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It is often said that a company cannot function without a financial manager. They usually hold two key duties - managing financial operations and advising upper management.
Depending on each company, they might also be responsible for financial planning, risk management and overseeing investment. It is a lucrative career with competitive entry requirements.
Candidates hoping to enter this field would typically have a degree in a relevant subject, such as accounting, economics or finance, as well as substantial skills in reporting, budgeting and data analysis. Having professional certifications or industry-specific knowledge will also make a candidate stand out when answering financial manager interview questions.
There are various financial managerial roles candidates may be interviewing for. Some examples of these include financial managers, financial directors, and financial executives. While all of them are responsible for the prosperity and management of funds within a company, there is a difference in the level and area of authority they each hold.
For instance, financial directors will utilize the information presented by financial managers to assess their company’s financial future, whereas financial executives will look at proposals made by financial directors to determine ways for their company to cut costs and remain profitable.
No matter what types of financial managerial roles you are interviewing for, preparing for common financial manager interview questions can help you advance into the next rounds and land your dream job.
The ideal candidate for a financial manager has to show they have experience in using relational database management systems during the interview.
It’s important for companies to know whether the candidate is a beginner or a proficient user during an interview, as it is one of the key responsibilities of a financial manager.
“I have six years of experience using Oracle as a finance manager in my previous company. I acquired a working knowledge of SQL and have recently begun self-learning Tibero and Microsoft SQL Server.”
It is important to demonstrate that you are a financial manager that is well-versed with the nitty-gritties of different financial documents during your interview.
You should be aware that although cash flow statements show the debits and credits of a company, it doesn’t take into account liabilities and assets, and demonstrate this when answering questions for a technical finance interview and brush up on your finance knowledge.
“I don’t think so. In addition to looking at cash flow statements, I would also use a balance sheet, which lists liabilities and assets, to get a clearer picture of a company’s financial state. Having various sources of documents helps explain any gaps and provide a more comprehensive view.”
Successful financial managers not only possess the technical skills needed to excel at their job, but also the interpersonal skills to motivate their team.
An attractive candidate should be able to demonstrate during a financial manager interview that they can identify what rewards their team is most drawn to and use that to their advantage when creating reward systems.
“As a financial manager, I am also responsible for allocating budgets for monthly bonuses, which cover events such as Monday lunches and Friday beer and pizzas. I provide my team with delightful meals and drinks that allow them to bond with each other, and host mini team-getaways for the whole team to motivate them to work harder.”
This common financial manager interview question zooms in to ask about your motivation in choosing your career path.
Be sure to story-tell what interested you to join the industry and why you want to continue pursuing this career path.
“I joined this industry as I wanted to pursue a trusted and respected profession that helps companies make tough decisions. I was attracted to its versatility and the transferable skills that I can take to any industry. Financial managers will always be in demand as businesses require them to keep their operations running smoothly and bottom line in mind.”
Producing financial reports is a key skill all financial managers should possess.
It is more than likely that you will be asked to demonstrate your ability to do so during a financial manager interview, and you should be prepared to answer it by giving details of your past work.
“I have experience creating various types of financial reports, including annual budgets, balance sheets, spending reports, and cash flow statements, and presenting them to senior management, C-suite executives and key stakeholders.”
At times, an error made by anyone in a team can put the entire project at stake, particularly at a critical time, such as one close to the agreed delivery time. Your ability to rectify and prevent mistakes is therefore important for a finance manager role.
When answering questions for a financial manager interview, make sure to highlight how you would communicate with your subordinate to make sure the mistake does not happen again, and also demonstrate that you would resolve the issue with an encouraging and positive attitude. Below is a sample answer to consider when preparing for your financial manager interview.
“When I plan for projects, I always add in a contingency plan in case of any error, so that there is space to tackle it. If my subordinate makes a mistake, I will communicate with them empathetically while constructively reflecting on what caused the mistake and how they can avoid it next time. I will also assign a small practice exercise to them before they work on the same thing again.”
This is one of the most common financial manager interview questions that you will get. You need to demonstrate your time management abilities, which is a crucial skill for a financial manager.
“I believe setting up a clear schedule and using task tracking tools are crucial in making sure I get my work done on time. I tend to check through my schedule and to-do-lists first in the morning and at the end of the workday to make sure everything is on track.”
As a financial manager likely has to deliver internal changes at some point in the hope to improve team performance and communication. However, when teams have been running with the same approach, they will get used to it and may resist any new changes.
It is hence important to show that you will communicate the reason for change clearly with your team members and provide the steps that you will take to help them adjust, when answering this financial manager interview question.
“I understand that implementing change is one of the most difficult things to deliver, especially when it is your internal team. When dealing with resistance from my team members, I will stay empathetic to their feelings yet assertive about why the change needs to be done. Showing the advantages and reassuring them the adjustment will not be difficult should help convince them.”
Dealing with conflict amongst team members with the same job level is one of the most difficult tasks a manager has to deal with, therefore a very common question in a financial manager interview.
Make sure to showcase that you would resolve this issue by ensuring that there is no bias involved and it is reflected rationally.
“There was once when two accountants on my team had a conflict, as they were working on a project together but misunderstood their individual responsibilities. I first spoke to them separately and then brought them together to figure out what the issue was and what actions to take forward. We realized it was a communication issue and set up a new communication channel between the three of us to mitigate this.”
As a financial manager, you are often responsible for helping shape a company’s onward strategies. Answer this financial manager interview question by indicating your analytical skills and business mindset.
“I will first look at the past account history of this product and check its performance with customers. If it has been well-received then I would recommend it. If not, I would check what the issues were and whether this can be resolved, while forecasting its future market potential to decide whether it is worth continuing.”
There will likely be a time when you disagree with your superior’s view or decisions. A good financial manager however should understand how to handle such conflict professionally and appropriately.
When answering this financial manager interview question, make sure to highlight how well you handled the situation and give examples of your experience where it ended well.
“There was an occasion where I disagreed with my superior on the financial plan for a client project. I remained calm and discussed with them to find a solution that would benefit the project and company overall rather than us individually. I always make sure to stay respectful and professional towards my superiors as an employee.”
Delivering your work on time and to high quality is a key skill for a financial manager.
Demonstrate that you understand the importance of managing tight deadlines and how you would ensure they are not missed in this financial manager interview question.
“I usually handle tight deadlines by keeping an up-to-date calendar and breaking tasks into smaller chunks to keep them manageable. I also remain flexible to account for any unexpected changes and shift my priorities as needed.”
You will be working in a leadership position and having an effective management style is essential.
Be detailed and give examples of what it is and how it worked well in your past experience during your financial manager interview.
“I have a management style focused on collaboration and encouragement. I see myself as a member of the team rather than a boss. I believe this style of management style creates a more productive team and more motivated employees.”
One of your responsibilities as a financial manager is to help enhance financial situations, with the aim to either improve its quality or timeliness.
When asked this question in your financial manager interview, be specific about the actions you took and the impact they made on the situation.
Take a look at the sample below to prepare for your next financial manager interview.
“In my previous role, I helped improve a financial reporting process by auditing our client’s expenses to see where costs could be reduced and making budgeting recommendations. This allowed the reports to be completed in a shorter amount of time and with more accuracy.”
The interviewer for your financial manager interview here is assessing your attention to detail and risk management skills.
Good tips when preparing for your financial interview is to list out how you would eliminate human errors and give realistic examples from your experience.
“I recommended my previous team install reliable software that helps to validate the information and a peer-review system to reduce error. I also made sure that I delegate tasks appropriately to my subordinates, taking into account their abilities, so as not to overburden anyone as a lot of times, people make mistakes when their workload is too great. This helped my team remain a consistent top performer.”
Many interviews end with the interviewer asking if you have any questions for the company. It is a two-way process where you are also interviewing them to determine whether the financial manager role or company is the right fit for you.
Apart from getting the information about the role and company you cannot otherwise get, at the end of your financial manager interview, make sure you ask the right questions to demonstrate that you are considering this role seriously and that you are eager to understand the details involved.
Example of questions that you may ask during your next financial manager interview:
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--- Originally written by Wayne Chang ---