say about you?
Are you outgoing? Collaborative? Have good leadership skills? Your manager is trying to understand what you bring to the table and how you will fit into the company culture with this question. It’s important to be honest and tell the truth rather than tell them what they want to hear. Talk about your soft skills, what your strengths are, and how you will do the job if you get it.
9. What is EBITDA?
EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) is a very common topic that will be brought up in the finance interview. Just like a cash flow statement, your interviewer will expect you to know what this is and your knowledge of it. Now is the time to bring up any relevant experience.
10. If you were the CFO of a company, what would be your primary concerns?
This might be phrased in many ways but hiring managers will want to know your insights and your strategic thinking capabilities. You’ll need to talk about the company’s goals, revenue and growth. Tie in your knowledge of looking over the cash statements and bring up any relevant issues that are affecting the market to further show your knowledge of the field.
While you may need to brush up on your financial knowledge and skills for more technical answers, these common questions will be asked to assess your situational and behavioral responses. Your potential employer wants to know your technical skills and knowledge, how you work within a team, what your working style is, and any expertise you bring to the role. Be prepared and research the company well to have an idea of what to expect. Good luck!
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