When you first interview for a role such as financial analyst or financial planner, you need to be prepared for the interview itself as well as what happens after a successful job interview. In addition to dressing your best and acting with etiquette in all interactions with company representatives, you need to practice for the questions commonly asked of finance job candidates, including both behavioral and technical questions. You should keep in mind the tasks you may have to do after the interview, including sending thank-you notes, being prepared to negotiate a salary and benefits, if offered the job, and considering whether you should accept a job offer.
Practice Answering Behavioral and Technical Interview Questions
While a job interview is a conversation that goes back and forth between you and one or more representatives of your prospective employer, much of that conversation takes the form of questions from interviewers and the answers you provide. In interviews for finance jobs, most questions are either behavioral or technical in nature, according to the Corporate Finance Institute, a professional certification organization for financial analysts.
Behavioral questions are intended to determine if you would be a good fit for the job and the company by providing information about your personality and soft skills such as teamwork and communication. These questions might ask you for examples of what you have done in different scenarios or what you would do in hypothetical situations. Candidates often draw on their professional experience to answer these behavioral questions, but if you don’t yet real finance work experience, you can still discuss experiences such as internships, volunteerism, classroom projects and work in unrelated fields that highlight the skills or personality traits your interviewer is looking for.
Technical questions are the questions that help your employer gauge your level of technical competence. These questions test your analytical skills and finance and accounting knowledge. Preparing for technical job interview questions may be more challenging than preparing for behavioral questions, because they are less standardized and may vary a great deal from one employer to another. You might be asked to explain the difference between types of financial statements, explain which type of financial statement you feel best conveys a company’s overall financial performance or discuss different types of financial models. One way you can prepare for technical questions, other than reviewing the principles of finance that you have learned, is by practicing organizing your thoughts and planning your answers to questions before you speak, instead of blurting out the first thing that comes to mind.
At some business schools, students can set up a practice job interview with a professional career counselor or with real employer representatives. To find out what interview help might be available to you, check with your college’s career services center.
Know What Happens After an Interview
If you have been so focused on the interview itself that you haven’t given much thought yet to what happens next, you aren’t alone. Preparing for and then going on the job interview can take up so much of your attention that you lose sight of the job search process as a whole. While your performance in the interview is one of the most important factors in whether or not you get the job, it isn’t the only time you make an impression on your potential employer. Career experts recommend sending a thank you note, via mail or email, to every member of the organization who took part in your interview no later than 24 hours after the interview. Some employers may have a screening process that includes multiple interview stages. Candidates who perform well at the first interview may be asked back for a second interview with a larger group of interviewers or senior-level staff or be invited to take part in a working interview.
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If the company chooses you for the position, there are still decisions to be made. You need to know how to successfully negotiate your salary so that you are making the money you deserve but doing so in a way that reflects well on you as a professional. You must decide whether you will accept the job offer. While you presumably wanted the job when you applied for it, it is important to consider everything you have since learned about the position, the company and the opportunities you would have for growth, both through the interview and your own research. Experts recommend asking for time – a few days or longer – to consider a job offer, even for jobs that you feel confident are right for you. Once you have carefully considered the pros and cons of the job offer, it is important to either accept it or turn it down politely and gracefully. In either case, a thank-you note is recommended.
If your interviewer does not go over the hiring process with you during the interview, then you should ask a question such as “When should I expect to hear from you?” or “What are the next steps of the interview process?” to find out the details.