Interviewing is a skill. It’s a learned skill and not something that a person can walk into without practice and do well. Nor can someone do it without having an agenda and well thought out questions prepared in advance. We hear horror stories from both sides of the interview table about things that were asked or things that were said. I can’t teach anyone how to be a great interviewer in one article, but I can give you a helpful foundation.
What Not to Ask
Let’s start with what not to ask! Do not allow the conversation to include any subject that might get you in legal trouble. Don’t ask questions that include these topics and change subjects immediately if the other party offers anything about them. This includes race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, citizenship, familial status, disability status, veteran status and genetic information. Outside of that, use good judgement and steer the conversation away from any topic that has even a slight feeling of inappropriateness.
Understand The Candidate’s Career Story
Before you begin with the situational interview questions, I recommend that you do a thorough walk-through of their background, job by job, skill by skill, and let them do the talking. If they read from the resume, ask them to explain it further. If they gloss over anything, ask them to go into more detail. With each position, ask them what they are most proud of during their time with the company or their greatest accomplishment while at the company. This gives you more insight into skills they have that could help in your open role. Before you move on to situational questions, be comfortable with every aspect of their background, especially why they left each role. Even if you have to ask the same question in five different ways to gain the understanding you need, that is your prerogative as the interviewer.
The purpose of the situational questions is to get very specific examples surrounding how a candidate works, succeeds, handles difficult situations and perceives themselves. These questions are not designed for you to play ‘armchair psychologist’.
Here are some suggested general questions:
– Why are you here? What interests you in this job/our firm?
– What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of and why?
– Describe a time when you have failed.
– Describe a stressful situation at work and how you handled it.
– When you make a mistake, how do you recover?
– How have you gone above and beyond in your previous experience?
– Give an example of how you set goals and achieve them.
– Give an example of a goal you didn’t meet and how you handled it.
– What do you do when your schedule is interrupted?
– What do you do if you disagree with your boss?
– After everything we have discussed today, tell me how you see yourself contributing if hired.
– Where would you like to be with your career in 3 to 5 years?
– What are the three most important criteria to you in your next position?
Here are some specific questions for some of the roles we support:
Client Service Associate
– Who is the most important person to our firm?
– What steps did you perform when a new client comes to the firm?
– What is RMD? How have you been involved with this acronym?
– What experience do you have with sponsor companies and their paperwork?
– What CRM or client tracking experience do you have?
– Give me an example of when you had to deal with a difficult client. What was the result?
– What is your software experience? Which do you feel most comfortable with?
– What is your preferred investment strategy?
– Are you risk-averse or more prone to take risk? How do you manage that specific to a client?
– What kinds of decisions are most difficult for you?
– Which tools have you used?
– What size/type of client have you been exposed to?
– How much ownership have you had in developing allocation models?
– If you had $1 million to invest today, what would you invest in and why?
– What do you think is the greatest challenge facing a Portfolio Manager today?
– What attracted you to become an advisor?
– How much presentation or meeting management experience do you have?
– Give an example of when you had to explain a complex issue to someone who did not have a lot of background knowledge on the topic.
– What are your goals for licensing and/or certification?
– How would you describe your investment knowledge today? What do you think you still need to learn?
– What role does ethics play in this industry?
– What does being a successful advisor look like to you?
The purpose of an interview is to ensure that the candidate is competent to succeed at the job and that they will be a positive asset to your company. A candidate should represent your firm or department in the best possible way, and be a pleasure to work with. It is your responsibility to assess if the candidate in front of you can not only do the job, but also work well with your team and management style. To effectively interview, remember to get a thorough understanding of a candidate’s work history and to ask appropriate questions to assess their skills, knowledge, and abilities. Not only will you come away with the information you need to make the best hiring decision, but the candidate will see you as well-prepared and professional.