(A guest post by Lauren Walker, from Stellar Select, a UK-based financial recruiting company.)
Surviving an interview is one of the most challenging aspects of landing a job. Even if you’re the most qualified candidate in the room, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the finance job that you want, especially if you were unable to impress the hiring manager.
So how do you make sure that you’ll pass this test with flying colours so that you won’t hear the dreaded “Don’t call us. We’ll call you” line?
First Impressions Count
According to experts, making a good first impression is crucial to getting the job that you desire. While having good qualifications does matter, many hiring managers do not place much importance on what’s written on an applicant’s CV. Instead, most of them gauge a candidate’s professional competence based on how they perform during the job interview.
A study conducted by researchers from Texas A&M University supports this claim. The researchers said that applicants who made good first impressions during a job interview tend to receive higher marks on evaluations of professional capabilities. They are also more likely to receive more follow-up interviews and job offers, regardless of whether they are better qualified or not.
Answers to common finance job interview questions
There’s nothing more exciting and nerve-wracking than being called in for an interview after submitting your job application, whether by mail or through online job portal Stellar Select. After all, it means that you’re one step closer to having a stable source of income. To help you prepare and make a good first impression, here are some common questions asked at finance job interviews:
1. What are the three financial statements a company uses?
They are the balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. The balance sheet shows what the company owns, what it owes, and how much its net worth is. The income statement, on the other hand, details company revenues, expenses and net income. The cash flow statement outlines cash flow in and out of the company through operating, investing and financing activities.
2. Of the three financial statements discussed, which of them should I use to determine the overall health of my company? Why?
The cash flow statement, because cash is king. While it often receives the least amount of attention, it paints a clear picture of the amount of cash flowing into the company.
3. Give three methods for securing short-term financing for my company.
A company can fulfil its current cash needs through trade credit, bank overdraft or an unsecured bank loan. Trade credit is an agreement between a buyer and a seller of goods. Based on the mutual trust between the two parties, it allows the buyer to obtain the supplies they need by paying the seller at a later specified date.
A bank overdraft is a short-term loan offered to businesses and individuals who have current accounts with them. Through this method, a business can withdraw more cash than the amount stated in its account.
An unsecured bank loan is a type of credit that banks readily offer and is payable within one year. In this type of short-term financing, no collateral is required. Hence the term ‘unsecured’.
4. Is debt cheaper than equity?
Yes, because it is paid before equity. Furthermore, it has collateral supporting it. However, just because it is cheaper, it doesn’t necessarily mean that debt financing is automatically better than equity.
5. What do you consider to be a good budget?
A good budget has buy-in from all departments and is connected with the company’s strategic plan. It is both realistic and doable. It has also been adjusted according to potential risks.
6. If you were the chief financial officer of our company, what would you be most worried about?
There are four possible answers to this question, but you can choose only three to discuss:
- Income statement: growth rates, margins and profitability of the company.
- Balance sheet: liquidity, capital assets and leverage.
- Cash flow statement: the company’s short-term and long-term cash flow profile.
- Non-financial statement: company culture, new government directives and market conditions affecting the company.
This is considered one of the greatest finance interview questions. If you can answer it properly, it will allow you to demonstrate your knowledge of how to assess a company’s current financial status or position in the industry it belongs to.
7. What motivates you?
While this is technically not a finance question, you are more likely to encounter it (or one similar to it) during your job interview. This question is designed to determine if you are a good fit for the role and the company. It gauges your ability to manage a challenge and to obtain the required results, which are a must in most finance positions.
Acing job interviews might be challenging, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t doable. While knowing the answers to these common questions alone doesn’t guarantee that you’ll land the job, it at least helps you prepare well and build self-confidence so that you can succeed with your application.
Lauren Walker is the marketing administrator for Stellar Select, a financial services recruitment agency.