Insights - 01 December, 2022

Effective Interview Strategies For Financial Services Leaders

Attracting top talent is critical to any organization's future success. Creating a talent pipeline in your workforce sourcing efforts boosts your chances of employing the top prospects in the financial services industry. Lower staff turnover and more productivity will result from hiring the best talent that comes through your pipeline. On the other hand, employing the incorrect candidate will hurt your business culture and will waste company resources training a person who will only be there for a short time.

Finding new talent is a lengthy and comprehensive process that includes selecting the essential traits required for a certain role, reviewing resumes, completing background checks, and eventually holding an interview with a suitable applicant. Each corporate job posting receives an average of 250 applicants (Glassdoor, 2022), and only 4-6 of those candidates will be invited for an interview, with only one will be hired eventually.

Interview questions and assignments, if established properly, can expose the professional, psychological, and social traits of a potential employee in order to determine the candidate's suitability for the advisor position.

In the usual course of a financial services business, the employer devotes a significant amount of time to interviews. Yet, there are disturbingly few efforts to enhance this age-old process. Since we have conducted interviews for so many years that it has become routine, we inevitably feel we know everything there is to know about them. But if we look just below the surface, it’s clearly evident that a small amount of time devoted to studying and improving standard interview methodologies would provide significant benefits.

Interview Objectives

As anyone can recognize, the primary goal of the interview is to collect reliable information about the qualifications, experiences, and other job-related traits of the interviewee. During the interview, the financial services leader will also evaluate a candidate's communication, interpersonal, and problem-solving abilities, and decide if they are a good fit for the company’s culture.

Nevertheless, the main goal of an initial interview is to determine whether to invest additional time and proceed to the next round of the process. The interviewer will assess the prospect’s value to the organization based on his job history, educational background, strengths, weaknesses, and achievements.

Although the variables valued for different roles will vary from position to position, we can summarize the objectives of the interview as thorough responses to the next four questions.

  1. Does the individual possess the required skills and knowledge, or can he or she be trained in a reasonable amount of time?
  2. Is the candidate a person of good moral character who will show the requisite level of professionalism in the financial area?
  3. Is the prospect a good match for the advisor position, ensuring that he or she and the rest of the team will work in tandem as one?
  4. Is the candidate likely to be a long-term asset to the company or organization?

To provide appropriate responses to these questions, financial services employers need to construct a scenario that works to elicit an answer to these four questions.

Planning Matters

A job interview is not the place for a spur-of-the-moment chat, regardless of how talented you are at spontaneously speaking in front of an audience.  Recruiting teams or managers that freestyle during an interview may come out as unprepared or uninterested in the candidate. Remember that the job seeker judges the interviewer and the organization in the same way as they judge him.

Hiring managers in the financial industry should reflect on what aspects of the position are crucial for its success. What characteristics do you look out for when hiring someone? How will these skills help fulfill your needs as an organization, and which ones aren't so important in this case since you already have hard-working associates with those qualifications who can perform those tasks instead? 

Using these criteria as a guide, the interviewer must build a list of traits, abilities, and types of experience that may be used to screen resumes and choose candidates to invite in. Before interviewing any of the candidates however, ensure that you have thoroughly reviewed the core competencies needed to be successful in the role, while comparing those competencies to their resumes.

The hiring manager needs a solid understanding of the type of interviews that are being conducted and which ones will work best with their company's culture standards because not all interviewing techniques can fit every industry or employer size. There are two main types of interviewing styles:

Behavioral interviews:

This type of job interview puts the candidate on stage, asking them to describe specific situations that they have been in. The argument is founded upon the principle that previous performance is the best predictor of future behavior - when a candidate’s actions were tested in a post role, it should predict how well he or she would act again in a similar situation. For instance: "Tell me about a time where your job became extremely stressful, and your coping skills were put to the test."

Situational interviews:

Using the situational method, an interviewer presents a hypothetical circumstance or event and asks the applicant to describe how he or she would behave in that situation by eliciting examples from his or her prior experiences, behavior patterns, knowledge, abilities, and competencies.

Determining the format of the questions that will be asked during the interview is an essential point that will be explored in further depth below.

Find a quiet, private location where you may speak freely without losing your stream of thought. If your candidate suspects that others are listening in, the pressure will rise. If reservations are necessary, the interviewer must reserve a spot in advance. While the candidate is loitering in reception, fumbling about in an attempt to locate an empty room or an absent employee will not reflect well on your company. 

According to Careerbuilder, 76% of job seekers want to know how long it’s going to take to fill out an application before they start. Time frames are important for both candidates and interviewers, and therefore, preparing an interview schedule is very helpful. When setting a time for the interview, free up 15 minutes before and after each meeting so the candidate doesn’t have to rush out to the next meeting immediately.

Eventually, interviews that are completely unstructured and in which the interviewer improvises are ineffective. By creating an agenda, you'll be able to direct the debate more effectively and ensure that you don't overlook any relevant concepts.

Ask The Right Questions

Interviewers need to know how to get the information out of candidates. It doesn't require an elaborate method, but you should do more than just question candidates if they have what's needed and are willing to go the extra mile. In recent times, interviewing experts recommend hiring managers ask about specific instances that took place at work - like any problems or challenges faced by them in their prior role.

There are three main types of questions that can be asked in an interview.

Open-ended questions cannot be answered with a simple yes or no answer. They require the candidate to expound on his or her answer and must make up a major part of the question list. To acquire information on the financial services candidate’s skills, experiences, and other job-related traits, open-ended questions are utilized. For instance, you may ask why the prospect is interested in the advisor position, what his or her strengths and weaknesses are, and what the candidate knows about your organization.

Closed-ended questions can be answered with a yes or a no, or some specific number or word. They are used to clarify or follow up on the candidate’s responses. Closed-ended questions also help the interviewer guide the interview. For example, you may ask if the candidate worked remotely before or what was his or her most challenging problem, without having them go into greater detail.

Yet, such questions also have downsides. They do not encourage candidates to expound on their opinions and preferences about particular topics. They limit candidates' ability to describe their abilities and may leave matters unsolved or unclear. Moreover, they may frustrate candidates who desire to clarify or articulate crucial information.

Probing questions are used to collect further knowledge on a certain issue. They are sometimes referred to as follow-ups since they typically pertain to a candidate's response. In qualitative interviewing, inquisitions cannot be preplanned. It is hard to forecast what significant issue the individual will bring up and the extent to which you will need to dive further to comprehend more. However, knowledge of basic probing techniques is beneficial. The classic examples of probing questions are “could you give me some examples?” or “can you explain that more?”

When making a question list, and during the interview itself, the financial services hiring manager should keep legal issues in mind. Questions pertaining directly or indirectly to age, sex, ethnicity, national origin, race, religion, genetics, or disability must be completely avoided. If requested information about a candidate falls into any of these categories, the interviewer must ensure that the question relates to a genuine occupational qualification or is required by federal or state legislation. Read Federal Discrimination Laws for more detail.

Manage The Process

As it is typical for candidates to feel uncomfortable during interviews, interviewers should put interviewees at ease as soon as they walk into the room. This will allow them to relax and be more likely to provide valuable information about themselves in response to the interviewer's queries with reduced stress or concern that their voice will not sound convincing while speaking formally.

Shake hands, make eye contact, smile, and give a polite greeting. Introduce yourself and the financial services organization, and describe the objective, structure, and duration of the interview. Before beginning the interview, inquire whether the interviewee has any questions.

Start the question section with generic questions that allow candidates to introduce themselves and highlight their potential contributions to the position. You want the applicant to be able to freely and spontaneously react, but you may need to pace the interview so you can ask all of your questions. If a candidate is lingering on a specific topic for too long, you can gently ask  them to move on.

An interview is not a typical back-and-forth, even if you want the dialogue to flow naturally. That’s why listening is your main responsibility during an interview. You run the danger of influencing them to provide the replies you want if you speak excessively. You should avoid providing clearly favorable or negative responses to whatever the candidate says for the same reason. The 80/20 ratio is a great foundation for the interviewer: 80% listening and 20% speaking.

While it’s important to take notes during an interview, make sure you give the candidate a chance to voice their opinions. Don't interrupt or talk over them as they speak; if there's something on your mind that needs to be addressed immediately, wait until they've finished speaking before asking about it because this shows interest in what was just said. This means that you should not interrupt or talk over the candidate. If you have a question, make sure to wait until they are finished speaking before asking it. 

The interview is the most crucial aspect of any hiring process. It may either help you persuade top candidates that the opportunity to work for your financial services company is too good to pass up, or that it might be completely uninteresting and cause them to look elsewhere. A well-organized strategy will guarantee that every aspect runs well, maximizing efficiency on both sides. If your interview preparation is disorganized, you will not only potentially lose great talent, but also find it difficult to attract new talent as additional roles open up. Therefore you should prepare as much as possible before you start to bring candidates in to interview.

Our team here at Provision People are interview professionals with years of experience of successfully guiding our clients to hiring the very best. If you would like to chat about conducting effective interviews so you can de-risk your hiring decision, while maximizing your ability to retain the top-performing financial services talent, feel free to book a call with us anytime.