Harrison Careers

Tough Competency Questions

It’s interview season – the busiest and most exciting time of the year at Harrison Careers! Hopefully by this time, you have submitted lots of great applications, and are getting invited to multiple interviews… this is it! Your first steps on the path to securing the job of your dreams!

As we always tell our clients, there’s NO excuse for getting rejected at Round 1 when you get asked competency questions. Competency-based questions are questions asked at interviews that require candidates to provide real-life examples, and to explain why they made certain decisions, how they implemented these decisions and why certain outcomes occurred. Assuming you have properly prepared for your interviews, you should be able to confidently answer every single competency question that is thrown at you.

But how do you ensure that you’re properly prepared? Below is a list of 100 of the most commonly asked competency questions that you may face during your Round 1 interview (and beyond). At Harrison Careers, we thoroughly prepare all our clients to answer ALL such questions, and we even provide them with model answers to ensure they are thoroughly prepared for whatever an interviewer asks.

As ever, our advice to you would be: prepare thoroughly… practice frequently… and perform brilliantly! Good luck!

And of course, I’d love to hear from you if you think we can help you in any way! Email me!


  1. Why do you want to work for us?
  2. What do you know about our business?
  3. How can you be useful with so little practical finance knowledge?
  4. Who did you meet at our presentation?
  5. Tell me about yourself.
  6. Any questions you want to ask me?
  7. Convince me you are a team player.
  8. How did you prepare for this interview?
  9. What are your three greatest achievements?
  10. What was the most difficult situation you ever faced?
  11. What other job offers do you have?
  12. How do you rank us in relation to our competitors?
  13. Describe a decision you regretted and why.
  14. Tell me about a major crisis in your life and how you handled it.
  15. Tell me about a time you gave up.
  16. Give me 3 examples of your creativity.
  17. Where else have you applied? How did you get on?
  18. What is (a number from 31 to 95) multiplied by (a number from 31 to 95)? Please talk out loud so I hear what you are thinking and do not use a pen and paper.
  19. Why do you not have better A-levels/academic results? We are interviewing 4 other people today who are smarter than you?
  20. Describe a situation where you had to make a fast decision and explain how you went about it.
  21. Why did you not get a first class (or summa cum laude) degree?
  22. Why should we hire you?
  23. Tell me 20 financial stories from around the world.
  24. How many tyres are there in Germany? What does a jumbo jet weigh?
  25. Convince me you are hard working.
  26. Tell me about 3 failures in your life. How did you respond to them?
  27. Why are you special?
  28. How have you coped when your work has been criticised?
  29. What are your preferred working conditions, working alone or in a group and why?
  30. What are you looking for in an employer?
  31. How do you measure your own performance?
  32. What kind of pressures have you encountered in your work experience?
  33. Are you a self-starter? Give me examples to demonstrate this.
  34. What is the biggest problem you have faced recently and how you resolved it?
  35. What can you bring to this company/team?
  36. What area of your skills do you want to improve?
  37. Which part of this role is least attractive to you?
  38. Why do you think you would like this role?
  39. Where would you like to be in five years?
  40. What will your referees say about you when we call them?
  41. What do you do in your spare time?
  42. What five adjectives would you use that best describe you?
  43. What do you know about us?
  44. What did you like and dislike about your work experience last summer?
  45. What did you learn during your work experience last summer?
  46. Which courses at university were the most interesting and useful?
  47. Describe when you have utilised a creative or innovative solution to a problem you faced during your work experience.
  48. How should you handle a non-performing team member?
  49. Name a time when you disagreed with a team member.
  50. Give an example of a time when you had to take a stand on an issue.
  51. Give an example of a recommendation of yours that was implemented.
  52. How do you handle pressure?
  53. When was the last time you lost your temper, and why?
  54. How do you see technology impacting our business?
  55. What are the biggest misconceptions about our business?
  56. When have you had a problem with management?
  57. Tell me about conflicts that arose during your work experience.
  58. A manager asks you to do something that you disagree with. What do you say?
  59. How does your family know when you are under pressure?
  60. Who has influenced you most in your personal life?
  61. Have you ever taken the blame for someone?
  62. If someone does not like you, how do you deal with it, and if it starts to affect your work, what would you do?
  63. How would you assess how you did in this interview?
  64. Describe a time when you analysed a situation and how did you go about improving it?
  65. Please tell us about a time when you had to analyse a situation using your numerate skills?
  66. Tell me about some of your weaknesses.
  67. Why did you get a 2/2 (or in the US a GPA of, say, <3.0)?
  68. How come it took you 5 years to do your undergraduate degree? Was there some kind of problem?
  69. What puts you off working for this firm?
  70. Taking for granted this is your first-choice firm, which is your second choice and why?
  71. What questions would you ask to test an interviewee?
  72. What advice would you give to a friend who wants to set up a restaurant?
  73. What makes you laugh?
  74. What is wrong in your opinion with this firm?
  75. If we had asked you to come to this interview in costume, would you have come and if so what as?
  76. If you could go back to a period of history, which would it be and why?
  77. Why did your summer employer not offer you a full-time job?
  78. What is 1 divided by (a number from 11 to 19) to 5 decimal places? Please talk out loud so I hear what you are thinking and do not use a pen and paper.
  79. It is (pick a time e.g.: 17:45). What is the angle between the big and small hands on a clock at this time?  Please talk out loud so I hear what you are thinking and do not use a pen and paper.
  80. How would a tutor, teacher or friend describe you?
  81. How do you get support for your ideas from other people?
  82. What would be your advice to the board in your first week at the bank?
  83. What do you want to achieve in the next five years?
  84. Tell me how an investment banks works.
  85. Describe a time you had to give some bad news.
  86. Describe a time you had to persuade someone.
  87. Describe a time you had to help someone.
  88. Describe a time you had to go the extra mile.
  89. Describe a time you had to be clear about objectives and how this helped.
  90. Tell me of a major crisis in your life, and how you handled it?
  91. Tell me of a time when you lost your patience and why.
  92. Tell me a time when you made a quick decision and how you went about it?
  93. Give me a time when you have explained something complicated to someone.
  94. Give me a time when you made a tough or unpopular decision.
  95. Tell me about a time when someone made you change your way of doing things.
  96. When did you achieve a goal by assimilating a large amount of information?
  97. Tell me about a time you had to decide something based on incomplete information.
  98. How do you prioritise things?
  99. Are you good at giving presentations? How do you make sure your presentation is effective?
  100. Have you ever come across a situation where you had to work with people from different cultural backgrounds?