Why Risk Professionals Don’t Get the Job



It may surprise you to learn what can prevent a risk professional from landing his or her ideal role. From interpreting the job description to the interview process, some candidates can fall short in both impressing employers and instilling any sense of trust in their competency.

Some risk professionals can seem to lack a real understanding about the purpose of working in risk or what risk management is truly about. They can get caught up in products like risk assessments, risk management frameworks, risk appetite statements and risk profiles, on the belief that their only goal is to mitigate risks. They can also tend to view their role as an independent process separate from the rest of the organisation. However, the reality of working in risk management is more holistic and applicable to the business at large, as risk professionals support their organisation in achieving objectives and making informed business decisions with risk in mind.

Further to an incomplete understanding of what risk is about, there are also some candidates who don’t fully grasp the difference between risk management and compliance. While the two functions are exceedingly closely related and work in conjunction with one another; they are still two separate functions of the business.

Your interviewer is looking to you to demonstrate your understanding of the job, but another reason they may not award you with it comes down to the way you discuss your experience. Their questions offer opportunities for you to emphasise your ability to get the job done, but if you fail to talk about specific areas or experiences which best showcase your knowledge and expertise you may miss the opportunity to impress.

On the subject of communication, recruiters are looking for candidates who demonstrate their ability to make information accessible to the business or show that they can talk to stakeholders at all levels of seniority and from varying professional backgrounds within the organisation. You need to show that you are able to break information down, make it relatable and convey it to anyone both technical and non-technical, senior and junior.

Don’t be tempted to play up your involvement in a project or product that’s having its moment in the spotlight if you were not directly involved in it, because it will become evident very quickly that you were on the sidelines. It is better to pick a topic, however minor or off-trend, that gives you a chance to shine. Make sure you have specific examples ready to talk about. Don’t be vague.

On that note, while it is comforting to come into your interview fully furnished with a list of prepared topics and case studies to draw from, try for the most part to use them more as a loose guide. Be able to go off-script and engage in dialogue that shows you are genuinely listening to what is being asked of you. This isn’t a test of your memory, this is a test of your skills and aptitude that will show your interviewer which problems within the business you can solve and where best to apply your unique expertise.

Another factor that could result in a risk professional being passed over for the job is failing to demonstrate out of the box thinking. It’s important to acknowledge the different types of risk and to have the ability to ask the right questions to be able to get the right kind of information. Interviewers are not just asking the traditional technical questions, they’re now starting to ask questions designed to see how nimble your mind is and whether you can look at situations more creatively.

Your interviewer is looking for both soft and hard skills, and that includes your statistical competency. Technical deficiency can often fell a risk candidate at the last hurdle, particularly with regards to quantitative risk.

Lastly, the money shot. Candidates who subtly or explicitly reveal that their primary motivator for applying for the job comes down to compensation can end up taking themselves out of the running. If money is your key driver above all else, what’s to prevent you jumping ship the moment a better offer comes along?

Remember, your aim is to convince your interviewer of your eagerness to work for the company you’re applying to, your enthusiasm for working in risk management, the skills and experience you have that make you right for the job, and your depth of understanding as to the role itself. You can certainly discuss money if it comes up, but do not make it your sole objective.


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