Five Interview Questions for Risk Managers

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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.

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