Hiring an Interim CFO? Ask These Questions in Your Next Interview

Why hire an interim CFO? Typically interim CFO’s are needed when companies must stabilize their finance function quickly in times of transition.

Oftentimes, the skill set required to be successful in this type of situation, may differ from the one necessary to drive results long-term (think shepherd, not innovator).

In a case such as this, it makes sense to hire someone on an interim basis while you search for a full-time resource.

If you’re looking to create stability and backfill your company’s top finance role then consider asking these questions during the interview.

What do you know about our business?

Since your interim CFO will have to ramp up quickly, you need someone who knows about your competitors and the markets you operate in.

How much experience in our industry do you have? Tell me about it.

Your interim CFO will need to understand the specific challenges of your industry and how to manage them.

What experience do you have providing stability to an organization that has just lost its CFO?

Clarify what actions your prospective interim CFO would take in the first week on the job. Look for an ability to prioritize.

We have these specific challenges (list challenges) with the way the finance team operates. What risks do you think we need to address first?

In times of transition you need someone who can stabilize the finance function quickly by perceiving potential risks and developing strategies to mitigate them.

How did you build trust quickly in your previous (interim) CFO roles?

Ideally your prospective employee would have a previous track record as a successful interim CFO. Part of that success will be based on his or her ability to build trust and gain buy-in quickly.

Give me an example of a situation where you could have created a better outcome by taking a different approach.
Resiliency and the ability to learn from his or her mistakes are two things you need in an interim CFO.

A company in transition brings with it some specific challenges. By asking the questions above you can identify an interim CFO who has been there and done that with a high degree of success in your industry.