Interview questions for Finance Graduate

We analyzed 222 interview reviews for Finance Graduate from various job sites, social network groups and forums.

Here are the most frequent job interview questions asked by HR managers during initial phone or onsite interviews. This list does not include technical or factual questions.

10 frequent non-technical questions for Finance Graduate:

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What is your greatest weakness?
How would you describe yourself?
Who has inspired you in your life, and why?
Tell me about yourself
Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment
Tell me about a time you had a poorly performing team member
Describe a time you worked on a team with individuals from different cultural backgrounds
Describe a time you went above and beyond for a customer
Why did you leave your last job?

According to our research, hiring managers looking to fill Finance Graduate role ask soft skills interview questions 40% more frequently than for other roles:

Finance Graduate interview question statistics

1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?top question

How to answer

This question belongs to a family of behavioral, or even more precisely, reflective questions.

The interviewer wants to see whether you are reflective about yourself, whether you are ambitious and strive to grow as a professional, whether you like to learn and develop your skills.

They are also looking for your ambitions to fit the career path opportunities related to the position you are applying for.

  1. About Yourself

    Presumably, you are interested to grow professionally.

    Think about the possibilities that may lie ahead for you: take a personality test (I recommend 16Personalities which is based on Myers-Briggs test), research the internet on what career paths are possible with your skills and current job.

    What challenges do you like overcoming?

    For example, if you are applying for a software tester position, you may find it fascinating to master automated testing in full and eventually become a software engineer, or you may be a natural trainer and love coaching other people which may lead you to become a QA team or department lead, or you may be more interested in understanding business aspects of requirements which may logically lead you into a Business Analyst position.

    However, if you are happy just where you are and want to further your current skills, that is also fine as long as there is a growth path for you that can be imagined and described.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company to learn what career opportunities may be available in the department you are applying to, and what the trends are in the company in general.

    • Is the business expanding, are they opening new locations, or starting new projects?
    • Or are they heavily automating and cutting staff?

    Let’s say you are applying for a UX designer position for a brand-new product.

    In the future, if the product becomes a success - which is what the company hopes for - the company will hire more designers and you may become a lead designer, or you may become a product manager.

    On a side note: If you train your mind to be open to opportunities you will be amazed at how much this world has to offer to you!

  3. About The Fit

    And, of course, try to see where the perfect fit lies between your own potential and aspirations, and the company’s trends and hopes.

    However, beware of the risk of showing too much excitement for future opportunities compared to your attitude towards the current position.

    If you aren’t really excited about the position you are applying for and you demonstrate this lack of enthusiasm, the interviewer may conclude that you are not a good fit for the current position.

    Try to find a source of excitement in the current position as well, otherwise, you may be doing yourself a disservice by applying to a position you will find boring in 2-3 months.

Pro Tip

This question gives you a good opportunity to showcase your Key Selling Points (e.g. “As I am very good at delegating tasks, I can easily see myself leading a team of software testers in the future…”), and end your statement by asking about current initiatives and goals at the company.

It is generally NOT a good idea to say something like:

“Oh, I cannot imagine what happens to me tomorrow, let alone in 5 years”.

This will show you as a person who is unimaginative and not forward-thinking enough to grow with and be a good fit for the company.

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2. What is your greatest weakness?

How to answer

This question ranks as the most challenging for many people. Fortunately, Mr. Simon is here to help!

Interviewers ask this question to gauge your level of self-awareness, your honesty and openness, and your capability for self-improvement.

  1. About Yourself

    No one is perfect and your interviewer doesn't expect you to be perfect either.

    While it is good to be honest and open, it will not help you to put yourself down.

    What's important is to find a weakness that you have overcome or something that is not related to the position for which you are applying.

    For example, one of our clients admitted that he is not very good at public speaking and that he has recently become a member of Toastmasters International to improve. What a respectful answer and approach, in my view!

  2. About The Company

    Research the company (website, social media, etc) to learn about the company culture.

    What personal and professional qualities do they value?

  3. About The Fit

    It is important that the weakness you decide to talk about is not one that will prevent you from performing the job for which you're applying.

    For example, if you're applying for a front-end developer position, do not talk about how you are struggling to understand HTML code.

Pro Tip

Use this question to sell yourself!

It's important to show how well you've overcome a weakness by motivating yourself and learning a new skill to grow professionally.

3. How would you describe yourself?

How to answer

This question is like the Tell me about yourself question usually asked at the beginning of an interview, but there are some subtle differences. It belongs to the family of reflective questions where the interviewer is assessing your cognitive abilities, as opposed to the more factual and matter-of-fact “Tell Me About Yourself” question.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of how your bosses and peers would describe you.

    Throughout your professional experience, you have probably heard them giving you some labels – try to remember the exact words they used.

    If you have received LinkedIn recommendations from someone, read those and think why people wrote them and what work situations prompted those descriptions. Remember the context of those situations and frame them as stories.

    Make a list of keywords, or short key phrases, that can describe you. Your Key Selling Points should definitely appear on this list, but try to also use some adjectives here, to add a positive emotional touch.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company’s values, standards and policies. Make a list of keywords or short key phrases.

  3. About The Fit

    Which of your keywords correspond best with those of the company? Highlight 3-4 matches. Now try to imagine being a peer or a boss of yours and compile statements about yourself, in the 3rd person, mentioning these keywords. Remember to use adjectives, and don’t be afraid to mention real references from real people.

    For example, if you are applying for a position that requires good people skills, and your boss at your previous job called you a “conflict resolution guru,” don’t be shy to mention this reference, and provide a brief context that caused your boss’s praise. Use the STAR method to craft your story.

    Don’t limit yourself with just one keyword. If you are concise and don’t ramble with your answer, your interviewer will probably want to hear more than one. Just be observant and watch the interviewer’s reaction. You want to keep them interested.

Pro Tip

If you haven’t yet received any LinkedIn recommendations, try to obtain them. Also, offer to write your own recommendations for them - both received and given recommendations will be visible in your profile and will tell the interviewer exactly what you want to be known about your values, your attitude towards work and relationships.

4. Who has inspired you in your life, and why?

How to answer

Almost anyone may inspire us at some point in our lives, depending on circumstances and their unique qualities.

By prompting you to answer such a question, the employer wants to judge your character, your value system and your personality. Therefore, you need to do your homework.

The person(s) you choose should be someone that you hold in high regard. It would be helpful (but not a deal-breaker) if the personal values you speak about have relevance to the job you are applying for.

  1. About Yourself

    The answer to this question is completely at your discretion.

    • Who encouraged you to become who you are today?
    • What qualities do they have that you admire most?
    • What are the common values between you and your heroes that you can use strategically in your career and life?
    • How did they help you to do proper introspection that influenced your life?

    Maybe it’s your parents, someone else from your family, a teacher or a mentor, a researcher, or a writer you admire. Maybe it’s a public figure that inspires you. Whoever this inspiring person is, remember that the interviewer is looking for a heartfelt response.

  2. About The Company

    Read the job description carefully and research the company to learn as much as you can about the company’s culture.

    What qualities does the company value in their employees? See if you are able to match their values to those you learned from the person that inspired you.

    You should not only list people who inspire you but, if possible, also tell why and how their influence may have relevance to the company you are interviewing with.

    Be extra cautious while naming a celebrity, a politician or any other controversial person as your inspirer, because the interviewer might have preconceived notions towards certain people that you might be unaware of and they may turn you away from the interviewer.

  3. About The Fit

    Be prepared to give examples of how the words, actions or teachings of your inspirers have helped to motivate you in achieving your goals.

    As always, prepare an answer which highlights qualities that would be highly valuable in the position you are seeking.

    Most employers look for characteristics such as adaptability, good interpersonal communication, leadership, creativity, innovativeness, honesty and dedication. Ask yourself, what ‘specific’ attributes have you learned from your motivator? Mention how learning such attributes helped you in your career.

    You should provide a specific example that shows the above-mentioned attribute of the inspirer.

Pro Tip

Remember that inspiration comes not only from others, but from yourself too.

Let the interviewer know that you are a self-confident person, who listens to yourself and is inspired by the challenges faced every day, both in your life and your career.

5. Tell me about yourself

How to answer

This question may sound vague, but it actually requires a matter of fact, concise and relevant answer. Here’s how you can approach it.

  1. About Yourself

    What is your current occupation? Define yourself professionally in one statement.

    Pick 3 key skills that make you great at your work (your Key Selling Points). How have you applied these skills?

    Try to give some numbers to support your statement.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company.

    Based on what you know about the company and the job description, why are you interested in the position you are applying for?

  3. About The Fit

    • Based on your Key Selling Points and your knowledge about the company, why do you think you are a good fit for this position?
    • Can you support your statement with relevant examples from your past experiences?

    Try to be concise and stay within 1-2 minutes.

Pro Tip

You can also end with a question like:

Do you know what the current needs in the company/department are, where my skills and experience can help?"

That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

Read our blog post to learn more about how to answer this question.

6. Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment

How to answer

Of all your accomplishments (and I am sure you’ve had a great many of them!), you should choose the one most relevant to this job position.

  1. About Yourself

    Write down your Key Selling Points - your top 3-5 skills that make you a strong professional.

    Write down a list of your top 3-5 professional accomplishments that you are most proud of. No need for lengthy descriptions, just 1-2 words for each one to help you recall each situation.

    Make sure you have developed the story behind each accomplishment and have a strong command of the details of what happened so that you can tell the story clearly and distinctly.

    Along with each accomplishment, mark which of your Key Selling Points they showcase. How exactly?

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research of the company, what are their current needs?

    • What are the major projects going on?
    • What are the expectations for the position you are applying for?
  3. About The Fit

    Try to imagine yourself being an employee of the company you are applying to, say, at your 6th month into the job.

    • Which of your Key Selling Points and accomplishments would be most relevant to the company?
    • What “have you accomplished at your new job?”

    Choose the most relevant accomplishment from your list and then practice telling your story.

Pro Tip

Most enterprises are now going through major transformations, often called Digital Transformation.

Do your research on what it means and what is often involved, to get a better idea of the current goals and environments in companies. But one thing that definitely characterizes this transformation is striving for agility.

In particular, for startups (if you are applying to a startup or a small business), agility is their middle name, in order for them to survive among bigger sharks in the market.

So, demonstrating qualities like agility and adaptability should generally be helpful and quite a safe choice in most circumstances today.

7. Tell me about a time you had a poorly performing team member

How to answer

Underperforming employees can appear at any job.

Each person performs his/her tasks on schedule, and the entire team works together to get the project done, but there may be times when one team member is exhibiting low or poor performance and generally displays a lack of motivation. It can affect the entire team.

This question addresses your collegiality and your ability to work on a team. The interviewer would like to know if you can successfully motivate others without it coming across as condescending.

  1. About Yourself

    Ask yourself the following questions based on your own experiences.

    • Do you like working on a team?
    • How well do you work in groups, and what role do you tend to take on in a team project (for example, leader, mediator or follower)?
    • Are you easy to get along with?
    • What can you do to support other team members?
    • How do you act to help to minimize the damage of poor performance to the project?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company ahead of time so that you can present yourself as someone who would fit seamlessly into their team culture.

    The example you use to respond to the question should be relatable to the company you are applying to.

  3. About The Fit

    You need to demonstrate to the interviewer that you are both enthusiastic about teamwork and that you get along with colleagues.

    Be ready to provide a viable solution to this common work situation. Use a scenario when your encouragement was well received and resulted in a positive change or outcome. Emphasize that you always try to create a friendly environment with your team members.

    Here is a simple and honest example:

    "As a server at “ABC,” I was working with a difficult coworker who refused to contribute to the preparation for a holiday party. She decided to sit and watch while we worked. I took this opportunity to speak with her in a calm and friendly manner and asked her to do the small odds and ends. She agreed and worked on the place cards and seating cart, which played an important role in the fluidity of the event. Sometimes, people have hidden strengths and weaknesses, you just need to identify them!"

    Indicate how you’ll handle future challenges if they happen.

Pro Tip

Teamwork is important, but when you have one member who isn’t positively contributing to the team, the tone of the team can shift.

Keep your answer upbeat and avoid complaining about previous managers or team members, speak about your actions and approaches rather than theirs.

8. Describe a time you worked on a team with individuals from different cultural backgrounds

How to answer

Why do interviewers ask this question?

Nowadays many companies rate global and cultural awareness as a key competency for all employees. For most jobs today, it is essential to be able to work well with diverse teams, including individuals who understand international and cultural differences and can interact respectfully with individuals from diverse cultures, political affiliations, races, religions, ages, genders and sexual orientations.

  1. About Yourself

    Answering this question highlights your ability to navigate cultural differences at work.

    Think about your team experiences and times when you’ve had to overcome differences with colleagues.

    • How do you adapt to working with team members of different communication styles?
    • Are you open-minded enough to consider all their ideas even if you don't agree?
    • How do you handle the differences in attitudes and values between you and people from other countries or backgrounds?
    • Do you show respect and are you diplomatic with those people?

    Maybe you haven’t worked with people from different cultures, but you may have been studying or been friends with people from different backgrounds.

    Address your personal life, if necessary, and emphasize your curiosity and openness to other cultures.

  2. About The Company

    A careful review of the job description, along with some research of the company will help you anticipate what aspects of global/cultural awareness are most important for a particular role in the company you are applying to.

  3. About The Fit

    Demonstrate your openness, inclusiveness, sensitivity, and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and show your understanding of individuals’ differences.

    Your task is to prove to the interviewer your ability to build strong and caring relationships based on trust and shared goals.

    Use the STAR method to tell a story about how your experience helped you to create an open and inclusive workplace environment, so all team members felt empowered to contribute.

    Ensure the interviewer that you are very comfortable working with team members from other cultures and possibly with different communication styles. Make it your advantage.

    For example, you can say something like: “At my recent work, representatives of different cultures participated in one common project. As a result, our team was able to approach the tasks from different viewpoints to reach a successful conclusion.

Pro Tip

Working in a multicultural team has both advantages and challenges at the same time. In such a team you can broaden your outlook.

Challenges that you have to overcome are: to understand other people’s language and culture, to get used to the different ways they think and work; to reduce mistrust that can be a barrier to understanding each other, and to promote awareness of cultural diversity in the workplace.

If you overcome these challenges, you will be the ideal employee at any job.

9. Describe a time you went above and beyond for a customer

How to answer

This question lets the interviewer know how well you think on your feet and how great your customer service skills are.

  1. About Yourself

    Think about the time you were a customer, how were you treated and how could your experience have been made the best?

    Now think about the time you had to help a customer. What did you do to make that experience unforgettable for him?

  2. About The Company

    Think carefully about the company and what they are looking for. Read online reviews and any other available information.

    • What are their standards for treating customers?
    • What complaints have you seen that can give you a hint of some of the challenges associated with customer service?
  3. About The Fit

    Think of the company's ideals and connect those with your skills and qualifications. Now think of how these requirements are met by how you went above and beyond for a customer.

    Frame your story in terms of your STAR method:

    S - What was the Situation?
    T - What was your Task?
    A - What Action did you take?
    R - Talk about the Results.

Pro Tip

Showing you have compassion and empathy for customers is always an excellent way to answer the question. However, always remember to frame your answers in terms of how the company addresses these issues.

10. Why did you leave your last job?

How to answer

This question may be a little touchy for some people, but it's a question asked by interviewers, to find out why you left, in order to better understand how you may or may not make a good fit with their company.

Remember, never speak ill of your old company (this will not go over well).

  1. About Yourself

    Most likely, there are three possible reasons you left or are leaving your last job:

    • You are looking for a career change
    • You are unhappy with your current employment
    • You were let go.

    Whatever the reason, it's best to always speak in a positive light.

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research about the ompany and the position, what do you like most about the company?

  3. About The Fit

    If you are looking for career advancement or a career change, you can be very upfront and honest. Be as enthusiastic as you can about the position.

    If you were unhappy with your previous job, focus on the positives. Talk about the ways that you will best fit in with the company, in the role for which you're applying.

    If you were let go, focus on the positive. Share your accomplishments at your previous employment.

Pro Tip

Whatever the reason you are looking for a new opportunity, always turn things around to show how you are the perfect fit for the job for which you are interviewing!


This page has been updated on July 10, 2020.

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