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Hiring Compliance Officers: 5 Things To Ask Every Candidate



As regulatory requirements continue to expand, the demand for compliance officers is projected to grow for at least the next decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 11,000 new compliance positions will need to be filled through 2022. 

The position demands a high level of competency and industry-specific expertise.

Professionals in a variety of areas may list regulatory responsibilities on a resume, and no specific degree or background is a determining factor in whether or not a candidate has the skills your company needs. That’s why it’s important to look beyond what’s stated in the resume. 

Although the process may be similar, hiring compliance officers is different from hiring any other type of candidate. Your company depends on skilled professionals to guard against risk and maintain a culture of compliance and ethics. Hiring the wrong person is a costly mistake you can't afford to make. 

A rigorous assessment process that includes key competency questions is essential to evaluating compliance candidates. 

Here are five questions that should be part of your assessment for every candidate and the types of responses you need to hear. 

1. Describe the last compliance program you successfully directed, including key initiatives, challenges, what made it successful and who it impacted.

Listen for: A comprehensive program that addressed a critical need for the company. Pay attention to the candidate’s specific role as the program director and how he or she implemented it. How did the candidate delegate responsibility? How well did he or she make use of available resources or identify new ones? How did the candidate overcome obstacles? The response to this multi-faceted question should give you insight into the candidate’s problem-solving abilities, leadership and enforcement. 

2. Tell me about a specific compliance plan you developed or implemented for a program. Explain how you convinced staff at all levels to adopt it and how you ensured its effectiveness. 

Listen for: The ability to persuade others using data and hard evidence. A strong response should show evidence the candidate made a compelling case for the plan and identified the best ways to measure results. The compliance officer you hire must be viewed as a respected leader and advisor, so this question gives you a better idea of how well he or she works with the team to implement necessary measures. 

3. Describe an effective method you have used to assess and manage possible risks.

Listen for: A proactive approach toward regulations based on a thorough, timely knowledge of the law and how it impacts the industry. Look for an example that is detailed and relevant to your industry. The candidate should also explain how he or she measures effectiveness, where a possible breakdown could occur and how he or she guards against that. You’re looking for a candidate with a watchdog mentality and a critical eye toward the potential for human error at all levels.

4. Describe a method you have used to ensure monitoring and testing procedures meet the goals of a regulatory program.

Listen for: Experience in auditing and using  technology to evaluate programs. The candidate should be able to identify clear goals for monitoring and how he or she determined those goals. Look for testing that is performed at regular intervals, with results reported in a timely manner. 

5. Share an experience in which you accurately predicted the regulatory impact of an industry change. What methods help you stay informed on these changes?

Listen for: A strategic approach to staying ahead of the law. Today’s compliance officers must be able to foresee the need for change before it is mandated. That means keeping a close eye on legislation and communicating updates to key stakeholders. The right compliance candidate will have a specific method for monitoring and recording legislative updates. This involves far more than reading monthly industry newsletters or attending occasional meetings. The most effective compliance officers review a range of relevant updates daily and follow up with additional research as needed.

These five questions are designed to give you a better understanding of how well your candidate understands the industry and how effective he or she is at performing key tasks, but these questions alone aren’t enough. 

To gain a more complete understanding of a candidate’s aptitude for the position, you need to ask additional questions that reveal character, leadership ability and corporate fit. 

To find out more about what to ask to gauge traits such as integrity, resourcefulness, organization and adaptability, download our free guide, “8 Ways to Effectively Evaluate Legal and Compliance Candidates.” 

8 Ways to Effectively Evaluate Candidates

Topics: Recruiting   |   Compliance


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