Interviewing Best Practices for Finance Industry Hiring Managers

If you’re looking to hire a finance professional, you may find yourself searching within a wide pool of candidates with similar skills and backgrounds. In order to find the best fit for your team, you’ll need to be deliberate about your interviewing process.  At amge+, we spend time understanding clients’ needs and asking them how they interview.  What follows are some of the best practices that our network relies on to ensure their newest team members are a great fit both ways.

First, figure out what your ideal candidate looks like. When hiring a finance professional, you’ll want someone with the necessary analytical skills for gathering and analysing data, the ability to take action and find solutions in challenging times, and experience with the tools and platforms required for the job. Some less obvious traits you should look for are exceptional leadership skills, confidence, and the ability to self-manage.  Book smarts are often overvalued, when the real emphasis should be on finding a candidate who can communicate effectively, works well in a team, and performs efficiently and effectively without direct supervision. These qualities are indicative of an employee who will invoke trust in clients and coworkers while exceeding expectations for productivity.

Once you know what you want in a candidate, you’ll want to create interview questions to help you determine whether an interviewee has those traits. You should certainly still ask standard interview questions about background and expertise, just like you would for any other candidate, however you also want to include some behavioural questions that start with “tell me about a time when…” to gain insight on real-life experiences from their employment history.

Be sure to ask technical questions to test the candidate’s interest and knowledge about the industry. You can have them walk you through a cash flow statement, or ask any of the accounting questions listed here. This will help you determine how much you would need to invest in training the candidate. You should also have them walk you through a few scenarios, such as choosing to buy a particular stock, to see if they come up with a creative solution on the spot - this will tell you whether they’re able to innovate. Most importantly, make sure you ask the same questions to all candidates - if you’re not using the same measuring tool, it won’t give you useful information for making comparisons.

Remember that while you’re trying to find a perfect candidate for the position, the interviewee will want to make sure it’s a good fit for them as well. As a hiring manager, you have a direct impact on the candidate’s impression of the company. It’s crucial to be aware of the nonverbal cues you’re sending - avoid fidgeting, crossing your arms, or leaning back in your chair. Show the candidate you are interested and engaged by sitting up straight, facing them squarely, and placing your feet flat on the ground (or crossing them at the ankles).

You’ll want to establish a friendly tone to put the candidate at ease. Don’t let the candidate talk incessantly - it’s a good idea to employ the 70/30 rule, where the candidate talks 70% of the time and you talk 30% of the time. This way, you can gather as much information as possible while remaining in charge of the interview. Finally, allow some time for the candidate to ask questions at the end of the interview. Be prepared to sell your organization and the role, and be knowledgeable about the department and specific job functions.