CFOs Look for Communication, Problem-Solving Skills in Senior-Level Candidates



MENLO PARK, CA -- Executives who communicate well and articulate their experience and ability to resolve business challenges have the advantage in job interviews, a new survey shows.  Chief financial officers (CFOs) were asked to name the qualities, other than technical proficiency and industry knowledge, that impress them most when interviewing senior-level candidates for executive positions.  Respondents placed equal weight (34 percent) on verbal skills and problem-solving abilities.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources, the world’s premier provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals on a project and interim basis.  It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with more than 20 employees.

CFOs were asked, “Other than technical skills and industry knowledge, which one of the following characteristics impresses you the most when interviewing executive-level job candidates?”  Their responses:

Verbal communication skills   34%
Problem-solving abilities   34%
Confidence   13%
Negotiation skills   4%
Personality/character   3%
How they work as a team   2%
Other   3%
Don't know/no answer   7%

“When interviewing for a position, applicants who, in prior roles, combined diplomacy with persuasiveness to gain buy-in from management can apply those same skills to address challenging interview questions,” said Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources.  “Also, using a direct and confident communication style will demonstrate their ability to work effectively with top management and lead a team.”

McDonald added that companies value executives who can identify and implement solutions to everyday business challenges.  “When interviewing, CFOs look for senior-level candidates who provide concrete examples of how they organized a team to manage major initiatives, such as improving financial reporting efficiencies, implementing new technologies or minimizing client service interruptions.”

Robert Half Management Resources has locations in major cities throughout North America, Europe and Australia, and offers online job search services at




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