10 Essential Human Resources Interview Questions and Answers
Preparing for a human resources interview can be daunting. Wouldn’t it be great if you had an idea of what questions the interviewer would ask you?
To help you prepare for your interview, we’ve compiled the human resources interview questions below so that you can review in advance and walk into your interview confident and ready to get the job!
Table of Contents:
- Why are you interested in a human resources role?
- What interpersonal skills are important in this role?
- What do you think the biggest challenges of this role are?
- What HR systems are you familiar with?
- Tell me about a time when you were overwhelmed by your workload and how you overcame it.
- What is your biggest strength?
- Tell me about a time when you coached someone.
- Can you tell me about a time when you had to convince a colleague that your idea was a good one?
- How do you stay up-to-date on country-specific labor laws and HR regulations?
- Why should we hire you for this position?
The field of human resources is vast. This is a question to determine if you’ve thought about the different options in HR and understand why this role is of interest to you. Answer this question by explaining the key reasons you want to work in HR as well as why you’re a good match for the role:
“Human resources is about supporting employees and businesses in an enterprise. I like to be at the heart of the enterprise in this way. Looking at the different corporate functions in an enterprise, I feel that an HR role is the best starting place for me to learn.”
In human resources, you’ll work with company leaders, peers, and team members as well as third parties. Excellent communication skills, the ability to express your opinions diplomatically, and patience are key skills in this role.
You might answer something like this:
“As an HR professional, I would demonstrate that I’m a team player and work in line with my business leaders by communicating effectively at all levels. I would strive to remain informed within my field of expertise to advise the company leaders effectively.”
Your answer to this question should show your interviewer that you understand some of the challenges of the specific role you’re applying for. A solid STAR answer should include some examples of situations you could face in this position:
“As an HR professional, I would deal with employees on all levels and in situations that may be unpleasant, like firing employees or having to take disciplinary action. These situations are challenging for both the employee, the manager, and the HR professional, but they’re part of the job.”
You may never have worked with HR systems before or have little knowledge of what exists on the market. All HR departments use a system to track employee data and pull statistics. Do some research on what types of systems exist. If you have never used one, be honest. A solid answer to this question would be, for example:
“I imagine that to track employee data efficiently, every HR department uses a database of some type. I haven’t had the opportunity to use any of these systems so far. I look forward to learning about how they make an HR department more efficient.”
This question is about using your time effectively. In a human resources role, there will be times when you’re extremely busy in meetings, demanded by many people, and still have daily work to accomplish.
Explain how you prioritize these things:
“In my first year of college, I was still learning the ropes, the campus, and making friends. I had mandatory lectures and many voluntary ones that I chose not to attend as I didn’t have time. By the end of the first month, I was behind on my work because I couldn’t manage all the newness and was not working well alone. I started going to the voluntary lectures to ensure that I used that time to learn and focus on what was important. I saved my social life for weekends only. This helped me get my priorities straight.”
This is a simple but important question. Be honest. The interviewer wants to see if you can answer this spontaneously and honestly. The answer to "what is your biggest strength?" can be simple and not too wordy:
“My biggest strength is diplomacy. In my junior year, I took a class in negotiation that helped me enhance my skills of getting different groups to work together, a skill that I got a lot of practice with in my role as coordinator of Greek life at my college.”
Coaching is something that every HR professional will have to do in any specialty within human resources. At the heart of corporate support, employees tend to come to an HR professional they feel comfortable with and ask for advice and support. In your answer, be sure to explain the “EAR”—Event, Action, and Result—so that you answer this behavioral question completely.
“I worked in a team of five at a help desk as a student. Two of my team members really didn’t get along, and they argued regularly. After one of them came close to being fired for being too vocal, she came to ask my advice. We sat down and talked about the “why” of the arguing. It turned out she was upset that the other team member seemed to pass all the difficult assignments to her. When I talked to the other team member, he explained that it was because he didn’t feel confident in his ability to handle those help requests but knew she could. By getting them to talk, I was able to help turn a negative situation into a coaching opportunity and things greatly improved after that.”
In answering this question, you want to highlight your ability to influence others. Choose an example where your decision was clearly correct based on facts:
"As a student, I worked in a coffee shop. The tables were so numerous, we often mixed up clients’ orders, and there were many unhappy clients as a result. I suggested we number the tables and create a rank of tables per waitress. One of my colleagues with the biggest area disagreed as this meant she had more tables to wait on than in my smaller corner area. I argued that with this system we would be more efficient, and the number of tables per waitress was irrelevant. To show my good faith, I swapped areas with her to prove it would work more efficiently.”
This question is important for the interviewer as it demonstrates that you're proactive in staying up-to-date with your HR function, which has many legal responsibilities. Your answer could include reference to industry publications, news, and conferences or events:
“As an HR professional, I’m obliged to stay up-to-date with the country labor laws. I use online media and a subscription to an HR magazine to stay current. In addition, I attend a conference once a year for HR professionals to network and update my knowledge of legal matters.”
This is a “closing” question—your final pitch on why you’re perfect for the role and the company. Don’t hold back. Tell the interviewer about any skills and experience that make you special (per the requirements of the job description), but also talk about why you fit into the company culture and what motivates you to be a part of it.
Set yourself apart with an answer like this:
“As an HR professional for your company, I believe I would bring energy and motivation to make a difference within the HR team. I’m keen to learn additional skills and use my existing experience to make HR the partner that management requires to ensure the smooth running of the company. In addition, I believe that your company values of being self-driven and in the same boat adhere very well with my own values as an individual. I’m looking for a long-term commitment which is also in line with the company values.”
By preparing your answers to these 10 human resources questions in advance, you’ll be able to answer with confidence and impress your interviewer. It may sound silly, but don’t forget to practice! Give the questions a run-through with a family member or friend, or even in front of the mirror. It will make a big difference during your real interview.