34 finance business partner interview questions and answers

Updated 5 June 2023

Finance business partners are accounting specialists who use finance tools like forecasting and performance analysis to generate and provide financial information. If you want to work in this role, working on your interview performance may help you impress hiring managers and advance to the next round of recruitment. Reviewing questions that employers ask candidates for finance business partners may help you draft effective answers and prepare for your interview. In this article, we list 34 finance business partner interview questions, explain why employers ask them and provide sample answers to use as inspiration for your preparations.

10 general finance business partner interview questions

During the first few minutes of the meeting, a hiring manager is likely to ask you some general finance business partner interview questions. Your answers to these questions help them learn more about you as a person and discover your career goals or aspirations. Usually, these questions are less specific and don't require specialised industry knowledge. Instead, they test your personal qualities, such as creativity. Here are general questions you may hear during an interview:

  1. Why are you leaving your current job?

  2. Why would you like to work at this organisation?

  3. What do you plan to accomplish within the first 30, 60 and 90 days here?

  4. How would your former employer describe you?

  5. If you could change one thing about your personality, what would it be and why?

  6. What is your biggest workplace strength?

  7. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

  8. What would we gain by hiring you?

  9. Tell us something about yourself.

  10. Guide us through your CV.

Related: What is a finance business partner responsible for?

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10 questions about background and experience

After learning more about you, the interviewer may ask about your work experience and educational history. Asking about your background helps them ensure you have the right qualifications to perform the specific duties of the role. Here are examples of questions about background and experience you might have to answer:

  1. How has your education prepared you for this role?

  2. What key responsibilities did you have in your previous job?

  3. What are some financial goals you helped organisations achieve in the past?

  4. Have you previously used any qualitative financial forecasting methods?

  5. Have you ever disagreed with a client or supervisor? What happened?

  6. Tell me about the last time you made a mistake at work. How did you fix it?

  7. What tools have you used to automate financial planning and analysis activities?

  8. When was the last time you improved your spreadsheet skills?

  9. How has your advice helped you contribute to your former employers' organisational performance?

  10. Describe the last project that required you to work directly with an organisation's CFO.

Related: What is partnering in business? (Definition and benefits)

10 in-depth finance business partner questions

As a finance business partner, you may influence the day-to-day financial decisions within an organisation. To make sure you're prepared for these decisions and know which tools and methodologies to use, interviewers ask in-depth questions. These are highly specific or situational questions which require you to use the experience and knowledge you've obtained through working in finance and accounting. Here are some in-depth questions for finance business partners:

  1. How might finance business partners use data insight to influence financial decisions?

  2. How do you create a waterfall chart?

  3. What are cash flow statements?

  4. What data interpretation tools have you used?

  5. What are the key qualities of a financially healthy organisation?

  6. Is it acceptable for an organisation to allocate all its resources to one investment?

  7. What is the difference between financial forecasting and financial modelling?

  8. How can finance business partners use management tools to handle information overload?

  9. How frequently do you conduct knowledge reviews to analyse if an organisation's activities still align with its objectives and market trends?

  10. List five elements of a cash flow statement.

Related: Corporate finance interview questions (with answers)

4 finance business partner questions with sample answers

Reviewing sample answers is a good way to understand what interviewers expect to hear from you and how you can structure your response. Here are additional questions for finance business partners with an explanation of why recruiters ask them and sample answers:

1. How can a finance business partner use financial forecasting?

Financial forecasting is a key element that finance business partners use to help executives make more insightful decisions about the organisation's finances. To answer the question, briefly explain what forecasting is. Then discuss how you're likely to use it to help maintain the organisation's operations.

Example: 'Financial forecasting is a method that helps finance business partners check the validity of the organisation's financial plans and strategies. This method uses historical data about the organisation's or a specific department's performance. Elements that are essential for accurate forecasting include revenue, cash flow or expenses. Based on these factual measures, finance business partners make insightful assumptions about the organisation's future to influence decision-making. For example, they might use it to determine how to allocate resources to increase sales.'

Related: How to make financial projections: steps and an example

2. What are some key qualities of successful finance business partners?

This is a general question that hiring managers may ask to determine your understanding of the role and the employer's requirements. To give a successful answer, make sure you familiarise yourself with the job description. Focus on the role's objectives to list qualities that may help you accomplish the key goals of the job, such as improving revenue.

Example: 'A successful finance business partner is a self-aware and organised person with a commercial mindset and strong business orientation. They're usually the single point of contact for the operational leaders within organisations. For this reason, finance partners benefit from developing strong problem-solving and relationship-building abilities.

In addition, having an analytical approach to tasks is a plus. This helps them use risk management principles, create finance reviews or evaluate sales pipelines to determine financial priorities. Since they're responsible for so many aspects of an organisation and each workday may look different for them, the ability to multitask and adaptability are additional qualities that help them succeed.'

Related: 10 financial analyst skills for professional success

3. You're working with a book retailer who wants to improve their sales during the summer months. What questions would you ask to gain insight into their organisation's finances?

Hiring managers may ask you situational questions to learn how you might act in specific workplace situations. This question tests your ability to analyse an organisation's finances and prepare forecasts that help decision-makers gain more insight into their business opportunities. To answer, imagine that you're working with a retailer and describe techniques or tools you may use to help them improve sales.

Example: 'Asking questions is a key competency for me as a finance business partner, so I always make sure to spend time creating a list of questions I want to ask executives or clients during our meetings. If I were to help a book retailer sell more products during the summer, I would start by asking about their best sales period and their biggest sources of sales. Based on these two answers, I might start developing an idea of what they're doing right and how to adapt their strategies to make products appealing to customers in the summer.

In addition, I may ask about the best summer sales period their organisation has experienced. I can use the organisation's historical data to analyse its past sales campaigns and financial information and determine the key aspects that positively impacted finances during specific periods. I may also ask what high sales means to them, as this helps me create more accurate predictions and forecasts based on competitor and market research.'

Related: 12 sales tips for effectively boosting a business's revenue

4. What's the role of a finance business partner in an organisation's HR strategy?

After testing your knowledge of specific tools and techniques that financial business partners use, the interviewers may ask about your general understanding of the role. This question allows them to understand if your advice incorporates the entire organisation's perspective by working with members from departments other than finance. To answer, describe the challenges of working with HR concepts and how finance business partners may help overcome them.

Example: 'Finance business partners may work alongside HR staff to calculate compensation packages, including annual salary or bonuses that employees receive. Thanks to the partner's insight, the HR department can access relevant and up-to-date financial information. This includes internal data about the organisation's performance and external data that help them understand market trends, like monetary benefits that employers in the industry offer.'

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