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The 5 Don’ts of Your Next Financial Modeling Interview

One of the most dreaded parts of getting a new job is the interview. Most financial modeling professionals, as well as just about anyone else, finds the interview process a little intimidating.  However, if you prepare yourself for your interview, you may find that you feel better about the process then if you go into it unprepared. Next time you have a job interview, be sure you are prepared for it and you remember these five things NOT to do.

  • Don’t Be Too Early – Yes, being prompt and timely is important. However, when you go to your next financial modeling interview, remember that being too early can also be a detriment.  Being 5-10 minutes early shows you are serious about the job and want to make sure you are on time and ready when the interviewer is ready for you. However, if you are more than 15 minutes early, you put undue pressure on the interviewer. This can be seen by the company as being too anxious. You may seem to the company that you are not respective of their time or expect them to drop everything and get you in early, even if that is not your intention. If you find yourself arriving TOO early, walk around the block or the building, visit the restroom, get a bottle of water and have a sip, or just find a place to relax and think about the interview that is NOT in the waiting room of the office at which you are interviewing.
  • Don’t Gripe About the Small Stuff- The beginning of the interview is typically a time when the interviewer will try to make you feel at ease and engage in some small talk.  Though you may see this as casual and not “job related,” don’t be taken by surprise. Everything you say, even during some ice-breaking conversation, is being judged and observed. So don’t grip about the small stuff. Though it may not be directly related to the job for which you are applying, this part of your personality will be judged.  If you had a hard time getting there, griping about traffic and long drives, and other people in your way, you could be seen as someone that complains about everything rather than just someone that had a bad day trying to get to a job interview. Be pleasant, positive, and relaxed and remember you are ALWAYS being graded on your interview.
  • Don’t Just Summarize Your Resume – You have provided your interviewer with your resume. They have likely read it. They do not need it summarized for them during the interview. Be sure to answer questions when asked but don’t just summarize if you are asked to “tell me about yourself” or “tell us why you are the best candidate for this job.”  These questions are common. Though you may wish to refer to your financial modeling experience that is on the resume, do not just read them your resume or summarize what is written. Pick a project or situation and elaborate on it. This will provide a better answer and give them something new to consider during the hiring process.
  • Don’t Click Your Pen (or Anything Else in Your Hand) – Keep your hands free and fidget-free.  Though it is perfectly acceptable to take notes, should the occasion arise, having a notepad on your lap and a pen in your hand is unnecessary. Typically there is likely not to be a lot of note taking that will take place in the beginning. Just have a pen and paper readily available in your bag or briefcase should the occasional arise to take some notes. Having a pen in your hand will only lend itself to the possibility of fidgeting with it, twirling it, biting on it, or clicking it. These are all distractions and will be noted by the interviewer.
  • Don’t Over (or Under) Dress – Be sure to know the companies dress code and dress similarly. If they say business casual, what does that mean for that company? If you haven’t been to the company before, try to visit and see what people wear. If that is impossible, then see if there are any pictures on their website. Otherwise, business casual may be more a coat and tie not a suit. If they do not mention a dress code, dress professionally, conservatively, and in pressed and clean attire. Do not think that casual means jeans and a t-shirt – EVER. Do your research and be professional, like the financial modeling professional you want to be.

The interview for a financial modeling job can be the most stressful part of the job search.  If you are nervous, prepare and keep these DON’T’s in mind and you may find that you will do better with your interview than you originally thought possible.  Following some of these suggestions could help you be on your way to your next (or first) financial modeling job.

3 Things Not to Say in a Financial Modeling Interview

The interview is the time for a potential employer to get to know you and hear what you have to bring to the job they are trying to fill.  It is also your time to get your questions answered. Though you can’t get a full understanding of the job or the workplace atmosphere, the interview can give both sides a quick idea of whether a potential relationship may work.  Therefore, it is important to present a good interview and remember what not to do when interviewing for a potential financial modeling job.

“I really don’t know how to do….” – When in a job interview, it is important to present a confident and professional self-image. This means that you don’t want to say “I can’t” or “I don’t.” If you truly don’t know how to do something which is perfectly acceptable and normal, be sure to phrase your answer to show self-confidence such as “I have not had direct experience with X but I am a fast learners,” or “I am a quick learner,” or “I have studied this and have had educational experience with X.” Just do not seem unsure or no confident.

“I couldn’t stand my last boss/supervisor/coworker.” – Even if you had a personality conflict with your boss, bad talking will never benefit you. Even if you are completely not at fault, keep references to him or her neutral and professional. Bad talking will look bad on you. If there was truly an issue, and the company may have called or the company needs to call your boss or supervisor, and that is who your conflict is with, you may want to address it but do so very objectively and sensitively.

“So how much money will I make and what are the benefits.” – Though this information is obviously of interest to you, asking it, without prompt from the interview, can give the wrong impression. Asking can give the interviewer the idea that you are desperate or more concerned with vacation and benefits. The caveat is that you will likely want to ask their questions before you accept a job offer but your first interview is likely not the best time.

There are other questions not to ask in an interview; however, these are a good sample of what you should think about when determining questions you want or not to ask. Just remember to always display a professional attitude and be professional and confident in your questions to leave a positive, lasting impression.

3 Things Not to Do in Your Financial Modeling Interview

Interviewing can be stressful. If you are interviewing for a financial modeling job, prepare yourself and avoid these common mistakes and you will find yourself in a much better position to get a job in today’s competitive job market.

  • Keep things professional – from the way you dress to what you say. Remember it is an interview. No matter how qualified you are it needs to be kept professional.  Dress professionally, do not chew gum, and do not bad talk your previous boss or your spouse.
  • Put the phone away – and if you are innately tempted to check your phone every time it buzzes, leave it at home to avoid temptation.  Answering your phone, texting or even checking your phone is extremely unprofessional.
  • Listen and answer the question – it is important to listen to what the interviewer is asking and make sure you honestly and completely answer the question. Not answering directly makes you appear disinterested. And be honest. You do not want an exaggeration to cost you the job.

There’s More to Your Financial Modeling Interview Than Questions

When preparing for your financial modeling interview, it is easy to focus on preparing for particular common interview questions and forget that there is more to the interview than just answering questions.

One of the most important aspects of any job interview is listening.  As you interview for your next financial modeling job, you should remind yourself to not jump in on answering the questions without listening to the question and what the interviewer is truly asking.

Though the interviewer may ask a common interview question in the interview, they may ask a second part to the question or ask the question in a different way. Make certain you listen to the question and all parts, stop for a moment and prepare your answer in your mind, and then answer the question thoroughly and intelligently.

3 Things Not to Do in Your Financial Modeling Interview

Making sure you are at the top of your interview game is imperative to getting your next financial modeling job.  It is important to know what to do in an interview but it is just as essential to know what NOT to do in an interview.  Keeping these tips in mind may help you make the most of your next job interview.

#1- Don’t Be Late – It is crucial to be on time to any job interview.  If you must be late, be sure to call ahead and let the company know.  You will want to be in the office and ready for your interview prior to the start time.  This way, when the interviewee is ready for you, you are not rushing in the door or out of breath from running up the stairs.

#2 – Don’t Be Distracted – Having a professional appearance and showing you are happy to be there is important.  If you are attentive to the interview questions and answer the questions you are asked in a professional and thorough way, you will certainly show your interest in the financial modeling job.  Make sure you are dressed for the job you want and do not do things like dress too trendy or chew gum during your interview.

#3 – Don’t Exaggerate – You will be asked several questions about your current and past job experiences.  You will likely be asked for examples of when you did something or how you did something. Be sure that you are honest about your experiences.  It is important to remember that your information may be checked up on or you may be asked to implement something you discussed after you have gotten the job so don’t exaggerate or create experiences you have not had.

Getting your next financial modeling job can be right around the corner so make sure that you are ready.  Following these tips and not making some of these common interview mistakes is a great way to be on your way to that job you are hoping for.

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