So you’ve been in HR for a few years now, and you’re eager to move to the next level. It’s no wonder — with 25,000+ jobs available and a median salary of over $78,000 — HR Manager is a highly desirable position (enough to have become one of the Best Jobs in America).
But of course, before you can enjoy the perks that come with the position, you need to actually get the job. As an HR expert yourself, you already know that the best way to do that is to brush up on your interview skills. It’s always a good idea to prepare for the most common interview questions — but if you want to really wow the hiring team, you’ll need to go a step further and research interview questions that specifically speak to the role you’re applying for.
Check out these common interview questions for HR Managers that we’ve rounded up — as well as tips on how to answer them.
Many people lean towards one management style in particular, and it’s perfectly fine to share that. But remember that as you move to a new company with a new culture and people to boot, what’s worked for you in the past won’t necessarily be the right choice. As one interview candidate notes, “one has to adjust to each individual, and also adjust to the team as [a whole].” Describing your own personal management style while also indicating an openness to flexibility is key here.
Increasingly, HR isn’t just about administering benefits or settling employee disputes — it’s about driving business results through effective people management. To wow your interviewer(s), discuss the core initiatives you’d implement at the prospective company, how you would measure success and how the initiatives would impact the bottom line.
Everyone has parts of their job they aren’t crazy about. However, it’s important to avoid coming across as overly negative or unwilling. If you don’t like recruiting for example, you shouldn't say “I hate recruiting” and leave it at that. Instead, you might want to say something more along the lines of “Recruiting isn’t my passion, but I know what an important role it plays to a company’s success so I don’t mind taking it on as one of my responsibilities.”
This question is important on a couple of fronts: For one, it allows you to describe what you personally need in order to do your job successfully, which is important in determining whether or not the company you’re interviewing with is the right fit. In addition, though, it’s also a good starting point for you to talk about how you would shape the workplace and company culture if given the job.
In the HR field, you often have to make tough calls. One of those, unfortunately, is job eliminations, whether through layoffs or firing. That probably shouldn’t be the first move you make (a performance improvement plan, for example, can be just what you need to bring an underperforming employee up to snuff). But when that doesn’t work out, or an employee does something particularly egregious, there comes a point when you need to let an employee go for the good of the company — and it’s important to communicate to your potential employer that you understand that.
This question is frequently asked in interviews regardless of the role, but as a soon-to-be HR Manager, it’s especially important to demonstrate effective conflict resolution. Nail this question by describing the specific action you took to overcome a difficult situation, how you showed level-headedness and what the results were.
Establishing and enforcing policies and processes is a key component of HR, but that doesn’t mean they should be set in stone. In answering this question, you’ll want to talk about how and why deviating from the norm was the right decision, and how that impacted policies moving forward.
It’s not always easy to stand up for the right thing, but if you’re in HR, it’s expected of you. You can’t answer this question simply by commenting on unethical practices that you’ve witnessed — you need to talk about a time when you saw something going wrong and took concrete action against it. If you don’t have a relevant, first-hand experience to share, make sure to brainstorm a hypothetical scenario beforehand and think of how you would remedy the situation.
This is another good opportunity for you to show off the ideas you have for the company you’re interviewing with. Ask questions that demonstrate an understanding of the type of candidates they need and their current pain points. If the company strives to become more data-driven, for example, you may want to ask what experience the candidate has with reporting and analytics. Still drawing blanks? Try asking one of these oddball questions for a response recruiters won’t soon forget — just make sure to justify why you think it’s valuable!
If you’ve been in HR long enough, you likely have your own thoughts on where the industry is heading. However, it never hurts to show that you keep up with the latest industry research and findings. Cite information from your favorite HR newsletters, trade magazines or conferences. A few trends that are supposed to be particularly important in 2020: artificial intelligence, transparency and diversity & inclusion, says Glassdoor Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain.