Answering Human Resource Job Interview Questions

Searching for a job can be a full time job in itself. Networking, scouring the help wanted ads, and filling out applications can sometimes seem like more effort than it's worth, especially when contemplating how to answer interview questions. But don't give up -- you never know when you'll get a call from the human resources department of a wonderful company asking to schedule a face-to-face interview. 

When that call does come, you can delight in the idea that you are only one step away from your dream job. So shine your shoes and start giving some thought to the best way to answer the interviewer's questions! 

Here are a few job interview tips to learn how to answer human resource job interview questions:

  • Be honest. You are giving the interviewer their very first impression of you. Be sure that you present yourself as honest, trustworthy, and forthcoming when answering questions.
  • Display a positive attitude. Everyone prefers to work with upbeat people; no matter what the questions are, try to answer them in an optimistic, upbeat and enthusiastic way.
  • Highlight your skills and abilities at every opportunity. If you have previously worked in the same job field, emphasize your advancements and achievements. If you haven’t, be sure to relate the skills you do have to the job for which you are applying. Give examples of any successes you may have had at other jobs that might be similar.
  • Point out your education and training if it is applicable. If you have attended conferences, seminars or other job-related professional development or training sessions, be sure to mention what you have gained from those experiences.
  • Give credit to others when appropriate. If your last employer or manager was a great motivator or made the work environment comfortable and productive, mention it. Speaking well of others can reflect well on you during an process.
  • Job interview with HR repNever point out the shortcomings of others. Avoid talking about any personal issues you may have had with past employment situations, managers, bosses, or coworkers when being asked interview questions, because the interviewer will assume that you may have these same issues with coworkers or managers at a new company over time.
  • Highlight particular life events that have given you skills that might apply to this position. For example, volunteering in the past may have increased your ability to communicate well with a variety of people and/or developed your time management skills. This can apply likewise even to those who have extensive job experience.
  • Be open and friendly, but not too chatty! Directly answer the questions, but do so in a calm, friendly and complete manner.
  • Prepare ahead and ask questions. Most interviewers will ask if you have any questions for them, so it is best to prepare these ahead of time as best you can. Ask what type of potential growth or advancement exists for the person who will be hired. You can even ask why the prior employee, if there was one, left the position. These types of questions let the interviewer know that you are interested. Present yourself as though you've done your homework about the company's history (You have, haven't you?!) and that you hope to play a part in its continued growth and success.
  • Focus the interview on what you can offer the company, not on your limitations. You may have limitations as to what you can offer the new company. These are best avoided during the interview. For example, it is best to avoid a discussion about needing to leave the office promptly at 5:00 every day due to your daycare situation. Wait until you are actually offered the job before bringing these types of issues up. Your initial interview is not the time to approach these types of subjects!

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Interview Questions

In this competitive market, you should be well prepared to answer some typical interview questions. They might include:

1) Tell me something about yourself.
2) Why do you want to work for our company?
3) What interests you about the position for which you are applying?
4) What are some of your strengths?
5) What are some of your weaknesses?
6) Have you ever had conflict with someone at a job? How did you resolve it?
7) Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
8) Why did you leave your last place of employment?
9) How would a co-worker describe you?
10) What do you think you can contribute to this company?
11) Do you work better alone or as a team?
12) Do you have any questions for us?

Remember that you are interviewing them as well. Always have some questions for your prospective employer. Questions you might ask may include:

1) What types of opportunities for advancement exist within your company?

2) Do you provide staff training and development? If so, ask for specific examples.

3) Why did the person who had this position leave? (Ask this if it is not a newly created position.)
4) Are there regular performance reviews for employees?

Avoid asking questions about salary, vacation time, benefits, the 401k plan, and how many holidays you get until you have been narrowed down as a finalist for the position or have been offered the job directly. Do your homework and be sure you are clear about the salary that you are able to accept.

You may even try interviewing for a few jobs that you don't really want so that you get comfortable with the actual interview process. Then, when the perfect job comes along, you will be calm, cool, and collected during your interview. As the saying goes... practice makes perfect!

With this advice on how to prepare for a job interview, you will be on your way to landing quality employment. All it takes is some of your time to think through the best answers to interview questions and that, along with a top-notch, error-free application and maybe even a few continuing education courses under your belt, will have a paycheck deposited in your bank account in no time at all.


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