Human Resource (HR) Interview Preparation Guide
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Human Resource Manager must be good at LISTENING when interviewing people for jobs, and also at WRITING reports. They need to be able to ANALYSE the requirements for a particular job (rather like this!) and to MAKE DECISIONS on who to invite for interview. This section will guide both HR Applying Job and HR Interviewing people. You also need the ability to work under PRESSURE and to deadlines, and NEGOTIATING and PERSUADING SKILLS we will guide you here how to do this.

151 Human Resource (HR) Questions and Answers:

1 :: How did you prepare for this HR interview?

To some extent the medium is the message. If you can't produce a high quality application form or CV how can you expect to judge quality in the application forms of others as a personnel manager?

Also, in your preparations for the interview they will look for evidence of organization and planning: that you have researched the organization and the job, that you have prepared answers to obvious questions and prepared questions to ask and that you have re-read your application form

Read 'People Management', the Institute of Personnel and Development journal, to become aware of current issues in the personnel field.

2 :: What attracts you to personnel management?

Don't talk about 'helping people' or 'working with people' - common misconceptions or cliches about personnel work. 'Helping people' may be part of the work but you are not paid to be a social worker and may also need to carry out actions that are not helpful to people, such as making them redundant. Most jobs will involve 'working with people' in some way - personnel is not unique in this, and can also involve a good deal of administration

The new name for personnel, 'Human Resource Management', is also a more accurate definition of the work - you are managing a resource just like any other - money, products etc. Even though most organizations will state that 'people are our most important resource', people are still managed for the ultimate benefit of the organization.

Answers should show that you have done your research and know what personnel is about - for example, collective bargaining, hiring, training, developing staff, payroll issues.

3 :: We have received hundreds of applications for personnel - why should we choose you?

Personnel is very competitive to enter, so you have to sell yourself effectively at interview. Your answer might include evidence for key skills - organizing, communication, computer skills etc.

You might also show a proactive approach - that you understand that personnel can be an important tool to give a company an edge over its competitors - for example by better training of staff.

You should also declare that you very much want the job and are prepared to throw yourself fully into it. Enthusiasm and commitment are important factors in work. If you can get them across at interview you will certainly appeal more than the many other applicants who did not.

Any relevant experience can also be used here. If you have held a vacation job or indeed had other full-time work experience in which you dealt with employee issues such as training, recruitment, dismissal or promotion now is the time to bring it up

4 :: How is your course relevant to HR?

If you have a business studies or an industrial relations degree then the answer is simple. Other degrees such as psychology may have given you an insight into human behavior but you also need to show an interest in the management side of the job.

If you have done a non-relevant degree don't worry. Many companies will take any degree subject for personnel. You need to emphasize relevant transferable skills - personnel departments will have extensive databases so any computer skills you have can be mentioned here.

You could also mention that you have developed verbal communication skills in seminars, written communication in essays, analytical and research skills in almost any aspect of your course and organizing and planning skills developed in projects. The fact that you have studied effectively and to a high level can suggest you would be a good employee and willing to work hard.

5 :: Tell me about your work experience of Human Resource?

Although the ideal answer here would include paid or unpaid experience in a personnel department, many other jobs will have relevance. Do try to spend a day with a personnel manager or at least to discuss the job with them before your interview. In such a competitive field this may give you an important edge over other applicants.

Almost any job will give you an insight into the things that make a workforce happy and efficient. Even being a packer in a factory will give you an insight into what motivates the most poorly paid workers - tell them how satisfied they were and what changes could be made to improve efficiency. Recounting your own experience of Human Resources may also be helpful. Knowledge and examples of any of the following would be appropriate:

* Interviews
* Making applications
* Selection Centers
* Training courses
* Pay review
* Appraisal
* Promotion.

6 :: How can we become more efficient HR Manager?

This question is checking whether you have done your research and also to see if you can think on your feet. It's also seeing if you have made the crucial link between the work of the human resource department and the effectiveness of the workforce. This is where your research into personnel issues will pay off: you might talk about better training of staff; the merits and demerits of appraisal schemes; performance related pay; change management, etc.

You will not be expected to solve any efficiency problems they are currently experiencing. Neither will they be expecting you to come up with some kind of correct answer. They will be more interested in the way you list the different issues regarding efficiency and whether you feel there are typical areas of, for example, recruitment inefficiency which can be addressed.

7 :: What do you think of trade unions?

Here they will not be looking for any ideological stance but some sort of balanced viewpoint. It again demonstrates that you have done your research and can think on your feet.

You could, for example, outline ways in which unions can be useful partners to management; alternative ways of giving employees a voice and situations in which unions can hinder management actions. You might take into account the level of unionisation in the organisation to which you are applying and any recent industrial relations problems it may have experienced. Similar questions that have been asked include:

* "What is your opinion on performance-related pay?"
* "What motivates a workforce?"
* "Is industrial action a bad thing?"
* "Is it practical to work in personnel and be a member of a trade union?"
* "Should all employees join a trade union?"
* "Should trade union activities be considered when recruiting managers?".

8 :: Your manager has decided he can no longer afford graduate recruitment - how would you convince him otherwise?

Again a question to see if you can think on your feet as It's unlikely you would have prepared an answer beforehand. It's also a question that every graduate should know something about - and therefore have an opinion.

As with all such questions there's no one answer - just try to say a few sensible things based on logic. Think what reasons might have influenced the manager's decision and try and counter them. In this case, you might draw up a comparison between the costs of recruiting experienced staff v. running a graduate training scheme. Similar question that have been asked include:

"What do you think of our graduate recruitment brochure?"
"What are our organization's strengths and weaknesses?"
"Your manager needs to sack ten people. How would you choose which ten?"
"If you were a manager and there were complaints about the way your staff dealt with customers, how would you resolve this?"

9 :: Describe a situation where you were in conflict with others. How did you resolve this?

Here they want evidence that you have key skills required in the job - in this case assertiveness and negotiating skills which are important in collective bargaining.

Similar questions include:

"Give an example of when you ... motivated people/overcame a problem/challenged an established procedure/initiated something/had to change your plans at short notice".

Outline the SITUATION, the ACTION that you took and the RESULT achieved. This will help structure your answer.

Make sure that you have examples of key skills prepared beforehand - from school, university, sports, travel and vac. work. Diplomacy is important as HR managers often have an advisory capacity to line managers but with little power of their own so have to be tactful and persuasive to get their way. You can admit to problems arising through tactlessness or misunderstanding provided that you were able to resolve them successfully and can show that you learnt from the experience.

10 :: Have you any questions about Human Resource (HR)?

The best questions to ask are those that you really would like to know the answer to, rather than those you can find in books on interview skills. If you research the company well enough, you will find a number of questions naturally arising that you wish to be answered.

You should, though, concentrate on questions that show your interest in, and motivation to do, the job itself, rather than the rewards it will bring. So, for example, you should ask about training and career progression in preference to pay and pensions!

Other questions could include:

*"What is the company's annual staff turnover?"
*"Where would I fit into the organization?"
*"What is the line management structure?"
*"What do staff enjoy most about working for the company?"
*"What does the induction program consist of?"
*"How long have the present staff been employed by the firm?"
*"Is there a planned career development path?"