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How to answer Profit and Loss P&L Job Interview Questions

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Here is a question I recently received from one of my customers about how to answer a financial question:

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“On most occasions an employer is not going to find all of the desired qualities in a candidate. Having said that, on a couple of my interviews I have been asked about P & L (profit and loss) responsibility or budget responsibility. I have had little or no total responsibility. This was handled on a more senior level, how can I answer this question to satisfy the interviewer. I am competent and would be able to quickly learn this and generally have all of the other requirements they are looking for. I should mention that my discipline is Distribution/Operations. Your insight would be greatly appreciated.”

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Hi Kirk,

I’m assuming the new role you are seeking will have a direct responsibility for P&L.  Just because you have not been directly responsible for p&l in the past does not mean you don’t know how to manage it. This is more of a mindset than anything.

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Tell them, though you were not directly responsible for p&l, that you understand it on a fundamental level and that you are looking forward to coming up to speed in this area and  being in a position where you will have a more active role with it.  Tell them things you have done to self-train in their area of p&l, maybe by reading books, magazines, etc.  Employers love self-training and nothing says “go-getter” like self-training does.

Rarely, does any one candidate fit the job bill perfectly and an employer needs to make a decision on who they believe is the most capable, can hit the ground running and who is mostly likely to come up to speed the quickest. It also depends on what skills the employer feels are the most important to the job.   This is where your desire and ability to learn new things quickly comes into play. Show them by example, from past experience how you were able to take on new job responsibilities and challenges and master them.  Once you can convince them, by example,  that you are capable of quickly learning new things, you will minimize their concerns and it will no longer be an issue for them.  Basically, you just need to address the p&l objection and show them it should not be a concern for them.

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I hope this helps.  Let me know if you have any more questions.

Don

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