If it is on your radar to be moving jobs, whether it be for a similar role within a different company, or a change of career altogether, the chances are you will be working with a recruiter.

There are 2 main channels in which your professional relationship with a recruiter will likely begin. That is to put the feelers out that you are looking for a new role and to ensure you are on their books, and applying or reaching out to them about a specific job they are advertising.

Reaching out to partner with a recruiter directly

When reaching out to a recruiter not relating to a specific role, first and foremost you must ensure they have your CV. It will give them chance to have an overview of your current and previous roles and experience which in turn will give them the tools to best help you.

Whilst you may have an understanding of what market the recruiter is working with based on the jobs they are advertising, make sure you seek confirmation about the type of market and clients they work with, and the kind of roles they take on, to be absolutely certain they are the best agency to help you align with your goals and help with your search. It would be a waste of precious time to converse with an agency that specialises in Operations when you are looking for a Front Office role as example.

It is important to make sure you are as transparent and open as possible with them regarding what you are looking for. Explain the types of roles, companies, whether you are wanting permanent or temporary opportunities, and which direction you are trying to take your career. Being as specific as you can be is the key to help a recruiter decide who are the best companies to reach out to on your behalf.

Whilst it is important to discuss what you are looking for, it is equally important to be open about why you are wanting to leave your existing role (if this is relevant). This will naturally give a clearer picture about what you are NOT looking for in your next role. And of course, make sure you know your notice period with them, and how soon you can start your next assignment.

Make sure to be honest and open with the recruiter about your current remuneration, bonus and benefits. Remember, they are there to help you achieve your financial goals and exaggerating your current salary (as example) won’t necessarily mean a higher offer for your next role, especially as any future employers will see your P60 and will observe if you haven’t been entirely honest!

When it comes to applying for roles, a good recruiter will always seek permission from you before sending a CV so you know what companies are in receipt of your information. Equally, it is important to keep the recruiter updated on your own search, who you have reached out to and roles you have applied for, to make sure there are no duplications.

Before getting knee deep in job hunting, be absolutely certain that a move to a different company is what you are looking for. Candidates often overlook speaking with their current employer to see if there are any changes they could make to their existing role, that would be in line with what they are potentially looking for in their next role and that’s aligned with their future career goals. If your current employer could make these changes (as example) would you consider staying put?

Lastly, ensure they have all your correct contact details and understand how you want them to communicate with you – sometimes the processes can be time critical so communication is key!

Applying for a specifically advertised role

When it comes to applying for specific advertised roles, the first port of call will almost always be ensuring they have your CV, however, it is important to only send your CV for roles that you are suitable for. By applying for roles that you don’t meet the criteria for you could end up being overlooked and missing out on an opportunity that is potentially much more suitable for you. Whilst it is your choice, it is not recommended you apply for the same roles with multiple agencies and well worth noting that in most cases you only get one chance to send your CV to a company – so make sure it is for the right role!

Ask the recruiter to go through with you details about the company, including their culture, policies such as flexible working, what they know about the team, and more specifically the hiring manager and their work style. They might even be able to talk through the candidates they have hired through their services historically. A lot of recruiters offer tenured relationships with their clients, so use this time to really understand how they can best help you through an interview process with the client.

Make sure you have spoken with the recruiter so they understand your strengths and skillset, why you are relevant and suitable for the role and company so they know how to sell you! It is equally as important that they understand what are developmental areas for you within the opportunity – most companies hire people who meet 70-80% of the criteria they are looking for!

It is important that before sending your CV the recruiter shares the relevant job specification and any hints or tips on what they may be looking for so you can tweak or amend your CV accordingly. Once your CV has been sent ensure you have written confirmation from them.

Once you have secured an interview ask your recruiter to share what questions may be asked during the interview process to help you be as prepared as possible. Do not be afraid to ask them for a phone or video call before hand to run through this with you, or even ask for some example interview style questions. Also request a copy of the CV they have sent to the client.

As mentioned previously, make sure you always have realistic financial an benefit expectations that are relevant to your experience and what you are able to offer a company. Do not outprice or undersell yourself! And remember, clients will always see your P60 or P45 if you’re successful so always be honest about remuneration!

If at any point during the process you decide not to proceed and take it any further it is important to explain these reasons to the recruiter so they can understand why for next time they work with you.

Finally, it is always best to be open with recruiters about other roles you are looking at, clients often wish to know what they are competing with to make sure they are giving you the best possible offer and opportunity. It also helps the recruiter gauge genuine interest and helps them help you consider all possible options for the best outcome for you and your career.

We welcome the opportunity to talk to all potential client’s and candidate’s surrounding their needs. On our website you can find dedicated sections on how best to partner with us or other recruiters. You can also see all of our vacancies, some further guidance, intelligence, and advice in our resources section. We are always willing to help with tailoring your CV, preparing for interview or discussing new vacancies.

CassonX are a specialist operations and middle office recruitment firm based in London. We are a boutique specialist agency, privately owned, giving you friendly and bespoke advice and support for all your staffing and recruitment needs. You can always contact one of our friendly, experienced, and talented recruiters directly via the website or on +44(0)2030565545.

As our leader James Manders celebrates 20 years as a specialist recruiter in the Financial Services sector, he was asked to share his thoughts and guidance in a series of interviews with the wonderful team at eFinancial careers, as part of their Talent Conversation series.

It goes without saying that James has seen a lot in the last 20 years, and he is immensely proud to be a trusted partner with many candidates, clients, service providers, and vendors, and loves talking about his market knowledge and experiences throughout his tenure.

Should you wish to review these talent conversations, then please see below links:

Mastering salary negotiations in 2024: https://vimeo.com/917965752

Navigating the impact of hybrid working: https://vimeo.com/917965537

The early careers dilemma; challenges & solutions in today’s job market: https://vimeo.com/917965456

Exploring in-house vs. recruiter hiring teams: https://vimeo.com/917965291



Please do take the time to review our other blogs, market intelligence, advice, and all things recruitment in the Resources section of our website

There is no definitive template on how the perfect CV should look. What suits one role, company, hiring manager, or industry, will probably be completely different to another. It really is different strokes for different folks, but consider everyone does want you to be as accurate as possible. However, there are general rules of guidance that can be followed to ensure you’re given yourself the best chance of getting maximum interest from your resume.

We must understand what is the purpose of a CV? It is your first impression. Maybe even your “elevator pitch”. It is the chance to showcase to the employer that they should meet you to discuss the role in question.

Your CV should include a comprehensive summary of your experience, industry knowledge and relevant background. It should show someone, with no prior introduction to you, what you have been doing with your career to date, and the suitable skills and knowledge you have gained along the way. Where you are looking to apply for a role of interest, and demonstrable to your experience and desires, it’s a chance to sell yourself as the best possible candidate for the position. Again, it is your first impression.

The trick is knowing your audience and getting the correct level of detail down. There’s a fine line between exaggerated detail and unnecessary waffle when writing a CV. Getting the balance right is crucial, use an available job specification to your advantage, making sure your CV could mirror the spec’s requirements and responsibilities. Your focus should always be in your daily tasks from your current and previous roles, this is where you’re showcasing your suitability for a position. Clearly define the coverage of your role, breaking the processes down to emphasize the scope of tasks performed, but be careful not to over-dwell on the points. Your CV needs to look clean and clutter-free, and without using first- or third-person perspective. Bullet points are the easiest way to achieve this, it individually highlights tasks you have performed, not forgetting it is easy on the eye. Long paragraphs will likely give the opposite effect. As example:

In our specialist recruitment world of Operations and Middle Office, asset classes are becoming an essential requirement and a must for any CV. These should be prominently seen in each role, as close to the top as possible. Letting these get lost in daily tasks is risking them being missed altogether, in a product focused space, that’s key detail which could be costly if left out. Also showcasing different types of trading strategies (e.g., high frequency, algorithmic, new issuance) or fund strategies (e.g., high yield, emerging markets, credit, long/short, arbitrage) are essential too. This gives a wider understanding of the type of businesses you have supported.

Should you be able to offer leadership experience of people, processes, controls, or change, then certainly do highlight. Demonstrate if you are “hands on” manager, strategic dictator, or a combination of both. Indicate how large your teams are in terms of staff numbers. If you are a departmental head, then indicate which departments you are responsible for, and how many managers directly report into you, and number of subordinates.

Include achievements and any kind of processes improvements or project work; CassonX believe these are great ways of adding extra kudos to your experience, but shouldn’t be the focal point of your CV. It’s deemed noticeable “value add” if you can further back these up with tangible examples of the impact this has made to the team or department. This can be in the form of cost savings, automations / STP improvements, hours of work reduced, directly supporting regulation changes etc. The extra context is the difference in adding weight to the information.

Hiring managers want to see the systems you have used, but these don’t necessarily have to be added for every role, but a summary towards the end of your resume showcasing all systems used is always advised. However, if you are technically very savvy with programming languages (VBA, SQL, Python alike), then adding how you have used these under each role is encouraged. We are living in a world where many Operations or Middle Office hires requires candidates who offer those capabilities and is hugely sort after skill set in today’s market. The more you can mention this, the better your CV will look.

Education should always be included, both via schooling and professionally, although arguably it doesn’t carry the weight it previously has. This doesn’t need to be much more than place of education, courses and grades achieved. On rare occasions will you be asked for more detail than this, noticeably when applying for work in companies that as example require Russell Group education. The same can be said for professional industry qualifications, they are unlikely to be the reason you are hired for a role in Operations or Middle Office functions, but you have worked hard for them, then they should be included on your CV. Consider accountancy or regulatory qualifications as example.  

A summary at the start of any CV is always nice, but most companies and their managers reviewing the CVs tend skip over it most times and go straight to your relevant experience. However, the summary section is a perfect opportunity to detail information such as key skills and personality traits, which are nice to see, but are unlikely to get you an interview. Be careful dedicating too much time to the detail, if you are going to do so then make sure you use competencies, adjectives or character traits that can be found in the company’s values statement on their website, or even taken from the job spec provided.

A big question often asked is how long a CV needs to be. Whilst no one wants to read a 6-page resume, keeping it to just 2 pages at the detriment of valuable relevant expertise is counter-productive. Keep as much detail as possible in your most recent 2 or 3 roles (or previous 8 years’ experience), as this will be most recently relevant to the role you’re applying for. Make sure company names, dates and job titles are clear, with your most recent role first and in reverse chronological order. Give reasoning for any gaps that appear in the flow of dates on your CV, aiming for 2 pages with a maximum of 4 (unless necessary). You can see another blog we wrote about the length of your CV in the resources section of our website https://cassonx.com/resources/

At CassonX we firmly believe in leaving nothing to assumption, thinking a hiring manager will know the wider tasks you’re performing based on your job title could be the reason you’re not called to interview. You can always reduce the content for specific roles if the detail isn’t needed at that time. Constructing a good CV doesn’t need to be difficult, it’s a chance to flex your muscles and show your experience as much as possible. One size doesn’t fit all, so be prepared to adapt, and adjust your CV for each individual role you are applying for. If working with a recruiter, then seek their guidance on how best to propose a tailored CV for the role, in accordance with the guidance they have received from the hiring manager. You’re looking for maximum impact to stand out in a competitive market.

Our final thought, and the most important advice that CassonX has to offer, is to make sure that you send a CV that clearly demonstrates that you are suitably experienced to be considered for the role. This is essential in giving you a chance to meet the hiring manager accordingly.

Should you require free consultative advice on how to construct your CV for any specific role you are applying for, then please do reach out to our friendly team here at CassonX.

We are approaching that time of year, where the Financial Services recruitment market springs into life. Largely because it is bonus season for many institutions, and that starts the merry-go-round of individuals who have waited for their financial reward to hit their bank account, before handing in their notice.

Here at CassonX, we are proud to say that the start to 2024 has seen substantial job flow, in hindsight where clients are preparing for the above-mentioned eventuality. However, many candidates do not know how to proactively plan and execute a thorough search to make sure they are obtaining the most suitable opportunity available.

First, should you have a “significant other” in your life, take the time to discuss this with them, and understand why it is you are looking to move roles. Decipher what it is that you are lacking in your current opportunity, and how a new role can satisfy anything absent. The most common drivers for wanting a new opportunity are the role itself, a lack of learning, your leader, team / culture, the company, or even renumeration.

Then take the time to make sure that your CV is ready. Even if it is a starting point, having this ready will get you thinking about what it is that you know, capable of, and being able to explain how you go about your day-to-day responsibilities. Remember to include your contact details, typically a mobile number and personal email address.

Also, make sure your Linked In profile is up to date. You can even adjust settings to say you are “actively looking for work” but, be warned(!), this will announce your status to all your network and connections. Regardless, many institutions now have sophisticated internal hiring teams that not only advertise roles on Linked In, but also do searches for relevant profiles, and with an updated Linked In profile you are then more readily identifiable.

Take the time to research and contact relevant staffing firms and create a partnership with recruiters who specialise in your area of expertise. As example, there are a handful of Operations recruiters in the market, but most specialise in an industry or specific role. Here at CassonX, we are London’s Only Specialist Operations and Middle Office recruitment firm, and if you are an Operations or Middle Office specialist then we would love to hear from you so we can help identify a relevant opportunity across the whole spectrum of industries and sectors that our market has to offer.  

There are many portals and career websites, like efinancialcareers as example, where we recommend you create a profile, search opportunities, and even be added to their databased for recruiters and organisations to find you. It is also recommended that you do the same for specific companies that you want to work for. Nearly every company has a careers section on their website, or an ability to share your CV and cover letter at least. You can showcase your interest directly with that organisation, and sometimes set up relevant passive notifications of opportunities that may arise. This is a CassonX Top Tip because in fact it eliminates any agency spend for the firm but offers a huge advantage as it flatters said company with your direct interest.

Don’t forget to talk to current and previous colleagues for any hints, tips, and recommendations for your search, but to also see if they can help identify any institutions or opportunities that could be deemed appropriate. Even in the firm they are currently working for as example.

Most importantly, keep a log of all your searches. Make a note of the firms you have contacted directly and introduced to by friends or recruiters too. Keep a progress report of all potential opportunities so you can timely and respectfully follow up, but also to make sure that you are not duplicating any applications also. There is nothing worse than a company or hiring manager receiving your CV multiple times. In fact, this could look rather detrimental – so make sure your CV is submitted to a role you are genuinely interested in, and that is also suitable to your skillset, because with some organisations you could only get one chance to be considered with them within a specific timeframe.

For a tailored search, please do reach out to our talented, enthusiastic, and experienced team of Operations and Middle Office recruiters.

You can find more details of some of our open vacancies, who CassonX are, and ability to contact us on our website.

Last year witnessed a significant surge in hiring across our specialised recruitment market. In 2023, attrition rates slowed, companies were focused on retention of important team members, acknowledging the challenges of attracting talented individuals who can handle the demands of an Operations role within Capital Markets. It was a busy start to the year for Senior level hires, Q1 and Q2 is where the higher volume of roles at Director level (and above) came to market, ‘BAU’ hires have been more active throughout the year. There has been a focus from hiring managers on finding product specialists, largely with a view of automation in mind, this has driven the need for specialist recruiters to step-in as LinkedIn/direct advertisements are often failing to return suitable profiles.

Candidates with under 3 years’ experience are still the most requested profiles. A desire to attract talent with Excel VBA or Python skills is becoming increasingly popular, making this hire incredibly difficult, with demand showing a noticeable increase in salaries and total remuneration. I believe this has resulted in making this end of the market lack value, as demand is outstripping the supply. We still have to remind many firms that few graduate schemes were run in 2020 and 2021, which has impacted the candidate market at this level. The rising cost of living has also nudged potential candidates, across all degrees of competence, toward seeking new roles with better packages.

Salaries have seen an increase across all areas, albeit the difference wasn’t as significant as that seen through 2022. The most noticeable area of change this year has been within Controls and Transaction Reporting, where there has been high demand for candidates with broad regulatory scope, strong reporting coverage and an ability to mitigate potential risk within a standard BAU role. We have placed candidates with 2-3 years’ experience on salaries in the £70,000 – £80,000 with many not entertaining a conversation regarding a potential move without seeing a minimum of £10,000 salary increase. The contract market has been busier for FTC (vs PAYE), although many companies have struggled to find candidates quickly, this is often as the salary is reflective to match a permanent member of staff, and not incorporating the added risk of the incumbent taking on a contract position.

It is worth noting that working conditions are changing. We are seeing many companies now moving from a 3&2 hybrid working model, and now implementing at least a 4&1 or more noticeably a 5-day onsite working environment again. We get many candidates on a weekly basis, who have become accustomed to the hybrid model, now approaching us for a new role as their companies are enforcing a non-hybrid model. Largely because it is realised that employees do a lot of non-work-related things during the working hours and consequently distracts from hitting targets and cut-offs as example.

More companies are also holding face-to-face interviews instead of video, and this is why some recruitment processes have slowed to accommodate suitable interview times outside of standard working hours. Many companies are now enforcing a 3-month notice period across Operations staff.

We are delighted to let you know that CassonX has produced its annual salary and total compensation survey for the Capital Markets sector and separates the detail via role type and experience levels. Should you wish to see a copy then please go to our contact page, click on client@cassonx.com, select salary benchmarking and fill in your details accordingly. We will be happy to send you a copy via email, or even catch up over a coffee or lunch to discuss further.

Last year we declared that there were astronomic levels of hiring across our specialist recruitment market, and certainly considering the market resurgences and volatility following the COVID-19 pandemic. 2023 has not slowed, yet the industry now appreciates that the ability to attract talented individuals who can cope with the demands of working in an Operations type role in a hedge fund is challenging. Especially when considering that their is a lack of suitable candidates available following the aggressive hiring that has taken place in 2021 and 2022. What is clear is that whilst this all understood, expectations of hiring managers have also risen too, and where many have tried to hire directly, they have returned to using the services of us skilled recruiters because as example, Linked In is just not returning suitable profiles and causing a lot of administration of unsuitable applicants.

The buyside is still competing for the best talent, with strong education and Excel VBA or Python skills still top of the agenda. We still have to remind many firms that no graduate schemes were run in 2020 and 2021, making the identification of a candidate with 2-3 years’ experience almost an impossible task, and when identified, many have already found new careers. With the consequential increase in demand for candidates with under 2 years’ experience, it is obvious that those salaries and total remunerations have increased, not also forgetting that cost of living has influenced potential candidates to look for a new role so they can earn more to pay for their increased bills, and making the very junior market lack value because demand is outstripping the supply. More details of these experiences can be found by reading this short blog: https://cassonx.com/the-difficulties-with-hiring-a-less-experienced-operations-or-middle-office-candidate-in-the-current-market/

It is also worth notice that working conditions are changing. We are seeing many companies now moving from a 3&2 hybrid working model, and now implementing at least a 4&1 or more noticeably a 5-day onsite working environment again. We get many candidates on a weekly basis, who have become accustomed to the hybrid model, now approaching us for a new role as their companies are enforcing a non-hybrid model. Largely because it is realised that employees do a lot of non-work-related things during the working hours and consequently distracts from hitting targets and cut-offs as example. Not forgetting the reduction of camaraderie in the workplace too.

More companies are also holding face-to-face interviews instead of video, and this is why some recruitment processes have slowed to accommodate suitable interview times outside of standard working hours. Can you also believe that whilst three months’ notice periods are deemed “normal”, some hedge funds are now enforcing six months’ notice period to their Operations staff! Thankfully, we are seeing more hedge funds now starting to give opportunities to those coming from Investment Banks again, especially those who have worked in technical Prime Brokerage type role.

We are delighted to let you know that CassonX has produced its annual salary and total compensation survey for the Hedge Fund sector and separates the detail via company size and type of role too. Should you wish to see a copy then please go to our contact page, click on client@cassonx.com, select salary benchmarking and fill in your details accordingly. We will be happy to send you a copy via email, or even catch up over a coffee or lunch to discuss further.

Facing an HR interview should not be daunting. In fact, you should praise yourself for making it through to that part of the interview process. However, it is important that you appreciate that this is still an interview and you should not take this lightly. This is typically the final and most important interview you will face as this will be the person and department that signs off any potential offer.

The responsibility of an HR representative is to make sure that they approve of the hiring managers choice to bring you into their business. If you think about this logically, the hiring manager will make sure that from a technical point of view you can do the role. What HR want to know is that you will be a success in their company.

Here are some example questions to expect in an HR interview:

Company Questions

·        What does our company do?

This is to make sure you understand what the company does and that you know what you are applying for. We recommend you find information on them on their website, but also on Linked In and relevant news stories on the internet.

·        What are the core values of the company?

Typically, you can find this on their website, where most company’s talk about team work, delivering success for their clients and achieving in their company. It is important you know what their values are, even if you are not asked about them, and that you are able to explain that you are those values. Do have relevant examples from your career to demonstrate this.

·        Why do you want this role?

This is a chance for you to showcase why you are suitable and to make sure you understand the requirements. Use this as a chance to show your enthusiasm and why you are suitable.

·        How do you feel about working late?

Let’s be honest, no one wants to willingly stay late, however in financial services it maybe expected when needs must. A good answer is to say that you will stay until the work is done.

·        What other companies are you interviewing with?

This is a chance for the interviewer to gauge if you are genuinely interested in working in their sector and if you are interviewing with competitors it will show your relevant desire. It may also be a question from your recruiter. Don’t be afraid to explain that you are interviewing elsewhere as this may quicken their decision but do remind them that the role you are interviewing for is your preference if it is.

·        Do you know anyone who works for us?

This is an excellent way to show them that you know of their company and may already have done some extra research by asking that person. Do mention who you may know there, especially if they are successful, but do avoid talking about those who may have left under a cloud.

Experience

·        Why are you leaving your current role, or left your last role?

Fundamentally the person is looking to make sure you are leaving for genuine reasons, and that they won’t offer you the same circumstances. Avoid saying that money or bad performance is driving the move but take the opportunity to say that actually the role and company on offer will further your career and give examples why. You are almost saying you are interested in that company rather than why you want to leave.

·        Can you explain all your reasons for leaving your previous roles?

They will want to make sure that there are real reasons for why you have moved previously. Companies like to see that you have taken on new challenges or progression with your move, or even the chance to further your learning.

·        You have changed jobs quite a few times, what is the reason for this?

Some candidates will have moved between contract positions regularly. This is not a problem at all, and whilst it will be easy to say that the “contract came to end”, it is important to explain what made you chose that new role and opportunity. Of course, maintaining earning in a contract market is absolutely fine, but make sure you were given the chance to learn X and all the experience gained has shown you are adaptable to new environments and new ways of learning processes and technology quickly.

·        Please can you explain the gaps in your CV?

Sometimes you might just have a gap after being made redundant. Or a break in contracts. Or wanted to travel or just take some time out. This is not a problem but make sure you can justify any gap on your CV, even if you say that you were looking for work during that period and being selective for the right role.

·        What can we expect from you in your first 3 months?

This is a question you could also ask them! They will want to see that you are thinking about what you would try to achieve in your initial period of employment. Explaining that you want to build trust with the team and department as part of the function is a good introduction, as will be making sure you have learned all aspects of the role, but a killer point is to say that you will follow the guidance of your manager and look to deliver on all aspects of you targets.

·        Why did you study what you did?

If you have studied something very relevant for the role you are interviewing with, then this is your chance to say that at a younger age you already had a desire to work in their industry. This is especially valid for any relevant further professional qualifications. If you didn’t study anything relevant, then don’t be afraid to say that when you were younger you had different ideas about your career but now you have found something you like and want to commit to that.

·        Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

This is a trick questions – they don’t want to hear you are using this opportunity as a stepping stone. Say you want to prove yourself in this opportunity first (this is the role you are interviewing for after all!) before considering other options later based on recognition, reward and pure hard work.

·        What would you consider to be your biggest professional achievement?

Try to think of something that is very relevant for the role. For instance, you may have improved a process that has saved time or money, or you might have been promoted based on performance.

·        What have you done in the last year to improve your knowledge?

Taking a professional qualification or enrolled yourself on a course is an obvious example. However, proving that you have identified a weakness in your knowledge is what they want to hear, but most importantly how you have then learned about it – it might be plenty of internet research, hiring a book from a library or sitting with a specialist in your current work environment.

·        Tell me about a time that a colleague/customer got angry with you and what happened?

They are not looking for what happened, but how you dealt with the situation. This is a chance for them to see how cool and calm you can be under strenuous pressure. The trick is show that you initially defused the situation, explained you are going to help, took the time to understand the issue and advised that you will revert ASAP.

·        How quickly do you adapt to new technology?

It is very unlikely that in the new role you will have used every system that they do. Be able to demonstrate those that you are already familiar with, however also show that in each role you have performed that you have had to learn new systems, how you have used something similar previously, and it’s just a case of being shown what to do.

·        What kind of work environment suits you best?

This question is designed to make sure that they believe they can offer you the right environment to be successful. It is important that you showcase the environment on offer, and maybe adding that you work well when you are in a team that has the same values and determination to offer successful work.

·        What kind of manager brings out the best in your performance?

Again, another type of question designed to make sure that they believe they can offer you the right manager to be successful. Like the previous question, make sure you can describe the style of the manager that you know you’d be working for and have met, or alternatively talk about how you like to be held responsible for your actions, and encouraged throughout your career.

·        Describe your dream job?

Trick question alert! Now most peoples dream job is probably not the job you are interviewing for. If it is then you are very lucky, and you must highlight this. But refrain from saying that you want to be a footballer or celebrity as example, because it’s nothing to with the role you are going for! Use this as a chance to show that you are looking for a role that utilises your competencies like being diligent, hard working and with a strong team ethic (use the competencies from the spec that they are looking for).

Competency Questions

·        What are your strengths or out of all the candidates why should we hire you?

Choose three competencies from the spec and use these with examples as your answers. These are competencies they want for the role! If there is a specific skill set required for the position in question then also feel free to showcase this.

·        What are your weaknesses?

Try to choose things that do not appear on the spec, but you can demonstrate was a shortfall in your skills or knowledge and how you have improved yourself by developing further and it not being an issue going forward.

·        If you were an animal, which one would you want to be? OR How many tennis balls can you fit into a limousine? OR They say the m25 is the largest car park in the world, how many cars can you park on it? OR How many trees are there in the Amazon rainforest?

Yes these questions do exist! Remember that the interviewer doesn’t necessarily want an exact number—he wants to make sure that you understand what’s being asked of you, and that you deliver a transparent and logical way to respond. So, just take a deep breath, and start thinking through the math. (Yes, it’s OK to ask for a pen and paper!). Just try to explain your logic and how you have got to your answer. It’s not necessarily the answer they are looking for, just how you can react to trying to solve things in a new situation.

·        How do you think that other people would describe you?

Similar answer to your 3 strengths, or what was described as the values of the company you are interviewing for, just make sure that you say something relevant that is what they are looking for.

·        Give an example of how you’ve solved an issue or problem?

This is a question where they don’t necessarily need to know the problem, it’s more about your logic to resolve it. Always think of a work-related answer and demonstrate something where an issue or error kept reoccurring and what you did to not only notice it, but how you prevented it from happening further. This will show that you should be able to do it again for their company.

·        What is your leadership style?

You don’t necessarily need to be a manager of a team to be a leader. This is more your chance to show how you have set an example to others. Of course, if you are a manager or supervisor of others then do explain how you like to show your subordinates the correct way of doing things and you take pride in making sure that they grow with experience. Alternatively, don’t be afraid to say that you like make sure you are setting a good example by even working towards having the best accuracy in the team, or become the “go-to” person in the team as example.

·        How do you cope in adversity (under pressure/deadline/stressful situation)?

Well the last thing they want to hear is that you are not good in any situation like this. Financial services is an industry that pays the best but the expect the best. Explain that you thrive on situations and environments like that and be able to give examples of difficult or more strenuous times.

·        Tell me about a time that you disagreed with a decision. What did you do?

They are not looking for what happened, but how you dealt with the situation and how you were empathetic. It is not a problem that you have a different of opinion but must an ability to understand and listen to others. Be open to talk about how sometimes many opinions are given for one outcome and not always is it yours that’s accepted.

·        What motivates you?

Try to get across that working with like minded individuals is most important and given the chance to do the role in question in a company that you are interviewing with fulfils your motivations. By having clear goals set out in regular performance appraisals is something to benchmark and follow.

·        What makes you angry?

The opposite of the above is a simple way to answer! Working with individuals who don’t value teamwork and success is a very good example. This will show that you will work hard and deliver.

·        How do you respond to change?

Change is an important part of every day life. The world is forever changing, and every person should change as they grow older accordingly. You should be able to explain that the role you are interviewing now will be different in 5 years’ time, so you would be willing to evolve as you progress in that company.

·        What are your hobbies?

Don’t be afraid to talk about what you like to do outside of work. Try to not conform to just stating that you like to socialise with friends or like sports. Be more specific like saying you regularly catch up with friends to discuss what fiction books you are currently reading, or that you are an Arsenal fan and go to games as often as possible as well as playing football on a Monday night still, as example. We once placed someone in a job because he owned a ferret! It transpired the hiring manager owned a ferret farm!

Money

The reason why they are you about your required salary is to see if money is your motivator. If you give them a figure, then it clearly shows that it is a driver for you applying for the role. The only number you should give them is the monies that you are currently or previously employed earning. As you as you given them an ideal number, you are going to do one of two things, either out price yourself or worse case undersell yourself. Don’t be afraid to say something like, “money is not the most important factor for me with this role as I will benefit from learning X, X, and X. However, I am currently earning X and the range has been explained to me and that is why I am here”.

Any questions for me?

Yes you do have questions! By not asking questions shows that you are potentially not interested.

Some examples that we like are:

·        “If you were to rank them, what are the three traits your top performers have in common?”

·        “What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 90 days?”

·        “What are the company’s highest-priority goals this year, and how would my role contribute?”

And if you are feeling adventurous:

·        “Is there anything that you think will mean I can’t get this job or not get me an offer?”

Once you have received the answers to all of the above questions, you are then given the opportunity to say that you tick those boxes and reinforce the opportunity to get the job. 

Facing a telephone interview can be more daunting than an actual face-to-face interview, and that’s because most interviewees would rather gauge reactions face-to-face from the hiring manager you are meeting. It is worth noting that telephone interviews are largely not preferred because clients like to meet and assess a cultural fit, so below are a few of CassonX’s helpful hints and tips on how you can make sure you perform well in one of the more difficult types of interviews:

Since CassonX was formed in February 2016, we have been really impressed with the way that candidates conduct themselves in interview, especially in what is a competitive Operations and Middle Office recruitment market. Whilst CassonX prides itself on making candidates prepared for interview by meeting all candidates face to face before your first conversation, CassonX thought they would share the most common reasons why sometimes you can run a race and come second in the interview process:

Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm.

A lack of enthusiasm is where a lot of candidates fall down. Especially when you are being considered against someone who does show that they really want the role, and can prove it. Whilst we understand that individual personalities differ from person to person, everyone can still tell the hiring manager why they have learned a lot, and furthered yourself, but (regardless of the situation for leaving) you want to work at their company, in their role, under their stewardship and the reason why! Even saying simple things like, “I’d like to do that”, or “I have really enjoyed doing that in my current role” can go a long way to proving this. “I wasn’t really looking to leave, but the main reason why I am here being because I can learn X with this opportunity and further myself” is another prime example. It also shows you know what you are interviewing for and have genuine interest!

Know your CV!

Believe it or not, some individuals still decide to bend the truth on their CV when applying for a role. Do not do this. One of the key things any hiring manager will want is for you to be able to prove every part of your CV, as this is what you have declared you can do. It is absolutely essential that when asked in an interview that you can, with a work based example, demonstrate anything that is asked from your CV. That way if anything technical arises you will be ready with a relevant answer to prove you can tick that box.

Prove you are the spec.

The job spec is what the company have declared they are looking for, so this is your chance to tell them that you are what appears on the spec, with an example. If there is something that appears on the spec that you don’t know, then make sure you research it prior to the interview – at least you can say that you have no working technical experience but you have taken the time to understand it and prove it, and this will leave the hiring manager thinking that you are willing to learn and showing lots of enthusiasm. Most specs also have a list of character traits affiliated with their current team, so do of course have some examples to prove that you are those character traits from your work experience also. It is essential to show that technically and culturally you can perform as much of the spec as possible.

How do you answer questions on the points you haven’t done before?

It is not a problem that you might not have all the relevant working experience to answer a technical question in an interview, it is expected that most applicants tick about 85% of the job spec as candidates typically look for those roles where they want to learn and develop still. Sometimes a hiring manager will even ask you something deliberately that they know you can’t do. What is important is that you show willingness to learn it so you can achieve the goals of the role, and to show you can further yourself. By giving an example of how you have learnt this before an interview, or at least researched it, will show the manager that you have the right “can do” attitude to be employed in their team.

Have you actually prepared?

There is a famous saying that an Actor doesn’t go on stage unless they have learned their lines… This is the view that any hiring manager will take when presenting yourself. Whether you run through it on your own, standing in front of a mirror, with your recruiter or a with a friend or family, then make sure you have at least run through example questions once. Practise does make perfect. Some candidates will go “blank” in an interview. Don’t worry, we are not robots! The key is how you come out the other side. By saying something like, “I am sorry, I have just lost my way, please can I just have a moment to regather my thoughts so I can give you the best answer” is not necessary a bad thing, as it is showing you are trying to impress as best as possible.

Cultural fit.

This is something that typically you cannot control, as the hiring manager knows their team already and may think that you just won’t fit in. So you should actually respect this decision as you would hate to start in a company and not enjoy working there. However, make sure the decision is just about your ability to fit culturally into their team and not because you lack the typical character traits. For instance, if the spec says you need to be hard working and diligent, then be prepared to show how. However most hiring managers just want you to smile, enjoy the conversation, and show that you are keen for the opportunity, to work in their company and work under the hiring manager’s stewardship. As most hires are made on cultural fit, try to just get on with the hiring manager – that way if you have instant rapport, then the hiring manager is more likely to think of you first when making a decision.

You don’t have a weakness?!

Everyone has weaknesses. And no hiring manager wants to hire a know-it-all who has no weaknesses or can’t see opportunity to improve. By saying that you don’t have any is saying that you are perfect. Make sure that you give something constructive about your experience or characteristics where you can improve or be better, but try not to make it the most essential or vital part of the role requirements. By saying that you realised you weren’t as good as colleagues as X but have now taken the time to improve X and why, is a perfect answer.

Making money the most important part of the interview.

Hiring managers don’t want to you to be making money the most important factor in your search. Whilst CassonX understand that everyone wants to earn as much as possible, by giving a figure in an interview can not only out-price you but it could also undersell you! The only figure you should give is the current make up of your package including your basic salary, previous bonuses and additional benefits. If they push for you to give a figure then our best advice is to say that this opportunity is too good to miss out on and that’s why you’re interviewing, re-sell why you are suitable, and you would like them to be considerate of the risk to move when making an offer.

Overcoming difficult situations.

Sometimes you will be asked how you have dealt with a difficult customer, co-worker or boss. The only reason you will be asked this is to see what your logic is for overcoming the situation. These questions are designed to get all involved back to demonstrating team work and common goals. Try to show how you have diffused the situation, dealt with the problem / issue after reviewing the options and how you overcame the situation. What is very good is to demonstrate what controls or preventative measures have been implemented to stop it from happening again.

Every company needs a team player.

In every business, there is always more to think about than just the role you perform. The wider scope will have longer processes and if you can’t show that you understand the big picture of the company and team, then why would anyone hire someone who couldn’t understand where and how they would fit in. Having a group of individuals working in the same way is more successful than having outstanding individuals trying to work together. Yes, you need to show that you are willing to stay until your work is done, or more appropriately to help a team member out how is struggling with workloads etc., but it essential that you show how you fit into the wider group causes to make the company successful too. Having an understanding of the knock on effects too of good and bad performances in your role is deemed a “good for business hire”, and that you have the company’s interests at heart, and not just your own goals. This will also demonstrate that you can think outside the box, and hiring managers love this where we work in an evolving and demanding Financial Services market.

Over ambitious!

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years”. This is a trick question – the hiring manager doesn’t want to hear you are using this opportunity as a stepping stone, so don’t say you want their job or anything else apart from the role that is on offer as they will feel threatened, even though you’d think it would show progression. Say you want to prove yourself in this opportunity first (this is the role you are interviewing for!) before considering other options later based on recognition, reward and pure hard work. There is no harm in saying that in time you would like to think that you could take on a more senior role or more responsibility within the company and with time, however reiterate that this would be recognised from pure hard work and by following the hiring managers structured internal management and structured career trajectories.

Have you been successful in your career?

People measure success in different ways, however in an interview, what you need to prove is that your relevant experience has been delivered successfully and to the best of your ability. Yes, if you have gained an award or promotion then you need to demonstrate this and the reasons why, including any successful enhancements to save time or cost on your team, but not everyone can receive recognition in certain companies for various reasons. Success can be measured by doing a job well, being a long standing employee or evolving during turbulent times as example. However, the best way that you can show you have been successful is by proving you have done a good job and that you have been receptive to change. As the Financial Services world is ever evolving, by showing you have taken on new responsibilities or even updated your knowledge to perform your current role is a sound business reason to show success.

Have you told them you want the job!

If you are interested in the role, then why not tell them?! At the end of the interview, draw on the questions asked, and say that you have thoroughly enjoyed meeting with them, you were excited before the conversation started and after meeting with them, you would like to be considered further. Highlight the reasons why they should! This is the final chance to sell yourself and you should leave the hiring manager with a positive viewpoint about your application.

At the end of the day, CassonX will only ever tell their candidates interviewing to try their best. Even if it doesn’t work out for the role they are interviewing for, then you will be considered for others where appropriate. The hiring manager only wants to know if you can do the job, want the job, fit into the team and why you should be hired for it. You must learn from your previous interview experiences but fundamentally smile, enjoy yourself and don’t treat it as an interview, treat is as way of you just proving your justification to be hired.

If I had a pound for every time in my tenured recruitment career, that I have heard the words, “I have to fit my C.V. onto one page” muttered, then I would be a very rich man. However, I struggle to understand why this is acceptable and become the norm. If you need to use two or three pages to make sure you display all of the salient information you should feel relaxed in doing so.

It is like posting a picture on a social media or dating site – you don’t choose the worst picture of yourself! Sending your CV for a role is very similar. The C.V. has the sole purpose of convincing the hiring manager/HR that you should be called for interview. You should therefore send the C.V. which provides the decision maker with the tools and information to decide that you are one of the people they should interview

We live in a recruitment world where too many decisions on candidates are made from a two dimensional piece of paper – aka your C.V. So why would you want to omit key facts that will help you convince for an interview, Surely not because you are worried you might be a few sentences too long?

Here is the fact – There is no rule that says your C.V. should only be one page long! In fact when asking most hiring managers one of their biggest frustrations is receiving too many non-relevant C.V.’s. However when probed further, it often transpires that actually it’s not necessarily that the people aren’t relevant, it’s just the hiring manager hasn’t been able to ascertain whether the person’s experience is relevant for their hiring needs.

A similar thought processes can be applied to when you are applying to an advert. Why use your generic CV to just be quick? On average over 80 candidates apply on-line for each job in the Operations and Middle Office sector. So you need to make sure your C.V. is as relevant as possible in order to draw the attention of the recruiter, how else will a recruiter know you are applicable if it doesn’t say somewhere it on your C.V.?

Returning to the dating site analogy; when you are just about to message that person, you would look at their profile and structure a message that will be relevant to their interests. Applying for a job should hold similar comparisons – take a little longer to read the spec and send a CV that includes the requirements of the role. As clients look to hire experienced hires through recruiters – that’s what they pay us for- If you apply for a role and you don’t have the relevant experience disclosed, you will not be considered further.

On the flip side, your CV should not be the length of War and Peace. You only really need to detail the last five to ten years of your experience, because this should be the part that is relevant for the role you are applying for. You don’t need to add multiple points to a role much past the ten year mark, because this forms less relevance in your application, keep those roles to just a couple of points will do.  

So, how long should a C.V. be? Long enough to ensure you have all relevant experience to get an interview and don’t make it so short you miss valuable information. However there is a rule of diminishing returns, and as you get onto that third and certainly the fourth page if you were to find yourself there, you should be asking the question, is this next point adding to my application?