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Financial Controller Interview Questions

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  1. What are some challenges facing the financial industry, and do you think your position could be impacted? See answer
  2. What software platforms do you have experience with to help eliminate errors in your work? See answer
  3. What software programs are you familiar with, and do you prefer certain platforms? See answer
  4. Have you ever eliminated wasteful spending on a particular project for your company? See answer
  5. How do you motivate the members of your financial team? See answer
  6. What would you do if you found out that an accountant was passing off their auditing and reporting responsibilities onto a payroll clerk? See answer
  7. Do you have any experience integrating accounting systems as the result of a merger between companies or departments? How would you approach combining two different financial systems into one?
  8. Describe the steps you take to prepare a financial forecast and list the main factors you’d consider when making your projections.
  9. What role does risk management play in your duties as a financial controller?
  10. What would you do if you were performing an internal audit of the company’s accounting practices and found a history of noncompliance?
  11. How do you remain aware of market developments and possible opportunities for financial growth within our industry?
  12. What is the concept of a material weakness within internal control of financial reporting? How would you correct a material weakness in our financial controls?
  13. What strategies have you used to increase revenues for previous employers and which were most effective?
  14. Explain the three types of internal financial controls and how you use them to improve financial accountability within your company.
  15. Consider a situation where your actual monthly cash flow was vastly different than your initial projections. What are the steps you’d take to determine the source of the discrepancy and improve future projections?
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6 Financial Controller Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

What are some challenges facing the financial industry, and do you think your position could be impacted?

A:

When you are looking to hire a financial controller, you want someone who is looking towards the future. You want to find a candidate that is willing to make changes and can adapt to the current environment. With this question, your candidate should be able to touch on the latest trends in the industry. This will also give you a chance to see how the candidate views their role in your company.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Knowledge about the latest financial industry trends
  • Understands the role of financial controller
  • Willingness to change and adapt to the position

Example:

“In this industry, there seems to be a trend toward artificial intelligence software. I am willing to try new ways to help with accuracy in the field.”

Q:

What software platforms do you have experience with to help eliminate errors in your work?

A:

Accounting errors can be costly for a business. Your candidate should be familiar with software that catches these mistakes before they hurt your company. The candidate must acknowledge that human error can occur, but they should also have safeguards to double check their work. Your candidate should know how to respond to an issue.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Commitment to exceptional accuracy on the job
  • A highly detail-orientated attitude
  • Strong ability to find and correct any accounting mistakes

Example:

“I always manually check my work, and I use several platforms to monitor all my accounts. Automated monitoring allows me to double check for any anomalies in my work.”

Q:

What software programs are you familiar with, and do you prefer certain platforms?

A:

Your financial controller candidate needs to have experience with various types of accounting software programs. This question will allow you to see if the candidate is proficient in certain platforms. You can also see if the candidate is familiar with your company’s accounting software. If the applicant is not familiar with your software programs, there should be a willingness to learn the new platforms.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Understands the basic accounting software and programs
  • Willingness to learn new systems and platforms
  • Advanced knowledge of the most common accounting software programs

Example:

“I consider myself an expert on the QuickBooks software program. When I was employed at a large accounting firm, I did work with Dynamics GP as well.”

Q:

Have you ever eliminated wasteful spending on a particular project for your company?

A:

A financial controller must be able to find wasteful spending in your company. Your candidate must have some experience creating budgets and strategies that eliminate these expenditures in your organization. You want to hear that the candidate has the experience to make important and tough decisions in the accounting department. The candidate should show a willingness to go that extra mile and help the company save money.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Have experience to develop optimized budgets
  • Provides real-life examples to back up work history
  • Have the initiative to cut spending for your company

Example:

“When I work on a project, I am always looking for ways to cut spending in the company. With my help, my former employer was able to save 15% by reducing redundancies in the budget.”

Q:

How do you motivate the members of your financial team?

A:

Your financial controller is responsible for the other workers in the accounting department. You want a candidate who knows how to motivate the staff. This is another question where the candidate needs to provide past examples of their management skills. The candidate should be able to build up the confidence of the staff and delegate responsibilities when projects are facing deadlines.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Understands how to motivate staff with different personalities
  • Knows the importance of teamwork on projects
  • Keeps the team focused on goals

Example:

“As a financial controller, I am responsible for everyone on the team. I help motivate my staff by delegating tasks based on their strengths and interests.”

Q:

What would you do if you found out that an accountant was passing off their auditing and reporting responsibilities onto a payroll clerk?

A:

Financial controllers serve a leadership position in the accounting department and are responsible for making sure that everyone is properly qualified to fulfill their responsibilities. As the professional in charge of organizing accounting workflows and setting best practices for the department, financial controllers should also be able to guide and correct staff who deviate from their expectations. Interviewers can use this question to discuss a candidate's leadership, delegation and problem-solving skills for correcting noncompliant workflow issues.

Look for these elements of a successful answer:

  • Commitment to procedure
  • Tact and communication skills
  • Ability to follow up

An example answer could look like this:

Example:

"I'd start by having a conversation with the payroll clerk about how their duties had changed and emphasize that they should prioritize their own role to set expectations going forward and gather essential information. I'd ask to meet with the accountant and respectfully bring up my concerns, focusing on how rearranging accounting responsibilities could impact compliance and workplace operations. I'd monitor both roles to make sure the problem was resolved."

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