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Tips for Nailing a Finance Job Interview


by Brent Gay

8 tips to give you the edge you need to accelerate your career.

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Job interviews can be intimidating and nerve-racking for even the most accomplished finance professional. However, being prepared goes a long way in curbing those nerves. Below are a few tips to help you navigate the interview process with poise and confidence. 

Do Your Research 

As a finance professional, it is especially important for you to do some research prior to any interview. No matter how busy you are, spend at least 30 minutes learning as much as you can about the company – its financial performance, clients, culture, history, mission statement, values, competitors, etc. Among the first few questions I ask in an interview are, “What do you know about us?” and “What did you do to prepare for the interview today?” Candidates who take a little time to prepare can really set themselves apart from those who don’t.

Review Your Resume – And Then Have Someone Else Look At It

Proofread your resume over and over again to make sure there aren’t any mistakes or typos. Be sure to review it both on screen and on paper – different errors may stick out depending on how you’re looking at it. When you’re confident it’s ready to go, have someone else proof it and make sure everything makes sense and nothing is misspelled. A fresh, outside perspective may catch something you missed. Your resume is your opportunity to make a positive first impression, and it is important to demonstrate your attention to detail.  

Show Off Your Communication Skills

In a finance position, you’ll need to be able to translate a company’s numbers into a clear and insightful story. Go into the interview with examples of how you’ve done this. If you don’t have that experience yet, still be ready to show off your communication skills by offering thoughtful, articulate responses, and try to avoid overuse of jargon and acronyms.

Brush Up On Excel

You need to be able to navigate Excel proficiently if you want to grow your career in finance. Even for entry level positions, you should be able to build models using tools like macros, Vlookups, table arrays, discounted cash flow analysis and pivot tables. Have examples ready of how you’ve used Excel in the past, and don’t be surprised if the interviewer asks you to complete an Excel test. If you’re already an expert, explain how so with confidence (but not arrogance). If not, find ways to develop your skills either in a classroom setting or on the job.

Prove Your Industry Knowledge

Part of having a job in finance means staying current on industry updates. New accounting standards and financial technology are being introduced all the time, and mentioning some recent anecdotes in the context of an interview can demonstrate that you’re following the news. The interviewer may even ask you about recent news and how it could impact the company. Demonstrating awareness of the changing landscape can be a differentiator for you.  

Find Something That Sets You Apart

One of the most complex skills in finance is financial modeling, so having that on your resume and being able to talk about it knowledgeably will really make you stand out. If you don’t have that experience, find something else that will set you apart from your competition. Perhaps you have great presentation skills and the ability to create advanced charts or graphs. Or maybe you’ve been a part of a team that led a multi-million dollar acquisition. Whatever it is, make sure you highlight it on your resume and find an opportunity to discuss it during the interview.

Have Examples Ready To Use

You should have a few examples of work experience ready in the back of your mind that can be tweaked to answer any number of questions. You want to put your best foot forward in the interview, so think about work you’ve completed or different anecdotes you have that will make a great story during the interview. Quickly diving into a story will show your confidence and experience. Be yourself, and tell your own personal experiences to prove you have what it takes to do the job, but also to allow the interviewer a chance to see your personality shine. 

Don’t Forget About Community Involvement

Do you volunteer in the community? Do you like to network or keep in touch with former colleagues or bosses? Are you on a basketball team? These might seem like irrelevant details, but they actually show how you interact with others and your community. You don’t just need to fit the job description, employers also need to get a sense of how you might fit into the company. Share these experiences during your interview to prove that you’re a well-rounded candidate – both professionally and personally. 

The best opportunities in finance will have many interested, qualified candidates. However, if you are ready for a move and meet the basic qualifications for the role you want, don’t hesitate to go for it. These tips, along with your experience and accomplishments, can give you the edge you need to accelerate your career.

 

Brent J. Gay is the CFO at Advance Financial in 2018.