6 Common Financial Advisor Interview Questions (And How To Answer Them)
If you’re a financial advisor getting ready for an interview, you’re in the right place.
I’m James Pollard (the founder of the website you’re reading right now) and even though my specialty is marketing and prospecting, I’ve helped countless financial advisors secure jobs in the industry.
One financial advisor wrote to me and asked:
“I have a job interview at a major financial advisory firm tomorrow. Do you have any advice for me? What are some financial advisor interview questions I should expect?”
I get asked this question fairly often because I’m regarded as an expert (other people’s words, not mine) in helping new financial advisors hit the ground running. That’s why I’ve decided to write this detailed article giving some of my thoughts about the financial advisor interview process.
I hope this helps you. Here's what we'll cover:
How To Beat Interview Anxiety...
If you’re anxious about your interview, realize that it’s completely normal. There’s nothing wrong with you and even people interviewing with C-level positions get nervous.
In my opinion, the best way to beat this anxiety is through certainty. And you gain a sense of certainty through preparation and knowing how to answer some of the most common financial advisor interview questions.
If you still can’t seem to grasp a sense of certainty after reading this article, I want you to remember that a job interview is just a conversation between two people. It’s not life-or-death and you’re not trying to battle an army. You’re facing one, maybe two people, and having a simple conversation about your career and whether or not you’re a good fit for the company.
Now, here are some of my surefire tips to help you calm those job interview nerves…
Pick Your Outfit In Advance
Don’t wait until the morning of your job interview to scramble through your closet in a pitiful attempt to look presentable. Take some time the day before (or even earlier) to think about what you’re going to wear and try on various combinations.
For an interview to become a financial advisor, men can’t wrong with a suit and tie and women can’t go wrong with a blouse and dress pants. But let’s be honest - you’re an adult and you can wear whatever the heck you want. I’m just some guy on the internet.
Do Your Research On The Company/Firm
This is by far the most important job interview tip I can give a financial advisor. In my experience, more jobs have been lost due to a lack of preparation than anything else.
Your job interview is supposed to be your best impression. Whatever the interviewer sees there is your absolute best, as far as they’re concerned. If you can’t even be bothered to research the company beforehand, why should they trust you with the keys to their kingdom?
One simple thing you can do is to check out the company’s website. What do they do? How do they communicate what they do? Who do they serve as clients? Read the bios of the founder and the other staff members.
Also, head on over to your favorite search engine and look for press releases and articles. Do you see anything interesting? If so, you can bring it up during your interview and talk about it.
Next, head over to LinkedIn and check out the founder and whoever is interviewing you. Don’t think of this as stalking because it’s not. I’ve heard of people mentioning “I saw you viewed me on LinkedIn yesterday… doing your research, right?” during an interview. Trust me when I tell you that interviewers are impressed when you do your research.
Finally, look up regulatory information about the advisor and the firm. A quick way to do this is by using BrokerCheck. You can casually mention this research in your interview, too. I’ve found more often than not, the people hiring are impressed when you look because it shows you care about working for a reputable firm.
Know How To Get There And Get There On Time
I’ve heard horror stories of people being late for interviews and their lateness typically could’ve been avoided with a little preparation. Get directions to your interview site well in advance and check your estimated time of arrival during the time of your interview. Why? Because traffic patterns change. If your interview is at 9:30 a.m., you may be fighting bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Ignore those interview tips at your own peril. Let’s move on to…
Common Financial Advisor Interview Questions
I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with dozens of interviews and I’ve noticed that, in the financial services industry, the same questions come up again and again.
What I’m about to give you is a “sneak peek” into the financial advisor interview questions you’ll likely be asked. It’ll be our little secret…
1. "Tell Me What You Know About..."
There are two common versions of this question…
The first one is when the interviewer asks you to tell him/her what you know about the company. This comes back to your research. If you’ve done your homework, you will be prepared for this question and will be able to blow the interview away with your knowledge. If not, you’ll be dead in the water.
The second version of this question is when the interviewer asks what you know about some financial topics. This could be, “Tell me about…”:
And so on. If you’re unfamiliar with the topic, don’t panic and try to sidestep it. Just admit that you’re unsure and that you’re willing and eager to learn. Don’t feel bad if you fall victim to this question. You’re not expected to know everything. Heck, I still know experienced financial advisors who don’t know how to cold call the right way.
2. "How Would You Describe Your Work Ethic?"
Let me be completely transparent…
Growing your business as a financial advisor is hard work. Other people may sugarcoat it for you, but I won’t. It’s tough, demanding, and grueling. And while it CAN be easier if you’re a good marketer with a niche (LINK), it’s still demanding.
To succeed in this role, you need a strong work ethic. Not only will you be growing your own book of business, but you will be helping other people build their legacies and fulfill their financial goals. This isn’t a role you should take lightly. Being a financial advisor is a huge responsibility that enables you to enrich yourself by enriching others many times over.
ALSO READ: 10 Things I Wish All Entry Level Financial Advisors Knew
3. "Are You Comfortable In A Commission-Based Role?"
This question may or may not apply to you because not all financial advisor positions are commission-only. Some are straight salary, while others may be salary combined with some commission or bonuses.
Either way, you should get honest with yourself before you get to the interview. Do you WANT commission-based? Do you WANT a “normal” salary? It’s up to you.
Maybe you have dreams of owning your own business someday. If that’s the case, I encourage you to get your feet wet in a position that has some incentive linked to your performance, whether that’s a commission or a bonus.
ALSO READ: How To Make Six Figures As A Financial Advisor
4. "What Do You Think A Financial Advisor Does?"
This question has become more common over the years, with different types of companies, from banks to life insurance sales, giving their employees the “financial advisor” role.
I encourage you to study your job description and research other job descriptions with the same company online. This should give you a glimpse into what you’ll be doing in your role.
I’ve also done a lot of the heavy lifting for you by writing this article, which you should read after reading this one…
A Day In The Life Of A Financial Advisor: 7 Things You Can Expect
5. "Tell Me About A Time When..."
Financial advisor interviews LOVE behavioral questions. Love ‘em. So, you should be prepared for a lot of them, such as:
When your interviewer asks you behavioral questions, he/she is looking for examples that you’ve demonstrated soft skills such as problem-solving, handling stress, creativity, negotiation, leadership, and more.
To be prepared, think about situations where you had to put these soft skills into action, so you’re ready for any question they throw at you. A popular technique for answering behavioral interview questions is the STAR method, which stands for:
Here is an example of the STAR method in action…
Let’s assume your interviewer asks you to talk about a time when you performed well under pressure.
You could begin by describing the situation. Perhaps one of your coworkers had a family emergency and needed to miss work for some time, leaving you with a huge uncompleted project all to yourself.
Then, you can describe the problem. Maybe your manager told you to take on the project with no leniency on the deadline, which meant you only had days to complete a project originally intended for two people.
After that, you can talk about how you solved the problem. You could explain how you prioritized your tasks from most to least important and asked to pause the least important tasks, allowing you to complete the important project on time.
Finally, you can describe how your action resulted in your manager rewarding you for your quick thinking and drive, which led to a promotion and pay raise.
6. "How Do You Deal With Stressful Situations?"
Even though “financial advisor” is consistently ranked as one of the best jobs in the country, it can also be extremely stressful. That’s why, depending on the study you read, anywhere from 80 to 95% of financial advisors fail in the first three years.
If you can’t effectively manage stress, being a financial advisor may not be for you. However, if you find yourself able to handle stress, think of ways to describe that in detail. It helps your interviewer envision how you’ll respond to the stresses of the job.
ALSO READ: 7 Tips For Avoiding Burnout As A Financial Advisor
Remember, The Interview Should Go Both Ways...
Near the end of your interview, the interviewer will likely ask you, “Do you have any questions for me?” Sometimes financial advisors will get so caught up in the interview questions that they forget to ask questions themselves. This is a mistake. In fact, some employers automatically reject candidates who don’t have any questions because they don’t seem sufficiently interested in the role.
An interview is a two-way street. Your interviewer asks questions to learn about you and your skills, and you should ask questions about the position and the company to make sure this is the right fit for you.
My recommendation is that you prepare at least two questions to ask at the end of the interview that demonstrate your interest in the position, your drive to excel in the role, and the fact that you’ve done some homework (once again, research is incredibly important).
You should avoid yes or no questions because they don’t foster conversation as well as open-ended questions. You should also avoid questions that are so broad that they’re difficult to answer. You don’t want to stump your interviewer when you’re trying to make a good impression and build rapport. Here are two questions you can ask:
By asking questions, you’ll be able to walk away from the interview with a better idea of whether or not the job is a good fit for you while showing that you’re engaged in the process and care about becoming a financial advisor.
Plus, when it comes to a financial advisor interview, it’s important to learn more about the role itself. I’ve seen financial advisors join a firm only to discover their “financial planning” is limited to sales or administration. It’s critical for you to ask questions to figure out what your ROLE will really be.
Don’t be afraid to dig deep into the day-to-day responsibilities of the job. You don’t want to say “yes” and then get to the firm only to discover it’s not what you expected. That’s not good for you or your employer.
I hope these little tips have helped you in some way. I wish you the best of luck in your financial advisor interview - I’m truly rooting for you. And once you land the job, make sure you come back so I can help you get more clients.