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Quite often when we speak with candidates, one of the most nerve-racking interviews for them is the HR interview. Anytime that they see HR in the email signature, or hear that a person is from human resources, they feel like they have to mind their Ps and Qs.
I think this is more of a misnomer than anything else. The truth of the matter is that you don’t have to be so nervous when it comes to HR interviews, as they aren’t nearly as formal as other professional interviews. In fact, HR interviews are your opportunities to explain why you would be a great fit for the position and company. HR interview questions will most often be about your background, qualifications, and goals for the future - easy stuff.
Human resources interview questions and answers will go something like this:
1.) "So tell me a little about yourself."
Unlike a hiring manager, team, or panel interview, this question is actually strategic. Normally, as an HRM software provider, we wouldn't recommend questions like this as their vague and often don't give us any real data about the candidate. But in the case of HR, the person asking the question is actually creating a space for the candidate, to put their best foot forward. They're assessing how the candidate does being, "thrown into the deep end" and how they communicate. You can tell a lot about a candidate based on their communication in an uncomfortable situation like this.
2.) "What attracted you to this role? (and they may add a modifier to it- such as, "Why now?")
This is a great opportunity for the applicant to throw in some tiny details that they gleaned from their research. So if you're an interviewer, listen closely here - if they're quoting things off the first page of the website, they may not be well prepared - on the other hand, if they respond with, I was speaking with (an employee), and they said (something culturally relevant to the company and also personally valuable to them), they're probably "on-top-of-it!" Even better, they've come prepared with a LinkedIn post that was made by the interviewer several years ago that made an impact on them... but's that going to be rare.
3.) "Why do you want to work for (XYZ company)?"
This is a sample interview question and answer that's probably asked in every screening interview. It's a great time to mention a couple of points you've gleaned about the company, what they stand for, and how it resonates with your personal values.
As interviewers, we need to be mindful of the fact that candidates will use questions like these to showcase who they think we want them to be. To get real in-depth insights on candidates' responses, use interview intelligence software powered by AI that will help you see the things human eyes and ears can miss. Pillar's interview intelligence software records tonal changes and vocal inflections, eye movements, and micro-expressions that even the most astute interviewers can miss.
So what about when you're interviewing an HR professional, are there specific questions and answers that you need to prepare for? Absolutely! HR professionals need to be able to handle complex situations, think on their feet, and articulate solutions eloquently - all of which require a set of unique interview questions.
Before we get to the actual questions, will you be hiring an HR IC, manager, or executive? This is an important question to answer before assembling your question template. The reason for this is the focus of their role.
For example, the HR individual contributor (IC) is going to require more technical questions regarding their skills in HRIS software, whereas an HR manager interview questions will be more focused on how they handle employee relations. An executive could be asked about their long-term strategy for developing company culture and performance management initiatives. You may also want to consider a list of situational interview questions for HR positions at each level.
Some sample HR position interview questions and answers for an HR role may include:
1.) "What do you consider to be the most important HR function?"
Answer: The most important HR function is hiring and retaining good talent. As an HR professional, it's my job to ensure that the company has access to the best people for each position who have the skills, experience, and motivation needed to succeed in their position.
2.) "Describe a time when you had to resolve a conflict between two employees."
Answer: I recently had to deal with an interpersonal conflict between two of our production employees. After speaking to each individually, I was able to identify the root cause of the issue which was a lack of communication and understanding. I facilitated a meeting between them where we discussed their differences and worked together to find a solution that was acceptable to both parties.
3.) "How do you stay up-to-date on the latest trends in HR?"
Answer: I stay abreast of all the latest trends in HR by reading industry journals, attending professional conferences, and connecting with other HR professionals through networking events.
If this is your final interview with the HR manager, questions and answers may need to flex just a bit to make time for candidate questions as well. Usually, by this time you'll have gone through all of the qualification process, so questions at this stage will be more nuanced.
For example, you may ask questions that focus on their ability to handle different types of individuals in a professional manner or how they would handle an unexpected situation. It's important to listen out for values-based answers as these will tell you a lot about the person you are potentially hiring.
Employee relations are a huge part of the HR role, so make sure to ask questions that give you a good understanding of how they would handle internal conflicts or difficult conversations. You'll also want to assess their ability to communicate company policies and procedures effectively.
Finally, if you are looking for even deeper insights into candidates' responses, use Pillar’s video interview platform which is powered by Ai to help you determine their true potential on your team.
When interviewing mid-level leaders for positions, HR manager competency-based interview questions are a great place to start. Knowing whether or not the individual, you are interviewing has the technical skills, as well as the legal know-how and emotional intelligence, to handle the job is not only necessary but can also be insightful.
Interview questions to ask an HR manager candidate such as, "How do you handle the escalation process around employee disputes when one individual is an IC and the other an executive?" or "Describe a time when you had to deal with an unexpected situation that you thought was settled," are both great ways to assess the individual. Additionally, asking about their experience in implementing HR procedures and understanding legal requirements is also important.
Interview questions for HR positions, in general, could include:
1.) How would you prioritize your tasks if there are conflicting demands?
2.) Describe a time when you had to make an unpopular decision as an HR specialist and how did you manage the difficult conversations with each individual involved
3.) What strategies do you use for maintaining positive employee relations and reducing turnover?
4.) What challenges have you faced in the past with recruitment processes, and how did you solve them?
5.) Describe a time when you had to handle a difficult HR issue such as an inappropriate behavior or discrimination complaint?
6.) How do you stay up-to-date on legal compliance, interviewing trends, and innovative developments in the workforce?
7.) What methods do you use for assessing employee performance?
8.) How do you handle conflict resolution between two employees and what strategies have been effective for you in the past?
9.) Describe a time when you had to communicate a company policy change to an entire team or organization.
10.) What have you done to ensure a positive company culture in the workplace?
These questions will help you determine whether or not an individual is a good fit for your team and organization. They will give you deeper insights into a candidate's values and commitment to the HR role. With these interview questions for HR positions, you can be sure that you are making the best hiring decision for your organization.
To see how Pillar can help you find and hire the right HR professionals at every level, book a demo to chat with someone on our team today!