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Interviewing Financial Services Tech Candidates: Essential Questions for Hiring Managers

Posted on October 2023 By Selby Jennings

Hiring Tech Pros in Financial Services: Top Interview Questions
In today's rapidly evolving technology landscape, securing business-critical talent is crucial for any organisation's success. Hiring managers looking to hire tech professionals in financial services face the challenge of not only assessing technical skills but also identifying candidates who possess the adaptability, passion, and collaborative spirit necessary for impacting and advancing the business.
Charlotte Hodgson, Associate Vice President at Selby Jennings Hong Kong, sheds light on the five essential interview questions tailored for hiring managers seeking to evaluate and select top tech talent with a specific focus on the financial services industry:

"How do you stay updated with the latest trends and advancements in technology?"

In a field where change is the only constant, it's vital in this space to gauge a candidate's commitment to continuous learning. Staying updated with the latest tech trends is more than just a checkbox; it's a testament to a candidate's awareness of the industry and dedication to their profession.

In financial services, I see organisations offering the highest compensation to the people who can utilise the latest technologies companies use. It’s imperative to know whether your prospective teammate is aware of changes and advances in the field.

When asking this question, look for responses that demonstrate active engagement with technology, such as:

  • Regularly following fintech news and industry updates.

  • Pursuing relevant online courses and/or projects. For example, exploring other languages such as Rust, OCaml, Scala, or Haskell.

  • Networking with peers in the tech sphere, either through digital channels, chats, or industry events such as Fintech Week HK.

Candidates who show a proactive approach to staying informed are likely to contribute significantly and propose new ideas to your organisation's tech advancements.


"Describe a situation where you had to quickly learn a new technology or programming language."

Adaptability is a prized skill in the tech world, where technologies are in constant flux. Beyond technical expertise, this question assesses a candidate's ability to embrace change and learn new skills swiftly. When evaluating responses, consider:

  • Specific examples of projects or tasks that demanded the rapid acquisition of new skills.

  • The candidate's approach to learning and implementing the new technology. For example, how long did it take before they were comfortable utilising it?

  • How their adaptability positively impacted the project or team's outcomes.

Leading companies often require new employees to learn proprietary languages while they are on the job. Candidates who can effectively learn and apply new skills under pressure are invaluable assets in a dynamic tech environment.


"Describe a time when something did not go as planned, and you had to be creative in problem-solving."

The unexpected is a regular occurrence in tech, from routine issues to new problems that affect major functions, so creative problem-solving is indispensable. This question assesses a candidate's ability to innovate in challenging situations. Look for responses that include:

  • Real-life scenarios where an unexpected issue arose.

  • Insights into the candidate's creative problem-solving approach – how did they identify, approach, and propose solutions effectively?

  • Positive outcomes and lessons learned from the experience.

Candidates who can adapt and find innovative solutions when facing adversity are assets in a tech environment where challenges are part of the journey.


"Can you explain a situation where you had to work collaboratively with a team?"

Collaboration is a key driver of success in the tech industry, but it's often overlooked when evaluating candidates. While most highly skilled professionals excel independently, effective teamwork is equally essential, especially for larger projects.

Tech is at the centre of financial services and therefore teams need to frequently interact with different departments, as well as within their own teams. For example, a tech front office needs to work with traders, middle office needs to work with compliance, and developers need to work with dev ops and system engineers.

This question encourages candidates to share experiences that demonstrate their capacity to collaborate effectively. Pay attention to:

  • Specific examples of projects or initiatives where teamwork was crucial, both within their team and across departments.

  • The candidate's role within the team and their contributions.

  • Insights into challenges faced and how the team overcame them. How did they set up workflows and collaborative time, how did they ensure constructive feedback?

Candidates who can thrive in a team setting are more likely to foster innovation and achieve successful solutions and outcomes.


"What motivated you to pursue a career in tech?"

While technical proficiency is essential, it's equally crucial to understand a candidate's motivations and passion for a tech career. This question delves into their personal connection to the industry, revealing insights into their drive and aspirations. Listen for responses that include:

  • Personal experiences or moments that sparked their interest in technology.

  • Alignment of their career aspirations with the tech industry.

  • Desires to make meaningful contributions or innovations in the tech sector.

Candidates whose motivations resonate with the role and your organisation's mission are more likely to excel and find fulfilment in their careers, staying with your company long-term.

Identifying candidates who not only possess technical expertise but also embody adaptability, passion for the industry, and effective collaboration and problem-solving skills is a difficult challenge for hiring managers. By incorporating these five essential interview questions into your hiring process, you can better assess candidates' versatility and identify those who are well-suited to thrive in your team and the ever-evolving tech landscape.

Your talent partner

Selby Jennings is an industry-leading talent acquisition partner for financial services organisations. With offices in
Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore, our growing network of connections with business-critical professionals helps us in assisting you with your unique talent challenges.

If you are interested in learning more about hiring in Asia's financial services tech space, request a call back to start a confidential conversation with our team.​

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