6 constructive questions to ask before hiring a CFO

October 1st 2018 | Posted by phil scott

6 constructive questions to ask before hiring a CFO

6 constructive questions to ask before hiring a CFO

With responsibility for the overall financial strategy, direction and operation, a Chief Financial Officer a key position for any organisation. Therefore, it’s absolutely critical to make the right hire for the future success of the company.

What does the right hire mean?  Of course, it means making sure that the CFO chosen possesses the financial skills, knowledge, and experience required to deliver the role.  But it is much more than simply ensuring an individual has the ability to do the job.

Other areas that need to be assessed can include personality, leadership style, communication skills, vision for the future and overall fit within the team.  All of these areas are just as important in making sure the CFO will work well within the business.

Here are 6 essential interview questions to kick-start your CFO hiring process:

1. What is your management style and how do you feel it works for you and your team?

This question will reveal a lot about the individual’s personal management style and their communication skills with people at different levels in the organisation.  It will demonstrate their management abilities and their aptitude for tailoring their style according to the person they are managing.

Asking how they feel it works for them and their team is an opportunity to find out if the CFO is able to look inward and evaluate their own skills and abilities.  It can show how well they are able to understand their own strengths (and weaknesses) and how this impacts on the wider team and business.  This is key as it is important for somebody in such a senior role to be able to understand their style and the impact it can have.

2. How do you approach the budgeting and forecasting process?

This question will demonstrate a CFO’s work history, experience, and approach to a key component of the CFO role.   Budgeting & forecasting are a critical part of the financial operation and this question will demonstrate the way the CFO approaches budgeting – how they manage the process, how they operate strategically, how they work with others who are submitting budgets and their abilities to assess budget priorities for the business.

3. Describe a successful new financial strategy that you have implemented

Asking about the implementation of the strategy is a great way to explore both innovation and execution.  Firstly, it gives the chance for the individual to demonstrate ownership of a new financial strategy that they’ve brought to the business.  Secondly, there is the opportunity to showcase strategic implementation, which is essential in demonstrating a track record of success and also proving how a CFO is able to push through new ideas and effectively deliver them.

4. Describe how you build relationships with key stakeholders

A significant part of the CFO role will be building relationships with key stakeholders.  An open question such as this invites the CFO to highlight their strengths in nurturing relationships and to give examples of how they have successfully strengthened relationships with important groups in the business.  For example, this could be cultivating an excellent working relationship with the Board and the individual could explain how they share key financial information, take on board the views of Senior Management and balance conflicting opinions.

This type of question also gives useful insight into an individual’s personality and communication abilities.

5. Give examples of how you balance the needs of strategy with the pressures of operational delivery

This is a great question to find out more about the individual’s abilities to work within two competing, yet equally important, structures – that of strategy and operations.

It is asking them to give examples from their work history that will demonstrate their financial abilities and also their aptitude for balancing competing projects and working under pressure to deliver against key objectives.

6. What is your top advice for evaluating new financial opportunities?

This is a brilliant question to ask when interviewing CFOs.  It requires them to demonstrate their thought process when it comes to evaluating new, potentially risky, financial opportunities.  This is important to understand their approach to assessing risk within the financial needs of the business.  It opens up the opportunity for the CFO to give examples of times they have reviewed new opportunities that will demonstrate a proven track record in this area.

Do you want to learn more about hiring the right finance professional for your business?  We can help when it comes to hiring a new Chief Financial Officer or Finance Director to take your company to the next level. Contact us to find out more.