The Most Common Finance Interview Questions and How to Prepare for Them
If you’re in your final year of college, or you’ve recently graduated, chances are you’re dedicating a good portion of your life to searching for jobs, polishing and distributing your resume, and preparing for the ultimate nerve-test: the job interview. Interviews come with inherent pressure, stress, and mystery. Unfortunately, they’re a necessary part of the job hunting process. The good news is you don’t need to love job interviews to be successful in them. You just need to know how to prepare.
We talked with Clay Skurdal, COO of Advisors Ahead, about the most critical and commonly asked finance job interview questions. Advisors Ahead provides a bridge between finance students and the financial services industry, ensuring recent graduates come into the business with the training and background it takes to be productive on day one. Clay has sat across the desk from thousands of job seekers, and he knows what it takes for an applicant to stand out from the pack.
Here are Clay’s top four finance interview questions you should be prepared to be answer.
1. Why do you want to start a career in the financial services industry?
The worst thing you can do when you’re asked this question is to deliver a safe, meaningless answer. The interviewer is trying to figure out what makes you “you.” Telling the interviewer that you want to help people won’t make you stand out. If you say you want to help people, the interviewer might ask you why, and might continue to ask you why until they get to the core of your motivation.
The best way to prepare for this question is to write a “passion essay” on why you want to get into the business. Write your real story. Did your family go through a tough financial period that inspired you to learn about money management? That’s the kind of honesty the interviewer is looking for. There are as many answers to this question as there are applicants for the position you’re interviewing for, so the only wrong answer is a non-answer.
2. What are you most proud of in the last 12 months, and why?
This question is intended to get a better idea of who you are as a person, and find out what you’re passionate about. It could be an exam or paper that you worked hard for and did exceptionally well on. It could be a problem you solved in your internship or your night job. It could also be an example from your personal life. This question helps the interviewer understand who you are and what you value. It also shows them that you have the ability to set and accomplish goals.
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3. Tell me about a time someone asked you to bend the rules or do something unethical. How did you handle that situation?
In a finance career, there are unlimited opportunities to go astray and abandon your moral compass. This question helps the interviewer better understand your capacity to do the right thing, even in the face of extreme pressure. They want to know if you have a strong ethical center, or if you can be led down a bad path by poor judgement or outside influence. Again, have an example ready before the interview. Be prepared to tell a story that demonstrates your strong moral character.
4. Tell me about your extracurricular activities, and why you’re passionate about them?
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but companies aren’t interested in hiring robots. Interviewers who ask this question are trying to see if you’re passionate about something other than work. What are your hobbies? When you’re not at work, how do you choose to spend your time? They want to get past the front that you’re putting up and learn more about you as a person. Situations that demonstrate your ability to lead or be an active member of your community are great examples to cite.
According to Clay, it’s more valuable to prepare your story than prepare for specific finance interview questions. Listen intently to the interviewer and find a way to tell your personal story within the questions that are asked. Finance is a “people” business. Who you are as a person is what tells the interviewer if you’re the kind of employee who can add value to the organization. When you walk into the interview, you are Jane Doe, a name on a resume. You’re not that different from the other resumes in the stack. To set yourself apart from the group, prepare for the interview and ensure your name, face, and story make a lasting impression.
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What Does a Financial Advisor Do?
What does a financial advisor do? People who are exploring a career in finance often ask this question. The short answer is that a financial advisor works with clients to assess their current financial status and future plans, economic conditions and forecasts, and regulations so that they can give them financial advice. This article offers more detail on the financial advisor role and shares the steps to follow to become a financial advisor.
What Is a Financial Advisor?
A financial advisor helps clients by giving them financial advice that takes their current financial situation, long-term and short-term goals, and requirements into account. Generally, financial advisors fall into one of these categories:
- Personal financial advisor: A personal financial advisor helps individuals manage their finances and provide advice on investments, insurance, mortgages, college savings, taxes, estate planning, and retirement.
- Investment advisor: An investment advisor provides investment-related advice for a fee. Their focus is strictly on investing, so their work is more limited in scope than that of a personal financial advisor.
- Registered representative: A registered representative can recommend and purchase investment products such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds for a client based on income, portfolio, risk tolerance, investment objectives, and overall financial situation.
- Wealth management advisor: A wealth management advisor recommends ways that high-net-worth clients can achieve their goals related to wealth accumulation, protection, and distribution.
- Financial planner: A financial planner helps clients with long-term investment decisions, taxes, and selecting insurance policies and retirement plans.
Regardless of their specific job title, all financial advisors design investment portfolios based on a range of information, including economic trends, regulatory changes, and risk. They are expected to establish trust with their clients and balance their market and investment knowledge with an understanding of what will work best for each client.
Typical Duties of a Financial Advisor
What does the job of a financial advisor look like? Here is a list of things that are typical of the role:
- Contacting prospective clients to explain their offerings
- Responding to prospect queries about financial services
- Providing financial advice on investments, including securities, insurance, annuities, and retirement
- Monitoring financial markets and legislation Updating clients on market changes Checking with clients after life event changes
- Reporting performance of investments to clients
- Preparing financial plans and checking their accuracy
- Sharing subject matter expertise with prospects, clients, and other advisors
These are just the highlights. Also, they may differ slightly, depending on the type of financial advisor you are.
How to Become a Financial Advisor
- Earn a bachelor’s degree: Most practicing financial advisors majored in some type of business or finance program.
- Complete an internship: An internship can help get a sense of what a financial advisor does every day while offering the opportunity to learn from financial advisors. If your internship was mutually successful and satisfying, consider exploring the possibility of an entry-level position after you graduate.
- Find a finance job: As you prepare to enter the workforce as a financial advisor, consider looking on job websites for positions in large firms and make sure you are prepared if you are asked for an interview. You can learn a lot about how to make cold calls and build a book of business at a large company.
- Earn the necessary licenses and consider certification: Earning the CFP® mark or the CFA® charter can help you specialize or differentiate yourself from your competition. If you sell securities or insurance, you’ll need a license.
- Pursue additional education: Your job relies on your ability to provide valuable financial advice to clients. Returning to school to earn a graduate degree or doctorate can help you progress in your career as a financial advisor.