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Human Resources Interview
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30 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated October 6th, 2019 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Job Interviews     Careers     Business    
Question 1 of 30
Why did you choose to become a human resources professional?
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How to Answer
Communicate why you chose a career in HR and bring to light what you love about your work. Being able to display a passion and excitement for your job will help the interviewer to become more excited about your application. Discuss why you love your career, and be specific. Try to avoid cliche statements such as 'I love helping people.' You want your answer to be unique and to stand out.
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Answer Examples
1.
Why did you choose to become a human resources professional?
Communicate why you chose a career in HR and bring to light what you love about your work. Being able to display a passion and excitement for your job will help the interviewer to become more excited about your application. Discuss why you love your career, and be specific. Try to avoid cliche statements such as 'I love helping people.' You want your answer to be unique and to stand out.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"My work in HR allows me to make a difference in the many lives of associates by helping them to grow and improve themselves professionally. I have the opportunity to make genuine, meaningful connections with others every day. I also love that I can become a true partner to the organization with which I am working. I enjoy building teams that I know will lead a company to new heights. This career path is an incredibly rewarding one for me."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Human resources is what gives a company life. The heartbeat of everything a company does comes from the team built within. Not only is this rewarding, but it is also challenging. The industry is always growing and changing, from compliance, legislation, and the introduction of new technology. There is always something to learn."
2.
Do you have experience choosing, introducing, and explaining employer health benefits?
Employer health benefits can become very complicated. There can be a lot of small print and information that is misunderstood by employees. This confusion can become even worse when changes are made to existing benefits packages, further impacting existing employees. Talk to the interviewer about your experience with choosing employee health benefits packages, and explaining the ins and outs of these benefits to employees.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"At my current company we recently changed benefits providers, leaving many employees feeling a bit confused about the changes. I took it upon myself to spend a couple of hours with the insurance providers' representative, as they walked me through everything I needed to know. I spent a few days studying the packages and options, preparing myself to best answer any questions that would come my way from our employees. Once I felt 100% confident, I held an informational session for anyone who cared to attend. We had nearly 100 employees show up to the session where I walked them through every facet of their new benefits plan and answered all questions. Now, I have a much clearer understanding of how employee health benefits work, and I feel very confident in my abilities in this area of HR."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I recently took an online course called 'The Benefits Guide' as a way to better understand how employee health benefits work. While obtaining my associates' degree in human resources, I felt that this area of knowledge needed supplementation, which is why I took the initiative to complete this course. I feel much more confident in my knowledge level now."
3.
Do you have experience guiding candidates through job offers and negotiations?
One exciting part of your job as a human resources professional might be making a job offer to an eager candidate. But, you know, to be cautious in the process! Many things can get in the way between a job proposal to its acceptance, and it's up to you to ensure the process goes as smooth as possible. This task includes controlling the conversations regarding salary offerings and counteroffers. Discuss any experience you have with job offer negotiations, giving a real-life example if possible.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I keep my directors and candidates close, to ensure that proposals do not go sideways due to bad communication or unrealistic expectations from either party. Just this year, I have worked on 18 different offers, managing negotiations from salary to start date to benefits. I keep up to date on market trends, what our company's competitors are offering. I know what employees are earning based on their location, education level, and years of experience. I am 100% comfortable taking full control during job offer negotiations."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Although I am new to real-time job offer negotiations, I did study a few cases while obtaining my degree. I also observed three job offer conversations during my internship. One example that stood out to me was a job offer with a $10K salary gap. The company raised its offer another $5K plus an added week of paid vacation time. It was a perfect compromise, and the candidate signed the offer right away."
4.
How do you like to be recognized for your accomplishments?
The interviewer would like to know what motivates you to achieve in the workplace. We all want recognition in some way for our accomplishments. Perhaps you enjoy financial perks, public attention, kind words, added responsibilities, or title promotions. Share with the interviewer how you would like recognition for your hard work.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I appreciate you asking this question since, as a human resources professional, this is a question that I ask every new hire as well. I want to know how to keep everyone motivated on the job. I am an eager achiever and find that the best way for me to be recognized for a job well done is to hear words of kindness and recognition. I am easily encouraged, and the best reward for me is to know that my hard work matters."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"The success of our workforce is a direct reflection of my success as an HR professional. For that reason, I prefer that our employees receive accolades for a job well done. For instance, if our group exceeds company targets, I would rather see a collective reward. This method of recognition is my preference."
5.
Do you have experience coordinating interviews, and documenting the candidate journey?
A significant part of working as a Human Resources professional is coordinating the movement of talent acquisition projects. The interviewer would like to understand your experience when it comes to managing the interview process, and taking care of the documentation and other action steps that are critical to successful onboarding. Take the interviewer through your process, and be sure to include any software, tips, tricks, and tools that you use along the way.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"In my current position I am responsible for the talent acquisition of approximately 60 new hires every year. This volume means that I require complete organization, and every step needs immediate documenting. I lean on Sage People, a cloud-based HR system that allows me to track every action we take with a candidate. I book interviews and track them in Outlook, which everyone on our team uses. I have excellent follow-up habits, which is a must to staying organized and well-coordinated."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I will keep close track of all talent acquisition activities by utilizing every facet of your HRMS software. While completing my Human Resources degree, I learned about how these robust systems can keep track of important activities, allowing busy HR professionals to better focus on making strong candidate connections. Could you share with me the tools you use to coordinate the talent management process?"
6.
As a Human Resources professional, which publications and resources do you turn to the most?
Human resources professionals have endless options when it comes to industry resources. Talk to the interviewer about any tools that your employer provides you, some that you found on your own, or ones that other HR experts have recommended to you. The interviewer wants to see that you have a keen interest in learning and staying on top of the ever-changing human resources industry. You can complete your answer by asking the interviewer for resource recommendations if you are comfortable.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"It's important that I continually educate myself and remain up to date on changes and hot topics in the HR industry. Top resources that I turn to include the TLNT blog, and the CPSA Knowledge Center online. I want to take time this year to expand my HR knowledge by attending a couple of advanced courses on diversity, culture, and sensitivity. Do you have any further recommendations for reliable human resources information?"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am just learning the H industry but have found some helpful online resources, including The Muse for career-building advice, and Harvard Business Review for news and interest pieces on a variety of industries. I am always open to recommendations if you have some for me!"
7.
How do you help your company to make sound hiring decisions?
There are many ways that an HR professional can influence a company and help them through challenging talent acquisition projects. Skilled human resources professionals will act as a partner to their company and its stakeholders. They will be a listening ear, an educated hiring partner, and a person with sound judgment. Discuss how you help your company make the best hiring decisions.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"It's vital that I act as a solid hiring partner to my company. I support the management team by helping them with interview questions and candidate attraction strategies. I spend time teaching them the red flags to look out for in a job seeker, and even help them through salary negotiations. Many of my superiors lean on my expertise when it comes to competitive hiring."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have learned of a few great resources that I plan to lean on, and I will share those with my employer. Utilizing what I know about HR, as well as learning my new employers' industry, will be important steps to take, ensuring that I play a big support role. I am an excellent researcher and will be able to provide market analysis and other important data critical for making sound hiring decisions."
8.
We want to foster innovation within our workforce. What does the term innovation mean to you?
With ever-shifting workforce trends, a company's human resources team must be adaptable, creative, and innovative. The term 'innovation' is often overused in business these days and has now become a buzzword that many people don't fully understand. The interviewer would like to know what you feel innovation indeed is. Include an example of a time when you have introduced an innovative initiative in the workplace, or when you have exercised a creative idea that made a positive difference.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"To me, innovation means presenting a new idea or making an existing idea better. It's important to be innovative in the workplace, but often it's a misunderstood concept. An example of when I was innovative was when our company was facing budget cuts. I suggested that we begin to operate as though the cuts were already made, in an attempt to preemptively save funds. We cut back on unnecessary workforce spending, such as overtime hours. The concept worked well, and we were able to eliminate many unnecessary expenditures while completely avoiding layoffs."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Innovation means introducing a new process or breakthrough in the workplace. In human resources, I see many opportunities for innovation. For instance, I could work with the company's applicant tracking system to search for hidden talent when given tight hiring deadlines. I can create ways to accurately track HR projects, such as the creation of onboarding programs using cloud-based software. I can think of many ways to make it easier for all stakeholders to be involved in talent acquisition projects. I look forward to exercising my creativity and introducing new innovations, once hired."
Anonymous Answer
"UBS is the biggest wealth hub in the world. Being a 150-year-old bank, maintaining the consistency to serve all the millionaires and billionaires of the world without losing their trust is a great thing. No one would like to work for a company that doesn’t care about its employees. I was impressed by your company’s longstanding dedication to offering talented individuals a challenging, diverse, and collaborative working environment where passion, commitment, and hard work are valued and rewarded."
Rachelle's Answer
Great way to show off your research -- nice answer :)
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9.
When interviewing a candidate, what is the most important question you could ask?
There is a world of essential interview questions that, as a recruiter, you could ask a job seeker. The most crucial first step is for you to ensure that the opportunity you are presenting is a fit for your candidate. If you do not vet your candidate correctly, they could be a big disappointment down the road. This mistake could make you appear unprofessional, inexperienced, and unable to make critical skills matches. Show the interviewer that you are capable of digging deep into your interview process.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"One question that I always ask, no matter the role, is 'Describe for me in detail your ideal opportunity.' This question puts the responsibility on them to tell me, very specifically, what they seek in a job. I ask them to include the workplace environment, team size, location, type of industry, and more. If their response feels like a solid match to my organization, only then will I move them to the next stage of interviews."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have a no-fail question that I plan to ask in most interviews, and it's 'Why would you accept this job over any others you are entertaining?' See, I want them to desire the role genuinely. If they cannot show enthusiasm for the position and my company, I will eliminate them from the competition right away."
10.
Describe the most significant written document, report or presentation which you had to complete.
The interviewer would like to see that you are capable of writing critical internal documents and creating presentations for a variety of uses. Researching and presenting data could be a large part of your role as a human resources professional. In this role, you could also be leading onboarding programs and orientations. Talk about the various reports or deliverables you are responsible for providing in your current position, and also discuss any public speaking or presentation experience.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Recently, I rolled out a new performance evaluation plan to leaders in my company. I prepared a PowerPoint presentation sharing critical information such as new processes and their intended impact. I also forecasted the success of the changes and a timeline of events to implement them. I also scheduled a follow-up meeting after the launch to discuss any roadblocks that may be present."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"During university, I completed a major paper on strategic HR management and planning. I then had to turn the paper into a 30-minute class presentation. This project accounted for 30% of my final grade, and I am happy to say I received the top marks in the class. I enjoyed the research and data that went into putting the project together, and even more so, I liked the public speaking and presenting aspect. I feel confident now when it comes to leading groups, meetings, and critical HR discussions."
11.
Tell me how you organize, plan, and prioritize your work.
Proper planning and organization is a critical skill required for almost any job. As a human resources professional, you must be three steps ahead of everyone else, have your documentation on check, and be highly prepared for the unexpected. Have a well-thought-out plan for how you stay organized. Confidently demonstrate this plan to the employer, so they know you are serious about your professional approach.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Success and strong planning go hand in hand. While it is important to go into each day with a plan and meet deadlines, it is equally important to adapt to ever-changing priorities. Human resources are for the people, and people are unpredictable. I plan my day in my Outlook calendar and color code tasks according to urgency and department. I also lean on tools such as Slack to communicate with my team, cutting down on emails, and saving everyone time. When there are multiple tasks due in one day, I will ask for assistance if needed, stay late, or arrive early. Rest assured, I am highly organized and responsible with my duties."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I use my Google calendar religiously and also utilize many productivity apps such as Evernote and Trello. I will approach organizing my work the same way I approached university and all of my extra-curricular activities. I can prioritize by the due date as well as by bottom-line return. I have great focus but am also able to shift when a new need arises."
Anonymous Answer
"To make sure no important tasks get missed, I create a routine. By being organized, I set up calendars and to-do lists. From the to-do lists, I quickly go over what is essential and what needs to done first. I try not to multi-task because I can make a mistake and not get the best quality of work done. I take breaks in the middle to make sure I do not wear myself out. I also make sure my workspace is clean and neat so that I can see everything that needs to be done and found."
Rachelle's Answer
Wow, you sound very organized and focused. This is a wonderful answer and very specific.
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12.
How do you treat candidates not selected for the job? Walk me through your process.
During talent acquisition campaigns, human resource professionals speak to a lot of candidates in a day and often interview handfuls of people for one role. Show the interviewer that you treat your applicants with respect and that you are unafraid to be forthright with them when they don't get the job. The hiring authority wants to see that you have a professional level of compassion for those not hired.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Part of being a successful HR professional is to gain and keep the respect of your talent pool. When I deselect a candidate, I will notify them by email. Our company has a canned email response that we use for rejection notices; however, I always personalize these. I want these candidates to know that I value their time and expertise."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"It is essential to me that I treat every candidate with care and respect. Even if they are not right for the job, it does not mean that they won't be a fit for a similar role with our company down the road. Because of this, I must close off with them in a professional manner that keeps the door open for future conversations. If I deselect a candidate, I plan to let them know right away. Nobody likes to be left hanging."
13.
Do you have experience using an ATS? Which applicant tracking systems do you know best?
Most companies use an ATS or applicant tracking system. This system collects and stores job applicants' resumes, personal information, interview notes, documentation, and candidate history. When a job seeker applies online to one of your job postings, their application, documents, and records will automatically populate into your company's ATS. This system allows you to quickly see how well they match the role to which they have applied.

Some of the most popular ATS programs will enable you to email a job seeker directly from the system, and even book interviews or push out bulk SMS messages. Popular ATS' include Taleo, Bullhorn, Kenexa, SAP Success Factors, and JazzHR. Discuss what you know about ATS features, and which systems you have used the most.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"For the past three years I have used Taleo, first as an HR assistant and then as an HR specialist. When I sent my application to your company online, I noticed that your talent portal is run by Taleo, as well. The features I use most in this system include the quick applications overview, email templates, and social job sharing feature."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am familiar with an applicant tracking system, and how an ATS works to filter job applicants, making the work of a human resources professional much easier. I have heard of Bullhorn and Taleo most frequently. I am a quick study, and very capable with technology. If you could share with me which ATS you use here, I am happy to start with some online tutorials to learn the basics of navigating your system."
14.
How do you show people that you are listening to them?
As an HR professional, you must build trust and gain the support of the employees that you are to reach. Part of creating this trust is to have open lines of communication, and show that you are available to listen. You will want to ask discovery questions and avoid trumping their points or belittling their stance to 'protect' the company. Take a few minutes to share with the interviewer your approach when it comes to active listening.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"People want to feel listened to and important. When they are speaking, I utilize nonverbal cues such as nodding my head and making strong eye contact. Additionally, I will repeat what they said back to them and use affirmations such as 'yes' and 'good point.' It's important that those I represent feel they can trust me, and they can bring any concerns and questions my way without judgment or repercussion."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I show people that I am listening by repeating back parts of what they say, asking for clarification when needed, and then offering valuable information when needed. I plan to build a connection with your team by practicing these habits as well as never interrupting or assuming that I know what they need or where they are coming from."
Anonymous Answer
"As a legal administrative assistant, I deal with clients every day. To ensure they enjoy our services and to make them come back, I value communication as the key to understanding one another. To show people that I am listening, they would have my undivided attention. When they are speaking, I would be actively listening without any interruptions. I would make them comfortable when they are talking to me. I would give them an honest answer even if they do not like what I have to say."
Rachelle's Answer
It seems you are very skilled in communication and building rapport/trust with others. Good work :)
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15.
What does the term attrition mean, and what are the biggest causes of employee attrition rates?
Attrition is the speed or rate at which something declines. In human resources, you may hear the term 'employee attrition rates' as an important KPI. What this means is that a company is losing staff due to natural reduction, including resignation, retirement, or relocation.

Keep in mind; this term refers to natural reduction. Employee attrition rates would not include mass layoffs, for instance. Discuss with the interviewer that you understand what attrition means, and what the primary causes of employee attrition are. The hiring authority is looking for your ability to recognize and understand their pain points.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Employee attrition rates refer to the reduction of staff due to unforeseen or natural circumstances such as increasing retirement rates. I have helped my current company overcome attrition by working with them on proactive workforce planning. When a company sees where their employee attrition rates are going, they can act ahead and plan, rather than being reactionary."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I think resignations and retirements would impact employee attrition rates. Every company must work hard to plan for a strong future workforce by hiring according to attritions rates and trends in data. I learned about this while earning my bachelor's degree and am eager to apply what I know to reduce the impact of attrition on your company."
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30 Human Resources Interview Questions
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Interview Questions
  1. Why did you choose to become a human resources professional?
  2. Do you have experience choosing, introducing, and explaining employer health benefits?
  3. Do you have experience guiding candidates through job offers and negotiations?
  4. How do you like to be recognized for your accomplishments?
  5. Do you have experience coordinating interviews, and documenting the candidate journey?
  6. As a Human Resources professional, which publications and resources do you turn to the most?
  7. How do you help your company to make sound hiring decisions?
  8. We want to foster innovation within our workforce. What does the term innovation mean to you?
  9. When interviewing a candidate, what is the most important question you could ask?
  10. Describe the most significant written document, report or presentation which you had to complete.
  11. Tell me how you organize, plan, and prioritize your work.
  12. How do you treat candidates not selected for the job? Walk me through your process.
  13. Do you have experience using an ATS? Which applicant tracking systems do you know best?
  14. How do you show people that you are listening to them?
  15. What does the term attrition mean, and what are the biggest causes of employee attrition rates?
  16. Do you have experience preparing or leading new hire orientation?
  17. When entering a new job, describe how you build relationships with your new coworkers and supervisors.
  18. What questions have you prepared for me, today?
  19. Tell me how you find qualified candidates. Share an experience in which one of these methods helped you find a great employee.
  20. What is the most difficult part of working in human resources?
  21. Tell me about a time when you influenced hiring practices at your current or former employer.
  22. 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?
  23. What new human resources topic is piquing your interest the most right now?
  24. Do you have experience leading terminations?
  25. Give an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision.
  26. How do you use data and analytics in your HR process?
  27. What do you enjoy most about being an HR Specialist?
  28. How do you use social media and other online tools in your recruitment process?
  29. 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?
  30. When hiring, is it important for you to contact a candidate's professional references?
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