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Financial Interview Questions to Avoid


Learn the difference between questions that will get a rehearsed response and those that will reveal true potential and talent.

Chances are you’ve been extensively prepped and trained on what questions you can ask a job candidate to avoid getting sued, but what about the questions that will ensure that you hire exceptional candidates? You may be an expert when it comes to avoiding inquiries that violate equal opportunity employment regulations—such as questions of age, religious preference, marital status, and race—but are you proficient in eliciting genuine responses and exposing the quality and character of your potential hire?

Now that you know what’s illegal, let’s discuss what’s effective.

The following are some common rote questions that will coax flowery, well-rehearsed responses from your candidates, but fail to dig beneath the surface to identify top-tier talent. We’ll also suggest effective versions of the same question that will deliver valuable insight.

Are you a good negotiator?

It’s better to say something along the lines of, “Tell me about a negotiation and how it went,” or “Give me an example of a win-win situation you negotiated.” Get a real example and probe for details that will get to the heart of what you need to know. Effective interviewers ask behavioral questions and use phrases such as, “tell me about a time, give me an example,” because the way a person reacted to a past situation may be an indication of what he or she will do in the future.

Why do you want to work here?

Ask questions that reveal a candidate’s level of career introspection. Do they know what they want? Do they have a clear understanding of where they’re going? Are they goal-oriented? You’ll elicit much more insightful answers by asking, “What criteria are you using in selecting your next employer, including the industries you’re considering, company criteria, and the roles and titles that you’re pursuing?”

Are you a team player?

This question will only get a well-rehearsed response. Rephrase the question as, “Tell me about your approach to team work—how have you had to adapt to work effectively as part of a team?” This will uncover a candidate’s ability to build relationships and contribute to team success, which is an essential element in the finance business.

How do you handle stress?

This question is almost completely devoid of insightful value. Instead, ask your interviewee to describe a tough financial analysis issue he or she recently faced. This will display your potential hire’s ability to identify key issues and detect problems. In their response, look for their skill in breaking down, organizing, and analyzing information.

A majority of financial hiring managers have the misconception that interviewing job candidates is relatively simple. The harsh reality is that conducting an effective job interview requires a careful combination of skill and technique. Managers who “wing it” and fail to prepare insightful questions often find their haphazard hires will come back to haunt them. A faulty financial hire will cost a company in the form of wasted training time, salary expenses, lost productivity, and numerous other direct and indirect expenditures.

If you are looking for more resources for landing top financial talent, contact the staffing experts at Conexus today.

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