13 Interview questions you should be asking finance candidates

13 interview questions to ask finance candidates

Looking for better finance hires? Well, it may be time to send your trusty interview questions back to the drawing board.

If your interview process is lacking strategic thought, you’re likely to miss out on valuable insight into your finance candidates. This approach — or lack thereof — could lead to making the wrong hires and future retainment issues. Posing a variety of particular questions will help you uncover the passion, cultural fit, work ethic, and problem-solving abilities of your potential finance hires.

Get more out of your interview by posing stronger general and industry-specific questions. Here are 13 questions you should be asking your finance job candidates today:

1. What motivates you?

This is your chance to detect what drives your finance candidates. Dig further to find out whether it’s about the money or the finance industry itself. Keep in mind, the desire to make money doesn’t necessarily equate to a  sufficient drive to succeed or real passion for the business. It often comes with limitations.

2. What is your greatest achievement?

For some finance candidates, the answer may be related to a specific project they undertook or an award they received. If they don’t share insightful details about why they feel this was their greatest achievement, be sure to question further. Ask yourself: Is this relevant to the role they’re interviewing for?

3. What can you bring to this role that you’re certain other applicants can’t?

Get to the bottom of why this candidate truly deserves your attention. It could be their previous experience in a related role, achievements within the industry, or even their unique personality. This question is also important for testing your candidate’s level of confidence — is it too much or just right?

4. What hurdles or obstacles have you overcome?

Posing this question will help you key into their ability to overcome adversity or challenges throughout their career. If you’re particularly interested in a piece of information on their resume, like a layoff, ask them directly about how they overcame that situation.

5. What would previous coworkers and managers say about you?

Zeroing in on how others perceive your interviewee is essential to finding out whether they’re a match for the position and your company as a whole. Jot down what your candidate shares with you and follow-up with their references to see if the descriptions match.

6. Where do you see yourself in five years?

It’s important to understand whether the candidate’s career path is aligned with the position to which they are applying. Bringing on a candidate who’s just looking for a “here and now” type of position won’t do you any favors in terms of a long-term hire. Watch out for cookie cutter answers that end up sounding more like wishful thinking than actual long-term plans.

7. Where do you get your finance news?

Do they read the Wall Street Journal every morning? Are they subscribed to alerts on MarketWatch? Knowing how a candidate keeps up with industry news can indicate two important things — it shows how much interest they have in the industry as well as how serious they are about working in finance. If they stutter or name a general news website, it may be a sign that they don’t live and breathe finance.

8. Are you willing to work all hours?

Many candidates will answer yes to this, whether they mean it or not. When posing the question, watch their facial expression and listen for any insincerity. Raised eyebrows or widened eyes might mean they don’t plan on working longer than the normal nine to five schedule. Their answer and reaction to this question will reveal if they’re really willing to make sacrifices to achieve success.

9. Do you play sports?

Competitive spirit is crucial for thriving in the majority of finance roles. Playing sports, whether currently or previously, is a great way to determine whether your finance candidates have a competitive nature. Although collegiate athletes may bring a higher level of competition to the table, don’t exclude those who may  have played club or intramural — competition is still competition.

10. What other industries are you looking into?

Are your candidates really interested in the finance industry, or are they just exploring their options? Passion for finance is essential to staying afloat in this industry. If they’re not engaged with their work from the start, chances are they won’t be when it matters.

11. What was the worst class you had in college?

And what would that professor say about you? These two questions will allow you to dig deeper into the potential weaknesses and challenges of your entry-level candidates. Since they might not have previous work experience, this is a great question to see how they handle situations they don’t enjoy. While they may have hated their creative writing class, would their professor say they put their best foot forward in spite of it all?

12. If you could only pick one, what stock would you buy and why?

This is an industry-specific question that will give you a better sense how connected your candidate is to industry news. Are they a risk-taker, or do they play it safe? It also will indicate how well they follow the markets and economy, a necessity for roles both on Wall Street and beyond it.

13. What do you know about our company, our competition, and our industry as a whole?

Asking candidates to sum up your company and their industry knowledge will give you insight into how much homework they did prior to the interview. Candidates who “blank” on this question may be unfamiliar with your company and the finance industry as a whole, and applying to this role on a whim. You don’t want an employee who lacks the ability or desire to research.

Better interview questions are a key component in landing better finance hires. Carefully track their body language and reactions to the questions you present, as these are also effective indicators. Remember, you want a candidate who is truly passionate about the opportunity and not just trying to “win the job.” Always read between the lines.

This article was recently updated and originally appeared on Undercover Recruiter.

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