Updated on January 11th, 2019 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
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Have you ever led performance reviews or employee coaching sessions?
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If you are newer to your HR career, you may not have a lot of exposure in employee coaching and performance meetings. Regardless of your level of exposure to these tasks, the interviewer is looking for further knowledge of your leadership experience. Speak about your experience with coaching and motivating those on your team. If you have recently read a book on performance coaching, you could discuss this as well, and how it has helped you.
"In my current role I have a significant part in performance reviews for our team of 35 individuals. The executive team is also involved in these reviews, so I would not say that I take the lead, but I do play an important role. I am a good coach as I love to inspire and motivate others to do their best in all aspects of their lives. I would say that I have led about 200 coaching sessions in total, throughout my HR career."
Second Answer Example
"As I am newer to my career I have not yet had the opportunity to lead performance reviews or coaching sessions. I believe this is an incredible leadership skill and I look forward to implementing my knowledge and helping others to succeed in the workplace. I recently read 'Leaders Eat Last' by Simon Sinek, which taught me a great deal about overcoming traditional assumptions on how great leaders effectively guide their teams. This book gave me a few excellent ideas on how to approach employee coaching, once presented with the opportunity."
What type of employees do you find most challenging?
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An HR Consultant will encounter every possible personality type in their career! The interviewer would like to know more about the kinds of employees that you find difficult to manage, and how you handle them. As an HR professional, you will be required to collaborate successfully with a great variety of personality types. Discuss with the interviewer the types of personalities that you find most challenging to manage, and why.
"Every employee brings their challenges and strengths to teams. It is difficult to influence associates who are disinterested or resistant to engagement with the team. Luckily I do not encounter this often. The people who I have led are motivated and hardworking, each in their unique way."
Second Answer Example
"I feel as though I can adapt to most employees, but what challenges me is someone who is just looking to skate by with no real ambition. I do my best to find ways to motivate any and every employee. Even if they are not vying for the next promotion or to be the top person in their department, I feel there is some encouragement I can offer, whether it's discussing a potential growth opportunity, a different department, or what have you. This approach works about 80% of the time for unmotivated employees."
As you know from your experience being on the other side of the interview table, it's always a great idea to have questions ready for the interviewer. Review the company website and other online resources to ensure the queries you have are not mundane, or redundant. The last thing an interviewer wants to hear is a list of items you could have found the answers for from merely watching a video on their company site!
Here are some sample questions:
- When would you like to have this position filled?
- How long has this role been vacant?
- Is this a replacement search or a newly created role?
- What is your favorite part about working here?
- What is the company's primary goal for this position in the next 12 months?
- Is there anything from my background and experience that I can clarify for you?
- What do you see as the most significant change in this industry over the past three years?
- Is there any reason why you would not hire me?
"Thank you for asking - I do have a few questions. What is top of mind when it comes to filling this role? Also, what types of career growth opportunities would follow this position? And lastly, do you have internal candidates who are also interviewing for this position?"
Second Answer Example
"I would like to ask if there is anything in my background on which you need clarification? Also, after discussing everything today, is there any particular reason why I would not be the best fit for this HR Consultant role? "
Do you feel employees should be paid based on performance, or should they be rewarded for years of experience?
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The interviewer would like to know your thoughts on paying employees based on work performance, versus compensating them based on years of experience and loyalty. As millennial employees continue to dominate the work scene, more and more employees are requesting compensation based on delivered results. Do you feel that they should be paid based on tenure, or results? Discuss this with the interviewer and back your answer with an example, if possible.
"I feel that employees should be paid, and rewarded, based on their performance. A new employee will find motivation in being rewarded for performance, and it encourages a healthy competition with tenured employees. I have seen this to be true on many occasions in my HR career."
Second Answer Example
"As an HR Consultant, I feel that both performance and experience should be weighted when deciding compensation, pay increases, and promotions. You want to ensure that you compensate your highest performers appropriately but that their growth is stable and manageable in the long-term."
Tell me one valuable skill that you are currently working on.
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The interviewer wants to see your dedication to professional growth. When you are all about professional development, chances are you will pass that excitement onto the employees that you influence, as an HR Consultant. Give an example of a skill that you wish to develop. Bonus points if you can tie that skill in with a talent mentioned in the job posting!
"I am working on my assertiveness. Sometimes I have a great idea, and I fumble in asserting myself, and I believe that the team would be much better off if I were to have lobbied for my idea. Or sometimes I am too understanding to last-minute scheduling requests which results in an employee shirking their responsibility and others having to pick up the slack. I know that this is a weakness of mine and I have made it a point to work on it, including reading 'Nice Girls Never Get the Corner Office.'"
Second Answer Example
"This year I have been diligently working on my ability to create curriculum and new training programs for new hires. I hope to have my first course launched in the next month, or so, however, I still have some technical writing courses to complete before I know it will be perfect execution. I believe these resources will be beneficial to your organization and I look forward to sending them your way for review."
6. When a major HR problem arises, what is your first reaction? When things go south in the workplace, the HR professional is often the first place a company will look for answers. You have to have it under control, and be ready to step into action at any given moment. Your job is people, and people are unpredictable. The interviewer wants to know if your reactions to problems reflect maturity and professionalism. Demonstrate to the interviewer that you take a very systematic approach to problem-solving, rather than reacting impulsively when an HR related problem occurs. Here is an answer example: "My first inclination in the event of a major problem is to roll up my sleeves and jump in to fix it or help mitigate some of the potential blow out. This initial reaction is especially true when the problem involves an employee's wellbeing, or if there is a risk of harassment or a confidentiality breach." Here is an answer example: "When a major problem arises, my first instinct is to jump in and fix the issue. I am a do-er and also think in a reverse-engineering manner. I start with the desired result, and work my way backward, figuring out where the snag occurred."7. In which HR software tools are you best versed? Take a look at the job posting or job description, for clues on the types of programs and software used in this position. If you have experience with these programs, discuss your exposure and rate your experience from beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert. This ranking will make it easier for the interviewer to understand your level of expertise with their programs. If you do not have experience with their preferred software or other tools, discuss how your current knowledge will work in their favor, and express your enthusiasm for learning their systems. Here is an answer example: "I see in your job posting that you use ZohoRecruit and Sage HRMS. I have used the Zoho CRM in a previous role, and I am confident in my ability to apply that knowledge to other Zoho products. Sage, I have not used, however; I am an expert user in other human resource management solutions such as ADP Workforce and Core HR. I am eager to learn and can begin taking online tutorials for Sage HRMS right away." Here is an answer example: "While attending University, we spent some time learning a few of the most popular human resource management software systems including BambooHR, ADP Vantage HCM, and Microsoft Dynamics. I would rank myself as a beginner level user in these systems; however, I am technically inclined and will learn your systems very quickly. Could you share with me the systems you use here? I am happy to get a head start on learning the basics."8. Tell me about your exposure to team building exercises. If you have ever participated in a ropes course or a trust fall, then you have engaged in team building exercises! Of course, most examples of team-building do not need to be that extreme. Any activity or company effort that motivates teams and builds trust among co-workers is considered a team-building exercise.
Many companies will offer team experiences to help build stable groups who collaborate and communicate better. If you have experience as a participant or leader, share your knowledge and be sure to highlight your biggest takeaway from experience. Here is an answer example: "I initiate a few team building events per year with my team. Sometimes it's a family potluck or picnic in a park, other times, its a group volunteer effort at the soup kitchen. We do a lot together as a group. It's important for bonding and overall employee satisfaction." Here is an answer example: "Team building activities in our office are always hilarious because we have such a funny and expressive group of people. One time, we built an entire obstacle course out of office supplies, and everyone had to participate. We had awards and all. I believe these small things are what makes an employee engaged in their job, even on the toughest of days."9. How do you develop trust among your team in a virtual, or work-from-home, setting? If you are an HR Consultant for an organization with team members based in remote locations or work-from-home settings, you must be skilled enough to develop relationships with them despite little to no actual face time.
With technology taking over, and many workplaces offering more remote opportunities, the interviewer wants to know that you can build relationships - even under the absence of face-to-face interaction.
Here are a few ways that you can develop trust among your team members in a virtual setting:
- Building relationships: You might share how you have everyone introduce themselves, share their professional background, personal interests, and even a little about their interests in each meeting.
- FaceTime or Go-To-Meeting: Talk about how you ensure that you have video conferencing capabilities. Discuss that being able to see each other, even virtually, allows you to build camaraderie and creates trust among your team.
- Creating a Transparent Culture: Tell the interviewer how you open up the door for trust with your team by being an open and transparent HR leader. You might share that you have open conversations about how the group will hold each other accountable.
You may also share other ideas that have worked for you such as: holding one-on-one meetings with each member of the team, providing recognition for things well done, holding fun contests, or allowing team members to understand each other better by utilizing a personality assessment. Here is an answer example: "I have not yet led a team of remote employees; however, I believe that the fastest way for a team of virtual employees to get to know each other would be to have a Google Hangout at least once per week. Perhaps, I would even start with asking each team member to develop an introduction video and share it with the team." Here is an answer example: "Technology allows for so much these days, which I believe you can quickly make a connection with someone, even if you are across the world from them. I would suggest multiple contests where team members still have to collaborate, to get to the end goal."10. Think about a demanding boss, professor or coworker. How did you successfully interact with this person? As an HR professional, one of your most significant traits should be your ability to be diplomatic in the workplace. The interviewer wants to know how you interact with people who may have challenging personalities. Think about that one person at work who is seen as hard to please. Perhaps there is someone at work who tries to intimidate others. Show the interviewer that you work well with most personalities even though you recognize there are some folks out there who are quite difficult to please. Avoid speaking poorly of anyone and be sure to end your response on a positive note. Here is an answer example: "I once worked for an executive who was very difficult in meetings and with interacting with groups of others. I took it upon myself to help this person interact better with others. When she would bark orders, I would reiterate what she was trying to say to the group more professionally. It took some time, but she learned to behave in a way that made people want to work with her." Here is an answer example: "The most difficult person I ever worked with was my boss a few years back. She received a promotion to VP of Human Resources, from the position I had been hired to fill and was unwilling to listen to my ideas to change the department. I believe she felt personally offended that I did not think her processes were the most efficient, but it was not personal. I sat with her for a one on one meeting when there were very few people in the building, and we had a nice chat about the positive changes she made to the department and my ideas to continue to grow what she began."11. Do you think honesty is always the best policy? The interviewer would like to know if you genuinely feel that honesty is the best policy. Many will argue that honesty is not always the best policy. What is your take? When you are terminating an employee, would you tell them all the reasons why they are being let go, or do you see value in disclosing only what you must? Talk to the interviewer about your thoughts on honesty in the workplace. Here is an answer example: "Sometimes full disclosure can damage someone's self-esteem, and reality isn't always best expressed in full and can be self-indulgent based on the person's intention. In those instances, honesty isn't always the best policy." Here is an answer example: "Honesty is always the best policy. Often, it is just a matter of how you communicate and deliver your message so managing this with each employee situation is critical to building honest and trustworthy workplace relationships."12. Are you familiar with the term 'outplacement'? Have you ever utilized outplacement services? Outplacement support is when an organization will help a former employee transition to a new job after they have been terminated or laid off. These outplacement services occur through an independent consultant or agency and may include solutions such as resume and cover letter writing, LinkedIn profile creation, career coaching, and interview coaching. Discuss your experience working with, or offering outplacement services. Here is an answer example: "I have a go-to outplacement agency that I refer all former employees to, immediately after their termination or lay-off. It's important that an organization is responsible for the well-being of former employees, doing what they can to assist with the transition to unemployment. Do you offer outplacement services to your former employees?" Here is an answer example: "I did learn a small amount on outplacement services while gaining my human resources degree. I believe that it's very responsible for a company to provide these support services to any employees they terminate. It's the right thing to do. With that said, it's important to have these services come from a legitimate agency or third party."13. What do you believe to be the most prominent human resource trend of the year? Have you yet embraced it? The HR industry is ever-changing, with trends in technology, appropriate workplace communication, and social issues. The interviewer would like to see that you remain on top of prevailing trends and topics in the industry, ensuring that your knowledge and approach is consistently relevant. Share with the interviewer what you believe to be the hottest topic or trend in human resources this year. Here is an answer example: "I recently read a Forbes article addressing how companies should be looking at streamlining HR operations with artificial intelligence. I believe that companies who ignore the inevitable AI trends will quickly fall behind. Actions could include blind hiring solutions through machine learning as a service (MLaaS) or further intelligence with applicant tracking systems (ATS)." Here is an answer example: "I have seen a lot of resources online lately regarding 'finwelltech' solutions for employees. This term refers to financial wellness technology, and how a company can assist with the financial wellness of their employees. These tools offer assistance for micro-savings, financial planning, retirement planning, 401K, investments, debt, and even mortgage management. I agree that when an employee feels financially healthy, they will perform better in the workplace, so this is a fascinating topic to me."14. Have you ever had a particular circumstance where you needed to deviate from HR policy? How did you approach the dilemma? Many organizations find it challenging to be flexible, so this question is also an opportunity for you to learn more about the company with which you are interviewing. As an HR professional, do you prefer an environment where rules are set out, and everything is black and white? Or, do you feel that there should be wiggle room depending on particular situations and personalities? Discuss a time when you have deviated from HR policy. You do not want to talk about anything illegal, or actions you took that may have been detrimental to your company. This question offers an excellent opportunity for a 'feel good' story. Here is an answer example: "I had an employee last year who needed extended leave after his mother passed away. It was an exceptional circumstance because his mother lived in England and he needed to take care of a lot of family matters. I put in a request for him to receive a 30 day leave with 50% pay since he had been very dedicated to the company for many years. This request was a first for the company, but we all agreed, an offering well deserved." Here is an answer example: "I have outstanding judgment when it comes to HR policies and employee requests. I have offered some flexibility on things like time off requests and vacation days; however, I keep excellent documentation which ensures that our company is never being taken advantage of by employees."15. Do you have experience in mass-layoffs or terminations? What is your view on job eliminations? Most HR professionals will agree that is 100% sucks to have to terminate people. Now, in mass amounts - it's even worse. However, this is a reality that you may need to face in your human resources career at some point.
Discuss with the interviewer a time when you have had to take part in, or even lead job eliminations. Walk the hiring authority through the steps that you made. If you do not have experience with job eliminations, discuss the approach you believe you would take in such a situation. If you have the rapport with the interviewer, you may want to ask if a mass-layoff is something this company has ever experienced or is currently facing. Here is an answer example: "Job eliminations are never fun, especially regarding mass-layoffs. About ten years ago I worked for a telecommunications company that needed to lay off about 40% of its workforce. We held one-on-one meetings, and the process felt organized. We softened the blow as much as possible, offering ample severance pay and outplacement services for those losing their jobs. These factors made the task easier, but it was still a challenging circumstance. Has your organization faced the task of mass layoffs in the past?" Here is an answer example: "I have not experienced mass layoffs; however, I have had to lead terminations in the past; approximately 20 in total. When I am having the termination conversation, I am sure to have my conversation well documented, and a clear approach set out, so the conversation remains on point. I share details of the 'why,' and am sure to provide resources and support post-termination."16. Discuss a time when you explored organizational gaps and created new opportunities for employees. Often, meeting organizational gaps may not require a workforce increase. Sometimes, these issues can be solved by creating new opportunities and thinking outside of the box. Discuss with the interviewer a time when you met the needs of a company, addressing a specific gap. Organization gaps can include skills gaps, profit gaps, or performance gaps. Here is an answer example: "My current company had a glaring skills gap when I first started, five years ago. Some critical roles had been turned from two to one, to save on workforce expenses; however, there was never an offer of additional training. I identified this gap through employee skills testing and benchmarking. With those results, I created a plan for employee development and training. Eight months later, I performed another company-wide employee skills test and found that we were performing over the previous benchmark. The project was a success, and I was able to fill those skill gaps with minimal expense and zero new hires." Here is an answer example: "I recently assisted my senior HR manager after she discovered a significant performance gap in our warehousing department. Since I was newer to my career at the time, I should point out that I was not the one to discover the organizational performance gap; however, I did assist with the recovery plan. After performing employee testing, we created a list of the top 6 behaviors and habits which were causing concern. We then developed a performance strategy with a timeline attached to the behavior corrections. Additional training opportunities were provided to many employees, as were other resources for professional development. All in all, we were able to repair the majority of the performance issues with minimal employee eliminations."17. What is your perspective on work-life integration? 'Work-life balance' has become one of those phrases often used in interviews, but what does it mean? True work-life integration takes genuinely meeting the complex needs of your employees while listening to the changing workforce demographics. Discuss how you feel an employer can meet the needs of an employee by acknowledging the critical synergy between family and work life. Here is an answer example: "Work-life integration or work-life balance means creating and keeping an important balance between work and personal matters. These days, technology keeps us more connected than in the past. I believe it is more important and ever for an employer to connect with their employees on a variety of topics over and above workplace performance. This approach means offering flexibility around family issues, personal stress, and other forms of conflict. When an employer can meet those additional needs both physically and emotionally, they are investing in that employee's future which positively impacts turnover and retention numbers." Here is an answer example: "I genuinely believe that every organization should work hard at addressing the needs of their employees in a multitude of ways. When an employer shows, they care we always see an improvement in areas such as retention, turnover, and absenteeism. An organization incorporated work-life integration through being unafraid to tackle family issues and personal stress, dependent care issues, marital conflict, and parental demands, all while also focusing on organizational demands and workplace performance. We are all very plugged in, in this generation. With Millennial workers making up the majority of the workforce by 2020, I feel every company needs to work diligently to meet the social and demographic changes that influence work and family life today."18. Hiring smart is the key to an organizations' success. What interview techniques do you lean on to ensure effective new hires? The hiring authority wants to ensure that you have a firm handle on effective interviewing, and the latest and greatest techniques that help you uncover exceptional talent, and leave behind the duds. Perhaps you have developed a particular method for tracking and evaluating interview responses. Discuss what techniques you deploy to ensure that your hiring recommendations are solid. Here is an answer example: "One of the most significant differences between myself and other HR Consultants is that I have a special set of questions for each role within an organization. It's important that I have a grading system that is consistent while also keeping an eye out for red-flag responses and never ignoring those. I also look at references and background checks not as a be-all, end-all decision maker. Lastly, I use personality assessments as a tool to uncover potential issues and strengths, then form 2nd and 3rd interview questions around an individuals' results." Here is an answer example: "It's important that results and responses can be accurately measured, in an unbias way so I will lean on data tools and software geared for measuring responses. Also, I have a background in psychology which seems to help me to hone in on particular responses to behavioral questions. I like to interview in a friendly and conversational way which helps a candidate to let their guard down, resulting in them showing bits of their genuine personality. It's also important that a hiring decision is never made solely by one person. From my experience, hiring decisions made by two to three people are most successful."19. Do you possess the knowledge and awareness required to communicate in a multicultural workplace? The interviewer wants to know more about your exposure to diversity, and a multicultural workplace. If you have ever taken part in developing a workplace culture surrounding intercultural engagement, this is the time to discuss that experience. Show that you have a full understanding of the term 'cultural diversity' and that you are sensitive to the belief systems, values, and identity of those who are different from you. Here is an answer example: "I have a great deal of exposure and experience when it comes to identifying various dimensions of differences, and the significant consequences that come to organizations who do not embrace those differences. Whether it be altering my communication style, or creating educational workplace programs which address discrimination, prejudice, and ethnocentrism; I am an active advocate and ally to all employees regardless of their background, lifestyle, or beliefs." Here is an answer example: "I believe that my University education and years of experience working in a variety of industries have helped me to form excellent skills when it comes to communicating with those different from me. Whether those differences come from a language or cultural divide, a person's core identity, or their belief systems, I am highly aware of best practices for sensitivity in the workplace when it comes to communication and more."20. Your role will often require you to inspire excellence in others. What does greatness mean to you? This question is a discovery-based inquiry, genuinely focused on how you think versus what you do. Go with your initial instinct when it comes to how you define success and greatness. There is no right or wrong answer, here. Show the interviewer that, as an HR professional, you find fulfillment in inspiring others to do their best, and you do this by leading through example. Here is an answer example: "To me, success comes when you accomplish a goal, but that goal needs to be something specific that you have your eyes set on. I often encourage my team to set specific goals for themselves. Second, greatness ties into that because without believing that you are great, you will not likely succeed and meet your goals!" Here is an answer example: "I teach my team that greatness and feelings of success come from setting lofty goals and working hard to achieve them. I know the sense of accomplishment when I can make that work, and it makes me feel like I am on top of the world."21. In your opinion, what are the core competencies of organizational effectiveness? The interviewer is asking what you believe to be the makeup of an effective organization. Your response will require insight. Draw upon what you have seen in your HR career when it comes to companies that have been highly successful, and those that have not. Discuss which core competencies divide the successful organizations from those that fall flat. Here is an answer example: "From my experience in HR, and working for successful companies in the past, the core areas of focus should be to excel in areas of employee compensation, labor relations, continuous professional development opportunities, employee safety, and systems streamlining. There are other important sub-topics within those, but these are the core competencies for organizational effectiveness, in my opinion." Here is an answer example: "For an organization to have advantages over its competitors, it often comes down to attracting the best talent in multiple departments. A company needs to be hyper-focused on hot employee topics such as attracting and keeping millennial employees, offering professional development opportunities and regular training, as well as having a stand-out diversity and inclusion program."22. How do you ensure a professional yet fair approach to disciplinary action? The hiring authority is not looking for an HR Consultant who will throw the hammer down or overreact when situations arise. When it comes to disciplinary action, show the interviewer that you are capable of being diplomatic and fair while remaining effective in your role. If you have an example to give, this is a great time to discuss what you have done in the past. Here is an answer example: "In my experience, the most effective way to approach disciplinary action is to work with the employee on a performance plan, based on the fact that they are not meeting expectations. I like to solve an issue, rather than put a band-aid on it. One time I had a sales employee who had missed their target two months in a row. Three months meant termination or employment, so it was vital that we got her back on track. We crafted a plan together, set her up with a senior salesperson for additional training and mentorship. Then, I checked in every week on her goals. She ended up being one of the top salespeople that year which was very satisfying to see." Here is an answer example: "I have a very progressive approach to disciplinary action. One example I can give you is when I am facing a poor attendance issue. I recently sat down with one employee and mapped out their days off, showing them, with actual data, where they would be in their career two years down the road if their attendance remained the same. This data showed that he was missing nearly 1/4 of time compared to other top performers in his department. I challenged him on that saying 'What could you do with your career if you fully applied yourself?' This conversation gave him his fire back."23. Have you ever led a workplace investigation related to discrimination, bullying, or sexual harassment? Social issues happen in the workplace frequently. We are dealing with human beings, after all! The interviewer would like to know if you have exposure to the stress and discomfort associated with workplace investigations. Whether you have this experience or not, you can display to the interviewer that you are well-trained in professionally handling employee grievances and official complaints. Show that you take these situations seriously. Here is an answer example: "I have led two workplace investigations in my career. One situation was related to sexual harassment, and the other was related to bullying. It is highly unfortunate that these situations still happen, despite endless amounts of sensitivity training amongst our teams. I recently brought in a professional speaker to present on the fine line between being friendly and harassing someone sexually. This presentation seemed to help somewhat. Now, we have a zero tolerance policy and any investigation that finds proof of the accusations, results in immediate termination without severance." Here is an answer example: "Although I have not yet participated in a workplace investigation, I do fully understand the importance of creating a safe workplace environment for all. I am looking for a role with an organization that is proactive when complaints arise and are committed to upholding a zero tolerance policy for sexual misconduct, bullying, or discrimination. Would you say this accurately describes your organization's approach?"24. What type of long-term incentive programs have you leveraged to drive employee performance? Employee performance can be a tricky subject. A top employee can become an underperformer in a snap, and employees who are not doing well could suddenly have a stellar month. The interviewer would like to know if you have knowledge and experience with long-term incentive programs, to encourage high-performance, along with consistent results, from your executive teams. Some examples of long-term incentive programs include stock options, cash bonus', or performance shares. Here is an answer example: "In my current company, we offer stock-based compensation to our sales executives, after three years of tenure. This compensation structure is a significant award to our employees who are loyal, trustworthy and have given value back to the organization, on a consistent basis. The program launched ten years ago with incredible success. I believe this is because people love to see financial rewards while also feeling like they are a part of something big." Here is an answer example: "I have worked for a company that offered year-end cash bonus' which seemed to be a significant performance driver. Employees would often check where they were on the leaderboard, and if they were in the top 20, they knew they would receive a bonus. This cash bonus came on a scaled rewards system which made it competitive in a healthy way. I also found this was a simple way to highlight which employees were consistently underperforming, giving me the opportunity to see where performance coaching or career training could help."25. Do you have experience using HR data analytics for the purpose of compensation benchmarking? Compensation benchmarking, or salary benchmarking, simply put is the process of matching the pay of private jobs to similar roles from other companies. For instance, you are comparing how much your competitor will pay for an electrical engineer with five years' experience so that you can ensure you are paying competitively.
The practice of benchmarking ensures that you are never out of touch when it comes to your company's offering and that your company can more easily attract top talent. Also, when you accurately benchmark, you can better plan for annual employee increases. Discuss the tools that you may use in this process. Here is an answer example: "Compensation benchmarking is a critical task, ensuring that our company is competitive in their pay, allowing us to gain the best talent in the market. Luckily, our company is incredibly generous and competitive, and we pay on average 7% more than our top competitors. I gather this information from employees who have moved over, and other resources such as Glassdoor and Salary.com." Here is an answer example: "I understand the concept of salary benchmarking; however, I have never used any formal tools to collect or track the data. This practice is interesting to me, and I can see numerous benefits to it which would include competitive hiring, better market value knowledge, and less loss of talent due to better-paying roles with competitors. I suspect that employee and candidate surveys could be a helpful way of collecting this data."26. How do you keep up with changes in legislature and human resource law? You likely know that with labor and employment laws continually changing, it could be a full-time job to keep yourself up to date on the changes. If you serve an international team, this question can become even stickier. Show the interviewer that you have an interest in keeping up to date on changes in your industry. Perhaps you have a Google alert set up, a couple of specific resources you lean on, or even an HR lawyer for your company that keeps everyone abreast of changes in your region. Here is an answer example: "The best resource I have come across in my HR career is the Society for Human Resource Management. I have a subscription that I pay for, and along with that comes real-time legislative updates. Their website and newsletters are beneficial, and also address hot topics and potentially upcoming changes. I also subscribe to updates from the Department of Labor. With these resources, I never feel taken off guard." Here is an answer example: "My favorite resource and the most reliable would be my company's employment law attorney. She provides us with legislative updates on a regular basis. I also have an email alert for the Department of Labor. Could you share with me the resources your team uses to stay on top of changes related to human resource law and legislation?"27. Tell me about the most significant people issue you have encountered in your HR career. The way you respond to this question will show the interviewer the complexity of problems you broach in your role as an HR Consultant, which will quickly reveal your level of expertise in your field.
If the most significant people issue you have is that someone calls in sick all the time, you are likely a junior level HR professional. If you are continually dealing with issues related to labor laws and relations, the chances are that you have a deeper level of experience. Discuss the most significant people issue you have dealt with, and include how you repair or approach the situation. Here is an answer example: "If I think about the most significant people issue I come across, and one that I continue to battle, it would be employees who decide to ignore laws and regulations when it comes to the labor board, their union expectations, or their employment contract. When I come across a repeat offender, I will write them up, keeping the information on their permanent employee record. After three offenses, I put in a recommendation for termination. If I did not keep on top of this, my employer could end up in an audit or a costly lawsuit." Here is an answer example: "Currently, the biggest ask that I get from the people in our company, is to find new ways to develop them professionally. Growth and development opportunities are critical to an employees' happiness, and I believe directly linked to their tenure. However; my company has not yet embraced a culture of learning, despite my extensive research on the topic. This situation is part of the reason why I am looking for a new role. It's important to me that I can offer solutions to these employee concerns."28. Which workplace culture development strategies have you explored? Despite it being a hot topic for many years now, companies often still struggle with developing a workplace culture that is positive, energetic, and one that attracts their industry's top talent. Discuss with the interviewer the strategies that you have explored, from an HR perspective, to improve upon an organizations' workplace culture.
Some of these strategies may include:
- Flexibility on time off or remote work settings
- Days dedicated to professional or personal growth and development
- Offering company perks that align with the brand
- Collective volunteer or community opportunities
- Employee empowerment strategies Here is an answer example: "I have read books and many articles on workplace culture development. One process that has worked for me, time and time again, begins with an anonymous employee survey. Rather than guessing what our employees want, why not ask them for genuine feedback? From there, I have created data sets focused on analyzing the top 3 things we need to do as an organization to meet those needs. Some of the actions taken include more professional development and education opportunities, further flexibility on work hours and work from home opportunities, and better mental health support." Here is an answer example: "Some of the workplace culture development strategies that I have explored include company retreats, hiring motivational keynote speakers for the day, and having fun events like family picnics. What I have found is most effective though, and better use of dollars is incorporating programs and initiatives that invest in the employee's day to day lives. One of the most effective strategies I have implemented was an in-office daycare option for new parents returning to work after parental or maternity leave. See, I am a firm believer that when you invest in your team, they will return the favor ten-fold."29. Tell me your most proven strategy for motivating under-performing employees. No matter how incredible the workplace culture and overall opportunity, every organization will have the odd dud that doesn't want to perform. Those individuals likely face termination. What the interviewer wants to see is that you can develop those employees that have potential, but for some reason, are performing under expectations. This underperformance could be a result of a personal issue or a demotivating factor within the workplace environment. Discuss how you would tackle such a problem.
Some ways to nudge an under-performing employee include:
- Scheduling a one-on-one meeting, with direct evidence prepared
- Working together on a step-by-step performance plan
- Offering further on-the-job training or job shadowing opportunities
- Providing outside resources such as counseling services or mentorship opportunities Here is an answer example: "If an employee is underperforming, but they are usually a high performer, my approach will be different than with that of someone typically unmotivated. I would schedule a one-on-one meeting and bring up their past performance, compared to their current performance. Then, I would directly ask what was affecting their motivation to succeed. For the most part, an employee will open up, and we can make a plan of action from there. This plan could include more responsibility, additional training, or the opportunity to teach another employee something new. When people feel important and seen, they tend to perform at a much higher level." Here is an answer example: "I have seen underperforming employees become absolute superstars with a little extra TLC. This approach to motivation can including crafting a growth plan with the employee, with a specific timeline attached to that goal. Also, linking the employee's interests, hobbies, and talents, with work they could begin to take on in the workplace. There are many great strategies on developing under-performing employees, some of which I recently read in Jon Gordon's book, 'The Energy Bus' where he addresses the top 10 rules to fuel life, work, and team with positive energy."30. How would you uncover the core competencies of a candidate? As an HR Consultant, you may be responsible for hiring new talent which means interviewing a ton of candidates! The interviewer wants to gauge how good you are in uncovering a candidates' skills and talents. The better you are with discovering a candidate's core competencies, the faster you can select new hires, moving the interview process along. Discuss what you look for when meeting new candidates, and what tools you use for discovering their potential. Here is an answer example: "I believe that attracting candidates with the right core competencies begins with a well-crafted job posting. A job posting should address both the organizational competencies required and the role-specific competencies. I want to make sure that a candidate can meet the needs of the company and its culture, while also excelling in their job. I achieve this through personality and skills testing by the second interview. This practice weeds out the candidates who are not a fit, and alerts me to candidates that best align with our company's needs." Here is an answer example: "From what I have seen, structured interviews are a much more effective way of interviewing, over unstructured interviews. When I have a structured question list for each candidate that focuses both on the position-specific competencies and the organizational competencies required for success, I can better identify my top candidates. On top of these stock questions, I will also ask specific interview questions based on their experience and past behaviors."
Author of HR Consultant Answers and Questions
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace.
Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career.
Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise.
Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
First written on: 01/08/2019 Last modified on: 01/11/2019
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