Last updated on June 5th, 2019 at 06:03 pm

Finance manager is a prestigious job title, and you will compete with other people for the position. In most cases you will interview in front of a small panel, consisting from upper managers and some HR people from the company.

They will use a combination of personal, behavioral, and technical questions, to get a good grasp of your personality and motivation, of your accounting, finance and communication skills (extremely important for the job), and about your attitude to various situations associated with this job (conflict with your subordinate, discrepancy in the accounts, budgeting problems, communication problems, etc).

The discussion about your working experience, especially any jobs you had within finance & accounting, will also form an important part of this interview. Let’s have a look at some questions one by one.

 

Why did you decided to apply for this particular job?

Try to talk about the value you can (and want to) bring to their organization as a financial manager. You can explain how your education and previous experience prepared you for the role, how all jobs, and skills you gained while doing them, helped you to understand the life of an organization in terms of cash flow.

You can also refer to their company, the products/services they offer to final customers, their excellent reputation, values and goals, a great perspective for the future, and simply to anything that motivated you to apply with them, and not with some other company.

Older manager sits in his nice office, we can see two women in the background

Tell us something about your working experience. (Tell us more about the job you had with ABC company.)

If you read the job description carefully, and did some research about the company, by now you should know what will be expected from you, what you will respond for in your new job.

Try to relate to these things while explaining your past experience–similar working duties, similar goals you tried to achieve for your past employers, lessons you learned while working for them, etc.

Avoid negative remarks about your former colleagues and bosses, and focus on the value you brought to the employer with your work. The key is to show them, while explaining what you did in the past, that at the moment of applying you are ready to handle the job, and to help them maximize their profits, and minimize their expenses.

 

What do you want to accomplish on this position?

Try to talk about things you want to accomplish for your employer, and not only for you.

Typically you will have access to balance sheets and cash flow statements of the company, for at least the last five years (in most modern world countries companies are obliged to share the documents publicly, and you will find it on a website of a governmental institution responsible for tax collection).

Study them in detail, and point out some areas for improvement, and particularly what you want to accomplish in these areas.

Obviously not everything is clear from the financial documents, and you may need to ask them some follow-up questions in an interview. But the bare fact that you studied the cash flow and balance sheet will make impression on the interviewers.

 

Tell us about a time when your knowledge helped your past employer to save money.

You have plethora of options in this case. You can talk about a managerial decision, when you understood that some employees (accountants, financial analysts) working under you were doing a bad job. Replacing/relocating/training/firing these people, you helped your employer to save money.

Another good answer would refer to your accounting skills. Choosing the right method of depreciation, or planning expenses properly in various fiscal terms, according to profits of the company and their business plan, can also lead to significant cost reduction (in terms of taxes paid).

You can also tell about a case when you reviewed a budget for a particular project/department, spotted expenses that weren’t necessary, reduced them and again saved money for your employer.

Manager is holdng as phone, he looks nervous

Tell us about a time when you disagreed with your superior.

Good finance manager is not afraid to challenge the executives and their opinions. Talk about a conflict you had with one of your superiors, while trying to persuade them to make a decision which you thought would benefit the company.

Try to choose a situation that had a happy ending–when you eventually agreed, and proceeded according to your suggestions.

And if you have never experienced the situation, say simply what you would do if you disagreed with your superior. You would clearly explain your reasons, in a calm and cheerful manner. At the end you would accept the decision of the executive (regardless of whether they approved your suggestion), becasue you respect their authority.

Special Tip: Download a full list of questions in a one-page long .PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later (even when offline):

Describe a time when you had to meet a tight deadline (preparing budget, report, presentation, etc).

Once again, your attitude matters more than the situation you narrate. Show the interviewers that you do not panic under pressure, that you know how to prioritize your work, do not mind staying overtime if necessary, and always do your best to meet the deadlines.

You can even talk about a situation when you failed to meet a deadline (if that’s the one that stayed in your conscious memory). The key is to show them that you tried your very best, and did not panic.

 

If one of your subordinates made an error, how would you handle it?

Errors belong to the work of an accountant and financial analyst. Even the best accountants I had a honor to work with in my life made some mistakes (and they typically realized the errors a few hours or few days later).

Show the interviewers that you have the right attitude to your colleagues. You can say that you would explain them the error, why it occurred, show them how to avoid it for the next time, and give them a short test exercise to ensure that they understood the issue clearly, and won’t repeat the same error.

Two women shake hands in a corridor in a corporation

What do you expect from your subordinates, and from your superiors as a finance manager?

You can say that you expect them to give you feedback on your work (both supervisors and people working under you), that you hope to have clear and open communication with each one, and that you expect them to try their best in their respective jobs.

Another alternative is saying that you do not expect anything special from anyone. You simply focus on your job, and on being the best possible financial manager you can be. You take care of all your duties responsibly, and expect a lot from one person only–from yourself…

 

Other questions they may ask you in a financial manager interview

  • Why did you leave your last job? (Why do you plan to leave your present job?)
  • What motivates you the most in work?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years time?
  • What computer software have you used in your work so far? How would it benefit you as a finance manager?
  • What’s your experience with bench-marking studies?
  • What kind of financial reports have you prepared in the past?
  • Can you give me an example where you improved the quality/timeliness of the financial information?
  • Describe a situation when you had to motivate someone in work (your colleague, your subordinate, or even your superior).
  • Give an example of a time when you had a difficult person to manage and how you handled the situation.
  • Describe a situation when you reached a goal and tell us how you achieved it.
  • Describe the biggest failure of your professional career.
  • Many people apply for this position with us. Why should we choose you as our new finance manager?

 

Summary and next steps

Finance Manager is a popular job title, and you have to prepare for a difficult interview. What is more, you will compete with other skilled people for the job, sometimes ten or more.

Your success (or failure), however, is not question of luck. Prepare for the questions from this article, research about the company, and learn how to make a great impression on the interviewing panel. The more time you devote to your preparation, the better your chances to succeed will be…

Continue your preparation with InterviewPenguin.com, your best job interview coach:

  • Interview with CEO – What matters for the decision makers? What questions will they ask you?
  • Leadership interview questions – An essential skill for every good manager, your leadership skills will be tested in an interview for virtually any managerial job. Are you ready to demonstrate them in an interview?
  • Body language in an interview – What do your gestures and movements say about you? Can we control our non-verbal communication?

Matthew Chulaw

Matthew has been working in international recruitment since 2008. He helps job seekers from all walks of life to pursue their career goals, and to prepare for their interviews. He is the founder of InterviewPenguin.com website.
Matthew Chulaw

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