Financial analysts use financial data to make recommendations to improve a company’s performance. This role is perfect for the first job in finance. It is common to see this position as an internship or an entry-level job.
Finance is a competitive industry where it can be hard to break into. Although, it is comforting to know that the finance field is a growing field in the coming years and has many well-paying positions.
If you are looking for entry-level positions, continuing education beyond your undergraduate degree might be needed. Good credentials to have are certified public accountant (CPA), certified financial planner (CFP®), or chartered financial analyst (CFA).
If you are looking for a more general analyst role, business analyst positions might be best for you.
Where to Look For Financial Analyst Positions
There are many financial analyst positions being offered throughout the year. Look for insurance companies, investment companies, and consulting firms, and other corporate companies.
Remember that getting that first job is the most important to get your foot in the door of this industry. You can grow from there into positions that are more favorable for you.
Scholars is a great way to begin your search because you will get exclusive information on the companies that you are interested in.
A Scholars suggested company, Cardinal Health offers many analytics positions. If you are interested in these, listen to the podcast featuring Sarah Gergley, recruiter on the Cardinal Health College Relations team.
LinkedIn is a necessary tool for job searching because it should be utilized as a database for information for you. If you are particularly interested in a company, look for employees with similarities to you. Keep an eye out for employees who were in the same sorority or fraternity as you, or went to the same university.
For more on how students should utilize LinkedIn, tune into The Interview Show’s The Office Hours.
How to Get the Interview With Your Resume
It is crucial to gain a high level of knowledge on finance before applying and to do your research into the companies.
Remember to follow the basics of resume etiquette.
Previous job experiences to highlight on a Financial Analyst Resume:
- Financial reporting
- Financial statements
- Income statements
- Formal accounting
- IT software
- Excel experience
- Financial model
- Microsoft Dynamics
- Rate on Return
- Cash flow statements
- Balance sheets
Skills to highlight:
- Written and verbal communication
Keywords to use:
- Accounting principles
- Cost/Cost management
- Margins (gross, EBITDA, EBIT, net profit)
- Value-added analysis
- Financial analysis
How to Prepare Before the Job Interview
Because of the competitive nature of the finance field, it is important to be well prepared before going into the interview. However, you can be assured that you are in the right place if you are preparing.
The first place to start is by reviewing general key industry concepts and trends in the finance industry. This is great to do generally, but necessary to do before going into a job interview. Questions might be asked on the future of the industry and you will want to prepare for those questions.
Then, you should do thorough research on the company. This is the most important thing to do before an interview. Certain questions will require answers that should reference specifics of a company such as, the company mission. Something that can be important to know is who are the stakeholders in the company.
If possible, ask who in senior management will be interviewing you. This way, you can better prepare for the interview.
Lastly, look at websites and publications that cover the business from a third-party perspective.
Financial Analyst Interview Questions and Sample Answers
Questions and answers may vary within an interview. Though, it is great to prepare for all possible experiences.
Common Interview Questions and Advice for Answers
- Tell me about yourself?
Almost every interview will ask this question, therefore, it should be well prepared ahead of time. Cover the basics such as your name, university, major, and applicable job experiences. For finance positions, highlight your ability to be detail-oriented
2. Why do you want to work here?
This is a question where you will have wanted to do your homework. You want to answer this keeping in mind your understanding of the company and the role.
3. Tell me about a time you failed. What did you do?
This question is common, therefore, there is an equation to answering this.
You will want to identify the weakness, explain the context, how you improved and the steps you take for improvement.
4. Where would you like to be 5 years from now?
Highlight your career goals. This is when it is important to do research. With this answer, you should show your understanding of how growth happens in a company. Respond with the possible path that you could take in the company.
Background and experience questions
1. What methodologies are you familiar with for conducting an analysis?
For this, you will want to give multiple methodologies and describe how they work within an analysis.
2. Are you familiar with benchmarking?
With yes or no questions, it can be difficult to have to say no. If you are not familiar with the topic, it is smart to show how you will become familiar with them in the future. If you are familiar with benchmarking, give a brief description of what it is.
Overall, benchmarking is comparing the performance standards and business practices of your company with other companies in the same industry. Things that are compared are quality, time, and costs.
3. What do you do to create sales reports?
This answer is a bit more simple, and a question that is testing your experience. You will want to list any software tools that you are familiar with and use in the process to create sales reports. Additionally, list the software that you want to become familiar with in the future.
4. What are your favorite tools for financial report creation?
With this answer, you want to list multiple of your favorite tools and how they are important in your process for financial report creation. Examples of tools are FreshBooks, QuickBooks Enterprise, Xero, and FreeAgent.
5. Do you hold any certifications or licenses?
Share any certifications or licenses. If you do not have any certifications or licenses, share your plan for achieving certifications or licenses in the future and how those would complement the role you are interviewing for.
In-depth and Technical Questions
For these questions, you will want to brush up on the information that you know about finances and refer to your course notes.
1. How would you handle finding a discrepancy in a statement?
Show how you would identify the problem and how you would address this issue. This answer shows your ability to identify ethical issues and how to properly bring them up to a coworker.
2. What is EBITDA?
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. It is important because it shows the overall financial performance of a company.
3. Explain financial modeling.
Financial modeling builds a financial representation of a company.
4. What are the different types of working capital?
While you may not recall all of the types of working capital, aim for memorizing 3 types and fully explaining them.
Examples of types of working capital are temporary working capital, permanent working capital, and gross & net working capital.
5. What is the difference between a ledger and a journal?
The basics of this answer are:
The first step in the accounting cycle is journal entries. Ledger is an extension of the journal.
For good questions to ask the hiring manager, read more about it on the blog. Looking for more information on companies? Check out our podcast, The Internship Show, and the blog to find out more about other internship opportunities in business.