6 Finance Manager Interview Questions and Answers
As a finance manager, do you have experience with relational database management systems, such as Oracle?
The ideal candidate will have experience using relational database management systems. Is the applicant proficient in these systems or a beginner? When explaining his or her experience, focus on what methods the candidate has used in the past and if your company uses any of those systems today. These types of programs typically all use the same program language, known as SQL, so having experience in one relational database management system can be quite versatile. What to look for in an answer:
- Knowledge of SQL
- Ability to translate data from relational database management systems
- Confidence in oneself
“As a finance manager, I have six years of experience using Oracle. I have a working knowledge of SQL. I recently began using Tibero and Microsoft SQL Server.”
Tell me about a time when you had to prepare a financial report with a very tight deadline. What steps did you take?
As a finance manager, it is common to have tight deadlines. The ideal candidate will have experience creating reports within a short window of time. The applicant’s answer to this question should help you gauge what a very tight deadline is to the candidate compared to the company’s view of a tight deadline. The amount of time may vary significantly among candidates. How did the applicant divide his or her time while preparing the financial report? What to look for in an answer:
- Understands the importance of efficiency and accuracy
- Experience preparing financial documents with a tight deadline
- Time-management skills
“I was given four hours to prepare a financial report. I stopped working on all non-essential tasks and brought in my assistant to sort through balance sheets while I examined statements of cash flow.”
What are your methods for avoiding errors when recording and examining financial documents?
While there are automated processes as a finance manager, there is still a potential for error when recording and examining financial documents for accuracy. An applicant’s dedication for accuracy is critical as financial mistakes can quickly result in costly blunders. A good candidate will always be thinking ahead and have a set routine for double-checking his or her work. Does the applicant ask a coworker to double-check reports before submitting them? What to look for in an answer:
- Attention to detail
- A solid routine for double-checking work
- Ability to correct errors before there is a problem
“In my last finance manager position, I put together a team of analysts to double-check all financial documents. I would correct any errors on the documents before submitting them to upper management.”
As a finance manager, how do you motivate and reward your team?
The ideal candidate will have interpersonal skills and the ability to motivate teammates. When working with numbers, employees can often become disgruntled if they feel unappreciated. The applicant’s answer should help you determine his or her motivation techniques and reward systems. A finance manager should be able to identify what rewards his or her staff is interested in and use that to their advantage when creating programs. What to look for in an answer:
- Communication skills for staff and colleagues
- High level of initiative and creativity
- Knowledge of motivational techniques
“As a finance manager, I allocate budgets for monthly bonuses and Friday lunches. Every Friday, I provide my team with excellent lunches in the office. The monthly bonuses are for those who come to work daily.”
In your opinion, can a cash flow statement tell how well a company is doing?
Finance managers know the ins and outs of a plethora of different financial documents. The applicant should be aware that a cash flow statement reflects what a company is doing with its money and where it is coming from; however, it does not take into account liabilities and assets. Focus on what side of the question the applicant is defending. Does the candidate recommend using another document for a company’s entire financial condition? What to look for in an answer:
- A solid understanding of multiple financial documents
- Explains the pros and cons of different financial documents
- Critical thinking skills
“I would use a balance sheet, which lists liabilities and assets, and a cash flow statement to get a complete idea of a company’s financial state. Using multiple documents helps fill in any missing gaps.”
Have you ever disagreed with a member of upper management about an investment decision? What example can you provide and how did you handle the situation?
Finance managers provide beneficial insights into a company’s financial practices and strive to maintain their employer’s finances. This question allows interviewers to gauge a candidate’s ability to analyze potential investment opportunities and compare those opportunities to current company revenue versus debts or accounts receivable. It also highlights their ability to challenge authority in a respectful way to uphold a business’s financial health.
A candidate’s answer should emphasize:
- Respect for upper management professionals
- Persuasive verbal communication skills
- Ability to recognize financial risks
Here is one example of a quality candidate answer:
“Yes, at my previous job, the CFO of our company wanted to find ways to maximize business profits by investing in start-up companies. At this time, it was the end of August and we were still waiting to receive payments from clients to pay off our current liabilities. To help them understand my reasoning, I created a report that outlined how existing client payments would barely match current liabilities. This was enough for the CFO to consider holding off on our investment plan until after the start of the next year.”
Ready to get started?