Generalist, coordinator, manager, assistant. We have many job titles in HR, and the distinction is not always obvious. As far as my experience goes, however, HR Coordinator is an entry level job. You won’t design interview templates, employment agreements, or job ads working as a coordinator. Someone else will lead the hiring process and make decisions, while you will learn from them, observe the way they do things in HR, and help with administrative and clerical duties.

If everything goes well, you’ll be promoted to some general or specialist role in HR, within two years of starting as a Coordinator (think Training Specialist, Benefits Specialist, HR Generalist, etc). Let’s have a look at some questions you will typically face applying for this interesting entry level position.

 

Why did you choose HR and not other field?

Say that you’ve been always good with people. Having excellent listening and observation skills, you find it relatively easy to assess someone’s strengths and weaknesses, or to match a resume with a job description. What’s more, you enjoy working with people, and you understand that employees represent the most precious asset of each business.

Of course, one can make more money in finance or marketing. But you are passionate about HR, your strengths are ideal for working in the field, and you see no reason why you should opt for some other field of work.

You should refer to your passion, strengths, and future. Saying that you opted for HR because you have a degree in the field would indicate a “must to do the job”, and that’s not something you want to show in an interview. You applied for a job in HR because you want to, and not because you have to.

 

How do you imagine a typical day in your job of an HR Coordinator?

The most important thing is to avoid unrealistic expectations. This is an entry level job, and you won’t put your creativity to a test. If you hoped for designing interview templates or new formats of employee benefits, or you thought you’d lead final rounds of interviews or employee training, I must disappoint you.

You have two good options for an answer. One is saying that you imagine helping your manager with everything they may need on any given day. It can be sending emails to job applicants, assisting in the interviews, reviewing job applications, coordinating trainings, or anything else. Different days in an office may require different skills and duties. You are ready to learn and to help with whatever they need.

Second option is naming a few principal duties you’d likely respond for as an HR coordinator:

  • Scheduling meetings and interviews and maintaining agendas
  • Coordinate training sessions
  • Assisting with payroll and related stuff
  • Helping with interviews and with evaluating job applications
  • Taking care of any assigned administrative or clerical work

Where do you see yourself in five years time? Which direction would you like to take in your HR career?

You should have some idea. HR Coordinator is an entry level job, advertised mostly by big corporations. You have plenty of options in each such corporation, and one thing is clear–if you are good, they do not want to see you go.

Check other roles in the company. For example you can find the company on LinkedIn, select HR department, and see the roles people have. Pick something that interests you, and do not hesitate to be ambitious.

Five years is a long time, and you will typically progress much sooner. What interests you the most? Leading interviews, or training employees? Do you enjoy working in the office (for example doing payroll), or do you prefer daily contact with people (leading interviews, conducting orientation sessions, etc)? You should have an idea and clearly describe it in an interview. Because HR Coordinator certainly isn’t your last station in the company :).

 

Describe a conflict you had with someone in your last job or in school, and tell us how you handled the situation.

When money and employment is at stake, there will always be some conflicts and unpleasant situations. Try to choose a situation that had a happy ending.

If you had some job before, you can talk about a conflict you had with one of your colleagues. Perhaps you did not agree about something, or had a different idea about some job and how it should have been done.

Ensure the interviewers that you try to lead conflicts in a constructive way, and without unnecessary emotions. You simply share your arguments, and carefully listen to other conflict party.  You can admit making a mistake, and do not struggle saying that you were wrong, and other person was right. This is an attitude you should try to demonstrate with your answer.

 

What do you expect from HR Manager and other colleagues from the HR Department?

I suggest you to show humility at this point. You will be a new face in the company, and this is your first real job in HR. Surely, you are passionate about the field, have studied it at length, and can bring interesting ideas onboard.

But before anything else, you want to learn from your colleges. They have more experience than you. And that’s exactly what you expect from them–to guide you in the right direction, to answer any questions you may have in work, to let you participate in the interviews and meetings with new, existing, or prospective employees, so you will slowly learn the ins and outs of HR, and can perhaps, one day, get to their level.

You can also say that you expect an honest and open communication, and emphasize that you do not want to be a mere observer in the process of building relationships. Listening attentively to the needs of your colleagues and helping whenever you can, you will try to become a great colleague.

 

How do you ensure you make no mistakes in your work?

Frankly speaking, it is impossible to eliminate all mistakes in HR. Doesn’t matter how hard we try and how many rounds of interviews we conduct, we can eventually make a wrong hire, because some things become obvious only once an employee starts in the company.

However, you won’t decide about new hires, and your role will be mostly administrative. You can say that first and foremost you try to stay in the present moment, and focus on the task at hand only. When you make a phone call you do not think about something else. Filling some form with a new employee, you give them your utmost attention. Basically you try to limit all distractions.

You can also say that you double check all important documents, and whenever you aren’t sure what to do, you ask your manager. You know that this is an entry level job and there is no shame in asking…

 

Other questions you may face in your HR Coordinator job interview

  • What computer software do you have experience with, and how has it helped you in your last job?
  • What motivates you the most in work?
  • In your opinion, what characterizes a successful training session with a new employee?
  • Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to one of colleagues. How did you eventually manage to get your message over?
  • What can you offer us that someone else cannot?
  • Do you have any experience with organizing, conducting, or leading job interviews?
  • Are you a team player?
  • Tell us about a time when you used logic to solve a problem.
  • When you had to work on multiple projects (tasks) simultaneously, how did you prioritize?
  • Tell us about an obstacle you overcame.
  • Describe a situation when you had to meet a tight deadline.

Conclusion, premium answers to all questions

Entry level jobs in HR are extremely popular, and you will typically compete with many other candidates for the job. What’s more, you may face some tricky scenario-based questions, just like I described in this post. Bearing it in mind, we can definitely label this interview as a difficult one.

But luck favors the prepared mind. Read the questions once again (including my hints), and try to write down meaningful answer to each one of them. And if you struggle to figure it out, or experience interview anxiety, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 31 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will help you streamline your interview preparation, outclass your competitors, and eventually get this great job.

I hope you will manage to prepare, and wish you best of luck in this difficult interview!

Matthew

 

May also interest you:

  • How to overcome interview nerves – You need to be your very best to outclass your competitors in an interview. That’s hard to do when you stress out. Learn how to overcome your stress.
  • HR Generalist interview questions – Some questions may overlap with questions for HR Coordinator. Check them out and ace your interview.

* You can also download the list of some questions in a one page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:

HR Coordinator interview questions, PDF
Matthew Chulaw
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