Interview Tips

Around a week ago, I had an interview for a “Financial Analyst” position in Fintech Company. Today I got a rejection letter. Whether it was my fault to present myself or the minimum requirements that I didn’t meet, I want to get a feedback and maybe some tips.

Well, the interview started with two people, Accounting Manager and Sr. Financial Analyst. Basic question about my resume, interests, Excel skills, why they should select me. I emphasized my CFA candidacy, creative thinking, the thing that I am from different part of the world (Russia/Central Asia). From the reaction, it seemed that I was a match.

Then, interview with Financial Director. Asked me about my experience with financial modeling, what was the most complicated thing I had modeled before, my interest in finance etc. I was trying to emphasize my CFA designation, but eventually said that I was doing it to be more competitive with local US candidates in the first place (decided to say the truth). And one thing that I noticed from his response, is that I was looking for a wrong company if I want to pursue a career related to CFA. Then some question about my personality, how geeky I am (I said I like video games).

I don’t have much experience, the position desired 2-3 years in financial analysis role ( I had 6 month and other 9 months in different roles slightly related to finance).

Should CFA candidate emphasize his/her CFA designation pursuance or personal soft skills and ambitions?

I wouldn’t emphasize the CFA designation. I’d just mention it during the interview and have it on my resume.

I don’t understand how they see a “Financial Analyst” role and the CFA program as incongruous.

One of the biggest challenges in level 1 and 2 is literally titled “Financial Reporting and Analysis”…

Sounds like they don’t know what the program means, in which case do you really want to work for them?

Also, I wouldn’t even bother bringing up you passed level 1. No one cares till you get the charter, and I’m doubtful even then you’d have jobs lined up just because of the charter.

No offense man, but bragging about passing level 1 is like bragging about doing a push-up in gym class back in second grade - bragging about passing any of them is more or less a turn off for what it’s worth. They want to see experience and when you come in HIGHLIGHTING the fact you’re at level 2 it signals to them not to hire you because those people are not charter holders and they don’t want to listen to you blabber on about the program. I’m dead serious, do not make your next boss someone who is not a charter holder.

More real talk - being a financial analyst for a fintech company is misaligned with the ideal roles the CFA program is preparing you for. You’ll be stuck reporting financials most likely - which to you should say run far away. That would be soooo boring.

Monitor that company’s site for sales roles is my best advice - those hiring managers value the Cfa charter, even for a level 2 candidate.

care to mention the fintech firm?

I was thinking that emphasizing CFA also would lead to nowhere, and moreover, could represent me as the braggart. But, as I didn’t have much experience, I didn’t know what to mention other than CFA to make me at least stand out from other candidates.

Unfortunately I cannot disclose the firm, but it is a multinational online payment company, i.e. offers online payment, digital wallets, and other solutions like PayPal and Stripe.

However, I’m not upset, as I was not sure whether I wanted to work fo that company. It’s all about interview, I don’t know what areas I have to improve in myself to tackle future more important interviews.

Focus on showing them that you can learn their system and work on their team. CFA is nice but they want to know if you can do the work and if you are a team player. Don’t push the CFA unless they ask. Find out what they do there and ask questions about training, opportunities to lead projects or gain experience in other roles on the team. They know you’re not experienced, that’s why you got the interview. They’re looking for someone to train with their methods. If management doesn’t have (understand) the CFA, they may think you’re untrainable or overqualified.

Let me guess… Western Union? You have nothing to lose by at least reaching out and thanking them for the interview but you’d really appreciate the chance for some honest feedback. That’s what I would do. Just be genuine, and if they rebuff you for asking, then fuck em anyway.

Probably not a good idea to highlight CFA only. Even if you have no real world experience, I bet you had experience in your studies that you could have highlighted as well. Mentioning the CFA in certain areas is fine, but you probably shouldn’t have made it about the CFA only.

Additionally discussing the fintech company and space would be a good idea. It shows that you have the knowledge that the company is looking for, even if you may not have the experience.

A lot of people can be pretty negative about working in finance and the path it involves around here given how competitive it’s gotten. It’s not too bad, you just need to understand the process and how to market yourself. For starters, it helps to recognize they see a lot of resumes and candidates so you need to be differentiated to demonstrate your commitment.

A few things that have always worked for me are to dress pretty formally and be clean cut. For this, a nice tuxedo (rented is ok) can really do the trick and an understated accent like a pair of white shoes (Nike works) really pulls it together while saying you can be a bit of a “spark plug” to the organization (they generally respond well to that term). Beyond that, stay within the formal theme and don’t be drawn into letting your guard down always stick with formal titles like “human resources lady” and don’t forget to bring your personal references (they should be dressed formally as well). From here, you’ve got your shoe in the door so this is where you can start to differentiate yourself a bit and stray outside the mold. One trick that almost guarantees the next round is to show your own brand of personal leadership, I like to do this by mixing it up a bit and “interviewing” the interviewer. Remember to be stern. Fair game can range from “how much do you make a year BEFORE taxes” (shows you’re financially savvy) to more fun ice breakers like “Oprah, Barbara Walters, Your Wife, you know the drill GO!” (builds a personal dialogue). Lastly it can help to negotiate for a souvenir of your visit on the way out. It’s a sign of respect and shows you’re invested in the role, not to mention a number of psychology studies have indicated the process of exchange increases positive perceptions.

Feel free to check back with any questions and good luck, let us know how it turns out.

Good points Black Swan. I also find asking lots of questions about work life balance and the vacation policy is key. A lot of people get burned out and don’t last as long tenured employees because of the stress. It is important to let them know you are not going to work yourself into the ground.

Well, I got another phone interview scheduled soon for Investment Analyst role. Thanks guys for your inputs. As I understood, I should focus more on the role and try to avoid CFA bragging, though passing CFA level 1 was one of the position’s requirements. As I understood the company focuses on Private Equity Investment, funds of funds to be more precise.

You said it yourself, it was a requirement so don’t expect them to throw flowers at you for passing that level 1. From my own experience people don’t really care about CFA unless they are CFA charterholder themselves. They’re not buying a license or software, they are hiring someone so I would say that CFA is more about signaling than anything else.

I agree with Iggy. CFA only matters to other CFA holders.

Financial Analyst is a misleading title. It has more to do with accounting, financial reporting, budgeting and forecasting. With CFA, you’re looking for investment analyst, research associate.