Interviews and assessment centres

Applying for a finance job

22 Jun 2023, 13:23

Man in a suit

While the finance sector advertises many positions, they all attract a high number of applicants. Prior to applying for finance jobs, study the industry and familiarise yourself with what its key employers are looking for in applicants. Also, look through the employer profiles at the back of this guide, where you’ll find lots of information on finance related careers. Researching the background, culture and recruitment process of each company is vital.

Background and culture

  • What does the organisation do, and where is it located?

  • Who are the company’s clients and competitors?

  • Any notable or newsworthy achievements recently?

  • What type of culture does the organisation promote?

  • Does the company have specific core values, and do they match your own values?

  • Does the company match your career ambitions, and would you be happy working there?

Is the size of the organisation an important factor? What type of corporate environment would you prefer to work in – a large firm with great facilities, structured programmes and lots of peers; or a small firm, with possibly more scope for individuality? Also, if acquiring a professional qualification while working is a requirement, you need to ensure the employer can support you in this regard.

Applying for a finance job

Finance sector firms operate their recruitment processes in a very structured fashion. Large accountancy firms operate what is known as the ‘milk round’ in October of each year, arranging presentations in third level institutions to brief graduates on the firm, what opportunities exist and what their recruitment processes are. This provides an excellent opportunity if you’re interested in the relevant companies. Talk to your careers service about the necessary preparations required for these opportunities, as they can be highly competitive. Ahead of preparing your application, make sure you know:

  • What degree subjects the employer is looking for and whether you match their requirements.

  • What’s the recruitment process? Assessment centres? Several interviews? Or a combination of both?

  • Also, do some research on the experiences of other applicants.

Many large finance companies are quite high profile, so useful information is bound to be available online. Increasingly, companies are switching to online application forms instead of the traditional CV and cover letter. However, if you have a good CV, you can apply much of the same information to an online form, so it’s still important to have a good CV to hand as the basis for applications, no matter what the application method is.

Finance job applications: a step-by-step guide

The standard process for applying for financial positions is as follows:

Online application forms: These forms cover all the information that you should include in your CV. They can often include a personality-based questionnaire or a numerical reasoning test.

First round interviews: These are initial screening interviews, held either at the company’s premises or in local hotels or colleges.

Assessment centres: Increasingly popular, these last from a few hours in duration to up to two days. Some of the tests at assessment centres include group exercises, case studies, in-tray exercises and psychometric tests. Complete the gradireland Careers Report for an insight into some of the questions asked at assessment centres. Taking part in the gradireland National Student Challenge will provide you with great practice.

gradireland editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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