A controller is responsible for planning, directing and managing the financial aspects and reports of a business. The controller is also responsible for researching and monitoring a company's financial position in terms of income, expenses and earnings, as well as help to forecast future business activities based on past and present operations, and those operations expected to be conducted in the future.
Financial controllers are also responsible for overseeing corporate funds and accounts, preparing budgets, approval of all of the company’s expenses, and offering guidance to promote financial solvency and success. The daily responsibilities of a controller depend largely on the size and industry of the company he works for. For large organizations, the focus of the financial controller’s job is largely on control of the company’s assets and finances. Varying business segments and brands or even departments within a company may have their own controllers. Typically, the chief controller will supervise and manage junior controllers who perform administrative tasks.
Benefiting the Company
Most interviews for the position of financial controller include questions about why the company should hire you. For example, the interviewer may ask, "Why should we trust you with this position?" or "How will you benefit our company as a controller?"
Highlight the tactics you will use to make the company successful. A controller is integral to the company's financial success in the end, but he performs various tasks and responsibilities above and beyond dealing with the financial aspect specifically. Mention how you will add value to the company through daily tasks. Discuss recruiting talented workers, improving reports and reporting processes, being thorough and detail-oriented, and improving efficiency.
Tell the interviewer that you will work to recruit and hire skilled staff members to work under you. Discuss your plans for finding and recruiting qualified staff and how you will work together to facilitate speed and company success. Tell the interviewer how you will align management reports and business strategy to provide the insight needed to facilitate growth and change in the company.
No report or controller will be successful without focusing on the basics. Describe how you will maintain and ensure that basic accounting and numbers for all statements are accurate. It may seem too basic to mention, but it is the foundation on which the entire position is established.
The job of a financial controller involves a very specialized and strategic mix of skills. While you don’t need to mention every skill you possess, it is important to identify at least a few of the key skills that every controller needs and that you feel are your areas of strength.
Technical accounting expertise is one of the most important skills and should be the first thing you mention. A financial controller must also possess excellent communication and leadership skills. Present the interviewer with previous work or related experiences in which you utilized your communication and leadership skills with a successful outcome.
Other skills to mention include interpersonal skills, time management, personal efficiency, and the ability to hire and monitor workers and their effectiveness.
Helping Junior-Level Staff
Financial controllers are not only responsible for overseeing the work that junior-level staffers do; they must also interact with them and ensure that they continue to grow in their abilities. In most cases, a financial controller will have started his career at a junior level.
The interviewer may ask, "How have you or will you help junior-level staff develop and advance their careers?" This is a good opportunity to play up your ability to work well with others and to manage others while still being able to support, encourage and help lower-level workers develop. Reiterate the skills that you possess that you can share with junior-level workers to facilitate their growth and help develop their expertise so that they can eventually move up the career ladder.