Top 10 hospital cfo interview questions and answers

Chief financial officers (CFOs) are integral to the financial activity and oversight of an organization. These professionals analyze financial data to determine profitable ventures, contribute to growth and achieve business goals. Preparing for an interview for a CFO position can be exciting, and when you plan your responses in anticipation, you’ll have a better chance at success. In this article, we cover CFO interview questions you might encounter during your interview, along with some example answers to help you get ready.

6 CFO Chief Financial Officer Interview Questions and Answers

As our financial officer, there may be times when you’ll have to decide if an investment is profitable for the company. What is your process for determining this profitability?

You trust your chief financial officer to be able to look at potential investments and use their professional acumen to decide if those investments are worth the possible risk. It is the CFO or chief financial officer’s job to get the best deals possible for your company. Gathering insight into how a particular job candidate goes through this process will give you a glimpse into their prior training.

What to look for in an answer:

  • An example of an investment your company might make
  • Steps the CFO would take to analyze it
  • Analysis implementation technique

Can you tell me some of the recurring duties you’re likely to have as a CFO or chief financial officer of this company?

This question is a great starter for the interview because it allows you to gauge the potential chief financial officer’s general knowledge of the job itself as well as some of their prior experience. Answers can vary as there are several possible regular duties you might have for your CFO depending on the type of company you have and how it is structured.

What to look for in an answer:

  • A listing of some of the general recurring duties
  • Personal experience anecdotes
  • How the CFO candidate might handle their duties

It is possible that revenue forecasts might show a decrease in income at some point. How would you work to correct this before it happens?

Any CFO will be analyzing financial data constantly to see both how the company is doing and how they can expect it to perform in the future should current trends continue. While things can happen unexpectedly, your chief financial officer should be able to spot markers that point to a downward trend and take steps to minimize any losses the company might face from that spiral.

What to look for in an answer:

  • The process by which the CFO spots trends
  • Familiarity with company market trends
  • Logical reasoning and thinking for financial loss prevention

Have you ever disagreed with lower-level financial directors and managers about a particular investment decision? If so, what was the situation and how did you resolve it?

Chief financial officers are responsible for ensuring the financial stability of a corporation. This includes taking proactive measures. This question allows interviewers to gauge a candidate’s ability to listen to the ideas of others, weigh risks and act as the primary leader of company finances.

A candidate’s answer should emphasize:

  • Value of lower management’s input
  • Ability to enforce or deny investment decisions
  • Verbal communication skills

Here is one example of a quality candidate answer:

Would you consider being able to analyze data and make financial decisions and recommendations based on that analysis a particular strength that you have? How so?

Analyzing different types of data is a key skill for any good CFO. The answer to this question will demonstrate the financial officer’s analytical skills and their critical thinking skills as they relate to dealing with the information provided. In some financial markets, quick, effective decisions are crucial. You need to know if your new CFO can handle this process with ease.

What to look for in an answer:

  • An emphasis on financial data analysis
  • Critical thinking skills to turn data into actionable steps
  • Ability to make decisions quickly

Why are measurements and metrics important things for chief financial officers to monitor? Can you tell me some of the metrics you might monitor regularly?

In any company, metrics are crucial to determining financial success. They help you make sure that you’re going in the right direction and that everything is aligned with the objectives of your business. A good CFO will be able to tell you some of the most important metrics they will monitor for you and why those things matter.

What to look for in an answer:

  • A list of several possible metrics monitored in their work
  • An understanding of why each is important
  • Examples of monitoring measurements and metrics

Walk me through the process of a discounted cash flow (DCF).

This is another accounting and finance principle that you should know and understand as a CFO. The interviewer will evaluate your experience with following a DCF to determine a more accurate picture of the companys worth. Use your answer to describe the process and how you have used the process to direct financial activities in your last organization.

Example: “My first step in building a DCF model is to create a five-year financial forecast of the companys balance sheet, income statement and shareholder equity statement. This is all based on my business assumptions of your companys performance. After creating a forecast, Id calculate the terminal values through a perpetual growth rate or an exit multiple. This allows me to discount the forecast time period and terminal values back to the present values, along with a discount rate, resulting in the overall financial value for the company.”

CFO interview questions and sample answers

The following CFO interview questions and example answers can help you prepare for your interview:

Questions about background and experience

The interviewer will also likely want to evaluate your past work performance, contributions you’ve made as well as your work ethic, financial knowledge and ability to direct and lead a team or department. Here are several example questions:

At the same time, traditional measures of organizational value are changing. Quarterly share price and earnings will always be crucial benchmarks, but demands for social responsibility are creating new values to be accounted for. The ROI of acquiring a competitor can be figured in dollars, but how to measure the ROI of an initiative that revitalizes a neighborhood around your headquarters? Flexibility of thinking and the ability to mirror and live up to your organization’s core values are essential qualities.

In most organizations, nothing gets done without a budget and a father. Finding people with the initiative to take on competitors and launch or optimize products and services isn’t hard; making enough room in the budget for competing claims on resources is. The CFO must be more than just a brake on spending, they also have to direct resources to places where growth can happen. This means working with the other arms of the organization to see what they see, to understand their visions and make an independent judgement of the costs and opportunities. In this role, the CFO needs to do more than just mitigate risk, they need to actually take risks — responsibly — when appropriate.

A baseline expectation of any CFO is the demonstrated ability to construct and manage an accounting and finance structure — people and systems — that complies with Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP) and all applicable regulatory oversight such as the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. A background as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is helpful but not mandatory so long as the CFO candidate has a thorough understanding of accounting principles and regulations.

The best CFOs aren’t “bean counters,” they’re more like the crew chief on a racing team: They take a comprehensive view of the performance of the human, technological and competitive systems and are able to anticipate their needs. Having just the right tires on hand when it starts raining halfway through a race is the hallmark of a great crew chief; having the right resources on hand to manage an emergency or opportunity is the hallmark of a great CFO.

The answers to these last questions, along with the hiring criteria on a formal scorecard, will help you significantly improve your chances of making the right hire. A CFO influences your business strategy, your people and your organization’s viability, so it’s critical that your interviews identify the one outstanding leader who’s a fit for your business.

The CFO is in charge of making sure your company remains well capitalized, with healthy topline growth, strong margins, proactive tax planning, and other factors. They must be able to forecast revenue using precise financial modeling—informed by sales trends, economic and industry context, and more. If you rely on outside capital (e.g. fundraising), they should also be able to seize capital opportunities.

Chief financial officers don’t operate in a vacuum—nor should they. Since your next CFO will work closely with other members of the finance department to plan and manage the company’s financial activities, you need to know that they can foster healthy working relationships with their direct reports and collaborate effectively to solve challenges.

Tell me about a time you simplified or streamlined an accounting process in a previous role.

This question tests your candidate’s tax expertise, while also giving you insight into their ability to help your company navigate any future mergers, acquisitions, or sales. Even if a candidate hasn’t advised on an M&A transaction in the past, they should be able to confidently explain the tax considerations that go into one.

This question can help you assess a candidate’s leadership skills and empathy. You want to know that your new executive hire will create a team culture in which employees are empowered to do their best work. That means leading with empathy, while still driving high performance and addressing issues when they arise.

FAQ

What are good questions to ask a CFO in an interview?

CFO interview questions and sample answers
  • What are the most difficult decisions for a CFO to make?
  • How do you approach strategic workforce planning?
  • What financial initiatives have you introduced and how were they successful?
  • How would you determine the financial value of our company?

How do I prepare for a CFO interview?

Create the top 2 or 3 stories that showcase your leadership style and perspective. Practice them until they flow easily and with passion. You should be able to use these to answer most interview questions. Prepare your questions: Asking great questions is a sign of respect, knowledge and engagement in the business.

How do you introduce yourself to a CFO interview?

What is a Healthcare Chief Financial Officer or CFO? A healthcare chief financial officer is the person who ensures that a hospital or hospital systems runs in the most cost effective manner and they are responsible for managing all financial risks for the organization.

What do healthcare CFOs care about?

What is a Healthcare Chief Financial Officer or CFO? A healthcare chief financial officer is the person who ensures that a hospital or hospital systems runs in the most cost effective manner and they are responsible for managing all financial risks for the organization.

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