37 Common CFO Interview Questions With Sample Answers

Updated 8 September 2023

A chief financial officer (CFO) is a senior executive who manages the financial operations of an organisation. Their duties typically include overseeing financial planning and analysis, accounting and reporting, cash flow, financial risk and ensuring compliance with regulations and standards. If this career interests you, knowing the type of questions a recruiter asks in an interview can help you prepare confident responses. In this article, we explore 37 CFO interview questions, including general, background and experience and in-depth questions, and provide example answers to five of those questions to guide your preparations.

11 General CFO Interview Questions

Asking general CFO interview questions allows the recruiter to learn more about your attitude and professional values. Here are some questions you may expect:

  1. What do you consider your greatest strength and how it helps you in the role of CFO?

  2. How do you stay motivated when facing a challenging task?

  3. Can you describe a time when you had to work with someone difficult and how you handled the situation?

  4. Can you describe a time when you had to make a difficult decision and how you arrived at your conclusion?

  5. What do you consider your biggest weakness and how have you worked to overcome it?

  6. How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in your field?

  7. Can you describe a time when you had to take the initiative to resolve a work issue?

  8. How do you prioritise your tasks and responsibilities?

  9. How do you handle conflicts with colleagues or team members?

  10. How do you ensure accuracy and attention to detail in your work?

  11. Can you describe a time when you had to work with a team to achieve a goal?

Related: How To Write A CFO Resume (With Template, Example And Tips)

10 Questions About Background And Experience

The employer may also ask about your background and experience. They may ask about your qualifications, the companies you have worked for and your accomplishments in those roles. Here are 10 questions about background and experience:

  1. Can you describe how you became interested in finance and what motivated you to pursue a career in this field?

  2. Could you tell me about your educational background and qualifications?

  3. In your previous role, what tasks were you responsible for and how did you approach them?

  4. What accomplishment are you most proud of in your previous positions?

  5. Have you worked with budgeting and financial forecasting?

  6. What is your experience with cost reduction and improving efficiency?

  7. In your opinion, what are the most important characteristics for a CFO to possess?

  8. Have you worked on any mergers or acquisitions? If yes, describe your experience.

  9. What experience do you have in managing financial risk?

  10. Can you discuss your experience in managing cash flow?

Related: Top 20 Finance Interview Questions and Sample Answers

11 In-Depth Questions

Asking detailed questions helps the employer understand how you might approach key tasks. Here are 11 in-depth questions:

  1. What strategies do you have for managing financial risks and how do you evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies?

  2. Can you describe your experience managing a large company's financial operations?

  3. How do you determine a company's financial health and what metrics do you use to measure it?

  4. How do you approach financial forecasting and what methods have you found to be most effective?

  5. What experience do you have in leading financial planning and analysis processes?

  6. What is your approach to managing financial reporting and analysis and how do you ensure accurate reporting?

  7. Can you describe a time when you had to manage a major cost-reduction effort and how did you achieve it?

  8. What experience do you have in managing financial technology and systems?

  9. Can you describe your experience in fundraising and capital raising?

  10. How do you ensure financial transparency in a company and what measures have you taken to ensure it?

  11. How do you manage relationships with investors, lenders and board members?

Related: A Guide To C-Suite Roles (With Duties And Careers)

5 CFO Job Interview Questions And Answers

Here are five CFO job interview questions with example answers to help you prepare:

1. Given what you know about this company, where do you think you can add value?

The hiring manager uses this question to evaluate whether you clearly understand the company's needs and goals. Your answer shows that you have researched the company and identified the areas where you can contribute to its growth. Approach this question by researching the company and identifying the gaps you can fill with your skills and expertise.

Example: After studying the company's financial statements and annual report, I noticed that the company has been experiencing some cash flow issues, which have resulted in a decrease in revenue growth. My expertise in financial analysis and management can help identify the root cause of the cash flow issue and develop a plan to address it. Additionally, I have extensive experience in implementing cost-cutting measures without compromising the quality of the company's products or services. I am confident that my skills and experience can help the company improve its financial performance and achieve its growth objectives.

Related: 10 Steps For Adding Value To A Business (With Benefits)

2. What is your experience with directing investment activities?

The interviewer wants to assess your experience in leading and managing investment activities, including financial planning, forecasting and investment analysis. As a CFO, you create and implement investment strategies that align with the company's financial objectives and goals. In your answer, provide specific examples of your experience directing investment activities.

Example: In my previous role as CFO, I was responsible for overseeing all investment activities, including financial planning, forecasting and analysis. I led a team that managed the company's investment portfolio and evaluated potential investment opportunities. We developed a rigorous investment process that included risk analysis, market research and financial modelling to determine the potential return on investment. Through effective management of our investment activities, we were able to generate 40% revenue growth for the company.

Related: A Guide On Financial Planning And Analysis (With Functions)

3. What is your approach to initiating new strategies with your team?

The interviewer wants to assess your ability to lead and motivate a team to develop and implement new strategies that align with the company's goals. As a CFO, you collaborate with other executives to develop long-term financial strategies and ensure the company's financial stability. Try specifying examples of how you have successfully implemented new strategies.

Example: I believe that collaboration is the key to successfully initiating new strategies. As CFO, I work closely with my team to understand their views and insights and gather data from other company areas. I can then use this information to develop a comprehensive strategy that aligns with the company's goals and objectives. I communicate the strategy to my team and provide the necessary resources, training and support to ensure its successful implementation. I also establish key performance indicators to measure the strategy's effectiveness and encourage feedback from my team to identify areas for improvement.

4. Can you tell me about a time when you initiated an organisational change, such as restructuring a department? How did you approach it?

The interviewer wants to assess your ability to drive change and manage organisational restructuring, which is a fundamental aspect of a CFO's role. In your answer, provide an example of when you initiated an organisational change, such as restructuring, and how you approached it. Focus on the steps you took to ensure a smooth transition while managing any resistance or challenges.

Example: In my previous role as CFO, I initiated a department restructuring to improve our financial performance. I approached it by developing a comprehensive plan that identified the root cause of our financial issues and then I communicated this plan to the team. I ensured that everyone understood the goals and objectives of the restructuring and how it could benefit the company.

I also listened to team feedback, which helped identify issues and address any concerns. I provided the necessary resources and support to help the team adapt to the changes and regularly communicated progress. Ultimately, the restructuring was successful and the team achieved the set financial objectives.

Related: What Is Transitional Leadership? (With Pros And Cons)

5. How do you measure ROI when making investments?

The interviewer wants to evaluate your approach to measuring the return on investment (ROI) when making investments. A CFO makes investment decisions that create value for the company and understanding how to measure the ROI is essential. Explain your methodology for calculating ROI, including the key metrics you use to evaluate investments.

Example: I use a rigorous methodology that evaluates an investment's quantitative and qualitative aspects. I use a combination of metrics, including net present value, internal rate of return, payback period and ROI ratio. I evaluate the potential risks and rewards by considering the cash flows, profitability and market demand. I also consider the qualitative aspects, such as the strategic alignment with the company's goals and the potential impact on the company's reputation. By evaluating both quantitative and qualitative aspects of the investment, I can make informed investment decisions that create long-term value for the company.

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