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Preparing for an interview is significant when it comes to making a good first impression on any employer. That’s why our experts are sharing their insights, tips and expertise to help you.

When you’re applying for any financial services job, no matter what level you’re at, you’re bound to be asked some competency based interview questions.

For financial services candidates, employers want to use competency based interview questions as an opportunity for you to test soft skills and traits important for the role you are applying for. They will allow you to highlight your experience and knowledge that can be applied to future performance.

We asked Senior Consultant for Search Financial Services, Antonia Mihaylova, what are the most frequently asked competency based interview questions in a Financial Services interview. Below these are broken down by the key skills financial planning practices and wealth management organisations would look for:

Top financial services competency based interview questions

Communication skills

Client experience and service is the centre of a Financial Planners’ practice, so questions about your communication skills are often asked. For example:

  • “How do you build relationships with your clients? How do you guide them through tough situations?”

  • “How would you explain complex financial concepts in simple terms to clients who may not understand the industry jargon?”


  • “Give me an example of a situation when you made a mistake, what actions did you take to rectify it as effectively as possible”

  • “Give me an example of a time when you had to deal with a client who wasn’t happy with the service provided. What did you do to change their experience all round?”

Attention to detail

  • “Do you prefer to work for the “big picture” or the “small details”? Give an example that supports your preference.”

  • “What techniques do you use when you want to find errors that are not easily noticeable?”


  • “Tell me about a time when you received negative feedback from your boss.”


  • “What is your biggest achievement to date?”

  • “How will you ensure you are successful in this position?”

Ability to meet targets

  • “Give me an example of a situation where you missed a target, what was the reason and how did you subsequently deal with the situation?”

Commercial Awareness

  • “What do you do to keep up-to-date with the ever changing FCA regulatory framework and requirements? What resources do you use?”


  • “Give an example of a situation where you had to utilise your team-working skills to achieve a great business outcome?”

How to answer competency based interview questions

We recommend that you follow the 4 step STAR technique to ensure your answer is easy to follow and includes a clear challenge and resolution.

STAR is used to structure your answers into 4 core steps.

S - Situation – Describe the situation.

T - Task – What was your task? What were YOU responsible for?

A – Action – What action(s) did YOU take.

R - What were the results?

For further information on the STAR technique and an in-depth guide on how to answer general competency based interview questions, check out our blog.

Are you looking for further advice on how to prepare for your next financial services job interview?

Now that we have highlighted key competency based interview questions common in a financial services interview, check out further top tips our expert shares with candidates to help prepare for success in answering behavioural competency based interview questions;

  • Use specific examples rather than the hypothetical approach you’d take such as “I usually …”

  • Use “I” statements rather than “We” to highlight your personal input in resolving the situation at hand.

  • Volunteer your thoughts and experience rather than waiting to be lead into the next stage.

  • Highlight your thoughts and feelings at the time of the event rather than how you feel about past events now.

Be prepared to talk about your strengths and weaknesses, in the context of the role you are applying for. Which strengths of yours will help you hit the ground running in your potential new position and where/how you have been able to demonstrate them in your career. As for your weaknesses, always be in a position to highlight how you have handled and been able to work to rectify or improve on those.

Check out our blogs and resources to help you land your next financial services job;

Download our comprehensive guide to prepare for your next job interview.

Is your next interview via video? Find out how to prepare for a video interview .

Struggling with what to ask your interviewer? Check out our top 5 questions to ask at interview.


Now are you ready to put those polished interview skills to the test? If you’re seeking a new start, check out our latest financial services jobs.

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About our expert

Antonia has over 8 years of experience in financial services recruitment with Search. Based between both our Manchester and Liverpool offices, Antonia manages IFA Practice & Wealth Management career opportunities across the whole of the North West & North Wales regions.

With an in-depth knowledge of the market, she is able offer candidates a consultative and professional approach as well as access to opportunities in the most prestigious and successful businesses across the local area.

If you’d like to speak to Antonia about jobs in financial services, then contact her here.

If you live elsewhere in the UK then don’t hesitate to get in touch with our colleagues in Brighton, Crawley, Dundee, Leeds and Glasgow for further support.