When we analyze the success stories of famous companies, we find one thing they have in common: people stand behind their success stories. People, not products, or brands. Without right employees it would be impossible to leave a mark in any niche of business.
Human resources is likely the most important department of every company, since HR managers choose the staff, motivate them, reward them, and lead them towards the goals of the corporation. And that is not an easy task, neither in a small, nor big company.
If you want to get a job in HR, you will need to prepare for a difficult and lengthy interview. We will have a look at it in detail on our website, that specializes only in HR interviews.
Written by Matthew Chulaw, Recruiting Consultant & Job Interview Coach
Screening (personal) questions – that’s how the interview starts
At first, they will ask you several screening questions, such as:
- Why do you want to work for us?
- Why did you decide for human resources?
- What do you plan to accomplish on this position?
- Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
- Can you tell me something about your past working experience?
- If you shall characterize people living in the US (or another country), what would you say about them?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
These questions are typical for the first stage of the typical HR interview process, the screening stage. The entire process typically consists in two, or even three rounds of interviews. So this is the first one. Interviewers ask the questions to understand better your communication skills, your motivation to do the job, your IQ and EQ, and other things. Basically they are trying to get some understanding of you as a person.
Dozens of people apply for every single position in human resources (especially if it is an entry level job). The job field is extremely popular, and we need to conduct several rounds of interviews, and screen out a certain percentage of applicants in each round. You should learn to control your non-verbal communication, to show motivation and enthusiasm, and to demonstrate clear understanding for the role. Add good answers to the screening questions, and you will pass the first stage of the interview process.
Behavioral interview – where the fun begins
They are going to inquire about your behavior in various work-related situations. The main goal of this stage is to foresee how you would act in various situations in the future, if they hire you. Answers to behavioral questions reveal a lot about your personality, way of thinking, and attitude to yourself, your colleagues, and the world. Let’s check some of the typical questions for behavioral stage:
- Describe a time when you had to meet a tight deadline. What was the situation? What steps did you take to ensure you would meet the deadline?
- What do you consider your biggest success, and biggest failure?
- Describe a time when you were under pressure, either in work, or in school. How did the pressure affect you in job? How did you handle the pressure?
- Describe a conflict you had with another person.
- Describe a situation when you went above and beyond with your service (for the customer, for the colleague).
- Describe a disagreement you had with your boss. What was it about?
When answering the questions, you need to remember a couple of things:
- Say something. Some people claim that they don’t have previous working experience, or that they can’t talk about the past. That is a big mistake. If you do not answer the question, you can not expect to get any positive points for your “answer”.
- Choose a situation with positive outcome. For example, when the interviewer asks about a conflict you had with a colleague, try to speak about the conflict situation you eventually resolved.
Technical questions (especially for advanced roles in HR)
They will train you in most companies. They will show you how to perform your duties, including leading the interviews. However, as someone who can bring some value to their employer, you should have your own opinion and knowledge of HR. You should be somebody. That’s why they ask technical questions, to see what you know, and what you can do, how you approach HR, and so on….
The better position you try to get in HR (think consultant, corporate interviewer, HR director), the more complex the technical part will be. On the contrary, if you apply for an entry level job, you will not get many technical questions. Let’s have a look at some questions.
- Tell me something about your former boss. What were their strengths and weaknesses?
- Imagine you should choose a new general manager for our company. How would you proceed? Outline the basic steps you would take and problems you may face.
- We are talking here together for a while. Can you tell me something about me? What do you consider my strengths and weaknesses as a hiring manager?
- What do you think motivates the workers in our company? How would you motivate the people without offering a raise?
- How would you estimate the following: emotional intelligence, communication skills, listening skills, ability to duplicate, attention to detail.
- Can you describe the difference between behavioral interviewing and situational interviewing. Which one do you consider better, and why?
- Here is an interview question (interviewer tells you some question). What do you think we try to understand about the job candidate when asking them the question?
- What do you think are the three primary factors job seekers look at when deciding to accept, or reject a job offer?
- Do you have any experience with assessment center? Have you used any form of personality testing before?
- Here are two resumes of applicants for managerial position. Please, have a look at them and tell us which one would you prioritize, and why.
- There are many “boring” positions in our company, consisting in nothing but repetitive tasks. How would you motivate people that hold these jobs to work hard every day?
The HR interview is not easy. After all, interviewers have to choose one or two winners from dozens or even hundreds of job applications. They have to conduct a difficult interview, to spot all minor differences between the shortlisted candidates, and to pick the best one at the end (or the one who prepared better than the others did). Read the analysis and sample answers on our website, and get ready for the interview. We wish you good luck!