Do you want to interview other people? Do you want to decide about their salary (or negotiate it with them), train them, and help them to improve on their strengths, and to eliminate the impact their weaknesses have on their work? People from HR do all of that, and they do actually much more. This fascinating job field attracts many applications, and you have to count with a tough competition in your job interview.

Screening interview, behavioral questions, and tests (personality or IQ test) will help us to recognize the best candidates in the ever-growing pile of new job applications for HR jobs. Can you impress us with your interview answers, and convince us to hire you for an HR position? Can you stand out from the crowd of other job applicants? We will try to help you with this difficult task… Let’s have a look at the questions you will face, and how can you deal with them.


Why do you want to work in HR?

Focus on your interpersonal skills, on your ability to uncover the strengths and weaknesses of other people, and on your passion to work in this field.

Show us that you do not apply just because you have graduated from economics, management, or psychology, or because you need money to live. Speak with enthusiasm, and show us that you see some purpose in this job (purpose in helping the others to grow personally and professionally and to attain their career goals).

Right people play the essential role in every success story. Show us that you want to be part of this story, and that you plan to play role role as an excellent HR employee.

young job applicants in a group interview for HR generalist position. We can see three people in the room, two women and one man, applying for this entry level position.

What characterize a good human resources worker (assistant, generalist, manager, etc)?

Look at the job description, at the list of working duties for the position. Try to connect them with personality traits, values and attitudes, and talk about these in your answer. Alternatively you can say that good HR workers help other staff members to maximize their potential, to do a good job for their employer, and to actually enjoy their job and time in work.

You can also say that a working company structure, and a friendly working environment, where everyone knows what to do, and people respect each other, are the results of a work of a good HR employee.


Tell me something about your last boss. What were their strengths and weaknesses?

Try to speak mostly about their strengths, praise them for their good work (every boss does something well, at least one thing, though we may sometimes struggle to see it, and to appreciate it). Companies want to hire HR employees who can see the good in the others, who actually look for the better in each colleague and potential hire.

We want to hire optimistic people, people who encourage their colleagues, and praise them for their good work. We do it because we understand the difference such an HR manager can make for the company… You can mention some weaknesses of your former boss, demonstrating that you can spot a weakness of a person (it is an important ability for each HR worker).

five young job applicants are waiting for their HR interview, sitting in a waiting room. They look relaxed.

Imagine you should choose a new general manager for our company. How would you proceed?

Outline the basic steps you would take. Show the interviewers that you know how to create a profile of an ideal job candidate, how to attract the top talents to apply for the job offer, how to lead the interviews with them, and how to eventually choose the best person for the position.

And if you are not sure how to answer this question, read our article from the Section for employers, called How to conduct an interview. It should help you to understand the entire process of hiring a new employee.


We are talking here together for a while. Can you tell me something about myself? What do you consider my strengths?

A tricky question. Not easy to answer, but also not easy to ask for us. Nevertheless, it is your chance to strengthen your relationship with the interviewers, your chance to get some credit in their eyes, and to win their favor.

Try to compliment them for their skills, for the way they lead the interview with you, for the good questions they ask. Try to win them over with your answer. We all like compliments, and we like to believe in the good things other people say about us. Why not to use this fundamental human characteristic, this basic desire, to your advantage in a job interview?


In your opinion, what motivates the workers in our company to work hard, and to try their best every day?

Another chance to compliment your future employer for something they do, for example for a motivating working environment, for an excellent system of employee benefits, or for anything else that deserves a compliment.

Do your homework. Research about the company. Read the reviews of former employees, check the press, find out what the people think about the company, and what the company think about the people who work for them.

This knowledge should help you to understand the motivation of their employees (at least in general terms, because every person is different, and follows different intentions in work).


How would you motivate other people, and how do you motivate yourself?

Team building, result-based benefits and rewards, going by example, a regular salary raise–these are just some of the ideas you can present in your answer. Your goal is to show us that you understand that different things drive different people, and that you have plan A, plan B, and also plan C, when it comes to motivating other people to work hard.

Speaking about your own motivation, you can mention the relation of your personal goals and goals of the company, or about your desire to achieve something big. You can also say that you enjoy doing the things HR people do in their job, and therefore you do not need any special reason to feel motivated, and to try your best in job.


From your point of view, how does a typical day of human resources worker (generalist, assistant, manager) look like?

Try to mention many duties, and show us that you like to be busy in work. Tell us that you always look for something to do, for something to improve, for someone you can help. The job description should help you to identify your main duties and responsibilities, and you can include them in your answer.

But the key is to show us that you won’t just sit in your comfy chair, waiting for a phone call, or for a problem to handle. Demonstrate your proactive approach to work, and show us that you plan to talk to people, to collect their feedback, to analyze data, and to come up with new ideas, based on your observations. Show us that you want to bring some value to our team, to do more than expected from you…


How would you assess the following things in an interview with a job applicant: emotional intelligence, communication skills, listening skills, ability to duplicate, ability to follow orders, IQ of the applicant?

Each of these abilities can be assessed in a certain way, but an in-detail answer to the question exceeds the purpose of this article (and it will be perhaps too much for you to handle at this point, while you are preparing for your job interview). Your best bet is to say that you would use practical tests and case studies, to help you identify various abilities and skills of the job candidates.

An IQ test, a personality test (one you can interpret), or a simple problem you give the job candidates, and ask them to address it in an interview, will help you to assess their intelligence, personality, and various skills.


Describe a conflict you had with one of your colleagues.

Interviewers try to understand your attitude to conflicts, if you always blame the other person, or if you can admit your mistake. They also try to assess if you solve the conflicts constructively, or destructively, cutting your connections with the conflict party.

You should show them that you try to avoid conflicts, staying honest and friendly to your colleagues. When it happened, however (and it has for sure happened in your life at least once), show them that you looked for a constructive solution, and that you tried your best to ensure that the conflict would not affect your work, or the work of your colleagues, once the waters settled again.


Other questions you may face in your HR job interview

  • Tell us about a time when you had to meet a tight deadline in work (or in school).
  • When you had to work on multiple projects (tasks) simultaneously, how did you prioritize?
  • Tell us about a time when you had to make a decision without all information you needed.
  • Have you ever worked on a project that was a failure?
  • Tell us about a time when you were overwhelmed with work.
  • Tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want me to know.
  • What challenges are you looking for in this HR position?
  • Describe your working relationship with your previous colleagues.
  • Why shouldn’t we hire you?


Final thoughts, premium interview answers

HR belongs to popular employment fields, and you will always find new job openings in your city. But many people will look for the same thing, pursuing the same career, and you will typically compete with more than ten other people for any entry lever position in Human Resources.

Though you can’t control everything  on your way towards a new job (for example you can’t control the number of people who will apply for the same job, and compete with you in the interviews), you can control a lot of things, and you can prepare for your interview in advance.

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 competitive interview!


* You can also download the list of 10 basic questions in a one-page long .PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later, even when offline:

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Matthew Chulaw
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