FAQ - Interview Techniques

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Frequently Asked Questions - Interview Techniques

Interviewers will expect you to have a good grasp of what their company does, it's target market, how big it is and who its main competitors are. With these facts at your command you will be able to hold a meaningful conversation about the company and put other company information into context.
You need to make sure you have fully understood the job description and know how it fits into the overall company structure and why this role appeals to you. Ask yourself what the key skills and competencies are that the job requires and think of examples of occasions when you have demonstrated those skills with positive outcomes.
Make sure you find out what format the interview will take. Often they can be combinations of standard interviews and role-specific tests (such as role plays, group exercises or psychometric questionnaires). The fewer surprises on the day, the better. Your consultant should brief you before you attend.
You can never predict every question that you will encounter, so approach the interview with a list of important points. Make a list of the points about yourself that you want the interviewer to know. For example, if you were to apply for a job as a Financial Adviser, you might want to list the products you have sold, and types of customers (typical income or asset value). Each question will be an opportunity to provide some of this information to the interviewer.
Tell me more about the company's objectives?
Describe my area of responsibility and likely targets?
Is this post a new or existing one?
What are the promotion / career prospects?
What training is available?
What type of clients do you deal with?
Will you be holding second interviews?
What are the realistic earnings that I can expect to receive?
How does this job fit in with your career goals?
Why does this job interest you?
What kind of contribution do you think you could make to our organisation?
Where are you in your company league tables?
How much business have you completed this / last year?
How do you keep abreast of what is happening in the industry and use it to your advantage?
What would your colleagues say about you?
How would you describe your boss's style?
What motivates you and what demotivates you?
Tell me about a time when you prioritised the elements of a complicated project.
Tell me about a time when you failed personally.
What are your career goals / objectives?
What makes you different from other candidates?
Tell me about a time when you exceeded a customer's expectations.
Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an irate customer.
Describe a time when you took the initiative to accomplish something important.
Tell me about a time when you were under a great deal of pressure.
When you are supervising people, how do you motivate them?
Describe a time when you challenged your boss.
Describe a situation when you felt you were unfairly criticised. What did you do?
Particularly if you're going for an interview for a sales position or managerial role, appearance is paramount. That means wearing smart business wear and does not include cartoon ties or brightly coloured socks. Make sure shoes are polished. Avoid showing excessive jewellery or body tattoos / piercings. Use a smart briefcase or document folder to hold your papers.
Plan your journey, be sure of exactly where you are going and don't leave it to chance (use Google Maps to plan your route)

Leave plenty of time for your journey, and allow for delays on busy routes. Try not to book a client appointment immediately before your interview as it can be difficult to leave.

Get there early and compose yourself completely before going in. That will give you time to focus on the meeting and what you want out of it, plus make the right impression to potentially your new boss.

Getting there late always creates a negative first impression.

If, for whatever reason, you are running late, call us or the interviewer.

Try not to make interview arrangements when you know you've got to be somewhere else immediately afterwards. Rushing your answers could lose you the job. Not allowing sufficient time can show lack of importance attached to the interview.

These are used to determine how people are likely to behave under various conditions. There are no right or wrong answers. The best way to approach these questionnaires is to answer them as honestly and straightforwardly as you can. Personality questionnaires can also be used as self-assessment tools to help you understand your preferences and how these relate to your strengths and possible areas for development.
These examine abilities such as numerical, verbal or abstract reasoning; they do not test intelligence or general knowledge. Often presented in a multiple-choice format, the questions have definite right or wrong answers. They are usually strictly-timed and increasingly becoming computerised, and to be successful you need to work through them as quickly and accurately as possible. Aptitude tests can also be used as self-assessment tools to help you understand how your abilities relate to career choices.
Typically a successful candidate can wait between 4 - 5 weeks from job offer stage to start date. Financial Services is a regulated environment and as such the referencing procedure is very thorough and will normally research previous employers over the last 5-10 years. The more employers you have had, the more references are required. In addition, you will need a personal reference to confirm periods when you were in-between jobs. Companies will undertake credit reference searches to ensure that you have managed your finances, in view that you will be advising clients around their financial affairs. There are several forms of documentation you'll need to make available. Remember to disclose all relevant information as 'non-disclosure' of something that later becomes apparent during the referencing process will probably result in your application being declined under 'Fit & Properness'. Producing these documents and having them verified early in the process will save time.
The purpose of a competency interview is to gain an understanding of your achievements and how you achieved those results. It asks questions about your working behaviours in a professional situation. All of your answers must be specific and relate to you personally. Answers that give a statement about your team will not set you apart from anyone else and won't tell the interviewer anything about how you dealt with situations or how you have been successful.


Typical competencies are:

Providing excellent customer service

Give an example of when you have shown outstanding customer service by exceeding the customer's expectations.

Delivering Business Results

This should be a work related example and you will sometimes be asked "Tell me about a time when you were behind on a target and what you did to remedy the situation".

Attention to detail

In a regulated environment you may be asked how you ensure your work is accurate and meets Training & Competency, Know your Customer and legislation such as Money Laundering policies. You should be able to validate your example with your performance measures.


Demonstrate through examples of how you work well within a team environment e.g. helping colleagues, meeting group targets, socialising etc)

Self Motivation

What motivates you? What are your short, medium and long term plans and ambitions? How do you motivate yourself?


Give an example of when you have brought others round to your way of thinking. How did you persuade them?

Developing others

If you have an under-performing team member, how have you helped them?

Be specific, do not generalise or talk about how you would deal with a hypothetical situation.

Remember - Your answers must be based around 'I' and not 'we'.

A good method of ensuring you have fully answered a question and that the interviewer has a good understanding, is to use the S.T.A.R. technique.

S.T.A.R. stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result.


What was the situation you were faced with?


What were your aims and objectives?


How did you go about completing the task and the reasons behind the actions you took. The actions are the behaviours that you will be measured against so you should aim to give lots of detail in this area.


What was the outcome? The outcome should have met or exceeded your aims. Do not use an example that whilst showed improvement still failed to meet company objectives.

Preparation of a list of examples for core competencies is the key to a good competency based interview.

Following being short listed for interview / assessment by a client company, you should generally take a copy of your CV, your relevant documents such as qualification certificates, performance statistics, league tables (if applicable), P60 / pay slips / accounts, any letters of congratulations from your employer or testimonials from clients. If requested, take a completed application form. You should also take any information you have on the role you're applying for.


Financial Advisor
North West
Salary of £45,000 - £70,000 dependent upon experience plus bonus

North East
Salary of £30,000 - £40,000 depending on experience and qualifications

IFA Administrator
South East
Salary of up to £35,000 plus bonus and benefits

IFA Administrator
Salary of up to £30,000 plus bonus and benefits