Financial crime and compliance interview tips - what you need to know

    Currently, financial crime prevention is one of the fastest-growing areas of risk management.

    This means that the demand for financial crime professionals is on the rise. Simultaneously, more and more companies are on the lookout for compliance professionals in order to avoid the detrimental consequences of non-compliance. Despite this increasing need for these kinds of professionals, however, the competition for roles in the sector is very high - so how can you stand out in your financial crime or compliance interview in order to achieve your ideal role? Read on to find out...

    Before your interview:

    1. Research the company

    Doubtlessly, you will have already conducted some research around the company that’s interviewing you in order to complete your initial application. However, now is the time to really dig into what it is the company does, how they operate, and so on. As you’re very likely to be asked questions such as “why do you want to work for us?” and “what do you know about our organisation?”, this will enable you to answer fluidly and demonstrate your interest in the role.

    2. Research latest news and updates in the industry

    When it comes to financial crime and compliance, news and updates are in abundance. There’s always something going on in the sector that will somehow have had an impact, whether big or small, on the company that is interviewing you. It is likely that you will be asked about these in your interview, and by being able to answer these questions knowledgeably, you’ll immediately demonstrate your professionalism and interest in the industry, which will appeal to your prospective employers.

    3. Prepare and rehearse answers to likely interview questions

    We’ve already mentioned a few of the kinds of questions you might be asked in your financial crime or compliance interview above, but these only scratch the surface. Some other questions that you should prepare for for financial crime and compliance might include:

    • Tell us about your experience as a Compliance Officer/Head of Compliance/Due Diligence and Monitoring AML Manager/AML Analyst
    • Why did you choose to make a career as a Compliance Officer/Head of Compliance/Due Diligence and Monitoring AML Manager/AML Analyst?
    • Explain how you would handle a compliance policy violation
    • What was the most difficult AML/financial crime/compliance breach case that you have handled?
    • What do you believe is essential for an effective compliance programme?
    • How would you handle a request by a senior executive intended to violate internal compliance policies?
    • Tell us what you know about our compliance measures/financial crime procedures at this company
    • What training and/or certifications do you have, and what more would you like to add to your repertoire?

    By preparing answers to these questions, you will once again be able to demonstrate your knowledge in, and enthusiasm for, the sector.

    Be aware that it is also very likely you will be asked personal questions too, such as:

    • Tell us about yourself (here, you’ll be expected to talk through your CV, how your career has progressed, and why you have applied for the role)
    • How do you spend your free time? (it’s important to highlight any hobbies and interests that also include any skills that can be used within the role you’re interviewing for when asked this question)
    • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? (for your strengths, explain how you will use them within the role, and with weaknesses, suggest how you are working to improve upon these and how this will be beneficial in the role)
    • Why are you leaving your current role? (ensure you keep your response to this positive - for example, state that you are looking for a better culture fit, or you want to expand your career prospects, rather than being negative about your current placement)

    4. Prepare some questions to ask in the interview

    Remember, this is your chance to find out about the company too, so make sure you prepare some of your own questions. This will also emphasise your interest in the role.

    Some questions you should consider asking include:

    • What are the key areas of compliance I’ll be focusing on?
    • How is compliance perceived across the company and team?
    • What are the key risks and vulnerabilities the business is currently facing with compliance?

    If your questions have been answered throughout the interview process already without you asking them previously, don’t ask them - it will look as though you haven’t been paying attention!

    5. Make travel plans

    Ensure you allow enough time (plus a bit extra) to get to your interview location, and plan for any potential hold-ups, such as traffic, roadworks or unreliable public transport.

    6. Prepare anything you have been asked to bring - and make duplicate copies. 

    Check through this the night before and ensure that it is all presented neatly.

    7. Dress appropriately

    Do some research into the company’s culture and dress accordingly; it’s not ideal to turn up over/under-dressed! Banks tend to expect you to be formally dressed, whereas FinTechs mostly have a more casual dress code.

    Canva Close up of Human Hand

    During the interview:

    1. Be positive and attentive

    Things as simple as smiling, a good handshake, appropriate humour, good eye contact and open body language from the offset will be an advantage in your financial crime or compliance interview. As a professional in this field, you will be working in various departments with a variety of people, so it’s vital that you show your willingness to build positive relationships.

    2. Be clear and concise

    How you answer questions will also be an indication of how you will communicate as part of the team and between departments. Being clear and concise is essential in financial crime and compliance roles where subject matters can be complex, so be sure to reflect this in the way you answer interview questions

    3. Use the Situation, Task, Action, Result (‘STAR’) approach

    Financial crime and compliance roles are often full of challenges, so the STAR approach to answering questions will, similarly to being clear and concise, put you in good stead.

    4. Keep your career plan in mind

    Retention is a large concern in the compliance sector, so being able to demonstrate your 5-10 year career plan will be music to an employer’s ears.

    After the interview:

    While you are awaiting feedback from your interview, ensure you make other applications. Not only will this give you a safety net in case your current application is unsuccessful, but, should you be invited for further interviews, you will be able to demonstrate that you are potentially in demand from other companies, which will make you a more desirable candidate.

    If your interview is unsuccessful, do not be disheartened; instead, thank the company for their time and ask if there is anything you can improve upon for next time.

    What next?

    Our recruitment experts here at Twenty84 have a plethora of experience placing financial crime and compliance professionals in their ideal role. Unlike other recruitment agencies, we’ll also take the time to get to know you as both a professional and individual, so that we can fully support you in preparation for your financial crime or compliance interview. If this support is of interest to you, register with us today. We also have a variety of financial crime and compliance roles currently available on the jobs page of our website, so be sure to take a look around there.

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