While the financial sector might have seen some better days, it still remains an attractive domain to join. Yet, while the banking sector is somewhat shrinking in terms of job opportunities – and for the next 5 years it is expected the banking sector will lose 20% of jobs – there are more opportunities in the industry than ever with all the emerging financial technologies (a.k.a. FinTech) and changes within existing industries such as insurance and investment management.

During my work at a Swiss bank, I had a privilege to be hiring colleagues to join me in an expanding research department. So it was my first real experience in hiring people for a company, not for a school project, a case competition or a venture.

But these tips apply to any financial company, if not any company at all. I am not mentioning the technical skills that you need to have such as knowledge of the financial markets, M&A, investments or trading. A company is looking for personalities first. While a profound knowledge of technical skills is definitely an advantage, the can be taught later.

Based on my limited experience, these would be 3 things to avoid in an interview when applying to a company:

  1. Don’t know what a company does

That might seem obvious, but it happened very often.

I was always wondering why applicants even bother to apply if they are not interested in what the company does. You wouldn’t stay at a job for long anyway, and any manager needs to have reliable colleagues and partners to work with. Unmotivated employees are easily spotted, so chances of eventually getting a job by randomly being chosen for a position are slim to none.

SOLUTION: apply to a company you would like to work for, and for which you have strong references from your network, and where you see your personal and professional growth opportunities.

  1. Don’t do your homework

We live in a connected world, so it is easy to get the information you need.

So if you show that you know who the people are in a team you are going to join, what kind of values a company lives by, and who the managers of the firm you are about to join are, you are already far ahead of the competition. This shows that you are serious about joining the company. Otherwise, a manager would assume you do not care about the company, and you would not fit into the corporate culture.

SOLUTION: Pimp your LinkedIn profile, get out there at the networking events to get a better insight of what companies are doing and follow up with people you meet.

  1. Be arrogant

No one wants to work with people who pretend they know it all. In any department there is a team, not a group, which is on a mission to perform well. For this, a team has to feel comfortable. Arrogance and egocentrism are not helping with creating comfort. So contrary to the popular opinion, nice guys finish first.

SOLUTION: Be humble and empathetic to your colleagues. Determination should not be confused with arrogance.

Finally, it might be surprising, but regardless of the economic cycles and economic state, there is a constant deficit for talented employees. During my tenure at a bank, the unemployment rate in Eurozone was at an all-time high (11%+). Still, to get talented employees, my colleagues and I had to look for referrals and to arrange case challenges to get the right candidates.

So apply for the company where you would be interested to work, network and be humble.

The floor is yours…

How do you find these tips? How do you prepare for an interview? And what other tips would you recommend to follow? Let us know in the comment section below.


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