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.

How to Become a CFMS

See the steps involved in earning the CFMS designation. Read more.

Why Hire a CFMS?

What sets a Certified Financial Modeling Specialist (CFMS) apart? Read more.

Study Guide

Want to learn more? Download the CFMS study guide here.

Who We Are