Preparing for a job interview as a consolidation consultant

By Alain Stubbe, Corporate HR, Sigma Conso

In this article, I will share the most important questions I ask when recruiting for consolidation and group reporting consultants, and the reasons why I ask them.

For this type of position, I generally meet group consolidation managers, consolidation consultants, young graduates and candidates with work experience in corporate finance.

When recruiting, I'm not just looking for skills, I'm looking for potential and personality.

It is vital for future recruits to share the same values and vision as the organization they will join, so they can seamlessly integrate into the team and ensure it's a win-win situation at the end of the process.

Here are a few questions that might be asked in an interview as a consolidation and group reporting consultant.

1. Why did you choose to study a finance-based subject?

I ask this question to junior candidates and those with work experience. The question is definitely a classic, but it helps gain a better understanding of a candidate's initial motives and their career plans.

2. What type of mission would you like to work on?

This question allows me to assess to what extent the candidate is already planning for their future position and whether their goals and experience match up with what we can offer. Answers to this question might be technical, such as helping a group streamline their closing process, reorganising intercompany reconciliation etc.; contextual, such as "I'd like to work for a large international company because..."; geographical, such as "I'd like missions abroad because..."; or duration, such as "I'd like to commit to long missions because..."/"I prefer back-to-back, short missions because...".

3. What finance software do you like? And why?

I can assess a candidate's IT skills with this question, especially their proficiency in certain software packages

4. What is it about the world of consulting that appeals to you?

Answering this question allows me to assess whether the candidate is aware of issues in the consulting profession and whether they will thrive, especially in terms of intellectual mobility, career, travel, customer relations and business approach. Do they have the potential to identify customer issues that we could assist with?

5. How much time are you willing to spend travelling? Nationally and internationally?

The Sigma Conso consulting team is international because we have clients in countries where we don't have offices, and sometimes we need to support local teams.

For those who enjoy the cultural and professional growth that comes with being abroad, then a consultant position with us is perfect. But a candidate still has to consider the impact of the role on their private life.

Recently, our consultants worked in Singapore and Malaysia to support our local team during a long-term mission, as well as in Latvia, the USA, and for shorter missions, in Luxembourg or France.

These missions allow our consultants to gain a better understanding of their profession: they have had to take on challenges that they didn't necessarily expect, going above and beyond the strictly technical aspects of consolidation or finance, including organisational and cultural considerations.

6. Why do you want to work for an international software supplier?

Sigma Conso is not your typical consulting company, insofar as we develop corporate performance management software. Our consultants are encouraged to test out and use the latest versions of our software packages before they are released on the market, so as to give feedback to the development team, to identify bugs etc. This means we can offer our customers as complete a product as possible. They are therefore involved in the product's life, which is an added bonus of working in the profession.

7. How did you get into consolidation?

This question helps us gain a better understanding of a candidate’s background to date.

8. Where do you see yourself in a few years’ time?

This question is obviously about pre-empting a candidate’s future career plans. Does the candidate want to continue working as a consultant? Or do they ultimately want to lead a team and manage projects?