3 simple tips to defeat difficult financial interviews

When looking for entry-level jobs in the financial field, one of the biggest obstacles to clear is the interview. Finance is fast-paced and under great pressure. The interviewer may want to test whether you can withstand high temperatures. Knowing how to answer different questions can be a huge advantage.

“Where are you in five years?” and “What is your biggest weakness?” are obvious questions that arise in any job interview and have been discussed in depth elsewhere. In this article, we will focus on techniques for answering difficult financial-specific questions that entry-level job seekers may face.

Ready to discuss current events in the market

One challenge for interviewers is to understand which applicants are truly passionate about the financial industry. Your resume does not help much in this regard. Entry-level candidates are unlikely to have a track record of demonstrating financial commitment. One way to measure the enthusiasm of candidates is to ask questions about financial market conditions, major company news, current interest rates, and so on.

The best way to prepare is to read financial news regularly, for example Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, Or watch daily market reports from CNBC, Bloomberg and Cheddar. The interviewer may ask you what financial news you follow and ask you to discuss a recent news report that interests you.

Learn about hot topics in general financial news, especially the field you are interviewing. Be prepared to discuss current interest rates on benchmark Treasury bonds, target federal funds rates, and the Fed’s actions at the last policy meeting, not to mention the current levels of major stock market indexes, such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

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In addition, be prepared for more theoretical questions related to the position you want. If you are interviewing for a job in the fixed income investment field, the interviewer may ask you to explain the concepts behind duration, or how inflation will affect bond and stock prices. Make sure you understand the main concepts and models in the financial sector and can explain them coherently and intelligently.

Find the answer to the brain teaser by simplifying the terminology

Another type of question asked by financial interviewers is brain teasers. These questions may catch you by surprise because they have nothing to do with finances. However, finance is an extremely analytical profession, and brain teasers are a good test of analytical ability. You may be asked a lot of questions, so don’t study the answers to the brain teasers. Instead, learning how to approach them is the real key. Let’s look at a few examples:

The interviewer might say:

“Look at the clock. If the time is three and fifteen, what is the angle between the minute hand and the hour hand?”

Brain teasers require careful consideration. Take it easy. Don’t feel that you need to give an answer within a second. Many people’s first reaction is to answer “zero” because the hour and minute hands seem to be at three o’clock. This is not correct. The hour hand moves a quarter from 3 o’clock to 4 o’clock, and the minute hand moves a quarter turn from 12 o’clock to 3 o’clock.

Just perform some simple calculations to get the correct answer. There are 360 ​​degrees on the clock face and there are 12 numbers, so there are 30 degrees between any two numbers on the clock face. Since the minute hand is at three o’clock, the hour hand has moved 1/4 x 30 degrees, which is 7.5 degrees.

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Another possibility is a challenging mathematical problem. The interviewer may ask questions such as:

“What is the square of 99?”

Problems like this seem to be difficult, even with a pen and a pad. However, if you encounter such a problem, please try to express it in simpler terms. Trying to calculate the square of 99 in your mind is a bit difficult and may take a while.

However, a simpler calculation method is to slightly change the problem. 99 x 99 is the same as (100 x 99)-99. Multiplying 100 by 99 is 9,900; take 99 and you will get the answer: 9,801. Using this method, 99 squares becomes a question that you can complete in your mind in a few seconds. You can apply this method to many mathematical problems. Think about it carefully, and then use simpler terms to solve the problem.

For the “guessing” problem, focus on the method

Guessing is another type of question asked by the interviewer, trying to make you feel uneasy and test your analytical skills. These questions are completely weird. Like brain teasers, the possibilities for different types of problems are endless, so being able to solve them correctly is the main obstacle. Let’s look at an example:

The interviewer may ask:

“How many refrigerators are there in America?”

The key to this type of question is to understand that you don’t need to give the right answer, but to show how you analyze the situation. The worst answer you can give is to immediately spit out “200 million” as a complete guess, because these questions are testing how your brain works.

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First, there are approximately 300 million people in the United States. From there, suppose the average size of a family and the number of refrigerators that an average family might have (maybe 1.5, because some families have more than one).

You might also want to assume the number of people living alone who might have only one refrigerator. Ask the interviewer if the company’s commercial refrigerators are included, and if so, include it in your assumptions.

Use round and easy-to-calculate numbers. These assumptions will be rough and inaccurate, but will prove that you can consider many factors when performing an analysis.

Take it easy. Write down your assumptions and calculations to arrive at the answer. Remember: the answer is far less important than the method you used to arrive at the answer. Being able to solve such problems with a pen and sticky notes, while outlining your steps to the interviewer, will be impressive and bring you one step closer to work.

Bottom line

Some interviewers may try to put pressure on you during the interview, but try to enter the discussion calmly and clearly. Remember to be prepared, keep abreast of financial news, and understand the cornerstones of finance. Show off your analytical skills-quick response may not cut it. Take time to consider your answers and give the interviewer a chance to observe your thoughts. Highlighting your analytical and problem-thinking skills can help you stand out in an interview, which will increase your chances of getting a job.


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