This blog post is going to be two separate sets of tips to do well on a finance interview. Interviewing, like any skill, is one that you can improve! Taking time to think about your answers and how you should present yourself makes a big difference in getting a job. And the finance climate is often one that is not very forgiving.
The first set of tips are small things. Below is a list of many of the things you should think about when going into an interview:
- Presentation: make sure you are dressed very well, it’s better to be overdressed. The first handshake and your likability during the small talk are key. Bring a notebook and write a few things down. Make sure there isn’t a simple mistake that could count against you
- Research: make sure you have looked up the interviewer on LinkedIn before the interview. Research the company and its value and product lines. Research the industry as a whole and the current events going on that are relevant. Being able to ask good questions and tie in these things shows you are well prepared and well versed.
Now for the big picture stuff. How you should be answering questions.
- The tell me about yourself questions is one of your greatest assets. This usually is the first thing they will ask and it gives 2-3 minutes to nail your background, why you are interested in the company/industry, why you are qualified/why they should hire you.
- Another popular question in “tell me about your weakness?” This one is a challenge. You want to find an honest weakness you have but also one that you have shown your ability to overcome and how you have grown through it. This gives you a chance to share a story about your ability to push through challenges.
- Use Stories: Show don’t tell. The best thing you can do is to prepare stories that back up your background. I would have 3-4 stories that showcase your strengths. If your strength is leadership then talk about the groups or projects you have led.
- Technical Questions: If this is a high-level finance interview you should always be prepared to answer high-level finance questions. A popular one for example is “walk me through how to value a company” or break down a “discounted cash flow model.”
- Why “x” industry: Here you have a chance to share what caused your interest in this industry or company. You don’t have to know everything about how to do the job to get hired. But you do need to show that you are passionate about the field. They can teach passionate people.
These are just a few tips that I have learned from my time in career development at my school and during my own finance interviews. If you want to learn more read “How to Interview Like a Top Tier MBA,” it is a fantastic interview guideline.