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Top 10 Financial Service Interview Questions

8 months ago by Gravitas Recruitment Group
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​You might already know the importance of an updated CV and cover letter to help you stand out among a crowd of candidates. But do you know how to make a positive impression on the Hiring Manager in an interview to help you get a job offer?

We’ve talked to our experienced recruitment consultant - Gloria Wen and our team leader - Ken Zhang specialising in financial services, to create an insightful guide to help you prepare for your next interview. Our consultants have helped thousands of candidates find jobs across the banking, investment, accounting, and insurance industries, and understand what it takes to stand out in a financial services interview. In this article, we explore the ten most common questions and the answers that Hiring Managers might expect to hear.

There are four types of questions you can be asked in the interview:

  • Questions about yourself

  • Questions about the company

  • Professional questions

  • Situational handling questions

Questions about yourself

General questions about yourself are a common starting points in an interview. These types of questions are often used as an ice breaker by Hiring Managers to kick off the conversation and get to know you more. These questions can be used to explore your personality, qualifications, and attitudes to ensure you’re the best fit for this role.

The common questions are:

1. Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

This question is very general and it can be difficult to know where to start. Think about how you can summarise yourself, for example, introducing your current situation, past job experience and reason you are a good fit for the company. You can also share some of your hobbies or family life which allows you to build up a personal connection with the Hiring Manager. Ideally you should prepare a short story to describe yourself within two minutes. This may spark further questions.

2. Can you summarise your career experience?

This question is for the Hiring Managers to dive deep into your financial services experience. You can start by looking back through your career timeline focusing on:

  • Where did you start your career in this sector?

  • Did you study a relevant degree, such as, Financial Engineering, Accounting and Finance, or Mathematics?

  • Did you get any certifications required to this role, such as, CFA, FRM, ACCA?

  • What did you do at a particular role?

  • What were your greatest achievements during your time there?

  • Did you get any promotions?

  • Where did you move to next?

Try to keep the information relevant by linking to the job descriptions. Highlight the most significant points where you gained particular skills, got promotions or achieved results.

3. Why are you leaving (or have left) your current job?

Some Hiring Managers may want to know the reason you’re leaving so they can learn more about what’s important to you in a job and how you deal with challenging situations. The reasons can be very different to every individual, but to help, we have listed some of the common reasons with tips to response to these type of questions.

  • Looking for more responsibilities and opportunities

Hiring Managers love employees that look to learn new skills and try new things. Changing jobs doesn’t necessarily mean you are fickle; it indicates your growth mindset and curiosity. If you feel you outgrew your current job, this is a chance for you to show your ambition by explaining your career plan and professional goals.

  • Company restructuring

Your current company might have changed or is restructuring, which leads to the potential for layoffs. Try to highlight how you adapt to the changing environment, and what you’ve learnt from the previous job which can potentially add value to the role you apply to, such as, the skills you built up and the good relationships you built up there.

  • Personal reasons

These can be relocation, starting a new family, seeking work-life balance or some reasons you don’t want to share. Keep your answers brief and short, as you can be honest without giving too many details. Research also suggests employers value employees with a positive attitude because they tend to be reliable and good-problem solvers. Therefore, try to show how you have overcome any obstacles, and lessons learned.

Questions about the company

The questions regarding the company you are applying to, is a good test to see how much research you’ve done for the interview, demonstrating your interest in getting this job.

Here are some common questions:

4. What do you know about the company?

To gain a basic understanding of the company, you can start by looking at the company’s websites, social media to gain an understanding of the organisation history, mission, growth, and culture. It is helpful to look at how they have differentiated themselves from other competitors and stand out in the market.

5. Why would you like to work for us?

Try to use the research you’ve done and response to these questions through different angles. To show you are a great fit, explain how your knowledge and skills will benefit the business. You could also give examples to show your personality traits and how they fit with the company culture.

6. What do you know about the current market trends?

Apart from focusing on the company itself, this question requires you to look at the wider market trends. You can find up-to-date market trends by looking at industry reports, for example, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Wall Street Journaland The Economist. You can find up-to-date market trends by looking at industry reports, for example, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and The Economist. Try to use Porter’s Five Forces or SWOT Analysis models to categorise and analyse the information you’ve found. Then, think about where the company is currently looking to grow? What are the challenges? And how you can use your professional knowledge to add value to the company.

Professional questions

When you have successfully made it through to the final interview or technical stage, there will be some questions that are more likely to focus on your professional knowledge and skills set. Although the professional questions will be varied to specific roles, we would like to share some common questions and a few things that you can prepare:

7. What do you like about working in the financial (or other financial service) industry?

This is a chance to show off your technical knowledge, passion and personal traits that suit the job description, company and sector.

8. What would you do to maintain a high performance in your daily work?

Hiring managers love to see your ability to manage your time which impacts your productivity and reflects how well you can manage your resource. Talk about how you prioritise your tasks, what tools do you use to keep track of your tasks and deadline and explain how you stay motivated and focused throughout the day.

9. Other technical questions will need your professional knowledge and will be specific to each role. It is good to refresh your knowledge around terminology and definitions, for example:

Equity Research Analyst:

  • What would you do to allocate 1 million USD into consumer (stock) market?

  • How do you value a stock?

Trader:

  • Explain how you can judge whether stock is expensive by looking at its price?

  • How do you assess the risk associated with a particular trade?

Situation handling questions

This type of question requires you to draw on your previous experience demonstrating multiple traits including multi-tasking, problem solving, communication skill and so on.

A common way to answer situational questions is to use the STAR technique helping you to structure your answer in a logical way:

  • Situation: Describe the situation you faced. What is the project? What are the main challenges?

  • Task: Explain your role in the situation. Are you a leader? What is your goal and targets?

  • Action: Outline the actions you took to resolve the challenges. What action did you take to solve the challenges?

  • Result: Talk about the facts and figures that quantify the result. You can also discuss your takeaways that you can apply to future challenges.

It will be helpful if you can share experiences that potentially will happen in the role you are applying to.

The questions could be framed as:

10. Describe a time you had your best performance and how you achieved it? / Can you share a project you’ve done in the past that shows how you have overcome a challenge?

Key points to consider when preparing for a financial service interview

  • Research the company and the job role you apply to. Conder why you would be a good fit.

  • Look at the current industry trends that are relevant to the company.

  • Consider your professional knowledge and what kinds of technical questions you may need to answer.

  • Create a timeline of your career milestones and key achievements.

  • Prepare a few strong examples to show your strengths.

Looking for a job in the financial service industry?

If you are looking for a Banking job in Operations, Accounting, Front Office, Quant, Insurance, and many more financial roles, visit our jobs page to browse the latest positions.

Alternatively, contact one of our professional consultants from our Banking and financial services team, who will be happy to help advise you on your next career move.

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