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5 Interview Questions You Should Ask Compliance Manager Candidates

Risk & Compliance

5 Interview Questions You Should Ask Compliance Manager Candidates

Posted by Michael Berman on Oct 4, 2022 6:00:00 AM
Michael Berman

It’s hard to find compliance talent (and it’s expensive). Even more, it’s costly and time-consuming to replace bad hires or individuals that turn out to not fit well with your organization.

As banks, credit unions, mortgage companies, fintechs, and others struggle to find and hire compliance talent, now may be a good time to reexamine what you should ask compliance manager candidates during the interview process.

Here are five questions to consider: 

  1. Describe the top priorities for this position. How would you handle them?


    Compliance is a big job—and it’s important to know where to start.

    Monitoring and managing compliance risk means reviewing internal audits and reports and conducting risk assessments, compliance analyses, and compliance reviews to ensure controls, including compliance policies and procedures, are effective. These risk assessments are the foundation of your enterprise risk management program—of which compliance plays an important role.

    A key component is staying on top of regulatory change, including any new or changes to existing rules and regulations as well as hot-button regulatory issues and areas of enhanced regulatory scrutiny, which are continuously shifting and requires proactive effort. A good compliance manager will be active in staying informed about these changes and communicate them to the rest of the team. Compliance managers should also be looking out for “the next big thing” that could result in changes in rules and regulations.

    The compliance manager may also have some responsibility, depending on the input of a senior compliance manager, for creating, maintaining, and improving policies and procedures.

    Does the candidate demonstrate a risk-based understanding of compliance? Would they be able to conduct effective risk assessments and translate the results into action? Do they understand the basic building blocks of a strong compliance management system?


  2. How have you designed or contributed to compliance training programs?

    Training is an integral part of any compliance program. Depending on the level of the job opening (manager, senior manager, etc.), the candidate will have different training responsibilities. Regardless, this person will likely be involved at some level, whether it’s designing programs or helping implement training initiatives.

  3. How do you see compliance’s role in the development of our organization’s new products and services?

    Compliance sometimes gets a reputation for saying no, when the ideal compliance officer wants to find a way to make a new idea work (within the bounds of safety and soundness).

    Compliance should look for ways towards ensuring new products and services to meet regulatory requirements, offering suggestions for tweaks to make the planned offering compliant while still meeting the goals of the financial institution. To make this as easy as possible, compliance should be included when discussions begin, not just at the end when sign off is needed. 


  4. How would you describe your communications style, including with both junior and more senior positions?

    Clear communication is essential. Compliance managers ask employees to take training, adhere to policies and procedures,  and follow up to make sure it’s done. They need to be able to explain things patiently and respectfully.

    The compliance culture of the financial institution is directly influenced by the communication of everyone in the compliance department. At some institutions with weak compliance cultures, employees may think of compliance as beyond the scope of their job. A good compliance manager knows how to be a partner and an advocate in creating a compliance culture.

    Good compliance communication also requires good documentation. As they say in compliance, “If it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen.”


  5. What types of compliance tools or solutions have you used in the past?

    RegTech has become an increasingly important facet of compliance, helping compliance teams keep pace with regulatory change and other compliance responsibilities. Have they used: 

    • An automated compliance management system (CMS)? 
    • Findings management solutions? 
    • Risk management solutions? 
    • Compliance review solutions? 

    It’s also an opportunity to talk about the tools available to your compliance hire. Given the competition for compliance talent, being able to show your candidate that your institution has compliance solutions to eliminate time-consuming tasks like tracking regulatory change so they can focus on big-picture projects that make better use of their time and talents.


The interview process could be a lengthy one, with multiple levels of interviews before making the final selection. These five questions will give you a head start on selecting the best candidate for your financial institution.


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Topics: Risk & Compliance

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