Many people say that treasury is the heart of finance, but I feel that if finance is ‘hardware’ then treasury is ‘software’. Without software, hardware is of no use. Accordingly, without proper treasury personnel, finance cannot succeed.
Making sure the right person is managing treasury is the responsibility of the person who hires for that position. So, based on my personal experience, the questions you should be asking are dependent on the way you ask them, and your understanding of that question: asking is an art.
Generally, there are two types of questions we ask at interview. One is structured and the other is unstructured.
Structured questions are the questions which can be answered in a specific way, such as yes, no, true, false, know, don’t know.
Unstructured questions are questions which can be adapted to suit the interviewee. It is a spontaneous conversation without a pre-determined set of questions. Asking questions based on the previous answer is the approach in this method.
I personally feel, a mix of structured and non-structured questions are required to know about the candidate. Again they are two sides of a coin and both are equally important.
Let’s start with:
This is a way to get to know the candidate. This is an old technique, but ‘old is gold’. Ask lots of questions so that the candidate feels comfortable. The questions may be both structured and non-structured.
This is an area which has the potential to generate a lot of questions. In other words, the more you explore this area, the better you will know the candidate.
Ask ‘out of the box’ questions. Keep the candidate going and you will learn their thinking ability – a core part of treasury.
The candidate for this role should be good at analytics. Questions on forecasting, collections, payments and reconciliations can be asked. This will lead you to understand their micro knowledge of the work.
It’s important to know the assignments handled by the candidate in their previous organisation. It can help you to understand their work-handling capacity.
It is an important part of the treasury profile. There are a lot of risks we manage on a daily basis. It may be the requirement of working capital, the fund flow management, hedging, interest rates, surplus funds and so on. So, the questions should be framed around this.
It is important to know the candidate’s future goals. If they say “I want to work with this organisation for a long time”, then immediately you can check their previous experience and how long they have been working with their present organisation. It can be a tricky question for the candidate.
This is the final stage of the overall process. Tell them what you felt about their performance during the interview, and if possible, give some suggestions on how they can improve. At the same time, give them time for queries/questions arising from the interview. Accurate feedback comes from taking notes so make sure whenever you are interviewing, have pen and paper to hand and use them!
The progress of every interview is dependent on the candidate’s nature. Each of us is different, so the same pattern of interview cannot be followed for all for it to be truly effective. And I can guarantee no one can fully understand a person in a few hours; you need to spend more time with them.
Finally, these steps are just an indication of how to conduct the interview based on my own personal experience.