Interviewing for financial controller jobs is sometimes regarded as stressful because of its importance in the financial world. However, this does not need to be the case. Often, controller positions will follow a typical interview scenario with rather standardised questions. However, candidates need to pay particular attention to the questions being asked in order to answer them effectively.

Financial controller interview questions 

What challenges are you looking for?

One of the most common interview questions that employers ask surrounds challenges. These allow the interview panel to determine what sort of tasks the candidate is seeking from their next position in addition to what sort of “fit” they are for the organisation. 

The best way to answer this sort of question is to discuss previous experiences; perhaps times when candidates have been under pressure or faced some sort of professional challenge. By addressing the skills required and how they were used, along with any lessons they would apply to future scenarios, they will be showing employers that they have the flexibility and adaptability required to address challenges on the job. Mentioning professional motivations that address challenges can also score favourably in the eyes of employers.

Describe a typical working day

This is one of those troubling questions that candidates tend to stumble on. What employers are looking for when addressing this question is to determine whether or not candidates truly understand the role. Some candidates take this question to mean that they are going to describe a working day in their current role. While this is acceptable, it is important to relate it directly to the financial controller position by outlining specific tasks and skills that are utilised throughout a working day (spreadsheet handling, database fetching, client relations, etc.).

It is important to note here that the more candidates can connect their previous positions to their understanding of the role, the more favourably they are going to appear in front of the interview panel. It also bears mentioning that this is not the time to discuss non-work-related activities. Focused answers are key here.

Outline your weaknesses

Candidates rarely like to address this question since it involves such a delicate balance. While it is difficult to get around it altogether, candidates simply cannot lie and say they do not have any. What is important here is to maintain that balance and identify only professional weaknesses where there is an obvious correction. Candidates need to specifically address their weaknesses as learning experience: what they experienced, what they learned, and what they will do differently in the future. This shows employers that they have reflected on their previous mistakes and have the professional integrity to deal with new challenges in the future.

Of course, choosing smaller flaws like “I get caught up in the smaller details” or “I can get side-tracked easily” make for easier justifications and corrections than more major mistakes. They also help mask any major flaw that a candidate might be bringing to the position and should not necessarily disclose at an early stage.

General interview questions and answers for financial controller interviews

Why should we hire you?

This is a question where candidates can truly shine. It allows them to consider their professional skills, qualifications, and experiences and deliver their answer in a concise yet effective manner that demonstrates why they are a suitable fit for the organisation as a whole, not just the financial controller position. 

However, when candidates are chasing a position with limited experience, they can stand out from the pack by demonstrating their drive and enthusiasm. They can outline the reading and research they have done on financial matters and show that they truly understand the controller position. It is this sort of charisma that employers find attractive at the negotiating table, so it is well-worth employing from a disadvantageous point: and is even better should candidates hold the relevant skills and meet the criteria needed for the position.

What do you know about us?

This is another stumbling block for many candidates, but need not be. It simply requires a bit of forethought before heading into the interview and some research carried out on behalf of the candidate. This does not necessarily mean that candidates need to know everything about a company, but rather a few key points about their operation (how long they have been in business, what financial products they offer, what sort of wealth they attract, etc.).This is usually available on the company's “about us” section of their website.