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The ultimate list of interview questions to ask when hiring a paraplanner

The ultimate list of interview questions to ask when hiring a paraplanner
Financial Planning

Anyone who tells you a world-class financial planning business doesn't need world-class paraplanners is yanking your chain. Great teams build great services. Great teams build great client relationships. In financial planning, paraplanners are at the core of any great team. We don't celebrate their contribution enough.

The paraplanner is your bridge between a client's personal financial situation and the best possible financial planning strategies to help them meet their goals. The best paraplanners own this strategy from beginning to end. The financial planner owns the relationship, the paraplanner owns the strategy.

When hiring a paraplanner it is imperative that the person you bring in to your business ticks these boxes:

  • A culture enhancer - they must make the culture of your team better.
  • Technically proficient - they must be able to model client scenarios and conduct product research.
  • Empathetic - they must be able to understand how clients feel.
  • Accountable - if they say they are going to do something, you have confidence they will do it.

Here is the ultimate list of questions for uncovering whether a potential paraplanner hire is going to tick these boxes for your financial planning firm. [Hint: there is a bonus series of questions at the end of the article - make sure you check them out!]

How do you know that hiring this paraplanner is going to enhance the culture of your financial planning firm?

  • What is your favourite thing about working at [insert paraplanner's current employer]?
  • How do you make the culture of a team better as a paraplanner here?
  • Tell me about one time when you improved someone else’s day.
  • What do you do for fun away from work?
  • Who is your favourite celebrity and why?
  • What is your favourite topic of conversation?
  • How would you describe the culture at your last job?
  • Did you enjoy working in that type of environment?
  • If you could change one thing to improve the culture, what would it be?
  • Why do you wake up every morning and go to work?
  • Where do you want to be in 5 years time?
  • Who is the best manager you've ever had and why?
  • What is your favourite book and why?
  • What would your ideal paraplanners' day look like to make them feel fulfilled and successful?

How do you know if a paraplanner is technically proficient?

  • Describe how you would set up a 5, 10 and 20 year cashflow projection for a client.
  • What financial planning tools or other technology have you used in your previous roles?
  • How do you go about retrieving an accurate insurance quote for a client?
  • What tests do you apply to ensure a piece of advice is in a client's best interests?
  • At your last job, what was the average time it took you to complete a Statement of Advice?
  • Talk me through the end to end approach you would take to formulating a financial strategy for a client.
  • If you had to choose three skills that are essential for paraplanners, what would they be?

How do you know if a paraplanner is empathetic?

  • What do you fear the most?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are the warning signs that someone might be struggling in their role?
  • What kinds of people inspire you?
  • Tell me about a time where you were able to read between the lines of how a client described their goals to find a new insight.
  • What qualities do you admire in paraplanners?
  • Tell me about a time where you went out of your way to help someone. How did that make you feel?

How do you know if a paraplanner is highly accountable?

  • Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond to make sure a job got done on time.
  • Tell me about a time where you got something horribly wrong. What did you do about the situation?
  • When you are struggling to keep up with your work, how do you handle that situation with your manager and your team?
  • How do you know if you've done a good job?

Bonus! Self-awareness question series

Hiring a paraplanner who is highly self-aware makes things soooooo much easier in the long run. Highly self-aware people are more coachable, they learn faster and are able to adapt to multiple team environments and add to the culture of a business in a positive way. To work out whether the paraplanner you are interviewing is self-aware, try asking these questions in this order:

  1. Who was your last manager? (make sure they say the name).
  2. What do you thing [last manager's name] would rate your performance out of 10? (most people will say a number less than 10, but if the interviewee says 10, that's equally interesting!)
  3. Why do you think they didn't give you a 10?

Asking the right questions is key to hiring a paraplanner who is going to make your financial planning firm better. Equally important is how well you listen to the answers. Sometimes what the interviewee doesn't say is as instructive as what they do say. It's important to hire people who are self-aware and are open and honest about who they are and what they can bring to the table.

Hope this list helps in finding that awesome next hire for your business!

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