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CFO Chief Financial Officer Interview Questions

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  1. Can you tell me some of the recurring duties you’re likely to have as a CFO or chief financial officer of this company? See answer
  2. Why are measurements and metrics important things for chief financial officers to monitor? Can you tell me some of the metrics you might monitor regularly? See answer
  3. It is possible that revenue forecasts might show a decrease in income at some point. How would you work to correct this before it happens? See answer
  4. Have you ever disagreed with lower-level financial directors and managers about a particular investment decision? If so, what was the situation and how did you resolve it? See answer
  5. As our financial officer, there may be times when you’ll have to decide if an investment is profitable for the company. What is your process for determining an investment’s profitability?
  6. Do you have experience analyzing data to make financial decisions and recommendations? What examples can you provide?
  7. Have you ever had to hire or fire financial employees? What examples can you provide from your previous roles?
  8. Have you read any of our financial reports? If so, what do would you change or keep regarding our financial procedures?
  9. What previous leadership roles have you held in the finance industry you believe qualify you for this position?
  10. What would you say are common financial risks for our industry?
  11. Do you know what a budget cycle is? How would you incorporate an investment strategy into our budget cycle?
  12. In your own words, how would you define the capital structure of our company?
  13. As the CFO, how would you define your relationship with the CEO?
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6 CFO Chief Financial Officer Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

Can you tell me some of the recurring duties you’re likely to have as a CFO or chief financial officer of this company?

A:

This question is a great starter for the interview because it allows you to gauge the potential chief financial officer’s general knowledge of the job itself as well as some of their prior experience. Answers can vary as there are several possible regular duties you might have for your CFO depending on the type of company you have and how it is structured.

What to look for in an answer:

  • A listing of some of the general recurring duties
  • Personal experience anecdotes
  • How the CFO candidate might handle their duties

Example:

“In the past, I’ve dealt with both raising and allocating funds properly and evaluating company performance financially. I made decisions about company finances based on this data.”

Q:

Why are measurements and metrics important things for chief financial officers to monitor? Can you tell me some of the metrics you might monitor regularly?

A:

In any company, metrics are crucial to determining financial success. They help you make sure that you’re going in the right direction and that everything is aligned with the objectives of your business. A good CFO will be able to tell you some of the most important metrics they will monitor for you and why those things matter.

What to look for in an answer:

  • A list of several possible metrics monitored in their work
  • An understanding of why each is important
  • Examples of monitoring measurements and metrics

Example:

“Metrics allow us to measure the inner workings of the company and use that data to improve the bottom line. Net profits and contribution margins are some things to measure.”

Q:

As our financial officer, there may be times when you’ll have to decide if an investment is profitable for the company. What is your process for determining this profitability?

A:

You trust your chief financial officer to be able to look at potential investments and use their professional acumen to decide if those investments are worth the possible risk. It is the CFO or chief financial officer’s job to get the best deals possible for your company. Gathering insight into how a particular job candidate goes through this process will give you a glimpse into their prior training.

What to look for in an answer:

  • An example of an investment your company might make
  • Steps the CFO would take to analyze it
  • Analysis implementation technique

Example:

“I’ve studied the services you offer, and I could see X as a potential investment. I would look at your current trends to gauge viability.”

Q:

It is possible that revenue forecasts might show a decrease in income at some point. How would you work to correct this before it happens?

A:

Any CFO will be analyzing financial data constantly to see both how the company is doing and how they can expect it to perform in the future should current trends continue. While things can happen unexpectedly, your chief financial officer should be able to spot markers that point to a downward trend and take steps to minimize any losses the company might face from that spiral.

What to look for in an answer:

  • The process by which the CFO spots trends
  • Familiarity with company market trends
  • Logical reasoning and thinking for financial loss prevention

Example:

“I’ve studied the current market trends for this company and understand the things to which the market responds. Here’s how I would combat a decrease.”

Q:

Would you consider being able to analyze data and make financial decisions and recommendations based on that analysis a particular strength that you have? How so?

A:

Analyzing different types of data is a key skill for any good CFO. The answer to this question will demonstrate the financial officer’s analytical skills and their critical thinking skills as they relate to dealing with the information provided. In some financial markets, quick, effective decisions are crucial. You need to know if your new CFO can handle this process with ease.

What to look for in an answer:

  • An emphasis on financial data analysis
  • Critical thinking skills to turn data into actionable steps
  • Ability to make decisions quickly

Example:

“I consider data analysis a core component of my skill set. I can outline my process and show you how I convert data into action.”

Q:

Have you ever disagreed with lower-level financial directors and managers about a particular investment decision? If so, what was the situation and how did you resolve it?

A:

Chief financial officers are responsible for ensuring the financial stability of a corporation. This includes taking proactive measures. This question allows interviewers to gauge a candidate's ability to listen to the ideas of others, weigh risks and act as the primary leader of company finances.

A candidate's answer should emphasize:

  • Value of lower management's input
  • Ability to enforce or deny investment decisions
  • Verbal communication skills

Here is one example of a quality candidate answer:

Example:

"Yes. At my previous employer, I held monthly meetings with our director of finance, our controller and our accounting department manager. In one particular case, they suggested that we invest in a niche market that sold complimentarily services to our company. Their idea was to eventually absorb a smaller company and expand or product-base, therefore enhancing our revenue expectations. I was wary of the fact that there were low sale rates and brand recognition for the company in question.

Instead of rejecting it, I suggested we hold off until we saw how the business and its products performed in the market."

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