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Best of the worst questions from finance interviews

What kind of vegetable would you be?

Our French site has conducted some research into interview questions asked during financial services interviews in Paris. We’ve listed some of the questions below. Some of them are illegal, some are outrageous, some are impossible to respond to.

If you want to prepare for the worst, this is what you need to know.

1. The questions that are banned in theory

In theory, various questions are legally prohibited in finance (or any) interviews. In practice, it’s another story. Banned questions included:

-“How old are you?”

-“Age discrimination is banned by law, but don’t you think that 30 is too old for this job?”

-“You’re 29 – don’t you think you’re too young?”

-“You’re 40, are you open to change?”

-“Are you thinking of getting married?”

- “Are you engaged?”

-“Why did you get divorced?”

- “Have you considered having children?”

-“How can you reconcile working with having two small children?”

-“You’re a woman and you still haven’t had children. How old are you?”

-“Are you gay?”

2. The questions that amount to sexual harassment 

In some cases the questions were so obtuse they had no place in any interview, anywhere. These questions included:

- “What kind of underwear are you wearing?”

- “I see you want to be an auditor, would you come and audit me?”

- “How would you react if I suggested we have a homosexual relationship?”

3. The questions that are strange and bizarre

Some of the questions people were asked were just out there. For example:

-“If you were an animal or vegetable, which would you be?”

- “What’s your star sign”

- “What’s your favourite colour?”

- “Who’s your favourite footballer?”

- “If a client was sick, what would you do?”

-“Would you pay 60,000 euros for a car?”

-"How many piano tuners are there in Paris?"

4. The questions that are broad and philosophical

These may be peculiar to French interviews….

- "Tell me about Girsanov’s theorem" 

-"Who said money is taboo?"

-"How would you solve the financial crisis?"

5. The questions about pay:

-"Would you be willing to lower your salary in order to work here?"

-"Would you be willing to work for free?"

-"What are your pay expectations?"

6. The questions about personality:

-"The results of our personality evaluations don’t correspond to the way you describe yourself. Why is that?"

-"What’s your definition of fun?"

-"What will your future team members say about you?"

-"Why shouldn’t I choose you?"

7. The questions designed to put you off:

- Don’t you think you’d be bored here?

- You’ll have a 45km commute every morning. Isn’t that a bit foolish?

- You’ve got a degree plus five years’ experience. We’re looking for someone who’s recently graduated. Are you ready to accept such an offer?

- Why are you here?

- Are you sure you’d fit with our culture?

- Why do you need to work?

- You’ve changed jobs a lot, are you unstable?

8. The questions for the unemployed

- In your opinion, why haven’t you found a job before now?

- What do you do with your days?

-  You’ve been made redundant. Are you sure you’ve got the skills we’re looking for?

9. The killer questions about yourself

- Why have you applied for this job?

- Why you?

- Why do you think you’re the best candidate?

- Why should I hire you?

- What are you expecting from us?

- Tell me about yourself…

AUTHORJulia Lemarchand
  • pe
    22 October 2013

    Hi - I was laid off due to the programme I was working on (successfully) being scrapped. I set to on my own property portfolio and developed a number of properties and won an award for one of them. My background includes 5 spells as an Interim MD / Director / Senior Manager ranging from 5 months out to 18 months.

    And yes, interviewers who don't see that word in the job title do ask me - "Why have you had so many jobs and not stayed long at them?"

    I do wonder if I should ask them the strange interview question "Have you heard of the word 'interim' and know what it means?"

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