Budget managers help keep businesses on track financially, monitoring the budgets for individual departments and the company as a whole. They also work on upcoming budgets and present corporate financial information to executives and leaders, so people skills are as important as financial skills. Certain questions test the skill levels and abilities of budget manager candidates.
Previous experience is key in a budget manager position. When the budget's poorly managed, a company might quickly spend too much before management realizes there's a problem. Questions about past financial experience provides insight into how prepared a candidate is to take ownership of the budget, track payments and expenditures, and keep staff in the loop about budget projections and where the departments are within individual budgets.
Budget managers often help department managers and executives set annual budgets by using projections. This requires strong financial analysis skills; the budget manager must look at current and past years' budgets to help project where the next year's spending and income is likely to go. Questions about budget preparation, the accuracy of projections and the ability to designate percentages of the overall organizational budget to certain departments are essential questions for budget manager candidates.
Although there are many types of financial software available, most perform the same basic functions. They allow you to enter a budget, and with the help of codes you assign, track payments and expenditures by department and other budget line items, such as payroll or capital purchases. Depending on the financial department structure, the budget manager might not enter data into the financial system, but she must understand enough about financial software to manipulate the data as it relates to the budget and run effective reports – weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually. A budget manager interview should include questions about the types of financial software the candidate is proficient with, what kind of reports she typically creates, her backup and filing system, and how she uses technology to help with projections and overall budget management.
Budget managers don't just sit behind their desks and crunch numbers all day. Instead, they are the main source of budget information for department managers, company executives and outside leadership such as boards of directors. A budget manager must have strong presentation skills, including the ability to break down complicated financial data into easy-to-understand information, often using graphs and charts to help. The interview is likely to include how many people the candidate has presented to at one time, how he prepares the information for the meetings, how he presents it and how comfortable he is fielding difficult financial questions from the leadership. The budget manager should bring samples of previous budget reports to help the hiring manager determine if his style fits in with the company's reporting needs.