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Why this matters:

Financial analysts need to be masterful with numbers and able to source them from a variety of databases. Depending on the software your company uses, you may be hoping to hear different things from a candidate’s answer. But if they have experience with a variety of systems, you’ll know your company is in capable hands.

What to listen for:

  • Mentions of software like FactSet and the Bloomberg terminal, and research reports from Capital IQ (aka CapIQ) and Thomson One
  • Answers that demonstrate an awareness that there’s no margin for error, so using these tools accurately is vital

Why this matters:

Financial analysts at all levels rely on reports. Lower-level employees are responsible for discrete elements, such as spreadsheets with financial projections, modeling (especially using Excel macros), regression analysis, and producing numerous charts and graphs in PowerPoint. Senior hires will take their reports even further, putting together a robust financial picture.

What to listen for:

  • References to the data fields and sources the candidate used, and how the resulting reports were used to make decisions
  • For senior positions, answers that also mention the inclusion of written commentary and economic forecasting

Why this matters:

All analysts have their own process, so this question gives you an insight into how they would approach investment recommendations for your company. After collecting all necessary data, they should be able to come up with multiple investment options to present to management and be comfortable discussing their thought process.

What to listen for:

  • Explanations of how they’d collect data before making their recommendation — like gathering financial statements and speaking to management to understand overarching goals
  • Indications that they lean on the wider team while still acting independently

Why this matters:

Financial analysts often need to meet tight deadlines, so great time management skills and zen-like patience are crucial. They must feel comfortable pushing nonurgent tasks off their plate and saying no to people who take up their time unnecessarily. If they don’t, their days can quickly become consumed by emails and phone calls.

What to listen for:

  • References to specific time management strategies, like blocking off time on their calendar or eliminating distractions
  • Details about how they prioritize urgent tasks and set realistic expectations around time commitments

Why this matters:

Being a financial analyst takes dedication. The candidate may, for example, describe a time when they were asked to run and rerun a model numerous times based on an updated set of assumptions, which entails updating multiple spreadsheets and graphs. You’re looking for someone who doesn’t get easily discouraged and is willing to do whatever it takes to get to the best solution.

What to listen for:

  • Evidence of a strong candidate who shows resilience and perseverance in the face of a challenge
  • Answers that indicate the candidate doesn’t mind doing repetitive or difficult work — and feels proud when it delivers results

Why this matters:

A machine can input numbers, but an analyst needs to have an intuitive feel for key metrics and what drives the calculations. They also need good communication skills to present their ideas and findings. A strong employee won’t just raise an issue, but will be able to articulate how it impacts a decision or indicate an alternative approach.

What to listen for:

  • Signs that the candidate proactively seeks business-critical insights and is confident sharing their ideas with relevant stakeholders
  • Top answers that include specific metrics highlighting the impact of the candidate’s insight

Why this matters:

Here, you’re looking to assess a candidate’s resourcefulness. Financial analysts must be willing to go the distance, digging up all the information they need to generate accurate insights. But they also need to be smart about where they look — like checking if their coworkers already have the information they need — to avoid wasting time and potentially delaying a project.

What to listen for:

  • Answers that may mention tracking down more information from the target company, third-party or industry databases, or economic think tanks
  • Evidence of a top candidate who shows a willingness to ask for help from associates and superiors

Why this matters:

Ideally, anyone who wants to be a financial analyst should have a passion for the capital markets. The specific stock doesn’t matter — what matters is the reasoning behind the candidate’s interest. What first attracted them to it? What has been the stock’s trend? Why this particular stock and not another in the industry? How do they see the stock and the underlying company performing in the future?

What to listen for:

  • The ability to list off a couple of stocks with ease, regardless of whether or not they invest in them
  • Great answers that show keen analytical instinct and a deep passion for the market

Why this matters:

Errors can cost investment firms and lenders millions of dollars, lead to erroneous conclusions, and eat up valuable time, so attention to detail is essential for this role. Even with tight deadlines, it’s better for financial analysts to double- and triple-check work from the outset, rather than have a report rejected when an error is spotted by reviewing associates and managing partners.

What to listen for:

  • Details about the candidate’s review process and how they cross-check numbers
  • Strong answers that may note it’s tricky to spot errors on a computer screen, so reviewing a hard copy is a must
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