5 Interview Questions to ask a Compliance Officer Candidate

Jay Lauren

Hiring a great compliance officer is no easy task. A great compliance officer must have incredible attention to detail when reviewing regulations, outstanding interpersonal skills for communicating with regulators, and a flexible attitude given the ever changing regulatory environment. The team at Complia, the cannabis compliance software, has offered some advice when hiring for this important position:

Interviewing for a Marijuana Compliance Officer
There aren’t many professionals out there who have in-depth experience with marijuana compliance, and if you’re lucky enough to find someone who has the experience, brace yourself for a large salary. That said, there are lots of people out there who, while maybe not experienced in the world with cannabis, still have the skills and attitude necessary for success. The following interview questions should help guide you in your quest for a great compliance officer:
Q1: What regulatory software tools and ERP platforms do you have experience with? Describe the ways in which you interacted with these tools.
In a perfect world, you’ll find someone who has hands-on experience with platforms like METRC, BiotrackTHC, MJ Freeway, or some of the other marijuana platforms that are out there. That said, keep an open mind for individuals who have used similar tools in other industries. Also, make sure their use of these tools is actually compelling.  Just entering harvest weight information doesn’t demonstrate in-depth knowledge or ability.
Q2: Describe a time you interacted with a government regulator or other authority figure. How would you handle a dispute with a regulator?  What would you do if a regulator asked you about a known compliance infraction?
Engaging with regulators, especially during an inspection, can be extremely stressful. And people tend to gravitate towards bad habits under stress. Make sure your candidate demonstrates patience and flexibility under stress.
Q3: What resources do you rely on to remain current with cannabis regulation? If you’re new to the industry, what have you done to become knowledgeable about cannabis compliance?
This is a test to see if your candidate is truly invested in compliance. It would also be a good sign if your candidate indicated he or she had spent some time reviewing industry websites, and the websites of state and local regulators. While there are some great consumer focused publications out there, they aren’t exactly the content cannabis compliance professionals should have at the top of the list.
Q4: You get a call from one of your delivery drivers and there is confusion over a labeling requirement. The driver is anxious to get to the next delivery stop and the store manager accepting the delivery has two other orders to check in.  The driver wants an answer on the fly but you’re not 100% sure you have the right answer.  What would you do?
Situational questions are great for seeing how your candidate would react when faced with a tough decision.  In this specific example, a good answer might be: it’s best to be honest with the driver, and tell them you need five minutes to check the regulations. A solid candidate would also show some creativity by asking if the store manager would be willing to accept the product “as is” with a promise that new labels will be delivered the next day if it turns out there is, in fact, an error (of course, make sure the incorrectly labeled products are not put on the shelf for sale!). Guessing and providing misinformation is far more painful than taking a few minutes to get it right the first time.
Q5: How many paperclips can fit in an airplane?
I know this sounds like a crazy question, but oftentimes regulations don’t make a lot of sense and require businesses to do things that don’t make sense either.  The candidate might be inclined to ask “Well, how big is the airplane?  Is it a 747 or a single engine Cessna?  And are we talking big or small paper clips?”  All fair questions.  Unfortunately, we don’t often get a lot of clarity from regulators, and we’re forced to make tough decisions in the absence of complete information. In fact, a great compliance officer should be very comfortable making tough decisions when there might not be one perfect answer.  So maybe this question is a little silly, but it’s a solid test to see how your candidate tackles challenging questions.

This article was provided by Complia, the cannabis compliance software, which helps business owners manage licenses, paperwork, and automate renewal reminders and routine compliance tasks. For more information, please visit them at: myComplia.com.