CFO Interview Questions

For organizations, hiring a CFO is a very high-risk endeavour. Hiring the wrong CFO for the role can drain the organization of critical resources and stall the vision. A very conservative CFO can throttle growth, and some inexperienced CFO can trigger credit/audit/regulatory risks. Asking the right interview questions can help find the right CFO capable of getting the best in the current phase of the organization.

Over the course of my career, I have worked in several public and private companies as a CFO and not only was interviewed extensively myself, but also I have interviewed and hired hundreds of candidates to build new Finance teams and drive the corporate agenda. I have also helped CFO prepare for their interviews as a CFO Coach. The best candidates take a comprehensive integral approach across a range of competencies and demonstrate flexibility to meet the needs of the moment.

CFO interview questions should cover a range of questions to assess candidates including (but not limited to): Financial Competence; Strategic Foresight; Business & Political Savvy; Business Partnership; and Leadership and Communication skills.

A sample portfolio of questions to ask prospective CFO can include:

  1. What have you done previously to lead a company like us grow? What were the objectives? How did you go about achieving them? What was the result?
  2. How did you convince people to accept your approach as the best way forward? What interpersonal conflicts did you overcome and how?
  3. How have you helped your current/previous company achieve their vision? What could you do differently if they did not achieve it?
  4. What internal and external challenges do you anticipate for a company like ours in its current stage? How would you handle them?
  5. Given what you know about us, what would you do in the First 90 days? What is a structured approach that you would take to understand the business and create value?
  6. What do you feel are the most important components of an effective Finance team? How can you take an organization like ours to that level?
  7. How do you develop your team? What kind of professional development do you leverage to grow their skills and help them become better business partners?
  8. Tell us about a time when you were involved in a M&A/Divestiture/Restructuring? What worked/did not work? If you were the CFO on the other side, what would you have done differently?
  9. What would your most recent CEO/Finance team say about their experience with you?
  10. Describe the legacy you have left in your previous organization? How are they different to when you first joined them?

What are some of the best questions that you have been asked?

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