Congratulations! You received an invitation to interview for a Masters in Finance (MFin or MSF) program. That invitation is usually competitive, so you should feel great that you’ve cleared the first bar! Now, how do you avoid potential interview pitfalls, and how do you make the interview work for you?
Let’s start at the beginning
First, let me note that there is a lot of great advice on Accepted’s website for MBA interviews, which have some similarities to MFin interviews (including some articles by me, like this one and this one 😊). Please review these resources as a starting point. In this post, I’ll address MFin interviews specifically.
Preparing for the MFin interview
First, ascertain whether the interview will be blind or not. In a blind interview, the interviewer has read your resume but not your application; if it’s nonblind, the interviewer is familiar with your whole application and may refer to it in the questions. Most MFin interviews are nonblind, but don’t take it for granted.
Knowing this information beforehand will enable you to avoid being redundant – you don’t want to cite the same examples used in your application, but you can use them in a blind interview, and for questions about goals, why-this-program, etc, if non-blind, you will need to find additional things to say so as not to simply repeat your application.
Typical MFin interview questions
Because most MFin programs are early-career, you will likely be probed about your academic experience and your quantitative coursework. Also, you may be asked about your undergrad experience overall, including extracurriculars. Present anecdotes and examples that show intellectual/academic engagement and show yourself to be a contributor to the academic and school community.
Many MFin interviews will test your quantitative skills indirectly. They won’t ask you to recite a formula or solve a problem, but may ask how you would approach a problem or to discuss the potential application of a theory or formula. Be prepared but not worried; everyone I’ve talked to who has faced such questions has said they are not “gotcha” questions, but rather probe your thought process and fundamental knowledge.
Standing out in the interview
Because many MFin applicants have similar educational, internship/work, and even cultural backgrounds, look for opportunities to differentiate yourself. This does NOT mean coming up with dramatic or exotic examples and stories. It DOES mean including telling details: how a common math course altered your perspective, or how an internship project cast a fresh lens onto some aspect of business (or life or reality)… No one has exactly your perspective and mindset and experience, so these are natural differentiators.
The MFin is fundamentally a business-oriented program more than a quant-geek program, so present yourself and communicate professionally. The adcom will be looking at you not just with their eyes but through a prospective recruiter’s eyes. They want their students to succeed in their internships and post-grad jobs, and that requires being able to interact effectively, work in teams, etc. So it wouldn’t hurt to show you appreciate this fact by discussing it and bringing it into examples and anecdotes.
Many MFin applicants (probably most) are not native English speakers. For you, this interview is also a test of your English communication skills specifically. The adcom wants to make sure you can comprehend professors, be understood in class, improvise in discussion, and converse appropriately with recruiters.
MFin programs have a lot of similarities. Before the interview, delve deeply into the program in question so you can talk confidently and in detail about what makes that particular program great for you. Show them the love. You needn’t wait to be asked: “Why do you want to attend XYZ program?” You can artfully weave in relevant points about the program into your conversation overall.
To summarize, it’s impossible to prepare for every question, so instead, prepare for “anything” by informing yourself thoroughly about the program, being self-aware, and turning your social IQ on high.
Get accepted to a Masters in Finance program
Do you need help prepping for your MFin or other graduate program interview? Work one-on-one with an expert advisor to get the tips AND the confidence you need to impress your interviewer and get ACCEPTED. Learn more about Accepted’s Graduate School Mock Interview Packages here.
Cindy Tokumitsu has advised hundreds of successful applicants, helping them gain acceptance to top MFin, MBA and EMBA, and other graduate management programs in her 15+ years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• Fitting In & Standing Out: the Paradox at the Heart of Admissions, a free guide
• Do I Really Need a Mock Admissions Interview?, a short video
• 6 Tips for Talking About Your Weaknesses