It is time!
Your interview will happen in the next few days. You have created a killer resume and cover letter for the same. And you are well-versed in your area of expertise to nail the technical round of the interview.
Looking for HR Companies? Check out Zensuggest’s list of the best HR Companies.
But are you prepared to face the HR manager of your dream company? You may be, or maybe not. HR interview questions can scare us to death, especially if you are a fresher.
The HR round is the last one in most companies and decides your future. Failing to answer the HR interview questions correctly can leave you unemployed for a long time, thus reducing your chances of getting a job. Take a look at the graph below.
If you are looking for the right ways to answer HR questions, we would like to offer a helping hand. You will find out how to answer the most commonly-asked questions and some bonus tips to help you throughout your career. We have also provided sample answers to some of the tricky questions.
Basic HR interview questions
The HR interview usually starts with questions related to your personality. Also, the basic interview questions offer insights into your passion for the job and future plans.
Most candidates feel that it is the hardest part of an HR interview. But it should not be that way if you have prepared well for the same. So let us check out some of the basic HR interview questions you may face soon:
1. Tell us something about yourself?
We talk about ourselves almost daily but get stuck when doing the same in an interview.
Understand that hiring managers are not looking for your whole life story or your high school achievements. Instead, they want to understand you as a person.
Here are some general points to structure your answer:
- Start with a brief introduction. Tell your name and how long you have been working in the profession.
- Be specific about what you love about your job.
- Speak about some of your top achievements relevant to the job position.
You can use the above points even when stating your answer in online interviews conducted by top HR consulting companies.
Hey! My name is A, and I have worked as a business analyst for the past 07 years in Company X and Company Y.
I have an academic background in data analysis and studied Information Systems at B University.
I led a project at Company X to migrate all operations data to a new data warehousing system. The new solution suited our business well and eventually led to savings of up to $300,000 annually.
2. Why did you apply for this position?
The interviewers ask this question to assess your passion for the position. It has a link to job satisfaction and ultimately improves job performance. The happier you are working at the company, the more productive you will be.
Your passion should be evident during the interview. You can communicate it through your body language and vocal tonality. HR managers who have interviewed hundreds of candidates can sense the vibes of passionate people.
Regarding the answer to this question, it should include two things:
- What motivated you to apply for this position? Be specific.
- How do you intend to contribute to the company through the particular job position?
Please do not copy the readymade answers available on the internet. Your interview answer should be as genuine as possible.
3. What are your biggest strengths?
You can answer this HR interview question in two ways. You could tell the hiring manager what your actual strengths are, or you can tell what the HR representative wants to hear. We suggest you go with the first answer.
Narrow your answer down to a maximum of three strengths. Pick 1 or 2 hard skills that will help you excel at the job and 1 or 2 soft skills.
If you are not sure of your top strengths, check out the table below to find out which one is perfect for your field:
(Analyst, Software Dev, etc.)
(Designer, Marketer, Advertiser, etc.)
(Waiter, Cashier, etc.)
(Sales, Customer Support, etc.)
Some strengths or skills will overlap between various fields. So pick the work strengths and back them up with a situation that shows how you used them to benefit you on the job.
My biggest strength is working under pressure and making the right decisions.
When I was an event manager at Company X, we organized an IT conference for a client. There were many last-minute hiccups. The catering company said they would be late for the lunch break. On top of that, 2 of our volunteers got sick and could not show up, leaving us understaffed.
I stepped in and organized another small presentation before the lunch break to compensate for the delay in serving lunch. Also, I convinced two of my close friends to serve as volunteers for the event. In the end, everything went well!
4. What is your biggest weakness?
Yes, this is always a tricky one!
It is easy to brag about your achievements. But mentioning your flaws to strangers (HR managers) is a tedious task.
The trick to answering this question is understanding that the interviewers never expect you to be perfect. Everyone has weaknesses and things to improve on.
When asking this question, the HR manager wants to learn:
- Your skillsets for the job.
- If you are self-aware of your flaws and ready to work on them.
And no, fake humble-brag weaknesses will not count as weaknesses. You cannot say that your biggest weakness is working too hard or that you are a perfectionist. You can get some honest advice from the following image:
Remember, your weakness should not get in the way of you doing your job. If possible, just balance it with a positive side effect and present it as two sides of the same coin.
5. What do you know about our organization?
Most candidates think that a quick search through the About Us section page of the company website is enough to answer the question. Well, it is not enough!
The more you know about the company, the better your chances of getting hired.
Imagine there are two equally competent candidates in any HR interview:
- One who does not care much about the company and only knows the basic stuff.
- Another candidate who follows the company blog and also understands the core values.
We do not need to tell you that HR managers prefer the second candidate. And how can you become that if you are not following a company for many years?
A rule of thumb is to Google the following about the company before the interview:
- The USPs of the products and services?
- Does the product or service have any impact on the end-users?
- What is the company’s work culture?
- The latest news about the company?
You can also expand your research beyond the above questions to find whatever you can.
6. Are you considering similar positions in other companies?
It is a tricky question. You should show some diplomacy when answering such HR round interview questions.
The interviewers usually ask you this question because they want to know whether they have competition when hiring you. They also want to understand if you are serious about the industry and the job role.
If you admit to interviewing with other companies, it might look like you are not a dedicated professional.
But if you say you are not looking for similar positions in other companies, it might provide an impression that you do not have other options. It gives the company an upper hand in salary negotiations.
The right way to answer the question is to find common ground between the two answers.
If you have interviews lined up with other companies, express that you are keeping your options open but favor this job more compared to the others. And if you do not have any other interviews, you can stick to the same approach.
Whatever you say, do not come across as being desperate for the job.
I had two interviews during the past week with companies X and Y.
However, I am very passionate about both your industry and company. So I am more inclined towards working with you.
7. Where do you see yourself in five years?
It is our favorite one on the list of HR interview questions and answers for freshers.
The motivation behind this question is for the interviewer to understand your ambitions and expectations for the career.
Please avoid the following unrealistic answers:
- I want to be in your seat!
- I want to be the CEO of the company.
We do not mean that you cannot rise to the higher ranks in five years. But the whole idea is to think logically about the next step after your current position.
Within the next 05 years, I see myself working as a Senior Business Consultant in your company. During this time, I want to accomplish the following:
- Help 10+ organizations improve their business.
- Create a professional network and develop a good rapport with my colleagues.
- Learn more about optimizing clients’ businesses and the essentials of operating a company.
8. Do you have any questions for us?
Every interviewer will ask you this question at the end of the interview. There is no correct answer to it, but there is a wrong answer:
“No questions. Thanks a lot for having me here!”
You can use this question to show your enthusiasm for the company. Imagine your appointment is confirmed, and you are starting tomorrow. So what would you like to know more about the organization? It is your opportunity to understand the ins and outs of the place.
The answers you get to your questions indicate the current work culture of the company to a great extent.
Here are some of the essential questions you can ask the hiring manager:
- How does a regular day in your company look?
- The best thing about working for the company?
- Biggest challenges for a person in my job role?
- What do you like best about working in the company?
- The most pressing issues and projects that need to be addressed by my team?
- Do you have training programs for employees?
- What sort of budget do you allocate for my department?
- The kind of opportunities do you have for personal growth and development?
- Performance expectations for someone in my position?
- Do you celebrate birthdays and retirements in the office?
- Do employees usually hang out with each other outside of work?
- Is there anything else I can help you with at this stage?
Situational HR interview questions
These questions help the interviewer get a better understanding of how you would solve problems in your job role. It also helps them assess your self-management and communication skills.
Check out some of the popular situational questions asked in an HR interview:
1. Why did you change your career path?
If you recently switched your career path, the interviewer will ask about it. But there is nothing wrong with it.
Many people go through a career change, and some do it several times in their lifetime!
If you are good at what you do, no one cares about your career changes.
Answer the question honestly. Explain how your old job was not your cup of team and how the current job is the best thing that ever happened to you.
I realized that being a doctor does not align with my interests. While I enjoyed my 03 years in medical school, I do not want to practice medicine throughout my life.
Also, I wanted to make money to support my family. So I dropped out of university and started taking e-learning courses in accounting. Today, I am pretty good at it. I have also done two internships in companies X and Y.
2. Why is there a gap in your work experience?
In most cases, a gap in your work experience is not a big deal. You may have a good reason for it. But every interviewer asks about it, and you should answer appropriately.
There is no secret sauce to answering this question. Convince the recruiter about the reason for the gap may be one of the following:
- Maternity leave
- Time off to pursue further education
- Relocating to a different city
- Personal issues
- Health issues
- Caring for a sick family member
Briefly explain the situation and move on. However, if you were laid off at work, or quit due to a professional reason, be very subtle yet honest about it. Avoid making up stories to get the job. Experienced HR professionals can catch a lie in the blink of an eye!
3. How do you feel about working weekends or late hours?
You can be asked this question in one of the following cases:
You are applying for a job that requires working odd hours.
Your answer should be pretty straightforward. You already know and accept that you will be working odd hours.
You are applying for a routine job.
Look at it as a red flag. Confirm if the employer is checking your dedication or if they are looking for someone who will work 24/7 with no overtime pay.
Ask them to clarify what they mean. If you are not satisfied with the answer, move on and look for better companies.
4. What would your first 30, 60, or 90 days look like in this role?
You may get this question if applying for a senior or leadership role.
Now, it is time to demonstrate your knowledge in your field and explain how you are on a mission to improve many things at the company. Take inspiration from the following quote:
Here is a general idea of how to answer the question.
You will get to know the company first and gather information on:
- What does the company do?
- Their key processes?
- Exactly what does your department do?
- What are the current problems and challenges?
- Where can you help?
You will take action based on the gathered information. Suggest a handful of initiatives for the company. Let us say you are a Digital Marketing Manager. You can:
- Analyze the company’s email marketing strategy and suggest tweaks.
- Help come up with better Ad copies for Facebook and Instagram marketing.
- Help the team with their ongoing marketing campaigns.
It is time to show the results of your actions! Make a presentation to show the various improvements in the company. They could be as follows:
- Online ads are performing better by 10-20%.
- Email marketing campaigns are streamlined and deliver higher Click-through Rates (CTRs).
5. Do you have any interests outside of work?
Consider this question a good sign! It means the hiring manager liked your professional background, and now they want to see if you are a good fit for the company culture.
You can talk about your hobbies and interests. It is a good idea to mention something relevant to your job. For example, you can speak of creative writing if applying for a copywriting job.
6. What do you think our company could do better?
It is a challenging HR interview question and a favorite one amongst tech companies.
The question shows a couple of things about you, such as
- Your passion for the job.
- Your research about the company.
- You are not afraid of giving feedback.
I went through your company website and found some technical bugs. It affects the UX to some extent. I think we should use the Agile methodology to fix such bugs permanently.
Behavioral HR interview questions
These questions focus on how you have performed in the past in a specific situation.
Such HR interview questions understand your thinking patterns and whether you can think quickly to solve a problem.
One of the best methods to answer behavioral questions is the STAR interview method. When you use it, your answer should consist of the following:
- Situation – Briefly describe the problem.
- Task – Describe what your challenge or responsibility was in the circumstances.
- Action – List and explain all the steps you took to solve the problem.
- Result – Explain the outcome.
We will discuss one of the most frequently-asked behavioral questions in this section.
Give an example of when you showed leadership qualities?
This question does not necessarily mean that you have held a managerial position in the past.
The interviewer wants to hear a situation when you took the initiative and achieved an outcome.
Do not worry if the outcome was unfavorable. Just tell what you learned from the experience and what you intend to improve on it further.
I was an entry-level marketer at company X, and my only responsibility was doing market research and reporting the data to my senior.
During a content marketing brainstorming session, I spoke about a marketing plan. It was about interviewing company clients who were very successful at using our software and creating case studies about their work. We would then include them in our email marketing strategy.
My Digital Marketing manager loved the idea and told me to lead the project. I completed the project within the deadline and achieved desirable results.
Summing it up
When answering HR interview questions, body language plays a crucial role. You may know the answers to all the interview questions, but saying them like a robot will not help you. The key is to work on your confidence and project it through your answers.
We will conclude this article with some tips for your upcoming interview and career. Check out the below image: