FD / CFO Interview Questions

FD / CFO Interview Questions

The interview process is one of the most nerve-wracking aspects of the hiring process. Even the most confident financial professional can feel stressed under the pressure to perform in front of a hiring manager or their potential employer. The stakes are even higher during a CFO or FD interview.

You’ll be up against highly qualified financial professionals with a proven track record and the ability to perform. Many of them will have the same qualifications and a similar CV to you. It’s why the interview is the best opportunity for you to prove your compatibility with the role.

We’re breaking down what candidates need to know to be successful in a CFO or FD interview, along with example questions you should familiarise yourself with. At FD Capital, we’re committed to empowering our candidates to reach their potential and take the next step in their careers.

Join our talent pool by submitting your CV to our team at recruitment@fdcapital.co.uk.

How to Succeed in an FD or CFO Interview

You want to prepare to put your best foot forward when stepping into a CFO or FD interview. It’s vital that you translate your skills and experience from paper into reality by being engaging and interacting with your interviewer. You want to showcase what you have to offer the company, as well as exploring the compatibility between yourself and the organisation.

The interview is an ideal opportunity for you to explore where the company is heading in the future. Showing a forward-thinking approach and industry knowledge can set you apart from the competition.

Here are a few top tips on how to succeed in an interview for a CFO or FD role:

- Be Concise

It’s easy to go off track when talking about your achievement and career in general. Keeping your answers concise, yet informative and engaging, is crucial to land you points with the interviewer. Every answer you provide should touch on your previous responsibilities and achievements.

Your answers should also be backed up with evidence, whether it’s referencing specific projects or giving the top lines of your cv. Taking part in a mock interview with a mentor can help you practice giving concise answers. Use our example questions below

- Research the Company’s Finances

Be proactive and show initiative by researching the company’s finances before going to your interview. Look back at the company’s accounts for the last three to five years and prepare some questions to ask your interviewer if they’re from the company’s management. In-depth research will show the company that you’re ready to hit the ground running and understand the challenges and expectations of the role.

- Expose Your USP

Your interview isn’t for reading back your CV to the interviewer. Focus on exposing your unique selling point (USP) as a candidate and how you can bring value to the company. Speak of your achievements in other roles and how you’ve led on value creation.

Don’t overlook the impact of soft skills, particularly in an evolving role like that of CFO. Stakeholder engagement and communication are two vital soft skills that are crucial to put across during your interview when applying for an FD or CFO role.

- Industry Knowledge

Industry knowledge is crucial as a financial executive. The strongest candidates are those who have financial skills and their finger on the industry pulse, particularly those undergoing regulatory changes and shifting consumer behaviour.

Companies are looking for business leaders and not bean counters. Candidates who specialise in an industry niche or have a fintech background can excel by showcasing their industry knowledge during their interviews.

AI and automation are enabling CFOs and FDs to think outside the box with real-time forecasting and industry analytics that promote better decision making. Candidates who can speak about technological advancement in their industry will grab the attention of their interviewer.

- Engage

Don’t get lost in the technical side of your interview. You want to engage with your interviewer and connect with them on a human level. Avoid looking at the interview as another step in the application process and instead approach it as an opportunity to make a personal connection with the interviewer.

You’ll want to make an extra effort if it’s a fellow executive or C-suite member. Companies are keen to find the right candidate the first time around and an individual who will fit into their company culture. Establish a back-and-forth with your interviewer and open a dialogue with your own questions about the company where appropriate.

Think From the Company’s POV

Take a different approach to your interview preparation by thinking from the company’s point of view. Put yourself on the other side of the table and the company’s financial goals and potential development strategy. It’ll help you choose potential questions for your interview prep that are more likely to come up.

Company vision

Where is the company going in the next 3 to 5 years? Do your research into the company’s market position and read reports and marketing material that might hint at its internal vision for the future. Understanding the company’s direction will allow you to connect your skills and experience to its future strategic decision-making.

Company culture

CFOs and FDs need to fit into their company culture as internal leaders. Companies are searching for candidates who can seamlessly fit into their existing network. Your objectives and values should align with the company’s long-term vision. Researching the organisation’s culture, particularly its environmental, social, and corporate governance, can give you the opportunity to highlight these similarities in your interview answers.

Understand the company’s obstacles

An FD or CFO is expected to be a problem solver, thinking outside the box to offer creative solutions and strategic advice, grounded in financial forecasting and data analysis. Understanding the obstacles that the company faces can give you a unique insight into which experience and skills to highlight throughout your interview.

Skills gap

CFOs and FDs are often recruited to fill a skills gap, whether it’s fundraising or overseeing stakeholder engagement. Speak with your recruiter and go through recruitment material to identify if any specific skills are highlighted. You’ll want to present yourself as a well-rounded candidate who can complement the company’s existing team and support its business goals.

Types of Questions in an FD or CFO Interview

The best way to prepare for a CFO or FD interview is by practising popular questions and doing a mock interview with your mentor or the help of a friend. We’re sharing the most common types of questions we see candidates get asked when applying for CFO and FD roles.

Most interviews will touch on the following topics:

  • Communication and leadership
  • Business management
  • Financial competence
  • Personal skills
  • Business culture

Below is our in-depth guide on common interview questions for CFO and FD recruitment. We recommend familiarising yourself with a variety of these potential questions and planning suitable answers.

Communication and leadership

Interviews will want to determine your capability as a communicator with stakeholder engagement becomes a central responsibility of the role, as well as your overall leadership potential. Here are some likely questions to familiarise yourself with:

  1. How do you interact with colleagues in your current role? What steps do you take to encourage your team to share their ideas and needs in their roles to create value?
  2. Do you believe that being ‘likable’ is crucial to the success of your financial management as a CFO/FD?
  3. Tell us about how you have built relationships with external partners, your finance team, and senior management within your current role.
  4. What is your experience of managing the financial expectations of investors, stakeholders, and your c-suite colleagues?
  5. Can you provide an example of a time when your department was able to use data or forecasting to highlight a risk management issue within your company?
  6. Have you handled any external communication in your current position?
  7. How would you promote employee retention and invest in human capital if you were to take on this role?
  8. How do you prefer to receive and give feedback to your colleagues? Would you be comfortable taking on a mentoring role as part of this job?

Business Management

Business management will make up the bulk of your day-to-day responsibilities as an FD or CFO. You’ll want to be able to articulate examples of your business management and point to skills and experience you can bring to the role.

  1. In recent years has your company performed in line with your financial forecasting, both in terms of revenue generated and expenses? Did your forecasting vary from your eventual revenue ratio? If so, what factors caused this?
  2. What method do you use for approaching financial forecasting? What systems would you put in place and what chain of communication would you establish?
  3. How do you utilise data analysis in your financial decision making and strategy? Would you be comfortable leveraging AI and automation as part of your financial forecasting and analysis? Do you think it would have any impact on the accuracy of your forecasting?
  4. Describe a finance operation you have previously implemented.
  5. How have you been staying on top of changes within the industry, including technological trends, shifting consumer behaviour, and regulatory compliance?
  6. How would you work with your C-suite colleagues to implement a new financial system within our organisation?

Financial Competence

A company may be recruiting a CFO or FD to fill a large gap in its financial literacy and competence. You can expect to receive more questions that focus on your financial management skills.

  1. What technical experience do you have in accounting?
  2. Describe your experience of dealing with regulatory compliance.
  3. What systems would you put in place to ensure financial accuracy and transparency in the company’s financial reporting?
  4. What do you predict the industry’s economic situation to look like over the next two years? What steps should our company be taking to prepare for any upheaval or growth?
  5. Have you ever been responsible for communicating a company’s financial results to a third party, such as external stakeholders and investors? Explain how you have supported the company’s position while engaging with stakeholder concerns or queries.

Personal Skill

Companies want a candidate for CFO or FD who they can work alongside and build a winning partnership with. You’ll likely receive several questions that focus on your personal attributes, your career progression, and your previous relationship with C-suite professionals.

  1. What characteristics do you believe make you an ideal team leader? Provide an example of how you have built relationships with your team.
  2. What is your approach to decision making in time-sensitive and financially tricky situations? Do you prefer to work through the problem strategically or make a decisive decision quickly? Share examples of complicated situations where you have been responsible for deciding the next steps.
  3. Have you ever taken a big risk in your role that has paid off for the company long-term?
  4. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career so far and how did you overcome it?
  5. What do you enjoy outside of your career?
  6. How satisfied are you with your current career progression? Where do you see yourself in the next 5 to 10 years?
  7. Describe your relationship with your current or more recent CEO and C-suite team.

Company Culture

Companies want to find a candidate who will fit into their wider culture and become part of their long-term team. Most CFO and FD interviews will feature a few questions that focus on company culture to access compatibility.

  1. What do you think your current company CEO would say about their experience of working with you?
  2. If you weren’t a CFO/FD, what career would you be perusing?
  3. What are your current career goals and non-career aspirations?
Join Our CFO and FD Talent Pool

Take the next step in your career by joining our talent pool of senior financial executives, including CFOs and FDs. Submit your CV to our team at recruitment@fdcapital.co.uk.

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