Elementary My Dear Watson – Interview Questions for Financial Analysts


Great financial analysts are a combination of two key traits – detective and business partner.  A capable financial analyst has a proactive mindset, sees patterns in the data and can communicate complex insights in an accessible way.  If you’re going to add a financial analyst to your team, here are some interview questions to identify a top performer.

Question #1:  How do you motivate your non-finance peers to give you relevant information?
Financial analysts must be strong business partners.  They need to build and maintain relationships cross-functionally.  They position themselves and the finance function as a partner that can add value.

Bonus:  Are you managing a cross-functional team?  Check out this article.

Question #2:  Walk me through your budgeting and forecasting experience. How do you build a budget?
Any financial analyst role that deals with FP+A is going to require a level of competency with budgeting and forecasting.  You want candidates that can communicate an established methodology for successfully building budgets/forecasts.

Question #3:  Talk to me about your data manipulation and Excel skills.
Financial analysts must be able to pull data from different sources and use both inductive and deductive reasoning to make sense of it.  Advanced data manipulation and Excel skills are necessary to achieve this.

Resource:  Read “Why You Still Need to Excel at Excel” to understand which Excel skills companies are looking for.

Question #4:  Explain an actionable change that occurred based on your analysis and recommendations?
You’re looking for your candidate to offer you something quantifiable.  How did their analysis lead to actionable change that benefited their past organization?  For example, perhaps your candidate did an analysis on a declining product and made recommendations that resulted in cost savings.

Question #5: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Successful candidates who truly add value to an organization are strategic thinkers who makes purposeful career choices.  Why does this role make sense for the candidate at this stage of their career?  Their answer will help you understand their motivation for taking the role and how your company matches their career objectives.

Key Takeaways
When you interview a financial analyst make sure to explore both their business partnering and data analysis skill sets.  Are they true detectives, who can see patterns in the data and present actionable insights that add value?  Can they clearly explain their budgeting and forecasting experience?  Do they make strategic career choices that reveal big picture thinking?  You need someone who can communicate complex data in an accessible way, build reports that add value and who sees your organization as a place to invest in.

Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

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