Ace Your PFM Interview: The Top Questions You Need to Prepare For

Landing a job at a prestigious financial management firm like PFM can be a competitive endeavor. With its commitment to public service and reputation for innovative solutions, PFM naturally attracts top talent in the finance industry. This means you need to come prepared to stand out and demonstrate your skills, experience and passion in the interview process.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover the key PFM interview questions candidates are likely to encounter. From behavioral questions about your background, to technical questions testing your financial acumen, being well-prepared with strong responses can help you secure a position at this reputable firm.

Overview of PFM and the Hiring Process

Founded in 1975 PFM is an independent financial advisory firm serving governments, non-profits and other public sector entities. Headquartered in Philadelphia they now have over 35 offices across the United States.

PFM takes pride in their public service mission to improve communities by helping clients make smart financial decisions. They provide services covering areas like financial planning, budgeting, debt issuance, investments and more. With their commitment to innovation and unbiased advice, PFM has become one of the most trusted names in public finance.

When it comes to hiring, PFM looks for candidates that share their spirit of public service, collaborate well in teams, and demonstrate financial skill and integrity. The interview process typically involves:

  • Initial Phone Screening A preliminary call with HR reviewing your resume and experience

  • In-Person/Video Interviews 1-2 rounds of interviews with hiring managers team members and senior leadership.

  • Assessments: Math/analytical skills tests, personality questionnaires or writing assignments may be required.

The interviews will feature a mix of behavioral questions about your background and technical questions assessing your financial knowledge. Thorough preparation is key as the competition is stiff for these coveted roles.

25 Common PFM Interview Questions and How to Ace Them

Here are some of the most frequently asked PFM interview questions with tips on how to craft strong responses:

Behavioral Interview Questions

1. Walk me through your resume and relevant experiences for this role.

This is often one of the first questions asked to get an overview of your background. Be ready to succinctly walk through your education, prior roles and major responsibilities and accomplishments. Highlight experiences most relevant to the position.

2. Why are you interested in working at PFM?

Research PFM and be ready to discuss their company mission and values and how they align with your own. Show passion for public service and civic engagement.

3. How does this position align with your career goals?

Show you have a long-term vision and growth plan. Explain how this role is the next logical step and will allow you to develop new skills. Focus on the potential for professional growth.

4. Why do you want to leave your current job?

Avoid badmouthing your current employer. Instead focus on positive reasons like seeking new challenges and professional development opportunities you feel PFM can provide.

5. Tell me about a time you faced a conflict at work. How did you handle it?

Conflicts are inevitable in any workplace. Demonstrate professionalism and maturity in how you navigated the situation to a resolution. Emphasize teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills.

6. When have you handled a high-pressure situation or tight deadline? What was the outcome?

Financial advisory involves high-stakes projects with tight turnarounds. Share an example that demonstrates your ability to thrive and deliver results under pressure.

7. Describe a time you made a mistake at work. How did you handle it?

Be honest and own up to the mistake without blame. Then highlight the lessons you learned and changes you implemented after to prevent future errors. Framing mistakes as learning experiences shows maturity.

8. Tell me about a time you had to work collaboratively on a project. What was your role?

Collaboration and teamwork are huge at PFM. Share an example that demonstrates your ability to work effectively in a team and positively influence outcomes.

Technical Finance Interview Questions

9. What financial modeling experience do you have? Walk me through your approach.

Financial modeling is a critical PFM skill. Demonstrate your ability to analyze data, make assumptions and projections, and extract meaningful insights to drive decision making.

10. How would you evaluate the fiscal health of a potential municipal client? What financial indicators would you look at?

Showcase your knowledge of key municipal finance metrics like revenues, expenditures, assets, liabilities, credit ratings, debt levels, etc. Explain how you would benchmark these figures to make an assessment.

11. What is the difference between debt financing and equity financing? What are the pros and cons of each?

Debt must be repaid but allows you to retain ownership. Equity relinquishes ownership but doesn’t need to be repaid. Analyze the implications of each for a client.

12. Describe the steps involved in pricing a municipal bond issuance. What factors do you need to consider?

Demonstrate you understand the municipal bond pricing process including credit ratings, market/issuer comparisons, and yield curve analysis to set competitive rates.

13. Explain the concept of net present value (NPV). How is it used in project analysis?

NPV calculates the present value of future cash flows to analyze profitability. Explain its role in capital budgeting and project approvals.

14. What metrics would you use to evaluate the performance of an investment portfolio?

Examples include: total return, yield, alpha, beta, standard deviation, Sharpe ratio. Show how you track and benchmark portfolio metrics.

15. How would you advise a client considering a new debt issuance? What are the key considerations?

Outline the steps like evaluating repayment ability, getting credit ratings, and analyzing costs/benefits to ensure the client makes an informed financing decision.

16. Why is diversification important in portfolio management? How would you construct a diversified portfolio?

Reduces risk through varied, uncorrelated assets. Give examples of asset classes you would include for balance like stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.

17. What is a debt service coverage ratio and why is it important for municipal issuers?

Measures ability to repay debt obligations from operating revenues. Analyze how to benchmark and improve this ratio for clients.

18. How do you stay current on economic trends, regulations and issues impacting the finance industry?

Demonstrate passion for continuous learning. Cite news sources, industry journals, events, professional networks you engage with to stay up-to-date on critical issues.

19. What experience do you have conducting due diligence on potential investments or clients? What does this process involve?

Due diligence mitigates risk. Discuss researching financials, valuations, management, legal liabilities and other factors that provide insights on investment quality.

20. Walk me through how you would create a 10-year financial forecast model for a client. What assumptions would you make?

Show step-by-step how you would build the model using historical data, growth assumptions, revenue and expense projections based on client goals and industry benchmarks.

21. Imagine you are advising a client on a new capital project. How would you analyze the financial feasibility and make a recommendation on whether to proceed or not?

Outline your capital budgeting process including projections of investment costs, lifetime revenues, risk analysis, discount rates, and ultimately the go/no-go recommendation based on NPV or IRR.

22. How would you communicate complex financial information or analysis to non-finance stakeholders or clients?

Simplify complex concepts. Give examples like using visuals, analogies and plain language to explain technical details and data in a clear, engaging way.

23. What prior experience do you have working with public sector clients? How does advising municipalities differ from corporate clients?

Highlight any municipal clients from past roles. Discuss how you understand their unique governance structures, stakeholders, regulations, constraints, and public service objectives.

Behavioral Interview Questions Continued

24. Tell me about a time you made a client recommendation that went against what they had originally requested or expected. How did you handle this situation?

Show maturity, empathy and communication skills in navigating sensitive conversations where clients may disagree with your expert point of view. Establish trust and understanding.

25. When has a client been unsatisfied or disappointed with your work? How did you respond?

Discuss how you approached the client, listened to understand their perspective, took accountability, and worked to resolve the issue to their satisfaction, preserving the relationship.

How to Ace the PFM Interview

With preparation and practice, you can confidently tackle PFM’s rigorous interview process. Here are some final tips for interview success:

  • Research PFM – Understand their company values, services, clients and mission. This shows commitment.

  • Review your background – Identify experiences that align with PFM’s needs and prepare stories that showcase

Public Financial ManagementAsset Management

Based on the Interview Insights at this company, the Interview Experience is a score between 1 star (very bad) and 5 stars (very good).

The number in the middle of the doughnut pie chart is the mean of all these scores. If you move your mouse over the different parts of the doughnut, you’ll see exactly how each score was calculated.

The title percentile score is based on an adjusted score based on Bayesian Estimates that is applied to the whole Company Database. This is done to account for companies that don’t have many interview insights. For easy explanation, when a business gets more reviews, the belief in its “true score” grows. This makes it move closer to its own simple average and away from the overall average of the dataset. 3. 7.

Based on the Interview Insights at this company, the Interview Difficulty is a score that goes from “very difficult” (red) to “very easy” (green).

The number in the middle of the doughnut pie chart is the mean of all these scores. The higher the number, the more difficult the interviews on average. This doughnut has different parts that, when you move your mouse over them, show you the 20% breakdown of each score given.

The title percentile score is based on an adjusted score based on Bayesian Estimates that is applied to the whole Company Database. This is done to account for companies that don’t have many interview insights. That is, as a business learns more, it becomes more sure of a “true score,” which moves it closer to its own simple average and away from the overall average of the data set. 2. 7.

Based on reviews at this company, the 20% of interns getting full-time offers chart is meant to give you a good idea of how the company hires people.

The number in the middle of the doughnut pie chart is the mean of all these scores. This doughnut has different parts that, when you move your mouse over them, show you the 20% breakdown of each score given.

It uses an adjusted score based on Bayesian Estimates to account for companies that don’t have many reviews, which is how the percentile score in the title is found. To put it simply, when a business gets more reviews, the “true score” becomes more likely to be accurate. This makes it move closer to the simple company average and away from the average of all the data. 10%.

Typical interview questions asked in Treasury interviews | FLIP Mentor Talks


How do I prepare for a financial manager interview?

Familiarize yourself with key financial concepts and terminologies. Collaborate with your finance department to understand the specific needs and challenges of the role. Additionally, prepare scenario-based questions to assess problem-solving and decision-making skills.

Why should we hire you?

A: When answering, focus on your relevant skills, experience, and achievements that make you the best fit for the role.You should hire me because I am a hard worker who wants to help your company succeed. I have the skills and experience needed for the job, and I am eager to learn and grow with your team .

How do you answer a performance management interview question?

This question is a great way for the interviewer to assess your knowledge of performance management models and how you apply them in your work. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention two or three models that you’re familiar with and briefly describe what they are and how they help you manage employee performance.

How do you answer a financial project interview question?

This question can help the interviewer understand your experience with financial projects and how you’ve overcome challenges in the past. Use examples from previous positions to highlight your problem-solving skills, ability to work under pressure and adaptability to new situations.

Why does a performance manager ask a question?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your knowledge of the company’s mission and values. This can be an important part of a performance manager’s job, as they are responsible for helping their team members understand these values and how they apply to their work.

How do you answer a job interview question?

Use your answer to show the interviewer that you value regular meetings with employees, and that you enjoy providing constructive feedback. Example: “I believe that regular meetings with employees are essential to ensure their success and progress.

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