34 HR business partner interview questions (and answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

HR business partners are senior figures in a company's human resources department and offer in-depth industry knowledge to help HR teams succeed. It's a great career opportunity for professionals in HR who are looking to move up the ranks, command a higher salary and enjoy new and exciting challenges. To successfully become an HR business partner requires excellent knowledge of HR and extensive business knowledge, so demonstrating these assets during an interview can help you to get the role. In this article, we examine common HR business partner interview questions and provide answers to guide you towards success.

Common HR business partner interview questions

Considering some of the most common HR business partner interview questions can help you prepare your own answers in advance. Here are some general interview questions you may encounter:

  1. What made you apply for this role?

  2. Can you tell me what you know about our company?

  3. What would you say are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?

  4. Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

  5. Do you enjoy working on your own or as part of a larger team?

  6. What do you think makes a good workplace culture?

  7. What would you say is your approach to management?

  8. What are your career aspirations?

  9. How much would you expect to earn in this role?

  10. Do you have any questions about the job or our company?

Related: 10 ways to develop HR innovation and why it's important

Interview questions about work experience

Interviewers typically ask questions about your work background to learn more about your suitability and experience in HR. Here are some common interview questions for HR business partners that focus on work experience below:

  1. How many years of experience do you have in HR?

  2. What software have you used in the past for HR activities?

  3. Can you discuss your previous work experience in HR?

  4. What qualifications do you hold that align with HR?

  5. Have you ever worked in a leadership role?

  6. Can you describe a time when a solution you implemented didn't meet expectations?

  7. What certifications do you currently hold?

  8. What experience do you have leading large teams?

  9. What industries have you worked for in the past?

  10. What solutions have you implemented in previous roles that improved HR performance?

Related: How to become an HR business partner in five simple steps

In-depth interview questions

To learn more about you, interviewers typically ask questions that give you the opportunity to respond with more in-depth answers. Here are some of these in-depth questions below and think about how you would respond:

  1. If you were successful in obtaining this role, what would be your key priorities from day one?

  2. What strategies would you suggest for our company to roll out that might improve productivity?

  3. What resources do you rely on to stay informed about the latest innovations in HR?

  4. Can you talk about a time when you struggled to implement a new HR policy?

  5. How would you handle a situation that involved workplace conflict with more than two staff members?

  6. How do you stay up to date about the business operations of the company?

  7. Can you outline how you intend to use some of your skills in this role?

  8. What steps do you take to plan for a project that requires lots of research?

Related: Q&A: what is the average HR salary for different roles?

Common interview questions for HR business partners with example answers

To help you succeed in your HR business partner interview, we've included some questions with answers which you can use as inspiration for your own responses when preparing for an interview. Below are some questions with sample answers:

1. How much experience do you have with standard business practices and standards for this industry?

This is a question focused on ascertaining your level of knowledge and expertise in the role and the industry you're applying for. It's useful for HR business partners to have a good understanding of the industry and standard business practices found there. To answer this question well, try to showcase your understanding of the industry and how it works. If you have any, mention any specific, industry-aligned credentials to support your answer.

Example answer: 'I've spent several years in this industry, so I'm quite familiar with standard business practices here. My previous roles were leadership positions, with a focus on HR and sales. My abilities in this capacity stem from my previous education in business administration and management, where I earned a master's degree.'

Related: What is the HR career path? (Plus HR jobs and duties)

2. What types of metrics or indicators do you use the most in your role?

This is a question that looks to find out your understanding of established metrics and key performance indicators in HR. It's expected that an HR business partner has a good understanding of these foundational concepts, so make sure that you respond with an answer that aligns with industry standards. Ideally, mention what you've used in previous jobs.

Example answer: 'I prefer to use tried and tested metrics when measuring performance and success. This includes things like cost per hire and quality of hire to get a good idea of what's working well in the company and what areas require improvement. In my previous role, though, I spent a good amount of time measuring employee turnover and time to hire because of the rapid expansion of the company.'

3. How would you describe your approach to handling workplace conflicts?

This is a question that seeks to identify your ability to manage conflicts in the workplace effectively, which is often one of the more difficult aspects of HR. As you're interviewing for a senior role in HR, it's beneficial to show employers that you have the skills and expertise to effectively resolve these types of conflicts to bring back harmony and productivity at work. When answering, try to refer back to a specific instance of workplace conflict that you successfully handled.

Example answer: 'My approach with any workplace conflict is to first gather information from both parties and let them discuss any grievances or misunderstandings. So with my previous role, I handled a conflict between two colleagues who were in disagreement over who was responsible for handling a specific call that both parties missed. After listening to both sides, I realised that the issue stemmed from a basic misunderstanding as one of the employees didn't have the right schedule. I explained this to both parties and sorted the conflict.'

Related: What is HR analytics? (Definition, examples and types)

4. What framework do you prefer to use when training new members of staff?

Interviewers ask this type of question to learn more about your own particular approach to HR management. Bringing in new employees and training them is standard practice for any HR department, so responding to this question is a good way to show your level of understanding and experience in this area. So when you answer this question, try to talk about the key features you look for in a training programme.

Example answer: 'I've worked on lots of different training frameworks for new starts and I've found the most effective method is through live demonstration and involving trainees to participate. This provides them with good, hands-on experience in using the tools and techniques before going live, which is a great way to mitigate any nerves or anxiety for trainees.'

5. What's your preferred employee retention strategy?

Recruiters tend to ask this question to learn more about your priorities in terms of retaining key employees and how well you understand standard business practices. HR business partners are usually responsible for innovating certain aspects of how a company operates, with employee retention playing a big role in that. Try to think of a few different employee retention strategies when answering this question.

Example answer: 'I'd say that my preferred strategy for retaining key staff is to focus on providing consistent rewards for good performance. This shows our commitment to the employee and creates a tangible incentive for them to push harder. So when in my previous role, I set up a system that gave employees cash bonuses for exceeding any sales targets. In that time, our employee retention rate greatly improved.'

6. What has been your biggest challenge in the world of HR?

This is a question that gives you an opportunity to reflect on stressful, difficult or complicated situations. Try to think about an experience that was particularly difficult in your previous jobs. Be sure to include how you managed to accomplish your goals in the face of the challenges, as this demonstrates strong problem-solving skills.

Example answer: 'I remember one of my first significant challenges in HR was dealing with a high turnover rate for an IT company. They were having a tough time keeping employees for more than a year, so I spent some time interviewing employees to find out why they might wish to move to another job. I discovered that the company was paying well under the average salary expectations for many roles, which explained the high turnover. So when it was time for a budget review, I highlighted this issue and after a year, our turnover rates dropped significantly.'

Disclaimer: The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.

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