The financial controller in an organization is the chief accounting executive. They are tasked with the provision of financial management and constructing financial plans. They also conduct internal audits and provide accounting oversight.
Below are 20 common interview questions that can help you navigate a financial controller interview successfully.
1. Why Are You Interested In This Role?
Here the interviewer seeks to establish the factors behind the interviewees’ interest in the role. This includes the desire to work in the position above. Briefly explain what aroused your interest in this role.
“I am interested in this role because I see an opportunity for progression in my budding career. I also realize that this is an opportunity to polish my skills further. I believe my presence here will further boost the company’s value both professionally and financially. I also would blend in with your vision and mission to provide financial services as well as improve the welfare of the community at large.”
2. What Are The Roles Of A Financial Controller?
The interviewer seeks to determine if the interviewee is the right pick by establishing the interviewee’s ability to identify the key responsibilities associated with this role. In brief, highlight some of the important roles undertaken by a professional in this line of work.
“The responsibilities carried out by a financial Controller in a company may vary about a company’s size and nature of the operation. In my current role, I perform financial analysis, which includes spreadsheet design. I also perform risk assessments and analyze the efficiency of policy decisions made by the executives. I also review and analyze financial contracts on behalf of the company. My other role is the preparation of financial statements and cash flow reports. I also possess fantastic writing skills which are handy in preparation of reports.”
3. What Are The Qualities That A Financial Controller Need To Be Successful?
The interviewer intends to understand if the interviewee is well aware of the skill-set and attributes required in this role. A summary of key skills related to the job and their application would be sufficient.
“In my capacity as a financial Controller, I possess an array of analytical and technical skills. I am conversant with Microsoft office technology which is critical in my role especially mastery of Excel spreadsheets and databases. I am also good at accounting which provides the platform for auditing. I am also well versed in strategic planning techniques and the various planning tools in use today. Also, good communication skills ensure you coordinate departmental activities and pass information efficiently.”
4. What Major Challenges Did You Face During Your Last Role? How Did You Manage Them?
Here the interviewer seeks to establish how adept the interviewee is in dealing with challenging situations, that call for prudent decision-making. Highlight a scenario in which you were problematic and how you successfully solved it.
“When I began my last role, it was more like walking into the eye of a storm. The company was on the brink of financial ruin. Sales were at an all-time low, and the company had amassed massive debts. I hit the ground running and unearthed some issues that led to these financial problems. The first one was losses due to theft and misappropriation. Two junior auditors took responsibility and vacated their posts. The other was a lack of long-term financial strategy. I set one, and it bore fruit. These interventions helped steady the company.”
5. Describe Your Daily Routine As a Financial Controller?
As a Financial Controller, you should be in tune with your specified work schedule. Highlight the key aspects of your daily routine.
“I kick-start my day at 6 am with a cup of coffee and the morning paper. After breakfast and preparations, I leave for the office.
Since the office is 20 miles away, I commute by train, and this is when I get the opportunity to check my emails and daily schedule. My day varies, sometimes, my schedule could involve a board meeting, monthly accounts check-ups, and payroll presentations. My working day ends at 5 pm.”
6. Describe Briefly About Your Experience
The interviewer wants to understand your job experience. Explain what excites you the most about your role, including your qualifications, both academic and professional.
“To be a financial Controller is my dream job. Upon completion of my undergraduate degree in finance at the University of Kolkata, I got a job as an internal auditor with Goodtime Financial consultants. While plying my trade here, I enrolled for my MBA at Stanford University. I was promoted to the senior auditor and six years later to my current role as junior financial Controller. I have strived to be the best through hard work, determination, and dedication.”
7. What Kind Of Strategy And Mindset Is Required For This Role?
The interviewer seeks to understand the kind of approach you utilize in ensuring the desired results are achieved. In detail, explain the methods and approaches required in both a personal and professional capacity.
“Strategic planning is a key factor in this role as it provides the platform for success in a company. I have great analytical, and leadership skills which I believe are the basis for my success as a financial controller. My ability to discern changes in the financial market is a major bonus. A resilient attitude during tough times is also my key strength. Trustworthiness and accountability are pivotal in my role since we handle finances, and a lack of this may be detrimental to the business operations.”
8. What Is The Biggest Challenge That You Foresee In This Role?
In this question, explain the challenges you expect to encounter in this role based on your experiences in your previous role.
“In my previous role, I encountered a variety of problems, but key amongst these was the issue of cyber security these modern times, hackers and cybercriminals are a constant threat to companies. The other issue is keeping tabs on ever-changing legislative and compliance requirements. I also have to work overtime in some instances to meet deadlines but am prepared for this.”
9. How Do You Stay Motivated In Your Work?
In the course of any job, there have to be certain approaches that help employees maintain high spirits. In detail highlight some of the factors that ensure you stay motivated.
“I have had several motivation sources over the years. Firstly, is the expectation of career progression, which is through recognition of my diligence in work.
The other is the availability of learning opportunities and development within the workplace. Lastly, being provided with a sense of meaning and contributing to the company’s goals both long-term and short-term is also a source of motivation.”
10. Describe A Time When You Failed In This Role And The Lesson You Learned?
Failure can be described as when most professionals hit rock bottom in their careers. However, with proper determination and mental fortitude, it can also serve as a platform to build to improve your career. Briefly highlight an incident in which you failed and the lessons you learned.
“I had a really bad experience a couple of years back. It happened when, upon receiving the budgetary plan proposed by the chief economist and gave it the green light. Unfortunately, in that financial year, a pandemic struck, and we had not set aside any provisions for such occurrences in our budget. This called for drastic measures to be taken, and I was frustrated as we had to lay off a few workers to cut losses. It was a tough lesson, and I learned a lot.”
11. Why Do You Feel You Are The Most Suited For This Role?
The question is designed to understand the key strengths, abilities, and values the interviewee is expected to bring to the company. Discuss the key skills that make you a cut above the rest.
“Over the years, I have acquired relevant skills and experience which I believe would be good for the organization. I also possess fantastic leadership and management skills crucial in running a department. In addition to this, my accounting and Financial skills are top-notch. I always give 100% effort in my job and work well as both an individual and as a team member. As a leader, I possess abundant leadership skills and can mentor young and inexperienced colleagues.”
12. Share With Us Your Greatest Achievement.
The question is utilized in most cases to get an overview of the interviewee and rate their accomplishments. Picking a recent incident, you considered a success would be advisable.
“My greatest professional achievement, was when I was able to salvage our company from the cusps of bankruptcy, whilst operating on a shoe-string budget. We had our backs to the wall and drowning in debts.
However, I masterfully crafted a strategic financial plan and downsized where necessary. I also revised our suppliers and ensured we obtained raw materials at a discount. These measures enabled us to improve our profit margin and save the company.”
13. Identify The Most Challenging Project You’ve Worked On In Your Career.
The purpose of this question is to obtain more information on how well you manage projects and difficult situations. From another perspective, the interviewer seeks to establish how well you incorporate your skills and knowledge when dealing with challenges.
“I have handled several challenging projects in my position. On one occasion I was tasked with coordinating and directing the preparation of the company’s budget. A week after the completion of the budget, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. I was forced to make significant changes to the budget.
I introduced wage cuts and reduced the budget of our departments. This is to release funds to deal with the pandemic. Also, to lead by example, other senior staff and I slashed our salaries to lead by example. It worked well as the company took only a slight hit from the pandemic.
14. How Do You Reduce Expenses in a Company?
One of the key aspirations of the company is reducing expenses. This, in turn, will lead to improved profit margins. The financial controller is usually tasked with these responsibilities. Highlight the various measures you utilize in realizing this goal.
“As a financial Controller, knowledge of the various cost-cutting techniques is necessary. The first one entails the re-evaluation of suppliers at commencing of the financial year. This provides an opportunity to pick out a pool of suppliers who offer good discounts, which in turn help reduce supply costs.
The other measure involves lowering financial expenditures, for instance, through undertaking insurance cover with a cheap but effective insurer. Ensuring that depreciated assets can salvage at least some percentage of their value is also a key strategy.
Lastly maximizing employees’ skills ensures they can perform a variety of duties which helps reduce the wage bill.”
15. Highlight A Win-Win Situation You Successfully Negotiated In Your Previous Role?
A win-win situation is an outcome after a bone of contention where everyone comes out satisfied. Highlight a situation in your career where you intervened and helped solve or settled an issue between two or more aggrieved parties.
“On one occasion in my career, there arose complaints from both the production and sales departments who were at loggerheads due to the budgetary allocations. I organized a meeting with the departmental chiefs to clear the air.
In the meeting, I explained that in future budgets, funds would be allocated in line with the general strategic plan adopted by the company. They understood my point and settled the matter.”
16. Tell Us How You Go About Persuading Others To Your Point Of View.
The interviewer wants to understand if as a department head you possess the ability to communicate your thoughts and make people believe in them. Explain some methods you utilize when presenting an agenda and seeking support.
“I always believe as a leader you ought to have great communication skills and the ability to express your ideas clearly and effectively. I often view confidence as a key attribute when expressing myself. The ideas should also be logical and backed by facts to be appealing to your audience. Also building confidence in your colleagues is a key step in ensuring they buy into your ideas.”
17. What Does Integrity Mean To You?
All companies want to hire honest people. The interviewer may ask this question to have a better understanding of the interviewee’s values and morals.
“According to me, integrity means doing the right thing and at the right time. This with a view of the community at large. In today’s corporate world, it is a challenging prospect, but I have always strived to put personal gains aside and focus on the well-being of others. Integrity could be on a personal level or as a team and instilling this into your workmates is a plus for any organization.”
18. What Are Your Expectations On Employees Working In The Finance Department?
The interviewer asks you this question as the department head to ascertain the level of expectation you bestow upon your juniors.
“I always expect them to conduct themselves professionally. They should also perform their duties at a reasonable and acceptable standard. They ought to represent the organization responsibly. Dedication, hard work, and determination should be the norm in the workplace. Lastly, integrity and honesty will be key in building a positive and healthy working environment.”
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19. In Your Perspective, How Do You Define Quality?
The interviewer wants to understand from your point of view; what is deemed to be good enough or a success. Explain the variables that you use to gauge quality work.
“Quality according to me is a degree of excellence. It is how good something or someone is concerning others in a similar position. In business circles, it is the ability to guarantee total customer satisfaction.”
20. What Are Your Weaknesses?
With this question, the interviewer tries to understand how self-conscious and insightful you are about yourself. Highlight some of your shortcomings concerning your role.
“One of my major Weaknesses is impatience with projects that run beyond the set timeline. This always irritates me. I expect projects to be duly completed and delivered before the specified deadlines. However, if a logical reason is behind the delay, then well and good.”
These are some of the common questions for the role of a financial controller, but a candidate needs to prepare extensively for an interview. Consulting and reading to obtain further information on the role is crucial since having sufficient knowledge eases pressure on you before the big interview.