Financial Director Profiling - FD Recruit

Finance Director & CFO Recruiting Tips

Thinking of recruiting a CFO or finance director? We have extensive experience of helping MD’s, HR Managers and chief executives source talented finance directors. Here are a few tips that could prevent you from losing out on that ideal candidate.

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CFO and Finance Director Recruitment Process Considerations

1. Evaluate the requirements of the position

Depending on the size of your organisation and the makeup of your finance team will determine your requirements.

Work out what the role looks like today and where it will be in 3, 5 or 10 years’ time so that you can consider your candidates aspirations and development capabilities.

Sector experience

When it comes to the experience you are looking for in your candidates, there are lots of options to consider.

For some industries previous sector experience can be invaluable, in others demonstrable results working with specific financial situations would outweigh this.

You could consider an up and coming FC/FD hungry for a bigger role someone who would shake things up or one to steady the ship.

Softer skills

In addition to exceptional and demonstrable accountancy skills, a successful FD needs to have business acumen and commercial awareness.

Softer skills to consider are leadership, an FD will have to lead your team and drive them through potentially difficult times.

The ability to translate figures to non finance staff is also something to consider.

An FD will operate at board level, often working closely with or even deputising for the MD/CEO requiring an even wider skillset other than just finance.

2. Write job description

Give a detailed and accurate overview of the role; break down what needs doing and the responsibilities involved as well as the skills you are looking for and include a person specification to fit your business and team.

This is an opportunity to create a wish list for what could be done by the right candidate rather than just thinking about replacing the duties of a previous incumbent.

3. Work out how you want to source the position

Do you want to do it yourself; this may limit your pool of talent to those with enough time on their hands to scour the job pages.

The most talented people are already wanted and as a result are already in demand and gainfully employed, as a result they probably aren’t sifting the job boards.

If the role is important to you then it is vital that you get access to the markets highest calibre of talent.

If using a recruiter – use a specialist

A generalist recruiter will rely on adverts and jobs boards to compile shortlists.

Industry specialists will spend all their time immersed in that network, studying the who’s who of their market place and getting to know the most talented professionals in their sector.

The specialist recruiter will advertise every position as a matter of course but will fill over 85% of roles via their network of inactive and passive candidates.

4. Set salary allowance

To attract the right candidates for the role you need to set a competitive salary and consider potential remunerations or bonuses that other employers could be offering.

You can visit our Salary Survey for the latest guides on what to pay. Standard additional benefits usually include a car, pension contributions, healthcare and a bonus indexed to the success of the business.

5. Decide the stages of the interview process

Normally we recommend at least two stages; initial interview then bringing the most suitable 2 or 3 candidates back for at least one further meeting which could entail presentations, psychometric testing or spending time in the finance department.

Decide who in your organisation you want to be involved and at what stage so their diaries can be co-ordinated well in advance

We have lost count the amount of times organisations wait for the completion of one stage before they start booking diaries for the next stage which can result in candidates dropping out during the selection stages.


Presentations can be an excellent stage of the process. You can set a task or a specific challenge in order to assess their abilities in key competencies of the job.

Alternatively, you could set a case study to test a reservation you may have regarding their skillset.

Forget the fact that you will get a demonstration of their presentation skills you will also get an insight into the amount of preparation they have done, this is usually an indication to how much they want to work for you and your organisation.

Psychometric testing

Whilst some people are naturally good at presenting or passing interviews, others may not come across initially as impressive but have more suitable skills.

If this next recruit is an important one then consider psychometric testing like having a survey done before purchasing a house or looking under the bonnet before buying a car.

Testing can throw up some interesting tangible results that can change decision making and save you from expensive disastrous appointments.


Referencing has become more difficult in the emergence of the standard none specific written reference that is constructed in fear of litigation usually only confirming dates of employment.

A good recruiter will conduct 360 degree referencing before submitting candidates to a shortlist to get an insight into your prospective new employees’ strengths and weaknesses and would then provide you with contacts to gather your own verbal references.

Beware of any names volunteered to you by the candidate themselves as whilst they may be their ex-boss they may be more of a social acquaintance.

Where possible source your own intel either via a neutral co-worker or intermediary – you may also be surprised how many people with no loyalty to the person in question will be more open to giving you subtle hints about a poor performance or personality traits.

6. Establish a timescale

Decide from the start when you need the role filling by and when you are available for interviews. In most instances, candidates will also be busy and will ideally need some notice of an interview.

To maintain interest a recruiter would like to tell candidates when they can expect feedback.

It is vital that the process doesn’t stall as you risk candidates cooling off or not taking you seriously.

Sell your opportunity

The best candidates do not stay job seekers for long so you need to make your role as appealing as possible.

Give a thorough overview of the business and the finance team as well as positioning any challenges or goals for the business – accompanied by a targeted job description, a person specification and the rewards they can enjoy for achieving success.

Recruiting an FD or CFO? Read our guide to finding the perfect candidate.

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