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Assistant Controller Interview Questions

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  1. As assistant controller, how will you work with the controller to achieve the goals of the organization? See answer
  2. Can you give me an example of when you had to collaborate with other departments within your organization? See answer
  3. What is the greatest challenge facing an assistant controller in today’s business world? See answer
  4. What role does the assistant controller play in addressing the challenges presented by storing accounting records on the cloud? See answer
  5. Tell me about your experiences as an outside auditor or your experience working with a company’s outside audit firm. See answer
  6. As an assistant controller, what is your experience in developing financial reports for regulatory bodies? See answer
  7. As an assistant controller, which accounting software do you use most often?
  8. What is your experience with setting up and managing internal controls?
  9. Did you ever have to deal with revenue recognition issues? Describe the experience.
  10. What method do you use for quality assurance in your work?
  11. Are you a member of any professional associations? Which ones? How have they benefited you on the professional level?
  12. What do you know about accounting principles? Explain.
  13. Describe your experience in working with a controller to prepare a budget.
  14. What is your role in helping the controller prepare for the annual audit?
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6 Assistant Controller Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

As assistant controller, how will you work with the controller to achieve the goals of the organization?

A:

The answer to this question will demonstrate not only how the candidate will interact with the controller but also how the candidate sees the role of the controller’s group within the company. For a business to have an assistant controller position, it probably has at least 50 individuals working in the controller’s organization.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Importance of communication
  • Understanding of the controller’s role
  • Establishing a role within the company structure

Example:

“I will focus on open, frequent communication with the controller to understand and support short-term and long-term goals within the controller’s group and the company.”

Q:

Can you give me an example of when you had to collaborate with other departments within your organization?

A:

An assistant controller needs to work cooperatively with other groups within a company. These groups handle the operational, tax and legal functions. A successful assistant controller understands that this type of cooperation is necessary for production projections, tax filing and fulfilling SEC and bank requirements. They also must know how to interact with other individuals responsible for different aspects of the company.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Demonstrated ability to work across departments
  • Consideration of differing priorities and time constraints
  • Understanding of outside information to accomplish tasks

Example:

“Putting together a budget each year required input from all other operations and departments to detail their work priorities, timing and organizational goals.”

Q:

What is the greatest challenge facing an assistant controller in today’s business world?

A:

With major companies failing, internal controls have become increasingly important to the life of any company. The Sarbanes Oxley Act made it the personal responsibility of those in key positions to sign off on compliance. The assistant controller will quite likely be in one of those key positions. At a minimum, the assistant controller will play a role to ensure that all those with such personal responsibility are provided with timely, accurate and thorough information regarding the company.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Demonstrated understanding of personal liability
  • Consciousness of the necessity for complete and accurate financial reports
  • Understanding of the assistant controller’s compliance and reporting roles

Example:

“The personal responsibility aspect of SOX has created an atmosphere that emphasizes the growing need of strong controls and accurate financial reporting.”

Q:

What role does the assistant controller play in addressing the challenges presented by storing accounting records on the cloud?

A:

While the primary interface with a cloud service resides in the IT department, the controller’s department needs to help ensure that the appropriate controls are in place. The assistant controller can assist with assuring that the contracted cloud storage size is adequate to handle the volume of the organization’s accounting records. They can also make sure that access by the appropriate individuals to the records is adequate and properly controlled.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Understanding of remote data storage risks
  • Demonstration of the need to collaborate with the technology group
  • Comprehension of the controller’s evolving technology role

Example:

“Adequate storage capability and sufficient but controlled access are challenges that the assistant controller can and must address in coordination with the IT department.”

Q:

Tell me about your experiences as an outside auditor or your experience working with a company’s outside audit firm.

A:

For publicly traded companies, the audits and reviews by an external accounting firm are a critical aspect of controls. Even for privately held companies, audit reports are required by banks, insurance companies and investors. The assistant controller will dedicate weeks or months to working with the auditors to assure they are given access to the records they need to complete their work.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Understanding the importance of audits
  • Recognition of audit preparation and engagement priority
  • Appreciation of the assistant controller’s role in an audit

Example:

“I have worked directly with external auditors on numerous audits from the start of their review to the completion of the process.”

Q:

As an assistant controller, what is your experience in developing financial reports for regulatory bodies?

A:

Assistant controllers assist with the management of financial accounts, formulating legally compliant internal controls and policies and preparing financial statements. Interviewers ask this question to find out if candidates understand regulatory guidelines and know how to develop reports. A qualified assistant controller should be knowledgeable, competent and efficient in performing the given tasks.

The candidate's answer should emphasize:

  • Knowledge of accounting
  • Attention to detail
  • Good communication skills

A sample response would be something like this:

Example:

"I oversee a diverse team that is responsible for our firm's financial reporting. One of my tasks is to make sure that we are complying with applicable government regulations. As these are liable to change, I have to monitor them frequently, inform the management team about any changes that take place and explain the impact they are likely to have on our firm. Together with my team, I have to come up with strategies to avoid any compliance issues. For that, I will make recommendations, approve of procedures and try to improve our firm's practices. I will also review the report for accuracy."

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