Key Financial Services interview questions

Key Financial Services interview questions
Key Financial Services interview questions

posted 16 Nov 22

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

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. Employers like to use competency based interview questions as an opportunity to test you on your soft skills and traits that are important for the role you are applying for. Competency based questions 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 the most frequently asked competency based interview questions are in a Financial Services interview. We’ve broken these down by the key skills that financial planning practices and wealth management organisations would look for.

Top financial services competency based interview questions

Communication skills

  • 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 all round experience?

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. How did you react? What did you do going forward?


  • 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

When answering competency based questions, we recommend that you follow the 4 step STAR technique. This will 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 – Results

What were the results?

Looking for more advice on how to prepare for your next interview?

Above are some key competency based interview questions common in a financial services interview. Now we’ll discuss top tips from our expert to help prepare for success in answering behavioural competency based interview questions.

  • Use specific examples rather than the hypothetical approach you’d take such.
  • 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? 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.

We have even more resources to help you land your next financial services job:

Finding your next role

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

About the 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 the team about jobs in financial services, then contact us 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.