Treasurer Interview Questions
A treasurer’s primary job is to advise management regarding investment and risk management of the company’s finances. This requires the treasurer to manage corporate liquidity by setting a framework to maintain the company’s cash flow at a level high enough to cover all costs incurred during the company’s operations.
Treasurers typically manage an accounting department and report to management as to the state of the company’s financial condition. They also report on the status of the short- and long-term financial goals set by the company.
Treasurer responsibilities may include:
Investing funds and managing pension funds
Maintaining relationships with banks and credit-rating agencies
Coordinating obtaining financing needed to sustain the company’s operations
Mitigating financial risks
Ensuring short-term funds are sufficient to meet operating costs
Forecasting revenues, expenses, profits, and cash flow
Advising management on the performance of short- and long-term goals
Managing mergers and acquisitions
Markets can be difficult to predict and require constant hands-on management. Treasurers must be aware of the market’s liquidity compared to that of the company. A skilled treasurer will be expected to:
Have experience producing and interpreting financial projections
Manage and supervise subordinates
Act as a financial planner with knowledge of and experience in GAAP accounting
Manage minor details while maintaining the big picture about financial matters
Have an eye for detail
Be c apable of handling the numbers and cash involved with operating the business
Treasurer positions are senior-level positions due to the responsibilities involved with the financial decision making the position requires. Positions require a bachelor’s degree in finance or accounting although higher-level degrees and certifications will give applicants a greater advantage.
More senior positions will require several years of experience in other accounting and finance positions. Some positions favor or require a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), CTP (Certified Treasury Professional), or CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) certifications.
Salaries for Treasurers range between $135K and $307K with the median being $212K.
Factors impacting the salary you receive as a treasurer include:
Degrees (bachelor's, master's, and CPA, CTP or CFA certifications)
Years of Experience
Reporting Structure (seniority of the manager you report to and number of direct reports)
Level of Performance - exceeding expectations
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Treasurer Interview Questions
Question: Please describe what influenced your decision to become a treasurer.
Explanation: This is a general opening question the interviewer will ask to start the conversation, learn more about your background, and collect some information they can use for subsequent questions.
Example: “I have always enjoyed working with numbers and making sure everything balanced and was in order. As my education progressed, I also learned about money and the different ways you can make it work for you. I combined these interests during my college studies and knew that I would graduate with a degree in finance. Once I entered the workforce as an accountant, I became familiar with the role of a treasurer. This fascinated me, and I took steps to guide my career in this direction.”
Question: What steps do you take to avoid errors in the firm’s accounting practices?
Explanation: This is an operational question. As a treasurer, you’re responsible for making sure an organization’s accounting practices are accurate and compliant. Your answer should reflect your experience in this area. Keep in mind that operational questions should be answered directly and briefly.
Example: “Avoiding errors in the firm’s accounting practices is less of an issue due to the robust financial software packages available. However, I still make sure that everyone in my department is well trained in accounting practices. I also perform spot audits to ensure the team’s work is accurate. Finally, I employ an outside audit firm once a year to examine our work and identify any areas which require our attention.”
Question: How would you explain liquidity to someone who doesn’t have a finance background?
Explanation: This is another operational question which the interviewer is using to explore your communication skills. Being able to explain complex financial concepts to nonfinancial individuals is essential for a treasurer.
Example: “Whenever I discuss complex financial processes to people who don’t have a financial background, I make sure I try to keep the conversation simple and to the point. I avoid using jargon or any terminology people who don’t work in finance are not familiar with. When discussing liquidity, I talk about access to the funds, time frames, and the ability to make decisions and take actions without much oversight or delay.”
Question: What are some of the methods you can use to raise capital for a company?
Explanation: This is another operational question. As a treasurer, you can anticipate that the majority of questions you will be asked during an interview will be operational. Remember to keep your answers direct and concise. The interviewer will ask a follow-up question if they need additional information or want to explore the topic in more depth.
Example: “There are several different methods you can use to raise capital for a company. These include debt in a variety of different forms of equity. The method I choose depends on why the company needs the funds and what they intend to do with them. If the funds are to be used for short-term operational issues, I prefer debt in the form of a short-term loan. If the funds are needed for capital purchases or investments, I then look at long-term debt or issuing equity in the firm.”
Question: What information do you use to manage risk related to interest rates?
Explanation: Managing the financial risk of the company is one of the treasure’s primary responsibilities. You should be able to discuss a set of criteria you use when performing this function.
Example: “There are many different ways you can manage interest rate risk. These include diversification, hedging, and leveraging financial instruments with fixed interest rates. You can also balance loans between both long- and short-term debt.”
Question: What financial management software do you recommend, and why do you prefer it?
Explanation: Organizations hire people not only for the work required by the role but also to bring in fresh ideas and innovative strategies. Your pre-interview research should have informed you about which financial software package the company currently uses. If you favor this, you should state that and describe why you like it. If you prefer an alternative product, be prepared to talk about its benefits and the return on investment the company would realize by purchasing it.
Example: “By far, Quicken is my favorite financial software management package. I like it due to its ease of use, ubiquity, ability to interface with banking and credit card applications, and the portability of the data it produces. I believe your firm already uses Quicken, so I will be able to be productive in this role immediately.”
Question: Tell me about a time when you had difficulty enforcing a financial regulation.
Explanation: This is a behavioral question. Behavioral questions present scenarios you are likely to encounter in the job for which you are interviewing. The employer is looking to determine how you will respond to this and if it aligns with their expectations and operational strategies. Behavioral questions are best answered using the STAR framework. You summarize the Situation, describe the Task you needed to accomplish, talk about the Actions you took, and then discuss the Results you obtained.
Example: “The most challenging financial regulation I have had to enforce in the organizations for which I worked was the quiet period before a company’s financial reporting. Company officers and other employees were prone to talk about the results the firm was going to announce, especially if they were positive. This violated SEC regulations. To stop this behavior, I educated the entire company about the danger of doing this and the legal ramifications of disclosing unauthorized information. Once people realized the impact a casual conversation about the company’s performance could have, this activity stopped immediately.”
Question: What experience do you have managing risk, and in hindsight, what would you have done differently?
Explanation: This is similar to a question the interviewer has already asked you. Interviewers will ask similar questions throughout an interview to calibrate your answers and ensure you are consistent. Answering the questions honestly and forthrightly will help you achieve this.
Example: “As a treasurer, one of my primary responsibilities is to manage the financial risk of the company. I do this by examining any investments the company is considering, diversifying both our investments and the sources of capital we use, and educating the team about financial responsibilities and the appropriate actions they can and cannot take.”
Question: Do you have experience with investment funds? If so, what types?
Explanation: This is an operational question that takes the form of asking you about your experience with a specific topic. Keep in mind operational questions are best answered directly and concisely. This allows the interviewer to ask a follow-up question if they need more information or move on to a new topic.
Example: “I have a great deal of experience with investment funds. I have used these as a source of the company’s capital on several occasions. When evaluating investment funds, I consider not only the financial characteristics of a fund, but also the management philosophy and their history of investing in companies similar to ours. I make sure the fund’s business objectives align with those of the company.”
Question: Can you describe a financial policy you implemented and what the result was?
Explanation: This is another behavioral question, asking you to describe an experience you have had with this topic at one of your former employers. Make sure you use the STAR framework to respond to this question. If the results of your experience were negative, you can describe the lessons learned and how you would behave differently going forward.
Example: “At my current company, I had to issue a directive that prevented the company from using private equity as a source of capital. The rationale behind this was that PE firms tend to get involved in the company’s operations, and this may impact how the company performed. I met with a lot of resistance to this initially. However, I was able to convince the leadership team that this was a good idea based on the experiences I had with other companies and by citing examples of organizations like ours who had used PE. The company was able to obtain the capital it needed at a reasonable cost without sacrificing its independence.”
Additional Treasurer Interview Questions
What resources do you use to follow the financial markets?
In your experience, what constitutes a sound investment?
By what means do you calculate and quantify investment risk?
What bookkeeping software and practices are you familiar with?
How do you maintain good relationships with subordinates, management, and financial partners such as banks and other financial institutions?
How do you handle discrepancies in corporate finances?
In your opinion, what makes a good manager, and what skills are required to run a department effectively?
Explain a time you had to make changes to a policy to comply with corporate finance regulations.
In what industry or industries have you served as an accountant or treasurer in the past?
What are your qualifications beyond the formal degree that qualifies you for this position?
What’s key to a healthy investment?
When would you issue a debt and how?
What’s your experience in hedging?
What do you do to follow money markets?
Describe a time when your good management allowed your company to save money.
Describe a time you spotted a mistake in the company’s cash statements.
Explain how you maintained good relationships with partners and/or agencies in your previous job.
A word of warning when using question lists.
Question lists offer a convenient way to start practicing for your interview. Unfortunately, they do little to recreate actual interview pressure. In a real interview you’ll never know what’s coming, and that’s what makes interviews so stressful.
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