Interview Questions for Econ Related Jobs

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This article is more geared towards first and second year students who are interested in some general coop advice.  I’ll talk about general resume and cover letter tips and present some interview questions I’ve gotten before.    In the interest of privacy, I won’t reveal the employers but I’ll list the job titles.  I can only speak for the jobs I’ve interviewed for in this article but if you’re looking for something is particular, please reach out and we’ll find an exec with related experience to write about it.  I’ll cover the questions you’ll see in interviews for Economic Research, Business Analyst, and Sales and Trading.

 

One or two-page resume?

The choice between one and two page resumes really depends on how good your experiences are.  If you have a few really strong experiences (ie. Previous related internships or member of the best club on campus – UW Economics Society), then one page is ideal.  However, if you just came out of high school or your strength is in your variety of experiences, go with two pages.  If you’re applying for capital markets, keep it to one page.  I personally really like this template: http://breakingbaystreet.com/2016/06/15/my-investment-banking-resume/.  Also, if you want any members of Econ Soc to look at your resume, feel free to come out to our general meetings (Free Food as well!).

 

Cover Letter

The one mistake everyone makes when writing a cover letter: forgetting to tell the employer what you can do for them.  You don’t need to research the company and talk about how great they are (they know they’re great), just pick the top two rows under job responsibilities and write a paragraph for each on how you have experience with it and what skills make you perfect for the role.  You can go to CECA to get your resume and cover letter read over.  You get three free sessions if you’re in co-op and you can take drop-in sessions if you’re not in Co-op.

 

Economic Research Analyst

You’re mainly looking at government jobs if you’re interested in this.  Below are questions I’ve gotten and how best to answer it:

  1. What is the PMI index?
  • Look it up
  1. Talk about recent news related to the Canadian economy.
  • Read the Globe and Mail, central bank stuff is always good, Oil, Housing market ….
  1. How do oil prices affect the Canadian dollar?
  • Oil export account for a significant fraction of Canada’s GDP, if prices fall, demand for Canadian dollars falls, exchange rate falls
  • Try to mention related concepts to demonstrate your proficiency in the topic: West Texas Intermediate, Brent Crude, Suncor upstream/downstream operations, OPEC, US shale oil etc.
  1. Provide a writing sample: I gave them my ECON321 assignment and they thought it was really good without reading it so just take the initiative and present it to them.

 

Business Analyst

This role was more specific into Risk and Performance in Finance so you’ll see the question are more technical.

  1. What is VaR?
  • Value at risk – explain
  1. Could you give three different measurements of Rate of Return?
  • Compounded rate of return, Money Weighted Retuned, Time Weighted Return, etc. and explain each
  1. What factors should be considered when choosing constituent for a portfolio?
  • Biggest thing is non-collinearity of returns – ie. You want to own securities that have different return characteristics when exposed to exogenous shocks (oil prices, interest rates, recession etc.)

 

Sales and Trading

  1. What’s the angle between the two clock hands when the time is 3:15pm?
  • Its not zero and you do need to give an exact answer
  1. Talk about recent financial markets news.
  • Read Bloomberg and WSJ (and www.uweconsoc.com)
  1. What’s your short term and long term outlook on interest rate?
  • It doesn’t matter what you say, just make sure you have strong reasoning to back up your stance (ie. Election risk, Brexit, unemployment, inflation). It’s generally FED related but Bank of Canada is also possible.
  1. Describe three different swap contracts.
  • TRS, CDS, and I-Swap would be the easiest ones
  1. Your firm and client are confident that price of oil will not change over the coming years, why would the client still want to hedge against oil prices and how would you do it?
  • It might have been worded differently but the answer was that you can’t really be sure about the price of oil and you’d hedge with oil futures

 

As you probably noticed, these are just samples of questions you’d get.  The whole interview is going to include a ton of behavioral and answering those well are really the key for getting the job.  I’ve also done interviews in Investment Banking, Corporate Finance, Product Management, Consulting, Sales and Marketing etc. so if you’re interested, feel free to reach out.  Wish you the best in your internship search!

 

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I am in my fourth year of the Biotechnology & Economics program looking to purse a career in financial economics. I've completed the CSC and passed the CFA level one exam. My co-op experiences range from business analysis to economic research. I love meeting new people so feel free to chat with me at any time!
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