10 HR Interview Questions and How to Answer Them (2024)

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Sample interview questions for human resources professionals to help with interview preparation and practice.

10 HR Interview Questions and How to Answer Them (1)

Succeeding at a human resources (HR) job interview needs preparation. Studying interview questions and preparing potential responses sets you up for success and landing your next job.

In addition to researching the company and polishing your resume, you should rehearse answers to common HR job interview questions to prepare you for specific questions. Effective interview preparation may help you feel mentally ready.

Hiring managers use interviews to learn about your personality, qualifications, and skills. Interviews are designed and structured so the interviewer can gain insights into how you think and respond in different situations. You'll likely face a variety of questions. Some may be standard HR interview questions, while others are specific to the job you're applying for.

This guide will provide you with common interview questions and sample answers to consider.

10 HR interview questions

Let’s explore some HR interview questions, the thinking behind them, advice on how to respond, and some sample answers.

1. Tell me about yourself.

This is often the first question asked in an interview. The employer wants to know what experience you've had, your career path, and what skills you can bring to the organisation.

Consider the employer’s needs and how your skills meet them. Prepare a brief answer summarising your experience, qualifications, and ambitions for the future. Keep your response short (no more than two minutes) and relate it to the job description.

2. What is your understanding of the role of an HR department?

This is asking what you know about HR. For entry-level roles, interviewers often ask this to check that you understand what the job entails. This can also be a more senior-level question, where the interviewer wants to understand your approach and your level of HR knowledge.

Example response: I know the HR departments are responsible for many things, including employee selection, recruiting and training processes, workplace communication, payroll and benefits administration, disciplinary actions, termination processes, etc. The HR department also liaises between management and employees to resolve issues or concerns. HR is a crucial function contributing to any company's culture and productivity.

3. Why do you want to work in HR?

This question is investigating your commitment and approach to HR.

Example response: HR plays an important role in any company because the department manages and promotes the most vital asset—people. As an HR professional, I enjoy being able to help people fulfil their potential by hiring the right people and then helping them thrive in their jobs. HR allows me to express my personality every day. I love the day-to-day tasks we engage in and helping to solve the problems that may arise.

4. Why do you want to work for our company?

Employers will want to find out if you've taken the time to research their business and understand its objectives. Your answer should provide a factual overview of what you know about the company, explain why you would like to work for them, and explain how the role fits your career plans.

5. What are your greatest strengths?

Interviewers often ask candidates to discuss their strengths to see how they might perform and what skills they would bring to the team. Consider your two or three most job-relevant attributes and frame them in a concise answer that highlights specific skills and achievements. Sharing real-life examples of your strengths in action shows you know how to use your strengths to drive results and solve problems.

6. What are your greatest weaknesses?

As humans, we all have weaknesses. Explaining that you are aware of a particular weakness and have taken steps to improve is a sign of maturity and drive that attracts employers. When discussing your weaknesses, choose one that allows you to demonstrate growth and enthusiasm for learning. You can choose to talk about weaknesses, including insecurity, disorganised, prone to procrastination, uncomfortable with public speaking or delegating tasks, sensitive/emotional, extreme introvert/extrovert, and limited experience in a particular skill or software, among others.

7. Please tell me about a time you had to deal with a complaint from a staff member about someone more senior.

Managing conflict is an integral part of any HR role. It can involve resolving issues between employees and managers, addressing performance issues, or dealing with other problems. It’s important to show you can handle these conversations carefully, diplomatically, and confidentially. During your interview preparation, consider the most relevant examples you have to share and prepare a response describing the steps you took to resolve the situation. Use these prompts to help formulate your answer:

  • Who did you talk to?

  • How did you get them to open up?

  • What did you do next?

  • What was the outcome?

8. How do you ensure equality and diversity policies are followed in the workplace?

This question will assess whether you know the workplace laws and regulations concerning equality, diversity, and anti-discrimination. It will also show how you ensure implementation.

To answer, share professional examples of how you’ve supported existing workplace policies or helped shape new policies and procedures, such as ongoing staff training, to help ensure staff is educated about, compliant with, and accountable to company policies.

9. What do you believe makes a successful team?

As an HR professional, employers will want to know about your experience working with teams and helping them work effectively. Think about the importance of communication, collaboration, trust, respect, and responsibility and how they affect a team’s success. Prepare a response highlighting specific qualities and share an example from your work experience demonstrating how such qualities led to team success, such as closing a sale or launching a campaign.

10. Tell me about your ability to achieve results.

This question will be one of many behavioural questions which ask you to describe how you've handled situations in the past to gauge your future decision-making. Please prepare your responses with specific examples from previous jobs to show how well you met your goals and exceeded expectations.

Example response: As a recruitment manager, I consistently met my monthly interview goals by implementing creative candidate marketing strategies, such as...

11. What makes you most qualified for this position?

This is an opportunity to make sure you understand your qualifications and experience, highlighting how well you match the position and the company. Your answer should mix qualifications, certifications, and personal achievements.

Questions to ask at the end of an HR interview

Asking questions at the end of the interview shows that you're interested in the job and have researched the company.

Below are some sample questions to consider:

  • What would my first month look like if I were hired for this position?

  • What do you like most about working here?

  • How do you measure success in this role?

  • What qualities do outstanding employees at this company embody?

  • Is there anything else I can provide to support my application?

HR interview questions for specific jobs

There are many jobs in the HR profession, such as HR generalist, talent acquisition manager, or compensation manager. Tailoring your HR interview preparation to the specific HR roles you're applying to can help you succeed. Let’s look at different HR roles, what employers are looking for, and the questions you might ask in an interview.

HR director/manager interview questions

An HR director oversees all aspects of HR management. The interviewer will look for real insight, experience, and leadership in your answers. While HR director and HR manager job titles are sometimes used interchangeably, a director generally has a more strategic focus.

HR managers oversee the daily activities of HR staff, develop department goals, maintain current knowledge of labour laws, and ensure employment policies and procedures are compliant. You’ll need to demonstrate the ability to manage diverse day-to-day functions and have in-depth HR knowledge.

Here are some HR interview questions to help you prepare for your interview:

  • What are your expectations of yourself as an HR director?

  • What is the most challenging part of HR management?

  • What do you think determines progress in HR?

  • What were your most significant achievements in your last position?

  • Tell me about a time when you had to react quickly to change. What did you do?

  • Describe your experience with employment law and compliance.

  • Tell me about a time when you had to manage conflict at work. Share an example of how you dealt with this situation.

  • Tell me about a time you helped improve employee engagement at work. What did you do? How was this achieved?

  • How would your colleagues describe your leadership or management style?

  • What’s the biggest challenge facing HR today? What would you do about it?

HR generalist interview questions

You may work as an HR generalist in many areas, from recruitment to benefits. You may also be called an HR coordinator. In this role, you'll typically report to an HR manager. The interviewer may be looking at your ability to demonstrate commitment, understand different business areas, take a detail-focused approach to work, and your experience in a team setting.

Questions you might encounter in an interview for this role include:

  • Why did you decide to pursue a career in HR?

  • Describe your ideal company, location, and job.

  • What interests you about this opportunity?

  • What do you think it takes to be successful in an HR career?

  • Tell me about your most significant HR accomplishment.

  • Tell me about the least successful or challenging HR initiative you've worked on. What did you learn from it?

Compensation and benefits analyst interview questions

A compensation and benefits manager/analyst determines appropriate employee pay levels based on their roles and levels of experience. They may also manage benefits packages, including vacation time and insurance options. If you choose the role of a benefits-focused HR professional, your primary focus is on employee benefits like insurance plans, retirement plans, and wellness programmes.

Here are some HR interview questions to help you to prepare:

  • What do you know about our company's compensation structure?

  • How do you build relationships with coworkers and managers?

  • What is most important when implementing a new compensation plan for employees?

  • What benefits have you administered in the past?

  • How will you stay current with the newest employee benefits laws and regulations?

  • What experience do you have in auditing employee benefits records?

  • What software packages are you familiar with for administering employee benefits? What is your preferred software package, and why?

  • What do you think are the most important benefits offered to employees today? Why?

  • What is the most challenging benefits issue you have ever faced in your career? How did you handle it?

Recruiter interview questions

Recruiters identify and attract candidates for open positions within and outside a company. This can include posting job listings, reviewing resumes, interviewing candidates, and managing the hiring process through onboarding a new employee. This role typically works closely with hiring managers to determine current and upcoming recruitment requirements.

Here are some HR interview questions to help you to prepare:

  • Describe a time when you persuaded a talented candidate to join a company.

  • Why do you want to work in recruitment? What specific skills and experience do you have that make you a good fit as an HR recruiter?

  • Give an example of when your attention to detail helped you on the job.

  • What are your biggest achievements in your career so far?

  • What do you think candidates in our sector value most when applying for jobs?

How to prepare for an interview

Interviews help evaluate your suitability for the role and ensure you're a good fit for the organisation. To do this, your interviewer will ask questions about yourself, your skills, and your experience. Therefore, when preparing for your interview must be as informed and confident as possible.

Before an interview, you can do many things to help yourself succeed, such as researching the company, practising answers to common questions, and getting used to talking about achievements that demonstrate how you meet the job selection criteria.

1. Research the organisation.

Researching the organisation is one of the first steps in preparing for an interview. You'd like to know what it does, its mission, its size, how long it's been in business, and any recent news to be as informed as possible to help tailor your interview responses.

Some things you can do:

  • Read the company's website

  • Review press releases

  • Check online discussion boards and job sites like Glassdoor or Indeed for comments about the company

  • Review social media accounts for information about the company's culture or employees

2. Understand the company's work culture.

Researching the company's work culture is important. Companies tend to look for people who fit their culture. This is one of the key criteria when selecting candidates. If you understand the company’s values or what qualities it looks for in its employees, you can tailor your responses accordingly. It’s also important information in determining whether a company is a good fit for you.

As an HR professional, you should understand the importance of company culture. You may even get a specific question on what you think about the company's culture you're applying to.

3. Prepare and practise your answers.

Preparing answers in advance allows you to practise your responses and arrive at the interview feeling confident. Be prepared with real-life examples that showcase your skills and knowledge. Read over the job posting. Identify the challenges the company is experiencing so you can prepare answers to show how your life and career have prepared you to help drive its success. Practise out loud and, if possible, rehearse with someone with HR experience who can offer feedback.

Next steps

Build the skills you need for a career in human resources with the HRCI Human Resources Associate Professional Certificate on Coursera. Learn techniques to recruit and retain talent, evaluate renumeration, and better understand performance management, all while learning at your own pace.

10 HR Interview Questions and How to Answer Them (2024)
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