What to expect in a finance internship interview

Bagged yourself a finance internship interview for a top firm? Top work! If you succeed in earning a place on an internship programme, your chances of a graduate job in finance will be significantly improved. Fact.

So no pressure or anything, but you might want to make sure that you give the best impression you can in your interview. And in order to well, it could be rather handy to know what to expect…

There’s no certainty in the exact questions you will be asked in this kind of interview, as each bank, finance firm, and professional services firm will have their own set questions for their prospective interns. However, you can be fairly sure that some topics like the ones we’ve put together here will come up!

What kinds of things could they ask me in a finance internship interview?

  • Why are you applying for an internship with the firm? Think about what differentiates the firm for you and what is the most appealing thing to you about what they do. This is the perfect opportunity to show your enthusiasm for working in this specific firm.
  • They are likely to ask you to provide solid examples of competencies such as leadership or teamwork skills. E.g. “Could you tell us about a time when you worked as a leader?” Again, always good to have a couple of strong examples in the bag that you can pull out for just this kind of question. Other types of competency based questions could include things like, “Tell us about a time when you encountered difficulties with a customer or colleague. What did you do to deal with the situation, and how was it resolved?”
  • Describe what you understand of a certain process that takes place at the company you’re interviewing for, for example an aspect of audit. If you have the opportunity to do some networking via an insight day or over social media such as LinkedIn networks, then this could be on your list of things to ask.
  • How would you imagine a working day to be like for an analyst in the department or area of finance you want to work in? Another chance to put your networking skills to the test! Ask anyone you know who works in finance about what you could expect in the relevant role, plus any connections you have made on an insight day. People are often more than willing to give advice, so make the most of it to be prepared for these types of scenario questions.
  • There could be some direct questions relating to commercial awareness. You may well be asked to discuss a recent news story and talk about how it is relevant to the company. You can check out our commercial awareness section for more tips on how to develop your commercial awareness.
  • Don’t be surprised if you’re asked about what you consider to be your weaknesses too. It’s best to have an answer prepared for this question. If you genuinely believe you’re already fantastic at everything then, to be frank, that’s daft. Everyone has something they can improve on, no matter what their age and level of experience. And, contrary to what the stereotypes suggest, over-confidence won’t be welcomed in the finance industry!
  • There is a chance that you’ll be faced with at least one question designed to throw you off your guard and test how you think and react under pressure. These questions may seem a little weird: they could challenge you on a weaker grade you got at school and the reasons for this, or ask you something a little more off-the-wall. “How many US flags are there in the United States of America?” for example, and other logical teasers are not uncommon!
  • Finally, be prepared to answer something that is specific to the company. What could the company do to build on success, for example. This tests your mind for business in general, as well as your commercial awareness.

You’ll see then that there are certain things that you definitely can prepare for in advance of a finance internship interview. You’ll have to think on your feet some questions, for sure, but if you’re clued up on your industry and company knowledge, then hopefully that will put your mind at rest and make you calmer for when you have to deal with any logical mind twisters!