10 questions to expect in a fintech interview

Here are the questions you're most likely to be asked in an interview for a fintech graduate role or internship
Applications and interviews

Employers in finance value the technical knowledge you have very highly. But success in this field is not just about what you know, but also how you use it.

That's why we've asked industry figures what technical questions you can expect to be asked in interviews for internship and graduate roles in fintech.

Preparing answers for the following ten should ensure you're ready to make the most of your existing knowledge and will give you a head start over other applicants.

Your technology background

1. What technical experience have you had while at university?

2. What languages have you programmed in?

3. What are your IT strengths and weaknesses?

Questions such as these aim to find out a bit more about your background and level of experience.

You need to be able to give a straightforward yet detailed summary of the skills you've picked up, making sure to highlight anything that's particularly likely to impress.

More importantly, resist the temptation to play fast and loose with the truth and claim to know more than you do.

They expect you to have weaknesses and gaps in your knowledge, so don't get caught in a lie and pretend they're not there as you will be asked follow-up questions on any experience you claim to have had.

Your interests and motivations

4. What aspects of technology particularly interest you?

5. Explain how and why you think a technological development you're interested in will be a game changer and the applications it might have for our business.

Your interviewer is trying to gauge your level of interest in the finance sector so, while you may have a passion for other areas of technology, focus in your answer on aspects of technology that have an application relevant to the employer.

Alex Stepney, Lead Architect at RBC Capital Markets, says that a clear understanding of the business uses of technology is a sure sign of a good candidate.

"Having insight into how advances in technology can help an organisation like RBC will make you stand out. For instance, a recent change came in the form of smart phones and tablet devices."

"The ability to use this type of technology can bring benefits to both the organisation and the employee. Candidates need to bring fresh ideas and be on top of the industry's evolution."

Your recent work

6. What technical projects have you been working on recently?

7. Tell me about a technical project you've worked on that you're particularly proud of. What was your contribution?

8. Give an example of where you've applied your technical knowledge in a practical way.

Although questions like these might seem like an opportunity to list all of your technical accomplishments in great detail, employers are often equally interested to hear if you understand the purpose of your work and the practical implications it's had for any users of your end product.

Thomas Fortin, Managing Director at BlackRock, says interviewees who understand why they're doing what they're doing will have a clear advantage.

"Some people say they're working on a Java-based front end with an ODBC connection into an Oracle database. Others say they're working on a screen that allows customers to buy a company's products. That's the person I want, because they understand why they're doing it."

Your commercial awareness

9. What's your opinion on this recent news story?

Employers will want you to demonstrate an awareness of recent developments that might have an impact on technology in finance.

Reading the papers before your interview will be of some help, but you'll be expected to offer insights and opinions rather than just repeat facts and figures.

Jason Bell, Associate at KPMG, remembers one interview where a lack of commercial awareness could have proven costly. "I remember in one interview, they asked me a question about a recent news story concerning one of the big banks. Being able to talk about issues like this is important if your interview is going to be successful."

Your problem solving ability

10. Is 3,599 a prime number?

In among the more conventional questions it's not uncommon for interviewers to throw in a brainteaser, programming challenge or mathematical puzzle to test your ability to approach and solve problems.

In some cases they won't necessarily expect you to come up with an answer but will be more interested in how you approach the question. The majority of problems like this will be solvable though. Don't believe us? Here's our working.

Step 1: 3599 = (3600 - 1)

Step 2: (3600 - 1) = (60^2 - 1^2)

Step 3: (60^2 - 1^2) = (60 - 1) (60 + 1)

Step 4: (60 - 1) (60 + 1) = 59 x 61

Therefore, 3599 is not a prime number. Simple. Unfortunately, you'll probably face a different question to this so the amount of preparation you can do is limited beyond being prepared for the unexpected and making sure your brain is in gear.

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