Job Hunting

Who Knew? Early to Rise Works

The best time for an interview? Bright and early, says survey. Plus: prospective employers want CFOs to show them the money.
Lisa YoonJanuary 22, 2003

Finance department job-seekers, take note: When scheduling an interview with a prospective employer aim for a morning slot, suggests a new survey by Accountemp.

According to the survey, 69 percent of 1,400 CFOs polled said the most productive time for meeting with job candidates is between 9 and 11 a.m.

A truly hardy bunch of CFOs — 11 percent, to be exact — prefer to take meetings before 9 a.m. Eight percent say the after-lunch lull between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. is most productive, while just two percent like to interview candidates between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Barely two percent meet with applicants after 5 p.m..

“Managers prefer to schedule interviews before the other responsibilities of the day begin,” explains Max Messmer, Accountemps chairman and author of Job Hunting For Dummies (2nd Edition). “After a full slate of meetings and regular work activities, their energy level and focus may not be as strong in the afternoon.”

CFOs: Bottom Line is the Bottom Line

What’s the most important interview question today?

According to Stephen S. Tutwiler, president, Sterling Management Resources Inc, it’s “Can you show me the money?” Tutwiler says CFO candidates are now routinely asked, “How have you significantly affected the company from a profit perspective? What are some specific examples?”

And why should CFOs be prepared to answer this?

When the economy was better, Tutwiler says, the kinds of things CFOs were expected to do — M&A, initial public offerings — required more reporting of financial data.

“Today, it’s about cost containment,” says Tutwiler. “And with the tight job market, the hiring process is longer and entails more.” That means companies interviewing CFOs cut right to the chase: Can you beef up earnings by reining in costs?

“CFOs need to be change-agents; they need to prescribe financial best practices,” Tutwiler explains. “Companies don’t want a CFO who’s just going to be the bearer of bad news. The CEO’s thinking, ‘God, if you’d told me this six months ago I could have prepared for this.’ We’re getting more calls now from people saying, “Do you know anybody out there who can be a little more proactive as CFO?’”

CFOs on the Move

Gap Inc. submitted details on the pay package of new EVP and CFO Byron Hall Pollitt Jr. to the Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday. According to the Form 8-K, the package consists of $625, 000 in annual salary, an initial bonus of $350,000 in the first 30 days (processed as supplemental income and is subject to supplemental taxes); options for 200,000 shares. If Pollitt resigns within a year, he must repay the initial bonus within 30 days of resigning.

As reported Monday, CEO Paul Pressler brought in Pollitt to replace former CFO Heidi Kunz on January 18. The two executives worked together at Walt Disney.