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Five Interview Questions for Risk Managers

When they need a risk manager, firms look for professionals who know their technical stuff, but are also diplomatic enough to solve problems in a snap. When you're interviewing for one of these positions, be ready to answer these five questions.

Tell me about your education.

Experience trumps degrees in most cases, says says Jim Langan, a partner at Winter Wyman. For those with less than five or seven years' experience, hiring managers want to see an MBA or progress toward an advanced degree. Risk managers need to be experts in process evaluations, process improvements and reenergizing, as well as assessing the effectiveness of controls and control mitigation strategies - all skills taught in MBA programs. Even better are designations like Certified Risk Manager or Financial Risk Manager. These build instant credibility and show your career commitment. If you don't have these designations, work towards them.

What do you know about COSO?

The Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission is considered the best-practices framework to assess and monitor an organization's internal controls. So understanding it as a critical skill for risk management positions. COSO understanding also adds a layer of industry knowledge that can set you apart.

Are you ready for a brain teaser?

Managers love to ask complicated problem-solving questions to see how you think and respond under pressure. You can't prepare for them, but you can prepare for how to respond. Take a deep breath, don't panic, and read through the question carefully to figure out what tit's asking. Managers aren't necessarily looking for the right answer, but how you respond to the pressure of solving a problem in front of them.

What's your view of risk management's purpose within an organization?

If you can't clearly communicate how you view risk management and its purpose, how will you be able to explain it to senior management?

Managers use this question to get a better understanding of whether your view of risk management will match theirs and firm's approach. It also allows them to better understand the depth of your knowledge and how passionate you really are about the role. The firm might be looking for someone to help it change directions and take a different approach that can add a new perspective. Be able to provide a clear understanding or your view on risk and your firm's view.

Do you have an example of a tricky personality conflict you helped overcome when dealing with another department in your most recent job?

Technical skills are important for risk management but personality, the ability to see the big-picture and think on your feet can be just as important. Hiring managers want someone who can serve as an internal diplomat, interact with all levels of management and get problems solved quickly.

AUTHOREmma Johnson Insider Comment
  • ni
    27 January 2011

    give some more example to make understand other in a batter way to present their answer at time of the interview.

  • Jo
    John Wartman
    27 January 2011

    Risk usually is not positioned properly. If the organization is looking for a Chief Risk Officer with programing skills, its a problem. Risk should have a seat at the table with the CIO, otherwise, the investment side just bullies the risk side and after the blowup, risk is to blame. It is not necessarily heavy quant education but experience in markets that have been challenging. And if a risk manager never had a problem, they were not a decision maker. Risk must be integrated into the organization as a business management tool to support decisions. Consequently, the risk officer needs the experience and gravitas to impact the organization and lead change.

  • im
    26 January 2011

    i have experience in accounting and finance, i have done my MSC in accounting and finance also, my objective love with my work and perform best in my field,

  • J
    26 January 2011

    Better to give some sample answers rather than just a meaningless general framework

  • Ed
    Ed Paules
    26 January 2011

    I have had interviewers ask me my view of risk management on 3 different job interviews. Those asking the question were line managers who were trying to determine how much I was going to step into their area of responsibility. I usually gave a serious answer like, making certain the CEO or whomever got the right information at the right time so s/he could make the right decision, and if the information came from the line manager, I had still met my fiduciary responsibility to management and the shareholders. I also have some flip answers depending on the way the interview is going e.g. risk management is bonus preservation, which usually played well with the treasury types.

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