Prepare for your Controller interview. Understand the required skills and qualifications, anticipate the questions you may be asked, and study well-prepared answers using our sample responses.
This question is an opportunity to show your interviewer that you understand the importance of your role as a controller. You can answer by explaining how you ensure accounting records are accurate, organized and up to date.
Answer Example: “I believe the most important thing I do as a controller is ensure that our company’s financial records are accurate and up to date. As a controller, it’s my job to make sure all transactions are recorded properly and that we have an accurate record of all assets, liabilities and revenues. I also make sure that our accounting department has the resources they need to complete these tasks quickly and efficiently.”
This question is a great way for the interviewer to assess your knowledge of accounting and finance. It’s important to show that you have an understanding of basic financial concepts, such as cash flow, net income and financial statement analysis.
Answer Example: “There are several financial concepts that are important for a controller to know, but I would say that the two most important are cash flow and net income. Cash flow refers to the movement of money in and out of a company, while net income is the difference between revenue and expenses. These two concepts are closely related, as net income is determined by analyzing a company’s cash flow.”
The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your commitment to your career and how you stay current on industry trends. Your answer should show that you are willing to invest time into learning new things, whether it’s through online courses or conferences.
Answer Example: “I am passionate about my career, so I make it a priority to stay up-to-date on financial trends and issues that might impact the organization. I do this by reading industry publications, attending conferences and webinars, and taking online courses. I also network with other professionals in the field to gain insight into new technologies and best practices. Finally, I am always open to learning more about accounting and finance by taking on challenging projects.”
The interviewer may ask this question to learn about your experience with financial software. This can help them determine if you have the necessary skills to use the company’s software programs. In your answer, explain what type of financial software you’ve used in the past and how you feel about it. You can also mention any specific features that you like or dislike about the software.
Answer Example: “In my previous role as a controller, I used a variety of financial software programs. I find that each program has its own unique features that make it useful for different tasks. For example, I like using QuickBooks for managing customer accounts and tracking sales data. It’s also helpful for creating invoices and managing payments. On the other hand, I prefer using Excel for creating financial projections and analyzing data.”
This question can help the interviewer understand your knowledge of auditing and inspection processes. Your answer should include two definitions for each term, along with examples of how they differ from one another.
Answer Example: “An audit is a process by which an organization examines its financial records to ensure they’re accurate and complete. An inspection, on the other hand, is a review of an organization’s operations to ensure they’re meeting standards or regulations. Audits are generally performed more frequently than inspections, and they often include a formal report at the end of the process. Inspections are often done without prior notice, and the organization may need to take immediate action if any issues are discovered.”
The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your organizational skills and how you stay on top of multiple projects at once. Use examples from your past experience to show the interviewer that you have a system in place for managing multiple projects at once.
Answer Example: “I find it helpful to use project management software to organize my tasks and deadlines. I also like to break down large projects into smaller tasks so I can focus on one thing at a time. This helps me stay focused on what needs to get done and when it needs to get done by. For example, I recently worked on a project where I had to manage the company’s finances for the month. I broke down the task into weekly tasks so I could stay on top of everything.”
This question can help interviewers understand how you would handle a challenging situation. Use your answer to highlight your problem-solving skills and ability to communicate with others in the organization.
Answer Example: “I would first look into the discrepancy to determine if it was an error on my part or someone else’s. If it was mine, I would apologize and take steps to ensure it didn’t happen again. If it wasn’t mine, I would talk with the person who made the mistake and find out why it happened. Then, I would work with them to make sure they don’t make the same mistake again.”
This question is a great way for the interviewer to see how you would respond to a mistake and how you would correct it. Your answer should include an example from your experience as a controller and how you helped fix the issue.
Answer Example: “I’ve seen controllers make mistakes when it comes to reporting financial information. For example, one controller I worked with forgot to include an expense in our monthly report, which caused us to miss our deadline for submitting the information to our investors. This mistake could have been costly if we didn’t catch it in time, so I helped him correct the error and submit the report on time.”
This question can help the interviewer understand your perspective on the industry and how you might approach challenges. Your answer should show that you are aware of current trends, challenges and solutions in the controller role.
Answer Example: “I think the biggest challenge facing controllers today is the increasing complexity of accounting systems. As businesses grow, they need more sophisticated software to manage their finances. However, this can make it harder for controllers to keep up with all the changes in the system. I believe one solution to this challenge is to hire a team of experienced controllers who can share their knowledge with newer employees.”
The interviewer may ask you this question to assess your knowledge of accounting and finance. Use examples from your experience that show how you can improve a company’s cash flow.
Answer Example: “I have several strategies I could suggest to improve a company’s cash flow. First, I would look at the accounts receivable account to see if there are any ways to increase collections. This could include sending out reminders to customers who haven’t paid their bills or offering discounts if they pay within a certain timeframe. Second, I would analyze the accounts payable account to see if there are any vendors we can pay sooner or in larger amounts to save on interest costs. Finally, I would review the budgeting process to make sure we’re spending within our means.”
The interviewer may ask this question to assess your knowledge of financial regulations and how they impact a company’s operations. Use your answer to highlight your understanding of SOX and other financial regulations, as well as how you use that knowledge to help organizations comply with these rules.
Answer Example: “I am very familiar with Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and other financial regulations. I have worked in both public and private companies, so I am aware of the different requirements for each. In my last role, I helped the company meet all of its SOX requirements by creating a system for tracking and reporting financial data. This helped ensure that we stayed in compliance with federal law.”
This question is your opportunity to show the interviewer that you have the skills and abilities needed for this role. You can answer by identifying one or two traits, explaining why they are important and giving an example of when you used those skills in your previous job or career.
Answer Example: “I think the most important trait for a successful controller is being organized. A controller needs to keep track of all the financial data for the company, which means they have to be able to organize it in a way that makes sense. I’ve seen many controllers who are not organized struggle with their job because they can’t find information when they need it.”
This question can help the interviewer get to know you better and understand how your experience relates to their organization. Use your answer to highlight any unique aspects of the company’s culture or practices that you find interesting or appealing.
Answer Example: “I believe one thing that sets your company apart from others in the industry is your commitment to customer service. I’ve read several articles about your company’s efforts to provide exceptional customer experience, which is something I value highly as a controller. I think it’s important for companies to focus on customer satisfaction because it can lead to increased revenue and profitability.”
This question can help the interviewer get a sense of your ability to overcome challenges and how you might approach a new role. Your answer should include a few examples of challenges you’ve faced in the past, how you overcame them and what lessons you learned from the experience.
Answer Example: “I think the most challenging part of working as a controller for this organization will be managing the financial reports. I know there are many different types of reports that need to be generated on a regular basis, so I am prepared to spend time learning the system and developing a system for generating the reports quickly and efficiently.”
Controller jobs can be stressful due to the amount of responsibility they carry. Employers ask this question to see if you have strategies for managing stress in the workplace. In your answer, share two or three ways that you reduce stress in your life. Try to use personal examples that show your ability to handle stress effectively.
Answer Example: “I find that exercising regularly is one of the best ways for me to manage stress. I try to go for a walk or jog every morning before work. It helps me clear my mind and prepare for the day ahead. Another way I reduce stress is by talking to someone about my feelings. I have a close group of friends who I trust with my secrets. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I call one of them for advice or comfort.”
This question can help the interviewer understand how you make decisions and whether you have experience making difficult choices. Use your answer to highlight your problem-solving skills, ability to analyze data and knowledge of financial principles.
Answer Example: “I recently had to make a difficult decision regarding financial matters when I was promoted to controller at my previous job. At the time, our company was experiencing significant growth, which meant that we needed to expand our operations and hire more employees. However, we did not have enough funds in our budget to do so. I worked with my team to create a plan that would allow us to hire new employees without exceeding our budget. We implemented several cost-saving measures such as reducing overtime pay and eliminating unnecessary expenses. By doing this, we were able to hire the additional employees without spending any extra money.”
This question can help the interviewer understand your long-term career goals and how you plan to achieve them. Your answer should include a plan for your career growth within this company, as well as how you would help other employees develop their skills to take on controller roles.
Answer Example: “I believe succession planning is essential for any organization looking to grow and succeed. I have been actively working on my own succession plan by taking classes online to gain additional certifications in accounting software. I also volunteer at local non-profit organizations to gain experience in financial management. These steps have helped me develop my skills and gain exposure to different types of businesses.”
The interviewer may ask this question to assess your moral compass and how it affects your work. Use examples from past experiences where you maintained high levels of integrity in your work, even when it was challenging.
Answer Example: “I have always been passionate about maintaining high levels of integrity in my work, and I believe it’s an important part of being a successful controller. In my previous role, I was responsible for managing the company’s financial records, which included creating monthly reports on revenue, expenses and profits. One month, we experienced an unexpected drop in sales that resulted in lower than expected profits. However, I still managed to create accurate reports that accurately reflected the company’s financial status.”
This question can help the interviewer understand how you handle stressful situations. Use your answer to highlight your problem-solving skills and ability to remain calm under pressure.
Answer Example: “I recently had a customer who was extremely upset because they didn’t receive their order in time for their event. This was due to an error on our part, so I apologized and offered to refund their money or send out another order immediately. The customer chose to receive the order again, but they were still very angry.”
This question is a great way for the interviewer to see how you evaluate a company’s finances and determine areas for improvement. Your answer should include specific examples from your previous experience that helped improve a company’s financial health.
Answer Example: “I recently worked with a company that was having trouble meeting its quarterly revenue goals. After analyzing the company’s sales processes, I suggested implementing a new software program that would help track customer behavior and provide more personalized offers. This change allowed us to reach our quarterly revenue goal by 5% and saved the company thousands of dollars in marketing costs.”
This question is a great way to see how you would implement change in an organization. It also shows your ability to think critically and creatively. When answering this question, it’s important to be honest about what you would change and why.
Answer Example: “If I were given permission to make one change to our ledger system, I would eliminate the need for manual entry. Currently, our company relies on manual entry for our accounts payable department. This leads to errors in data entry and makes it difficult to track payments. If I were given permission to change this, I would implement an automated system that allows for electronic transfer of data. This would allow us to track payments more efficiently and reduce errors.”