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Comprehensive Behavioural and Technical Questions for Finance Interview Preparation

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THE FIVE STEPS TO LAND 

YOUR DREAM FINANCE JOB

COMPREHENSIVE BEHAVIOURAL AND TECHNICAL QUESTIONS FOR FINANCE INTERVIEW PREPARATION  

BY ASHISH KOHLI


Investment Banker; Career Advisor, Richard Ivey School of Business; Visiting Professor, Indian School of Business

 MBA, Kellogg Graduate School of Management; Chartered Accountant

This publication contains the opinions and ideas of its author. The author cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information contained herein. The author specifically disclaims any responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk, professional or otherwise, which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this book.


COMPREHENSIVE FINANCE

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS


FIT AND TECHNICAL INTERVIEWS

Finance interviews generally are a combination of fit/behavioral and technical interviews conducted by HR as well as bankers, traders or members of the finance department.

 

  • Types of Interviews – Fit vs. Technical Questions 
  • Fit interviews are generally to see if the person understands the culture and the employer can see the perhaving a long-term career with the firm
  • Airport Test “Can you spend 24 hours in an airport with this person
  • Rotational programs in banks are looking for future leaders who want to work in the financial services industry  
  • Technical interviews differ for each job and test the financial and numerical and other technical abilitity of the candidate 
  • Investment bankers will get more questions on valuation compared to venture capital jobs  where knowledge of a particular industry may be tested also. Sales and Trading interviews will generally have questions related to equity and debt markets and brainteasers.

  • Length of the Interview
  • An interview for finance jobs generally lasts 30 minutes
  • Last 5-10 minutes of the interview generally reserved for you to ask the interviewer questions about the job and the firm

  • Questions vary with the type of Finance Job you are Interviewing for
  • Though almost all the jobs you are interviewing for may involve fit and technical questions, the questions will be different for investment bankers vs. rotational programs vs. sales and trading vs. equity research
  • Investment bankers will get more questions on valuation, accounting questions, M&A and LBO while sales and traders may get brain teasers or math questions also  
  • Equity research positions may focus questions on the industry you want to cover and also on valuation
  • Be Aware of Current Transactions in the Industry you are Interviewing for  
  • Investment bankers interviewing for M&A group should know the recent global merger and acquisitions transactions  
  • Make sure you the recent public transactions the bank has done
  • Sales and trading and equity capital markets should know how the markets are behaving and have a opinion on those markets
  • Don’t Panic if an Interview deviated from what you expected
  • Sometimes an interviewer may want to see how you handle stress and may ask you tough questions or questions you did not expect
  • He/she is trying to see how you handle the questions and not necessary whether you gave the correct answer

SELECT EXPECTED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Below is a list of questions you should expect to be asked in a finance interview. I highly recommend that you WRITE THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS as you will be using these throughout all your life

  • Create an elevator pitch for informational interviews / meeting people at company presentations
  • Highlight your top skills
  • Focus on specific examples from your resume
  • Make sure you highlight the skills you have. Interviewer may not have had the chance to review the resume in advance of the meeting and also gives him an opportunity to hear “your” story
  • In approximately 2 minutes (keep it short and to the point) walk the interviewer through your resume starting with your education and then your work experience
  • Highlight key points/achievements and focus on why you made those decisions
  • End with why you are interested in the job you are interviewing for

  • Walk me through your resume?
  • Interviewer may not have had the chance to review rthe resume in advance of the meeting and also gives him/her an opportunity to hear “your” story
  • In approximately 2 minutes (keep it short and to the point) walk the interviewer through your resume starting with your education and then your work experience
  • Highlight key points/achievements and focus on why you made those decisions
  • End with why you are interested in the job you are interviewing for
  • Have a flow in the story - show natural progression in jobs you have had or why you made the decisions including companies you worked for and positions
  • First impressions are very important – some people say that they have made up their mind about the candidate in the first five minutes of the interview
  • Focus on more recent experiences, and ones that are relevant to the position you are seeking
  • Two minutes is a good time for this question, but if you see that the interviewer is engaged you can spend an additional minute or so
  • Do not read from your resume “you should have practiced this question before – look at the interviewer while answering this question
  • Why investment banking?
  • Highlight how you became interested in investment banking, For example, you met investment bankers while working alongside them if you are an auditor or a lawyer and was really interested in the work they do
  • Like working on transactions
  • Show qualities important to investment banking - attention to detail, ability to work long hours/the willingness to sacrifice personal life, analytical abilities
  • Steep learning curve
  • How it is different from other areas like consulting – transactions are shorter than consulting projects and you see results right away
  • Answers like “I want to make a lot of money” should be avoided  – Money is something which will come in the long term
  • Why RBC or a boutique investment bank or the Company you want to work for?
  • Make sure you understand the differences between the various investment banks
  • Bulge bracket, mid-market, commercial banks with investment banking divisions and boutique banks
  • Culture of these banks
  • Transactions they have done
  • Make sure you know about the recent deals the bank has done
  • Type of clients they have
  • Core strengths of these banks in terms of products  whether M&A or leveraged finance
  • Speak to people you know at those banks and mention that these are the things you found from those people to the interviewer
  • If you would like international experience or work in a particular country make sure that the bank is strong in that area
  • Which other banks are you interviewing with?
  • It is okay to say that you are interviewing with other banks – people have been in your shoes and know that you cannot just rely on interviewing with one bank even if you really want to work for them
  • Make sure you understand the differences between the various investment banks – for example  RBC compared to TD and not a boutique bank 
  • Generally people like boutique banks because they enjoy working in a more entrepreneurial environment and clients could be smaller in size and they may work more closely with clients 
  • At larger banks you will get more structured training and also work with larger clients  
  • Generally, employers are looking for focus – they want to make sure investment banking is what you want to do and it is not your Plan C after consulting and industry jobs 
  • Two questions to ask the interviewer at the end of the interview?
  • Make sure you know the title of the interviewer – different question for a managing director vs. associate
  • Prepare these questions in advance
  • Specific questions regarding the qualities required for the ideal candidate for the position
  • Do not be negative about the Company in the questions you ask
  • In your work experience in your prior jobs describe the 2 main projects/deals you have done?
  • Focus on your role in the transaction or project
  • Interviewer wants to see what your role is even if the deal is too big or small and if it succeeded or not
  • Make sure you prepare and write this down  – again, this is something you will use time after time

QUALITATIVE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

In a behavioral interview you will have to demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and abilities, giving specific examples from your past experiences

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