Why Preparation is Important
In this article, I’ll explain some helpful tips I found showing you how to prepare for a finance interview. Some information will come from experience and research. Doing your research is one of the best ways to prepare for an interview. I’ll break down more about how to research and what to study later.
I’ll start by saying I am writing from a younger background, and so I am just explaining what worked for me, but plenty of experienced individuals out there can most likely add to this and give more context. That is why I brought in outside sources to provide thorough knowledge.
Preparation can involve:
Dressing the part (better to be overdressed)
Studying the position requirements
Other important details
All interviews and experiences are relative so I would do more due diligence in your specific finance field (accounting, investment banking, underwriting, sales, and/or anything else). These tips are somewhat general, and you can most likely use them in most interviews, not just finance.
Print Out 2-3 Resumes
Unless I know how many people will be interviewing me, I usually bring at least two copies of my resume. Another helpful tip would be to put them in a binder or folder to keep them from bending. It’s a small but essential detail showing preparedness.
The point of bringing multiple resumes is a precautionary measure in case another person joins the interview. It shows attention to detail and going the extra mile to get the job.
If you need help creating a resume, check out this helpful article from The Muse, going over the basics and what employers are looking for on finance resumes.
The resume is just one part of the interview and can give the interviewer a short rundown of your background. However, it is still essential to present yourself as a potential asset to the team through communicating in the interview, not just from the resume.
Understand the Job Listing
Print out a copy of the original job listing and take notes of requirements or valuable information that aligns with characteristics of who they are looking for. The next tip will help put this information to use.
If you know who is interviewing you, I usually look up their name on the company website to read their bio or on LinkedIn to better understand their professional background. This method can help bring up talking points during the interview or help you find common ground with the potential interviewer. This tip benefited me, and I could bring up talking points without being too obvious about my research beforehand.
If you don’t know who is interviewing you, I would go on the company website and learn more about the background and business segments the company operates in. This can show you know and took the time to learn more about the company.
Look at this helpful article I found from The Balance, which covers what to look for and focus on when reading a job listing. One useful tip from the article was focusing on patterns throughout the job listing.
Connect Past Experiences with Position Requirements
Going back to researching the job listing, I try to align what professional experiences I had in the past with the current job listing. Even if the job is entry-level, it can still look good to have experience in the field.
Suppose you don’t have professional experience in the field or one that aligns with the job listing. In that case, there are still ways to match characteristics like leadership, communication, and being detail-oriented into the conversation from other experiences. I wouldn’t just list those characteristics but rather connect them to experiences and how you used them in the workplace. If it’s a sales job, I would focus on communication more; if it’s analytics, I would concentrate on being detail-oriented.
If you went to college or have certifications, it can be helpful to bring those up and position the conversation in a way that shows you know what they are looking for in a team member. I found that if I didn’t have professional experience in a particular duty on the listing, I tied in a class I learned that covered that topic and sprinkled in any knowledge I had left. Even if it was just fundamental knowledge, it showed I had some understanding of the topic.
Some interviewers go down the resume and ask about each experience or item on the list, so it’s good to have a small pitch for each one memorized.
Review and Practice for the Finance Interview
Practicing can be very important and help reduce the pressure from the interview. Glassdoor most likely has practice interview questions from other people that interviewed with companies. You can use those questions and practice answering them.
I think of interviews as a sales pitch, and before going into the interview, I practice my pitch as to why I would be an asset to the team. Bringing in past experiences and showing true passion behind the work can help show good characteristics.
Going back to the job listing, it explains what kind of employee they are looking for, and in the interview, they may be testing how well you can engage and connect with them.
Look at this article from TopInterview, which describes how to practice for an interview. I found the part about practicing with a professional in the field important because they can bring more insight into the interview process.
To conclude, every person, job, and company is different, so being prepared and understanding the interviewer’s questions is essential. There are plenty of other online resources for preparing for an interview; these were just some tips I found helpful when going for interviews in the finance industry straight out of college.
Take notes of what worked and what didn’t work throughout the interview. Look for going in-depth with the interviewer on a specific topic and see how engaged they become in the conversation.
Lastly, keep interviewing, applying, and researching because getting a job doesn’t come overnight, and plenty of people are going through the same process. I found that persistence is key, and learning to pivot in each interview. Don’t get discouraged; keep applying.