Last updated on November 30th, 2018 at 06:18 pm

job interview in a small company. A man tries to convince the panel of three interviewers of his HR skillsA typical job description for an HR Generalist is swarmed with terminology.

Staffing, employment processing, welfare benefits, records management, succession planing, employee retention, EEO compliance, and so on, and so forth.

Even if the companies wanted, they could hardly advertise the job in a worse way.

The truth is that you will simply work with people, and in most cases you will be responsible for only two or three things 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.

Several HR generalists will work in a team (unless you apply for a job in a very small company), and each of you will take care of some HR duties.


Tough interview

A woman in white shirt and black coat struggles to answer some questions of the interviewer. Employees always want to earn more, and do less. People won’t tolerate your mistakes, and many of them won’t be aware of their own imperfections.

Bearing it in mind, a good HR employee needs a variety of skills and personal traits. They need to be ready for the challenges that this position presents.

This variety is reflected in a typical interview process for this job. 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.
  • four nervous job applicants wait for their time with the employer. they sit on black chairs, holding resumes in their hands.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

HR manager is smiling, having a good impression from a job applicant. The picture illustrates a good scene from an interview.HR generalist is a great job, but you will have to do a lot of things well to get it in an interview.

What is more, you will typically compete with more then ten other people for the position.

Ten candidates, one job. Will you be the one who gets it?

To improve your chances in an interview, I suggest you to have a look at our Interview Success Package. Knowing great answers to thirty most common interview questions (including the difficult behavioral questions) will make everything much easier for you on a big day.

What is more, you will know something that your competitors won’t know…

Thank you for checking the package, we wish you good luck! – Your best job interview coach since 2011.


May also interest you:

  • 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.
Matthew Chulaw

Matthew Chulaw

Matthew has been working in international recruitment since 2008. He helps job seekers from all walks of life to pursue their career goals, and to prepare for their interviews. He is the founder of website.
Matthew Chulaw

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