An important strength for one job can be completely irrelevant for another one. And a weakness that may sound like a showstopper in an interview for one role, is nothing to worry about while you try to get another job. This is exactly something you have to consider while preparing for your Financial Analyst interview.
And while they won’t necessarily ask about your strengths and weaknesses–after all it is an old school question, and interviews in big corporations have become more sophisticated in the last ten years, with behavioral questions prevailing, it is better to have an answer ready. If nothing else, it will help you alleviate your stress. We always feel calmer and more confident when we have the answers ready for the most dreaded interview questions.
Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers now. You will find on my list all sorts of answers. I start with some typical choices, and continue with more thought-provoking and even some unconventional answers. We should not forget that financial analyst is an extremely popular job. You will almost always compete with other candidates for the position. It can be five, ten, but also fifty people, depending on the salary offer and the situation on the employment market. In such a scenario, sometimes your best bet is actually saying something unconventional, making sure that the hiring managers will remember you at the end of the interviews… That’s why I included also such answers on my list. Let’s proceed to it.
7 sample answers to “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” question for financial analyst job applicants
- I would pick attention to detail and Math skills as my greatest strengths. It is also one of the reasons why I chose career of a financial analyst. I find it a good match to my strengths. On the flip side, I’d like to improve on my communication skills. I know that a modern analyst is an integral part of the team in the workplace, participating in meetings, and providing insightful advice to the management. I need to improve my presentation skills significantly in order to so. And I can assure you I will do all I can to make it happen.
- My greatest strength is probably my proficiency with technology, and my ability to analyze complex sets of data. I have worked with variety of software programs, and probably know every single financial analysis function in MS Excel. It helps me to work quickly and efficiently. On the flip side, I am not good in managing other people, and I sometimes struggle with punctuality. I can get completely absorbed in my work and forget time. But I am aware I cannot afford it in a corporation, and I definitely want to improve on my punctuality.
- Lack of experience is my biggest weakness. This is my first job application, and though I did many analyses at school, and am also investing on the stock market (it is my hobby), I think you cannot simulate the fast-paced environment of an international corporation. And I know I may find it hard at the beginning, and it is my weakness. But such weakness we can overcome only by gaining the experience… On the other hand, I am a quick learner and super motivated to work in your company, which should help me get into the working routine quickly. And I am also a born problem-solver, and look forward to demonstrate it in the workplace.
- Speaking honestly, I cannot tell it yet, since this is my first application for a job. In my opinion, it does not make much sense theorizing about some strength and weaknesses. Because we can think highly about ourselves and our abilities. But how will we react to the pressure in the workplace, to the deadlines and goals? Will we be able to show our best? Or will we struggle with something, or with everything? I think it is impossible to say until we do the job for a few weeks at least. But I can assure you about one thing: As soon as I identify my weaknesses–alone or with the help of my manager, I will do my best to improve on them.
- I would say that my biggest strength is my attitude to work, and to personal development. In whatever I do in life, I always give my 100%. And I never cease to study new things, and to try to find ways of doing my work more efficiently. If I should judge by my former working experience, I’d say this attitude really gives me an edge in the workplace. It isn’t always obvious in the beginning, but as time progresses I typically stand out from my colleagues. Having said that, it is a double-edged sword. Aiming for perfection, I am sometimes too hard on myself, and it happened to me twice that I ended up completely overworked. Last time it happened, I eventually had to leave my job. As you can see, I am still trying to find the right balance while working, and the job with you is my next opportunity to do so.
- Experience is my greatest strength. I’ve worked in the FP&A for the last fifteen years. And that’s a long time… Challenges in the workplace, deadlines, conflicts? I’ve experienced it all. And since there’s no better school than personal experience, I believe to be readier for these challenges than other job applicants are. Which is my greatest strength, at least in my view. But everything comes with a price. Sometimes I am overconfident in my abilities, and do not want to hear another opinion. I know this is a major weakness, and I need to be more receptive to the feedback from my colleagues, both superiors and subordinates. Because everyone can make a mistake, regardless of how many years they’ve been working in the field. I hope to improve on this, and keep reminding myself to be more receptive to the feedback I get at work.
- It may sound like a strange choice, but I would pick emotional intelligence. In my opinion, in a typical FP&A department you have many great analysts, people with amazing attention to detail, people who rarely make any mistakes. What typically absents, however, is someone receptive to the needs and feelings of other people, someone who helps to bond the entire team together, and someone who can solve the conflicts. Maybe they aren’t the best analyst in the team, but they help other analysts to feel good at work and to deliver their best. With my emotional intelligence, I can become such a member of any team. And yes, you guess correctly, I can improve on my financial analysis skills, and I am actively working on them. Because while I consider myself a good analyst I am far from a great one. But I don’t cease learning and trying to eventually become one…
* Special Tip: This isn’t the most difficult question you will face while interviewing for any decent Financial Analyst job. You will face questions about prioritization, dealing with pressure, solving problems, and other tricky scenarios that happen in the workplace, in any FP&A department. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your answers and outclass your competitors, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 50 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will make your life much easier in the interviews. Thank you for checking it out!
Your attitude matters more than anything else
Perfect employees do not exist, and they do not expect to hire such people either. Hiring managers are looking for ambitious analysts who aren’t afraid to admit having some weakness, and are ready to work on it–especially if it matters for the job. And that’s the attitude you should try to show in the interviews.
Regardless of the strengths and weaknesses you pick (and I believe you can find a lot of inspiration on my list), you should show a strong desire to continue working on your skills, in order to become the best financial analyst you can be. I hope you will manage it, and wish you best of luck in your interview!
Check also answers to other tough questions for financial analysts:
- Why do you want to be a financial analyst?
- Entry level financial analyst – all questions and answers
- Tell us about a time when you had to meet a tight deadline.