As industry finance jobs become increasingly commercial, many interview questions are designed to gauge the candidate’s ability to match their finance knowledge to corporate operations and objectives. Though this does of course vary from one interviewer to the next, finance professionals can expect to be asked a range of technical questions during the recruitment process that test both their business acumen and their financial skillset.
We’ve used our insider knowledge to compile a list of commonly asked interview questions for senior corporate finance jobs, along with an explanation of what kind of answers employers are looking for. With the finance industry having some of the highest expectations in the job market, ambitious finance professionals should prepare themselves for the questions they are likely to encounter.
Q: Describe a financial report you have analysed recently and the actions you took accordingly.
This question provides an opportunity to show the employer your ability to commercially evaluate data and translate your findings into deliverable solutions. The best possible answer showcases an example in which you have made a real business difference by identifying problems and making value-added recommendations to decision-makers.
With this type of question, you can afford to spend more time going into the details of your work. The employer wants to see your capability in understanding business operations and where money is made and lost, so use real figures and focus on how your financial expertise played a part in driving improved profitability and efficiency.
Q: Give examples of internal control procedures that you have developed and deployed.
Here, employers want to see if you can safeguard their assets and improve compliance. Before making a hiring choice, the employer needs to be certain that your financial skills are capable of delivering operational effectiveness and boosting the reliability of reporting.
Your answer should place a firm stress on quality and accuracy, demonstrating your professional integrity and dedication to supplying tight financial and budgetary information. Be sure that you show a thorough understanding of how to use resources in the most effective way, as well as giving examples of how you have ensured that expenditure planning and reporting is fully integrated with income and activity.
Q: Tell us about the financial forecasting you have been responsible for.
In commercial finance jobs, you need to be able to demonstrate your ability to build and manage financial models from everything to business forecasting to variance analysis to problem solving. This question gives you the chance to spotlight your financial forecasting skills and should ideally focus on how your forecasting has supported internal departments. Show how you have monitored cost-centre expenditures against forecasts and budgets, and wherever possible, how you have reduced business risks. Without going into too much detail, you should use this question as a platform to cover how your knowledge of P&L, balance sheets and cash flow enables business success.
Q: How much money have you saved businesses and how and where did you do this?
Your answer to this question should involve little else than cold hard facts and figures: less is more when it comes to financial jargon here. The interviewer wants to know how you have put your skills into practice to power profitability, and only accurate numbers and timeframes will impress.
Q: What processes do you use to evaluate financial risk?
By asking this, the employer wants to ensure that you have the kind of in-depth expertise necessary to rationalise performance and mitigate risk. You should demonstrate your ability to find common themes and build them into actionable business targets within your answer, showcasing your use of a comprehensive process that covers all touch points.
This question is less about numbers and more about explanations, and you should spend time walking the interviewer through how you would ordinarily define objectives, identify risks and opportunities, define actions, allocate resources, address risks and monitor and report on activity. You should also use examples of how you have suggested best practice and advised next steps, as the employer will ultimately want to know that you have the aptitude to provide a strategic business partnership.
Q: How do you keep your expertise on financial processes and techniques up to date?
In the fast paced world of corporate finance, employers want to be assured that their recruits are committed to keeping an up to the minute awareness of the market and its current trends. This question tests your attitude to your career and as such answers should focus on the desire to be at the forefront of financial developments. You should outline a genuine interest in the sector, discuss your current knowledge of opportunities and threats and relate this back to business needs. For example, a strong answer to this question would not only show passion but would also link to examples of where you have used your current market knowledge to suggest appropriate business actions and ensure that stakeholders understand potential risks and rewards.
Naturally, technical questions are not the only types of interrogatives used during interviews for finance jobs, but they are some of the most difficult to answer. If you have whet your appetite for senior finance jobs with this article, our latest lucrative vacancies are available for viewing here.