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Finance Manager Interview
Questions

25 Questions and Answers by
| Brian Schuchart is a CPA with fourteen years of experience, including nine years in financial strategy roles. He has held the roles of auditor, staff accountant, manager of financial planning and analysis and senior finance partner.

Question 1 of 25

How would your management style change if your employees and team members worked remotely full time or part time?

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Finance Manager Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    How would your management style change if your employees and team members worked remotely full time or part time?

      Many professionals are working remotely in the wake of the pandemic. Even as things return to normal, a partial or full remote work environment may be common in the future. Speak to changes to your management style that you have implemented in previous roles.

      Brian's Answer

      "The pandemic has allowed me to revisit how I manage my team and adjust in a few areas. For example, I realize that I must be more flexible as each team member has unique family and other demands that impact their work-life balance. This forced me to adjust deadlines to focus on higher priority deliverables. Additionally, I can no longer drop by my team members' desks to catch up so I started scheduling weekly check-ins."

  2. 2.

    Describe how previous experience has prepared you for the Finance Manager role.

      Use this opportunity to expand on your experience as it specifically relates to the Finance Manager role. Some key areas to highlight, if applicable, include: performing 'nuts and bolts' accounting functions in early roles (journal entries, balance sheet recs, etc), managing staff, and involvement in the budgeting and forecasting process.

      Brian's Answer

      "I believe my past experience in previous roles has prepared me well for the Finance Manager position. I have a strong foundation in financial accounting, having started my career as a staff accountant where I was heavily involved in the monthly close process Next I moved over to the financial planning and analysis side of finance, where I learned how to budget and forecast. I was then promoted to a manager role where I developed 'soft skills' that helped me become a better leader."

  3. 3.

    Have you ever had to explain complex accounting concepts to non-finance leaders? How did you go about that task?

      This is a question to gain insight into your communication skills. Finance Managers and other financial leaders will often need to present to other leaders and colleagues who may not have strong financial backgrounds. Give a specific example of a time when you were able to communicate with other non-finance functions..

      Brian's Answer

      "When I was Finance Manager at ABC Retailers, we noticed that bad debt expense was higher than normal. After analyzing the situation, we determined that our sales teams would need to change their product selection in order to return bad debt expense to an acceptable level. In order to do this effectively, I first needed to explain what we were seeing on the financial reporting side and the impact to the financial statements. I created a deck that laid out some concepts like accrual accounting and the components of how bad debt expense was measured. These were concepts I knew the audience would not be familiar with. Then I also gave examples of what steps could be taken from the sales side and the impact it would have financially. This process helped the sales team understand the importance of getting bad debt under control."

  4. 4.

    What skills or qualities do you believe a good leader should possess?

      Highlight that a good leader should have the ability to train their employees (patience/educator), trust/inspire their employees (trustful/not a micromanager/motivational), and be able to anticipate and react to changes (analytical/curious/flexible/nimble).

      Brian's Answer

      "I believe a good leader should be able to both help their company and their people grow. To help their company grow, I believe that a leader should be analytical and flexible so that they can anticipate and react to changing situations. To help their employees grow, I think a leader should be able to educate, motivate and trust their employees."

  5. 5.

    Do you have experience handling massive amounts of data? Give an example of how you used data to solve a problem?

      Due to the advancement of technology, Finance Managers and other finance professionals have the ability to take massive amounts of data and analyze it . Give a specific example of a time when you used data to answer a question or solve a problem.

      Brian's Answer

      "Yes, we use Big Data frequently at my current employer, ABC Retailers. One way we were able to use Big Data to our advantage was for analyzing sales returns. We noticed return rates were coming in higher, and we were able to pull thousands of rows of transaction-level data and filter by customer type. This allowed us to catch that new customers were driving our return rate higher. We created a dashboard that allows us to view this data each month as part of our analysis."

  6. 6.

    What are some methods you use to motivate your team?

      The job of a finance professional can be stressful. As a leader, you will be expected to not only manage your employees but also help motivate them to complete difficult assignments and 'stay sane' during the more hectic times.

      Brian's Answer

      "First and foremost, I motivate my team by setting a good example. I show enthusiasm for new projects, find the best in all our partners in the organization, and try to keep things light. Second, I understand that not all team members are motivated by the same incentives. Some enjoy praise for their work, while others like to be rewarded with more responsibility. Getting to know my team members and what motivates them is key for any good leader. Third, I like to 'let loose' with my team during slower times. In the past, we have gone bowling, gone to a baseball game and had holiday parties."

  7. 7.

    What ERP systems have you used?

      ERP systems are robust software systems that combine accounting and reporting with other functionality such as inventory management, payroll, etc. Popular systems include SAP, Hyperion and Oracle. Being able to effectively use these systems are a must for a Finance Manager and their team.

      Brian's Answer

      "At my last company we used SAP. Specifically, I utilized SAP to generate financial reports, drill down to transaction level detail, and run custom queries to feed robust analysis reports. I have also used Hyperion and Oracle in previous roles, so I welcome the challenge of learning a new software and getting it to work for my needs."

  8. 8.

    What is the difference between cash flow as presented on the Statement of Cash Flows and Free Cash Flow?

      This is a technical question that tests whether you know the difference between two common measures of cash flow. The main difference is Free Cash Flow excludes cash from financing activities (loan proceeds, dividends paid) while the Statement of Cash Flows includes those inflows and outflows.

      Brian's Answer

      "Free Cash Flow is typically defined as cash that is available for financing and dividends to shareholders. Therefore, free cash flow excludes financing activities such as loan proceeds and repayments and dividends to shareholders, while the statement of cash flows includes those items in the calculation of cash flow generated."

  9. 9.

    Where do you see yourself in five years?

      DO highlight that you want to continue growing professionally and help the company grow. DO NOT say you want the interviewer's role. The interviewer is probing to see that you aren't using this role as a quick stop before moving on to another organization.

      Brian's Answer

      "If I am fortunate enough to be hired for this role, my goal in the near term is to get up to speed on my responsibilities and learn as much as possible about the organization and my team. For my first year, I want to be a sponge and soak in as much as I can. From there, as long as I feel empowered to drive growth for the company and continue learning and growing professionally, I think I would be very fulfilled."

  10. 10.

    How do you keep up with the latest developments in accounting and financial reporting practices?

      This question is to see if you take the initiative to stay current on the latest accounting developments. If you are a CPA, talk about how you use mandatory continuing education requirements to stay up to date on the latest trends and regulations. Also, subscribing to e-letters and joining trade groups are other great ways to keep current on relevant developments.

      Brian's Answer

      "I stay up to date in various ways. First, as a CPA I am required to obtain 80 hours of continuing education every two years. I use this to my advantage by taking courses that are most relevant to my organization's industry and my job responsibilities. Additionally, I like to absorb information in other ways such as reading newsletters and participating in industry groups. I am always looking for ways to expand my knowledge."

  11. 11.

    Identify a time when you made a mistake and the actions you took to correct it.

      Everyone makes mistakes, so don't be tempted to say you don't! This is a good opportunity to show that you don't let a bad situation become worse. It is an opportunity to speak to your honor and integrity.

      Brian's Answer

      "One time in my Financial Analyst role I noticed I had made an error in a calculation that impacted the monthly financial reporting package. The financial package had already been distributed to the leadership team. I was embarrassed, but I knew the situation would be made worse if I waited or failed to say anything. I told the Finance Director what had happened, and we agreed that it was best if I made the correction and then redistribute the package. It ended up not being a huge deal, but it drove me to review my work even more thoroughly before distributing to others."

  12. 12.

    Give an example of a time when you took a manual process and made it automated.

      Innovative companies are always looking for ways to improve their processes. Many times, financial processes have been carried over from previous years and could use a refresh. Give a specific example of a time when you took a clunky process and made it more efficient.

      Brian's Answer

      "In my previous role as Financial Analyst, I improved a process related to our forecast workbooks. The legacy method of updating our forecasts was very manual, and involved copying and pasting in Excel workbooks. I brought this up to our internal IT team, and together we created a process by which we could map financial data from our data warehouse to automated reports. This allowed us to create most of the workbook with a click of a button, which allowed more time for us to analyze each month."

  13. 13.

    Do you have experience using data visualization software?

      Data visualization software, such as Tableau, has been implemented at various companies in recent years. Depending on the role you are interviewing for, knowledge of data visualization software may either be a requirement or a 'plus'. Speak to what functions you can perform with the software.

      Brian's Answer

      "Yes, we use Tableau at my current company. I am able to build dashboards in Tableau for various analyses, including sales mix and free cash flow. These dashboards allow me to drill down to the detail as needed to research variances. I also utilize Tableau to create attractive tables and graphs that can be used in reporting decks for leadership."

  14. 14.

    What is your approach to budgeting, forecasting and other forward-looking projections?

      Budgeting and forecasting are core responsibilities of the Finance Manager position. Forward looking projections are part art and part science, so this question is being asked to learn about your thought process when there is some gray area.

      Brian's Answer

      "As Financial Analyst, I was responsible for the annual budget for several divisions, as well as reforecasting results throughout the year. As a starting point, my approach is to always use last year as a benchmark. Then, I apply any changes that I am aware of. For example, are there changes in current trends that need to be taken into account? Knowing that budgeting and forecasting is partially subjective, I try to have sound reasoning behind my methodology so that I am able to support my projections."

  15. 15.

    How do you mitigate and manage stress?

      The Finance Manager position is stressful as it is visible to leadership and is constrained by tight deadlines. The role is responsible not only for their team but also for presenting their work to leadership and other departments. Stress is inherent, and this question helps assess how you would manage the stress.

      Brian's Answer

      "Due to tight deadlines and the demands of the Finance Manager role, stress is inevitable. However, there are steps I take to help mitigate stress. First, I try to spread out the work as much as possible. This includes completing the tasks I can before the crunch of monthly reporting begins. Also, spreading work amongst my team helps take things off of my plate so I can focus on higher priority items. When I do feel stressed, I like to travel and read books to help alleviate the stress."

  16. 16.

    Have you ever been involved in accounting and financial reporting software implementations?

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  17. 17.

    What is free cash flow and what does it tell about a company’s finances?

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  18. 18.

    What skills or qualities do you believe a good Finance Manager should possess?

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  19. 19.

    What is your experience with presenting to senior executives?

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  20. 20.

    What experience do you have with analyzing business metrics?

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  21. 21.

    What is the role of a Finance Manager as you understand it?

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  22. 22.

    Why do you want to work for XYZ Corporation?

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  23. 23.

    What are some benchmarks that you compare actual results to when completing monthly analysis?

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  24. 24.

    What tools do you use to perform the duties of a Finance Manager?

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  25. 25.

    How have you managed the annual budget process in previous roles?

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