Interviews in any industry can be tough, but an interview for a Financial Services position can be especially challenging.
Employers in this industry are looking for students and new grads who have the rapport-building skills to develop lasting client relationships, as well as the technical skills to improve processes and strengthen their business as a whole. In order to find employees who fit the bill, employers in this field will ask questions designed to challenge candidates with a combination of technical and behavioural questions.
Demonstrating your potential in all these fields in such a short span of time can be tricky – but it can be done! With a little planning and preparation, you’ll be ready to tackle each meeting head on.
Here are some popular Finance Services interview questions to help you prepare!
1. “Tell me about yourself.”
This is the first question many interviewers ask their candidates because it’s a great way to gain insight into who you are as a person. This can also help them guide their more role-specific questions later in the meeting.
Consider preparing an ‘elevator pitch’ to help keep your answer short and to the point. Your elevator pitch is a summary of who you are, what you do, and what makes you a strong candidate. Tailor your elevator pitch to a Financial Services position by highlighting your analytical and problem-solving abilities.
Using this model will help you structure your response in a clear and concise way. Start off by mentioning where you went to school and what you studied, then delve into your previous work experiences and how they helped you develop relevant skills. Finally, talk about how you’re looking to move forward in your career and why you’re excited to be applying for this wonderful opportunity.
2. “What is your greatest strength and weakness?”
Similar to the first question, this common query helps interviewers learn more about your personality to see if you’re a good fit for the company. Interviewers want to know that you are aware of your best qualities and able to effectively address areas of improvement. Your answer should show that you have the best of both worlds – top analytical skills and interpersonal skills like self-awareness and the ability to reflect.
You want to think carefully before answering, especially when talking about your greatest weakness. One of the biggest mistakes candidates make when answering this question is trying to put a negative spin on a positive quality, such as saying, “I’m too much of a perfectionist.” However, an answer like this comes off as dishonest and cliché. Instead, bring up a skill that you’ve addressed in the past, and you’re consistently working to improve. For example, you could say: “I used to really struggle with prioritizing tasks, so to overcome that, I’ve invested in a daily planner. It really helps me stay organized and on track.”
3. “Tell me about a high-pressure situation you’ve experienced in the past. How did you manage it?”
After an interviewer gains a basic understanding of who you are, they typically move into the more industry-related behavioural questions. This question in particular will help your interviewer evaluate your ability to work under stress – an important for skill for a Financial Services professional.
Show your interviewer how you can stay cool under pressure by following these 3 steps:
- 1) Context – Outline a real situation where you were under a lot of stress. For example, maybe there was a time at school when you had multiple assignments due in the same week and you were concerned about your ability to finish your work efficiently and successfully.
- 2) Resolution – Next, mention how you approached the situation calmly and successfully. For example, you could discuss how you prioritized each task and used a calendar to track your progress.
- 3) Lesson – Be sure to end this question by saying something like, “From this experience, I learned how to manage stress effectively, without sacrificing the quality of my work.” This last step is important because it shows that you’ve gained the skills necessary to tackle high-pressure situations in the future.
4. “If you have to choose between a high-risk and low-risk stock, which would you pick and why?”
This is a more industry-specific question that will give the interviewer a better sense of you as a candidate. Specifically, this question can help them assess your ability to evaluate and manage risk, as well as your knowledge of the current stock market – skills that are especially important for careers in the Insurance or Investment Banking areas of this industry.
When answering this question, make sure your answer truly reflects your opinion. Whether you pick a low risk or high-risk opportunity is not important. Interviewers are more interested in how you explain and support your answer, as this is a large component of a Risk Management positions.
5. “About how many skis are rented in Canada each year?”
Now you’re at the technical part of the interview. This section could include performing calculations, defining terms, or demonstrating how you would respond in certain situations. This kind of brainteaser is typically asked during an interview for an Actuarial or Underwriting role because it requires quick thinking and mental math, both of which are important skills to have on the job.
To approach this question, you’ll need to think logically about your calculations. Perhaps you’ll start by using the total population of Canada to estimate a percentage of people who like to ski. From there, you might assume about half those people buy their own skis, meaning the other half rent them. Lastly, you might consider factors such as how many tourists visit Canada to ski and margins of error to come up with your final number.
“6. Walk me through a discounted cash flow model.”
This type of question simply tests your knowledge of important industry terms. For example, this specific question would likely appear in a Financial Advisor or Analyst interview because these roles require a strong understanding of Financial terminology and the ability to quickly and simply explain the basics to a client. Make sure you review key technical skills before your interview, such as creating a discounted cash flow model and calculating ROI, so you can answer with confidence.