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Are you Testing Your Candidates for Empathy?

Your financial candidates will have to be comfortable with numbers…that’s more or less a given. And you probably have a clear list of other criteria, skill sets, and traits that you’ll be using to measure the potential of every candidate who steps in the door for an interview. You’ll need candidates who are trustworthy, punctual, comfortable with technology, and attentive to detail. The best applicants will have patience, determination, emotional control, and the right educational credentials.

But they’ll also need another quality, one that hiring managers sometimes overlook in financial settings: empathy. This trait isn’t just valuable, it’s essential. And if you aren’t testing candidates for this quality, you may be hiring the wrong employees and letting great ones walk out the door. Why is empathy so critical to success in finance? Here are a few key reasons.

Finance and sales often overlap.

Especially in the realm of financial advisory services, finance pros and sales pros share some of the same responsibilities. So the traits that bring success in one area often bring the success in the other as well. Sales professionals absolutely depend on the ability to see situations, products, and opportunities from another person’s point of view. If your employees can’t place themselves in another person’s shoes, they may struggle to anticipate questions and concerns, and they may not easily understand the target audience for a given product or service.

Finance and communication go hand in hand.

Almost every job on the planet requires strong communication skills. Most of us work for multi-person organizations in roles that require conversation, leadership, social savvy, and teamwork. Financial firms certainly fit into this category, and very few employees in the financial realm operate as lone rangers. Your candidates should know how to share their thoughts and feelings in an articulate fashion, in both written and verbal formats. And they need to listen to and understand the communication of others.

Appreciate the power of distillation and summary.

Financial issues and products can become very complex, and explaining the benefits, needs, or requirements of a product or a situation can quickly spiral into an exchange of unintelligible jargon and references. A strong sense of empathy will allow your employees to tailor their explanations to a specific audience, which may include board members, clients, business partners, vendors, or a wide range of other stakeholders.

Leave nothing to chance.

Don’t just ask your candidates how they might rate their own sense of empathy and then take their responses at face value. Actually test for this quality the same way you might test mathematical skills or software proficiency. Written testing formats are available; contact the staffing experts at Cordia for more information.