Acing a human resources (HR) job interview takes preparation. Studying interview questions and preparing potential responses sets you up for success and landing your next job.
In addition to researching the company and polishing your resume, you should rehearse answers to common HR job interview questions to prepare you for specific questions. Effective interview prep may help you feel mentally ready.
Hiring managers use interviews to learn about your personality, qualifications, and skills. Interviews are designed and structured so the interviewer can gain insights into how you think and respond in different situations. You'll likely face a variety of questions. Some may be standard HR interview questions, while others will be specific to the job you're applying for.
This guide will provide you with common interview questions and sample answers to consider.
Let’s explore some HR interview questions, the thinking behind them, advice on how to respond, and some sample answers.
This is often the first question asked in an interview. The employer wants to know what experience you've had, your career path, and what skills you can bring to the organization.
Consider the employer’s needs and how your skills meet them. Prepare a brief answer that sums up your experience, qualifications, and ambitions for the future. Keep your response short (no more than two minutes), and relate it to the job description.
This is asking what you know about HR. For entry-level positions, interviewers often ask this to check that you understand what the job entails. This can also be a more senior-level question, where the interviewer wants to understand your approach and your level of HR knowledge.
Example response: I know that the HR departments are responsible for many things, including employee selection, recruiting and training processes, workplace communication, payroll and benefits administration, disciplinary actions, termination processes, and much more. The HR department also liaises between management and employees to resolve any issues or concerns. I believe HR is a crucial function that contributes to any company's culture and productivity.
This question is investigating your commitment and your approach to human resources.
Example response: Human resources play an important role in any company because the department manages and promotes the most vital asset—people. As an HR professional, I enjoy being able to help people fulfill their potential by hiring the right people and then helping them thrive in their jobs. HR allows me to express my personality every day. I love the day-to-day tasks we engage in and helping to solve the problems that may arise.
Employers will want to find out if you've taken the time to research their business and understand its objectives. Your answer should provide a factual overview of what you know about the company, explain why you would like to work for them, and explain how the role fits your career plans.
Interviewers often ask candidates to discuss their strengths in an interview to gauge how they might perform in the role and what skills they would bring to the team. Consider your two or three most job-relevant attributes and frame them in a concise answer that highlights specific skills and achievements. Sharing real-life examples of your strengths in action show you know how to use your strengths to drive results and solve problems.
Managing conflict is an integral part of any HR role. It can involve resolving issues between employees and managers, addressing performance issues, or dealing with other problems. It’s important to show you can handle these conversations carefully, diplomatically, and confidentially. During your interview prep, consider the most relevant examples you have to share and prepare a response describing the steps you took to resolve the situation. Use these prompts to help formulate your answer:
Who did you talk to?
How did you get them to open up?
What did you do next?
What was the outcome?
This question will assess whether you have a good knowledge of the laws and regulations concerned with equality, diversity, and anti-discrimination at work. It will also show how you ensure implementation.
To answer, share professional examples of how you’ve supported existing workplace policies or perhaps even helped shape new policies and procedures, such as ongoing staff training, to help ensure staff is educated about, compliant with, and accountable to company policies.
As an HR professional, employers will want to know about your experience working with teams and helping them work together effectively. Think about the importance of skills like communication, collaboration, trust, respect, and responsibility and how they factor into a team’s success. Prepare a response highlighting specific qualities and share an example from your work experience that demonstrates how such qualities led to team success, such as closing a sale or launching a campaign.
This question will be one of many behavioral questions which ask you to describe how you've handled situations in the past to gauge your future decision-making. Prepare responses that include specific examples from previous jobs to show how well you met goals and exceeded expectations.
Example response: "As a recruitment manager, I consistently met my monthly interview goals by implementing creative candidate marketing strategies, such as..."
This is an opportunity to confidently summarize your qualifications and experience, highlighting how well you match the position and the company. Your answer should mix qualifications, certifications, and personal achievements.
Asking questions at the end of the interview shows that you're interested in the job and have researched the company.
Below are some sample questions to consider:
What would my first month look like if I were hired for this position?
What do you like most about working here?
How do you measure success in this role?
What qualities do outstanding employees at this company embody?
Is there anything else I can provide to support my application?
Read more: Questions to Ask at the End of an Interview
There are many jobs in the HR profession, such as HR generalist, talent acquisition manager, or compensation manager. Tailoring your HR interview preparation to the specific HR roles you're applying to can help you succeed in the interviews. Let’s look at some different HR roles, what employers are looking for in them, and the questions you might be asked in an interview.
An HR director oversees all aspects of HR human resources management. The interviewer will look for real insight, experience, and leadership in your answers. While HR director and HR manager job titles are sometimes used interchangeably, a director generally has a more strategic focus.
HR managers oversee the daily activities of human resources staff, develop department goals, maintain current knowledge of federal and state labor laws, and ensure employment policies and procedures are compliant. You’ll need to demonstrate the ability to manage diverse day-to-day functions and have in-depth HR knowledge.
Here are some HR interview questions to help you to prepare for your interview:
What are your expectations of yourself as an HR director?
What is the most challenging part of human resources management?
What do you think determines progress in HR?
What were your most significant achievements in your last position?
Tell me about a time when you had to react quickly to change. What did you do?
Describe your experience with employment law and compliance.
Tell me about a time when you had to manage conflict at work. Share an example of how you dealt with this situation.
Tell me about a time you helped improve employee engagement at work. What did you do? How was this achieved?
How would your colleagues describe your leadership or management style?
What’s the biggest challenge facing HR today? What would you do about it?
As an HR generalist, you may work in many areas of human resources, from recruitment to benefits. You may also be called an HR coordinator. In this job role, you'll typically report to an HR manager. The interviewer may be looking at your ability to demonstrate commitment, understand different business areas, take a detail-focused approach to work, and your experience in a team setting.
Questions you might encounter in an interview for this role include:
Why did you decide to pursue a career in human resources?
Describe your ideal company, location, and job.
What interests you about this opportunity?
What do you think it takes to be successful in an HR career?
Tell me about your most significant HR accomplishment.
Tell me about the least successful or challenging HR initiative you've worked on. What did you learn from it?
A compensation and benefits manager/analyst determines appropriate pay levels for employees based on the role and level of experience. They may also manage benefits packages, including vacation time and insurance options. If you choose the role of a benefits-focused HR professional, your primary focus is on employee benefits like insurance plans, retirement plans, and wellness programs.
Here are some HR interview questions to help you to prepare:
What do you know about our company's compensation structure?
How do you build relationships with coworkers and managers?
What do you think is most important when you implement a new compensation plan for employees?
What benefits have you administered in the past?
How will you stay up-to-date with the newest laws and regulations regarding employee benefits?
What experience do you have in auditing employee benefits records?
What software packages are you familiar with for administering employee benefits? What is your preferred software package, and why?
What do you think are the most important benefits offered to employees today? Why?
What is the most challenging benefits issue you have ever faced in your career? How did you handle it?
Recruiters identify and attract candidates for open positions from within and outside a company. This can include posting job listings, reviewing resumes, interviewing candidates, and managing the hiring process through onboarding a new employee. This role typically works closely with hiring managers to determine current and upcoming recruitment requirements.
Here are some HR interview questions to help you to prepare:
Describe a time when you persuaded a talented candidate to join a company.
Why do you want to work in recruitment? What specific skills and experience do you have that make you a good fit as an HR recruiter?
Give us an example of when your attention to detail helped you on the job.
What are your biggest achievements in your career so far?
What do you think candidates in our sector value most when applying to jobs?
Read more: Interviewing Skills to Benefit Your Career
Interviews help evaluate your suitability for the role and ensure you're a good fit for the organization. To do this, your interviewer will ask you questions about yourself, your skills, and your experience. Therefore, it's important to prepare for your interview to be as informed and confident as possible.
Before an interview, you can do many things to help yourself succeed, such as researching the company, practicing answers to common questions, and getting used to talking about achievements that demonstrate how you meet the job selection criteria.
Read more: How to Prepare for an Interview
One of the first steps in preparing for an interview is researching the organization. You want to know what it does, its mission, its size, how long it's been in business, and any recent news to be as informed as possible to help tailor your interview responses.
Some things you can do:
Read the company's website.
Review press releases.
Check online discussion boards and job sites like Glassdoor or Indeed for comments about the company.
Review social media accounts for information about the company's culture or employees.
Researching the company's work culture is important. Companies tend to look for people who fit their culture. This is one of the key criteria when selecting candidates. If you understand the company’s values or what qualities it looks for in its employees, you can tailor your responses accordingly. It’s also important information in determining whether you think a company is a good fit for you.
As an HR professional, you should understand the importance of company culture. You may even get a specific question on what you think about the company's culture you're applying to.
Preparing answers in advance offers the chance to practice your responses and arrive at the interview feeling confident. Be prepared with real-life examples that showcase your skills and knowledge. Read over the job posting. Identify the challenges the company is experiencing so you can prepare answers to show how your life and career have prepared you to help drive its success. Practice out loud and, if possible, rehearse with someone who has HR experience and can offer feedback.
Read more: How to Prepare for Job Interviews
Learning more about the interview process helps build skills and confidence for the job search process. Consider the Interviewing and Resume Writing in English Specialization from the University of Maryland.
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