Common Interview Questions for Portfolio Managers

Portfolio manager positions are highly coveted in the financial industry. You can make a lot of money and carry a lot of prestige when you work your way up to this role. As a portfolio manager, your job is to make high-level investing decisions for a fund or a large institution, such as a bank or insurance company. A portfolio manager often has the final say on where millions of dollars are invested, which is why companies pay big salaries to attract top talent to this role.

Even landing an interview for a portfolio manager job typically requires a lot of high-level education and years of experience. The competition can be brutal, which makes it important that you ace your interview. Anticipate the questions that may come your way and have winning answers prepared. Here's a sample of some of the most common questions you may come across during your next interview.

Key Takeaways

  • Landing an interview for a portfolio manager position can be tough.
  • You may be asked by an interviewer about your investment strategy.
  • Be sure to review any and all professional designations you have and how they apply to the position.
  • Prepare a mock risk analysis and brush up on financial technology.
  • You may also be asked to demonstrate your communication skills.

"Tell Me About Your Investing Strategy"

The interviewer wants to ensure that your investment strategy meshes with the company's goals. After all, as a portfolio manager, you are the final decision-maker on huge investments. If your investment strategy is antithetical to that of the company, a tense situation is going to arise very quickly.

You want to strike a balance with your response. On one hand, study the company thoroughly before your interview and try to discern its core philosophies. Work these into your response so the interviewer knows you have the company's best interests in mind.

By this point in your career, you have invariably developed some pretty firm beliefs about investing. Be forthright about them, even if you think it is not what the interviewer wants to hear. It is best to get everything on the table during the interview stage to ensure a mutually good fit.

"What Professional Designations Do You Carry?"

A portfolio manager candidate almost invariably has years of investing experience and has racked up numerous professional designations. The most common is the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, which tests a candidate's knowledge in finance, accounting, statistics, and quantitative analysis.

Much of the job involves taking mountains of data, extracting hard-to-find trends, and using them to make forecasts and predictions. Having a CFA designation demonstrates proficiency in this type of analysis.

Securities licenses, such as the Series 7, Series 63, and Series 66, are also common since many portfolio managers actively sell securities. These are offered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). However, it is important for a portfolio manager to have a deep understanding of the market and preternatural skills in analyzing data and making forecasts along with being a great salesperson.

Try going through a mock interview before the real thing to help get you prepared.

"How Would You Analyze the Risk of (Investment Method)?"

Managing risk became more important than ever for financial institutions following the 2008 financial crisis. So there's a very good chance your interviewer will test your technical knowledge to see how confident your methods are for assessing risk and to determine the soundness of your decision-making skills.

It's usually better to err on the conservative side when preparing a mock risk analysis in a job interview. These institutions want to make a lot of money, and they want their candidates to help them achieve their goals.

Remember: They do not want to lose their shirt like a lot of banks did in 2008 following the financial crisis. If you can prove an ability to make smart decisions that protect the company's portfolio in good economic times and bad, you stand a high chance of being selected for the job.

Other Questions

While these may be some of the more common questions you'll come across during your interview for a portfolio manager position, be prepared for others that may be tailored specifically to each company. For instance, you may be asked about your experience with different investing platforms. This is important because it tests your knowledge about financial management and your ease with financial technology.

Some interviewers may also want to know how you'd react in certain situations. And because portfolio managers require great communication skills, you may be presented with one or more hypothetical situations through which you'll have to navigate.

For example, the interviewer may ask you to describe the steps you would take if you had to inform your clients about the state of their investment portfolios. Or you may be asked how you would speak to and sign on a new client. This is a good chance to review any recommendations and to brush up on your communication skills.

The Bottom Line

Your academic background and your professional experience may help you land an interview for a portfolio management position. But it's your quick thinking and ability to answer an interviewer's questions that will help get you through to the next step.

Just like any other position, it's always a good idea to do some research about the company and learn about its investment philosophy, client base, and goals. But don't forget to brush up on your industry knowledge, such as financial technology and different investment types. You may even want to go through a mock interview to help you get comfortable. Remember: It's always better to be prepared than to wing it on interview day.

Article Sources
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  1. Northwestern University D'Amore-McKim School of Business. "How to Become a Portfolio Manager."

  2. FINRA. "Qualification Exams."

  3. Factor Pad. "What Is Your Best Interview Question for a Portfolio Manager Job?"

  4. Betterteam. "Portfolio Manager Interview Questions."

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