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Human Resources Manager Interview
Questions

40 Questions and Answers by
| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Question 1 of 40

As an HR Manager, how do you motivate and encourage your Human Resources team?

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Human Resources Manager Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    As an HR Manager, how do you motivate and encourage your Human Resources team?

      You likely already know that motivated and encouraged employees are most productive. Talk to the interviewer about ensuring that your HR team feels motivated and being as productive as possible. Give as many details as you can regarding your leadership approach. Help the interviewer picture your approach in action, ensuring that your methods fit well with the hiring company's culture and leadership philosophy.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "My formula for a motivated team is to get to know them, uncover what they are passionate about, and find out how they like to be recognized. If I can provide my team with proper recognition and tasks that they enjoy and feel they are good at, they will perform as motivated employees. Motivating my team to do well is one of my greatest joys. I put incentives in place that resonate with them and utilize multiple recognition techniques to get the job done."

  2. 2.

    What are the most significant people issues you have encountered in your HR career?

      The way you respond to this question will show the interviewer the complexity of problems you face in your current HR-related position. The way you answer will also reveal your level of expertise in human resources and problem-solving. Be prepared to provide the interviewer with a story-based example highlighting a people-related HR issue you faced and solved. If you're feeling creative, this question can be approached using the STAR storytelling framework, an answer method based on providing the interviewer with the Situation, Task, Action, Result.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "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."

  3. 3.

    Give me an example of a time when you had to come to a decision quickly.

      The human resources industry has a blanket reputation for making calculated decisions, but sometimes that careful consideration comes with moving slow. As an HR Manager, you will not always be afforded a lot of time in your decision-making process. The interviewer wants to know your process when deadlines are present and how you react when vital decisions are at hand. Talk to the interviewer about how you go about making decisions in critical times where you may be under pressure. Provide a specific example of a time when you succeeded in this type of situation.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Two weeks ago, I had to make a decision quickly on an associate's employment who has been struggling with performance issues. After reviewing their file, I determined that the associate did not receive adequate coaching. Rather than terminate their employment, I decided to help the manager put them on a performance improvement plan. I put the plan together in just a few hours but was very diligent in my methodology. I checked in with the manager earlier this week, and the performance improvement plan has been effective already."

  4. 4.

    Do you possess the knowledge and awareness required to communicate in a multicultural workplace?

      The interviewer wants to know more about your experience leading human resources efforts in a multicultural workplace. If you have contributed to developing a workplace culture embracing intercultural engagement, this is your time to shine! Express that you have a full understanding of cultural diversity in the workplace and are sensitive to the belief systems, values, and identity of those different from you.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "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."

  5. 5.

    Do you keep up with changes in HR law and legislation? If so what resources do you rely on for your information?

      Labor and employment laws continually change, and it can take a lot of effort to remain up-to-date on these changes. The interviewer wants evidence that you have an interest in remaining in-the-know on changes in your industry. Perhaps you have set up Google alerts, or you subscribe to HR newsletters. Perhaps your company has a Human Resources lawyer who keeps you informed of changes in your region. Show the interviewer that you put effort into remaining in-the-know and that you rely on reputable sources for your information.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "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 upcoming changes. I also subscribe to updates from the Department of Labor. With these resources, I never feel taken off guard."

  6. 6.

    What do you believe to be the most prominent human resource trend of the year? Have you yet embraced it?

      The HR industry and the function of a Human Resources Manager are constantly evolving. This change includes trends in technology, how workplace communication is approached, and how we manage social issues. The interviewer wants evidence that you remain on top of prevailing trends and topics in the industry, ensuring that your knowledge and approach are always relevant and modern. Tell the interviewer what you believe to be the hottest topic or trend in human resources this year and how it impacts HR.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "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)."

  7. 7.

    How do you help employees reach their professional development goals?

      The interviewer wants to know that you are an HR Manager who can set clear goals and expectations for their team while also encouraging each persons' individual professional goals. When you answer, offer specific examples of the actions you take to draw out your team members' professional goals. Next, discuss what you do to encourage these goals and help your team members to achieve them.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I genuinely believe in the importance of personal growth and a focus on professional development. These goals can include taking a course or reading a new career-related book. I start with an understanding that professional development goals look different for each employee. Some team members are on track to become a supervisor. Others have professional advancement goals that don't necessarily come with a title promotion. Either way, I set personal metrics associated with their growth opportunities. We review each of these goals in a formal setting each month and quarter, with informal weekly check-ins."

  8. 8.

    As our HR Manager, how would you approach an equity problem in the workplace?

      The interviewer wants to know how you plan to approach equity problems and what you would do if you witnessed a lack of equity in the workplace once hired as their new HR Manager. Equity refers to equal access and equal opportunities for everyone regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, language, physical abilities, and many other characteristics. Show that you are conscious of equity and that you realize the difference between equity and equality. If you have faced a similar situation in your career, be sure to include a story-based example to show the interviewer that you can approach this type of situation with professionalism and care.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "First, I believe it's essential that leaders understand the difference between equity and equality. Equity means providing equal opportunity and equal access to everyone, no matter their situation. If I noticed an equity problem in the workplace, I would explain to my colleagues that equity is our approach to achieving equality. I would research which groups felt impacted by this lack of equity and what was causing the impact. Then, I would create measurable initiatives and an action plan with a specific improvement-related goal. For instance, in my current position, I heard from an employee that their family did not receive equal treatment when it came to company health insurance benefits. I came to find that our spousal health insurance benefits did not mention same-sex partners. I immediately contacted our HR department, who put the wheels in motion to change the language attached to our benefits plan. Leaders must be highly conscious about equity when they create policies, procedures, and workflows so that everyone can benefit from an environment that truly supports equality."

  9. 9.

    Do you have experience in mass-layoffs or terminations? What is your view on job eliminations?

      Most Human Resources Managers can agree that terminating employees is one of the least desirable aspects of an HR function. Laying off or terminating employees in mass amounts is even worse. However, this is a reality that you may need to face in your HR career, especially if you work in a larger company that goes through a merger or acquisition or is impacted by an unforeseen circumstance.

      Discuss a time when you have had to take part in or even lead job eliminations. Walk the interviewer through the steps that you took and how you handled the situation with poise and professionalism. If you do not have experience with job eliminations, discuss the approach you believe you would take in such a situation. If you have a rapport with the interviewer, you may want to ask if a mass-layoff is something this company has ever experienced or is currently facing.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Job eliminations are never fun, especially regarding mass-layoffs. Four years ago, I worked for an automotive part manufacturing 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?"

  10. 10.

    Have you ever led a workplace investigation related to discrimination, bullying, or sexual harassment?

      Social issues can happen in the workplace, no matter how positive the company culture. We are dealing with human beings, after all! The interviewer wants 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. If you have HR training related to discrimination, bullying, or harassment, be sure to mention the details of this formal training.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I have led 2 workplace investigations in my career. One situation was related to sexual harassment, and the other was related to bullying. It is unacceptable that these situations still happen, despite endless sensitivity training amongst our teams. I recently hired an advocate and professional speaker to discuss 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."

  11. 11.

    In which HR software tools are you best versed?

      The interviewer wants to know if you have experience with the HR tools used in their role. If you have experience with their tools, this will translate to a smoother onboarding process when they hire you. Read the company job posting or job description and look 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.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "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 applying that knowledge to other Zoho products. Although I have not used Sage, 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."

  12. 12.

    As an HR Manager, how do you measure the success of your department?

      When you are leading a team, it is vital to be aware of the level of success that each team member is experiencing. One under-performing team player can drag down the entire department. Talk to the interviewer about how you can stay aware of each team members' success. As a Human Resources Manager, you may have some unique methods that have worked well for you in the past. Be sure to share your approach in a way that the interviewer, and hiring company as a whole, will connect with.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "As an experienced HR Manager, I certainly understand the importance of measuring the success of my team members and department as a whole. I have a very in-depth and successful system for evaluating success. I check in twice per week with each member of my team. On Mondays, the check-in is to set our goals together. Then, on Fridays, we meet to discuss any successes and challenges as a group. I have everyone in my department self-evaluate, and then we create a plan for success for the upcoming week. I evaluate their success based on numerous factors such as their follow-through and willingness to work hard to reach their goals."

  13. 13.

    Which workplace culture development strategies have you explored?

      Companies often struggle with developing a workplace culture that is positive, energetic, and one that attracts their industry's top talent. The interviewer wants to know that you can help the organization succeed in this topic. Discuss with the interviewer the strategies you have explored, from an HR perspective, to improve an organization's workplace culture. Strategies might 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

      Rachelle's Answer

      "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."

  14. 14.

    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 since your answer will show the hiring company if you are a fit for their organization. Think about what you have witnessed in your HR career regarding highly successful companies and those that have fallen flat. Discuss which core competencies divide these successful organizations from those that failed.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "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."

  15. 15.

    Have you ever had a particular circumstance where you needed to deviate from HR policy? How did you approach the dilemma?

      The interviewer wants to know if you prefer an environment where rules are black and white or if you feel there should be procedural wiggle room for particular situations and personalities. Many organizations find it challenging to be flexible, so this question is also an opportunity for you to learn more about the hiring company and see if it's a fit for your approach and personality. If applicable, discuss a time when you have deviated from HR policy. Talk about a situation that was justifiable and not detrimental to your company. The hiring company will want to see that if you took a risk, it was still responsible and calculated.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "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 many family matters. I requested that he 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."

  16. 16.

    From an HR perspective, what common mistakes do you often see in corporate Diversity & Inclusion plans?

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  17. 17.

    Do you have experience using HR data analytics for the purpose of compensation benchmarking?

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  18. 18.

    What type of long-term incentive programs have you leveraged to drive employee performance?

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  19. 19.

    How do you ensure a professional yet fair approach to disciplinary action?

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  20. 20.

    Have you ever led performance reviews or employee coaching sessions?

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  21. 21.

    Tell me your most proven strategy for motivating under-performing employees.

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  22. 22.

    If you could create a D&I plan for your current employer, what would you prioritize?

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  23. 23.

    What HR-related strategies have you introduced to address workplace-related diversity issues?

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  24. 24.

    How can a company best embrace diversity in their hiring plan?

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  25. 25.

    Why did you choose to become a human resources professional?

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  26. 26.

    What are the 3 most important functions of an HR department?

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  27. 27.

    Tell me about a time when you influenced hiring practices at your current or former employer.

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  28. 28.

    Tell me about a hiring mistake you made. Were there any details in the hiring process you missed and realized later? How did you adjust from what you learned?

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  29. 29.

    As a Human Resources Manager, which publications and resources do you turn to the most?

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  30. 30.

    How do you help your company to make sound hiring decisions?

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  31. 31.

    Talk about a time when you dealt with a difficult person in the workplace. How did you handle the situation? Were you able to correct their behavior?

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  32. 32.

    Why do you want to be our Human Resources Manager?

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  33. 33.

    In your experience, what is the biggest challenge working in the human resources field?

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  34. 34.

    With which applicant tracking systems (ATS) are you most familiar?

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  35. 35.

    How do you find qualified candidates? Discuss a time when your approach helped you to hire a great employee.

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  36. 36.

    We want to foster innovation within our workforce. What does the term innovation mean to you in respect to your HR management responsibilities?

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  37. 37.

    Do you have experience choosing, introducing, and explaining employer health benefits?

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  38. 38.

    Do you have experience preparing or leading new hire orientation?

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  39. 39.

    What does the term attrition mean, and what are the biggest causes of employee attrition rates?

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  40. 40.

    Discuss a time when you explored organizational gaps and created new opportunities for employees.

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