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How to Perform a Financial Analyst Excel Test

Marsha Lewis
Director of Marketing at DealRoom
Marsha Lewis
Director of Marketing at DealRoom

Will you be interviewing for a financial analyst?

Excel can be a powerful tool in the right hands.

If you’re entrusted with the corporate development aspects of your business, you also know how critical it is to find the right match for positions within your company. 

The job of financial analyst requires the right candidate to keep current market trends in mind, evaluate the financial status of the company correctly, and project the outcome of financial events accurately (financial modelling). 

Excel formulas will play a key role in this job- and can play an equally important role in assisting you to find the right candidate for it.

That’s why an Excel assessment should be part of every financial analyst interview.

The purpose of an Excel assessment test is to have the candidate demonstrate that they are accurate, efficient, and can perform competitively within the role.

It’s becoming more and more common for recruiting companies to administer a test of competence to make sure that a pretty CV isn’t the only thing the candidate has to offer. 

What should a solid financial analyst Excel test address?

There’s a range of convenient, thorough, and accurate pre-made financial analyst Excel tests you can use to evaluate potential interview candidates and their knowledge.

It’s critical that you find one, however, that is well constructed and genuinely tests the basic knowledge the candidate should have for the role.

Let’s take a look at what that should include. 

1. Array formulas

In Excel, an array is a range of values, wrapped in curly brackets. It means the formula is performed across a variety of values, not one.

They’re used in data analysis, lookups, conditional sums...a wide range of financial applications. It’s a crucial part of a financial analyst's job to handle these.

The candidate (and the test) should be thoroughly versed in them. This means they are a staple in every Excel skills test. 

2. Lookup Functions

Lookups allow the user to search for an approximate match, returning corresponding values from elsewhere.

There’s now 3 to consider- VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP have been around for years. As of late 2019, XLOOKUP was also added.

They come with a range of formulas and parameters. With these, problems get solved faster and easier- something you want from your financial analyst. 

3. Pivot tables

Financial analysts should be grilled on pivot tables by any financial analyst Excel test you choose. These simplify data visualization and handling, meaning they’ve become one of the most sought-after Excel skills.

As data can be easily rearranged without recreating tables, conclusions are easier to reach, and financial modeling in Excel becomes more valuable.

4. Key formats

This is, of course, a very basic Excel skill, but familiarity with different data formats should be a given for the applicant.

This means it’s always worth testing! If they can’t define strings, numbers, percentages, or currencies, then the rest of the Excel skills test is probably not worth continuing.

You could do this subtly, layered in another question, or ask it outright- they should be able to answer, either way. 

Focus on forecasting

As a financial analyst, the candidate will be working heavily with forecasting, or financial modeling.

If you're administering a financial analyst Excel test in the interview process, make sure this is well tested.

Forecasting uses past and current financial data, alongside key trends, to make educated guesses about the future of the business.

Microsoft Excel can use:

  • Moving averages,
  • Linear regression, or
  • Exponential smoothing.

Personally, we would test the candidate on all three aspects with a financial modeling in Excel test- before they sign on the dotted line! 

Why a financial analyst test matters

Of course, you may still be wondering why you would even bother with an Excel assessment test during the interview and onboarding process.

Isn’t this the same ground covered with CVs and qualifications? 

The key thing is that CVs can be inflated, and qualifications can be earned without the candidate ever really presenting with a strong working knowledge of the subject.

Yet in day-to-day business, it’s that ability to immediately and confidently use the tools at their disposal (namely Microsoft Excel) to get the job done that will count the most.

Just as with your technology due diligence, you need to do the same regarding your human resources.

While not every candidate tests well under pressure, interview assessments are being used as part of the evaluation process in 76% of companies.

An Excel assessment allows you to suss out their working knowledge and ability to apply it to key real-life scenarios. This has great value alongside a static qualification or a CV.

It shows they don’t just understand what, but also why and how to perform their role in real-life situations. 

While a financial analyst Excel test should not be your only criteria used to evaluate a candidate, it should be a critical one.

Alongside well-designed interview questions, it will give you a good idea of the candidate’s potential and how they will fit into your organization.

m&a science academy


Will you be interviewing for a financial analyst?

Excel can be a powerful tool in the right hands.

If you’re entrusted with the corporate development aspects of your business, you also know how critical it is to find the right match for positions within your company. 

The job of financial analyst requires the right candidate to keep current market trends in mind, evaluate the financial status of the company correctly, and project the outcome of financial events accurately (financial modelling). 

Excel formulas will play a key role in this job- and can play an equally important role in assisting you to find the right candidate for it.

That’s why an Excel assessment should be part of every financial analyst interview.

The purpose of an Excel assessment test is to have the candidate demonstrate that they are accurate, efficient, and can perform competitively within the role.

It’s becoming more and more common for recruiting companies to administer a test of competence to make sure that a pretty CV isn’t the only thing the candidate has to offer. 

What should a solid financial analyst Excel test address?

There’s a range of convenient, thorough, and accurate pre-made financial analyst Excel tests you can use to evaluate potential interview candidates and their knowledge.

It’s critical that you find one, however, that is well constructed and genuinely tests the basic knowledge the candidate should have for the role.

Let’s take a look at what that should include. 

1. Array formulas

In Excel, an array is a range of values, wrapped in curly brackets. It means the formula is performed across a variety of values, not one.

They’re used in data analysis, lookups, conditional sums...a wide range of financial applications. It’s a crucial part of a financial analyst's job to handle these.

The candidate (and the test) should be thoroughly versed in them. This means they are a staple in every Excel skills test. 

2. Lookup Functions

Lookups allow the user to search for an approximate match, returning corresponding values from elsewhere.

There’s now 3 to consider- VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP have been around for years. As of late 2019, XLOOKUP was also added.

They come with a range of formulas and parameters. With these, problems get solved faster and easier- something you want from your financial analyst. 

3. Pivot tables

Financial analysts should be grilled on pivot tables by any financial analyst Excel test you choose. These simplify data visualization and handling, meaning they’ve become one of the most sought-after Excel skills.

As data can be easily rearranged without recreating tables, conclusions are easier to reach, and financial modeling in Excel becomes more valuable.

4. Key formats

This is, of course, a very basic Excel skill, but familiarity with different data formats should be a given for the applicant.

This means it’s always worth testing! If they can’t define strings, numbers, percentages, or currencies, then the rest of the Excel skills test is probably not worth continuing.

You could do this subtly, layered in another question, or ask it outright- they should be able to answer, either way. 

Focus on forecasting

As a financial analyst, the candidate will be working heavily with forecasting, or financial modeling.

If you're administering a financial analyst Excel test in the interview process, make sure this is well tested.

Forecasting uses past and current financial data, alongside key trends, to make educated guesses about the future of the business.

Microsoft Excel can use:

  • Moving averages,
  • Linear regression, or
  • Exponential smoothing.

Personally, we would test the candidate on all three aspects with a financial modeling in Excel test- before they sign on the dotted line! 

Why a financial analyst test matters

Of course, you may still be wondering why you would even bother with an Excel assessment test during the interview and onboarding process.

Isn’t this the same ground covered with CVs and qualifications? 

The key thing is that CVs can be inflated, and qualifications can be earned without the candidate ever really presenting with a strong working knowledge of the subject.

Yet in day-to-day business, it’s that ability to immediately and confidently use the tools at their disposal (namely Microsoft Excel) to get the job done that will count the most.

Just as with your technology due diligence, you need to do the same regarding your human resources.

While not every candidate tests well under pressure, interview assessments are being used as part of the evaluation process in 76% of companies.

An Excel assessment allows you to suss out their working knowledge and ability to apply it to key real-life scenarios. This has great value alongside a static qualification or a CV.

It shows they don’t just understand what, but also why and how to perform their role in real-life situations. 

While a financial analyst Excel test should not be your only criteria used to evaluate a candidate, it should be a critical one.

Alongside well-designed interview questions, it will give you a good idea of the candidate’s potential and how they will fit into your organization.

m&a science academy


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