The companies could not make it more stupid, or complicated.
In fact, you will simply work with people, and in most cases you will be responsible just for two or three of the duties from the job description.
You will either help with hiring new staff, or training them. Or you may be responsible for keeping records, and leading exit interviews. There will be more HR generalists in the team (unless you apply for the position in a very small company), and each of you will take care of some specific duties.
Bearing it in mind, a good HR employee needs a variety of skills and personal traits. They need to be ready for the challenges this work presents.
The variety is reflected in a typical interview process for this position. You will have to deal with many behavioral and job-specific questions. On the top of that, you can expect one or two personality tests.
It is an only way how we can assess your readiness for the job, and decide whether you have the skills that are required for the position.
Experience matters a lot as well. If you have worked in HR before, your chances to succeed will be much better. Nevertheless, you can succeed even without experience. You will just have to convince us of your abilities. Let’s have a look at the common questions.
Questions we will ask you in an interview
- Why do you want to work in HR? (Emphasize the crucial role people have in every single business. Emphasize your strong interpersonal skills and passion for this type of work.)
- Why HR generalist?
What motivates you in work? (Try to focus on the results, a good team of people, or perhaps your sense for responsibility, and desire to achieve something great in your professional career.)
- How would you motivate an employee to work harder? (The individual approach is the key. Tell them that you would analyze each problem of motivation, trying to understand what motivates the particular employee, and act accordingly.)
- Have you ever interviewed anyone for a job? What questions did you use in the interview? (Tell the truth, but show them that you know how to choose the questions for an interview. You can talk about competency based interviewing, behavioral questions, STAR method, or anything else you prefer, and have knowledge of.)
- If you were advertising a job offer, what would you emphasize on the offer?
- Do you have any experience with payroll? (If you have never worked in HR before, you can talk about the experience you have from school, when you calculated the salaries and wages. Most people do not like this part of work, but you should still speak about it with enthusiasm.)
- What would motivate you to offer someone a raise?
- How would you feel about dismissing someone you had good relationship with? (A tough question, but you should try to ensure the interviewers that you will decide rationally, and not emotionally. You should be ready to dismiss anyone who breaks the rules repeatedly, or doesn’t handle their working duties on an ongoing basis.)
- Do you know anything about HR planning?
- What is your opinion on labor relations?
- How important do you consider collecting data and creating reports on staff performance? (Stress the importance of monitoring and reporting. Unless we monitor the staff performance, we can’t really tell who is struggling with motivation, and we can’t recognize our best and worst employees.)
How would you recruit the best talent?
- Have a look at this working contract. What would you improve on it, trying to make it better from the perspective of the employer? (Everyone cares for their own business. Check the notice period, the section of employee and employer responsibilities, and look for sections that could be improved, or deleted from the contract. Alternatively, when they show you a great working contract, you can simply praise them for it and say you’d change nothing.)
- You are trying to sign a new contract with a loyal employee. They are not satisfied with the salary offer, but you can not offer them more. What would you do to try to convince them to sign the contract and to stay with the company?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you think is easier – to recognize your own weaknesses, or weaknesses of someone else? (It is always easier to recognize the weaknesses of our colleagues. But you can say that you are aware of your weaknesses, and that you welcome criticism, trying to understand yourself better, and improve your skills.)
- What is your opinion on the diversity in the workplace? (Welcome the diversity, and embrace it. Ensure the employer that you have no prejudice when it comes to race, sex, or religion.)
- What is your opinion on the discrimination in the workplace? Do you have any experience with that? (Tell them that you won’t tolerate any discrimination, and will do your best to ensure it won’t happen on the workplace. You can talk about the discrimination you suffered, or observed in your past job, and how it helped you to understand the issue better.)
- Describe a situation when you had a conflict with one of your colleagues.
- Describe a situation when you struggled to communicate something to your colleague. How did you manage to get your message over?
Why should we hire you, and not one of the other applicants? (You will typically compete with many other people for the job. Try to show us the value you can bring to our team. It can be your experience, your attitude, or some creative ideas you have in terms of HR. This is your opportunity to share them with us, to show us what you can do for the company…)
Conclusion, answers to the questions
Your answers to the technical (job-specific) questions depend on your experience, and your attitude to various issues and HR tasks. Try to think abut them before your interview, and practice your answers with a friend (or at least in front of a mirror, if there’s nobody to practice with).
For great answers to screening and behavioral questions (which are equally important for your success), you should refer to our Interview Success Package. There you will find brilliant answers to thirty most common screening and behavioral questions. Learn from the professionals and sign a coveted a job contract in your very next interview.
Alternatively you can have a look at one of the following articles on Interview Penguin
- Body language in an interview – What do your gestures and movements say about you? Can we control our non-verbal communication?
- How to nail an interview – Ten tips that should help you to nail your job interview (guest post).
- Job interview etiquette – Regardless of your approach to the interviews, and your strategy in the meetings with the employers, certain borders should not be crossed.