Top 35 HR Interview Questions (Example Answers Included)

By Mike Simpson

Ah, HR interview questions. You may think that, if anyone should have the interview process down, it’s human resources professionals. Sure, they may have more exposure than anyone else. After all, interviewing is a common part of the human resources job description. However, that doesn’t mean HR professionals should spend time preparing.

Even the most skilled HR pro can stumble during an interview. Plus, not all human resources employees conduct interviews. Some focus on personnel management, benefits administration, training, payroll, policy creation, and much more. It’s a diverse field, encompassing all things “people” in the workplace.

As with all hiring manager meetings, nailing your HR answers during your interview is essential if you want the job. That way, you can impress the hiring manager, increasing your odds of getting an offer. If you want to make sure that you shine, here’s what you need to know to handle those HR questions.

How to Answer HR Interview Questions

Alright, we know you’re here for the human resources interview questions, and we swear we’ve got those coming. The thing is, you need to take a step back for a moment. After all, examples only go so far. If you don’t have a great strategy for tackling HR questions and answers, you might have a harder time during your interview than you’d expect.

As an HR professional, you’re in a unique position. There’s a decent chance you’ve done at least a bit of interviewing yourself or at least have a good grasp on interviewing best practices.

But that doesn’t mean HR interview questions can’t be tricky. Plus, you may have less leeway when it comes to mistakes.

Why?

Well, because, theoretically, you should know exactly what’s coming.

Luckily, since you’re here, you can prepare to face off against those human resources interview questions. With the right technique – which we’re about to share – you can navigate traditional questions and even handle the unexpected. So, let’s dig into that.

First, research is your ally. Take a deep dive into that HR job description to see precisely what the hiring manager wants to find. This is incredibly important. After all, there are multiple levels of HR professional (often ranging from HR assistant to HR manager, not to mention the C-suite jobs), and you need to make sure you’re ready for questions that align with the exact role.

But you don’t want to stop there. No, sirree. Instead, take a trip to the company’s website and track down the mission and values statements. These are great for gleaning details about the organization’s priorities and culture. Plus, if you may be able to reference these tidbits during the interview, a move that’s sure to impress.

After that, the company’s social media pages are good destinations. Again, you’ll learn about its culture, but you can also discover details about recent achievements, which is cool.

Alright, now that your research is done, it’s on to step two. Spend some time reviewing general job interview questions. Certain questions are practically universal, like, “What are you most proud of?” and “How do you handle stress?” So, make sure you work on those kinds of questions first.

But how do you handle those, particularly those dastardly behavioral interview questions? Well, with the right strategy, of course. Begin with a healthy dose of the STAR Method. Mix in a good helping of Tailoring Method, and you’ll be in really good shape. Your answers will be compelling and relevant, which is really what it’s all about.

When you’ve got your strategy down, it’s time for the final stage: practicing your HR interview questions. So, let’s get to it.

Top 3 HR Interview Questions

To say that there are a ton of HR professionals around is an understatement. Overall, there are about 165,200 HR manager jobs alone. That’s just management. Add that to the 666,500 HR specialists, and you’re still only scratching the surface.

Why does that matter? Well, it matters because it shows how much competition you may face to land a position. That’s why using a great strategy to answer your HR interview questions is so important. Standing out from the pack is a must, and great HR answers is a way to do it.

So, to help you craft stellar responses, here’s a look at the top three human resources interview questions and answers.

1. How would you handle it if an applicant tricked the ATS screening process to let them through, such as by listing keywords in white text in a resume footer?

Alright, this one is a doozy for anyone working in the world of recruitment. The truth is, there are ways that candidates can trick an ATS into seeing them as qualified for the role, even if they may not be. In fact, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of articles online telling them how to beat the ATS, some of which are very unscrupulous.

Usually, job seekers use these methods hoping that, if a hiring manager actually reads their application, they’ll get a shot anyway. If you’re working in recruitment, then you may be the first one who even sees their resume, leaving what comes next in your hands.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“If I saw a resume come through that didn’t seem like a match at a glance, the first thing I would do is take a closer look. My goal would be to determine whether there was any dishonesty or if the applicant employed a mechanism – like the white text example you provided – to force their way through the initial screening.

Most ATS systems can highlight the screening keywords on the application, so I would use that tool as a first step. That way, I could quickly determine if the candidate may have manipulated the system. However, if that wasn’t available, then I would access the document and change all of the text to a readable color, allowing any previously hidden text to be revealed.

If it did turn out that the candidate used the trick, then I would follow company policy regarding dishonesty in applications. Often, this would disqualify them from further consideration.”

2. Which emerging trends will have the biggest impact on HR moving forward?

As with all industries, change in the world of HR is common. Hiring managers want to know that you take extra steps to remain current, particularly when it comes to trends that will be incredibly impactful. This question helps them figure out if you’re in the know, as well as how you view potential upcoming changes.

MIKE'S TIP: When you prepare an answer, which trends you choose is less relevant than your ability to explain why you think they matter. Of course, the points you make need to be relevant today. Looking back at trends that are long-standing may not be ideal. However, if they are still making waves or are continuing to evolve, they may be worth using.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“When it comes to emerging trends, I think one of the biggest is the transition to remote hiring. COVID-19 fundamentally altered the landscape, leaving companies scrambling to adapt initially.

However, as time has passed, solutions are becoming more refined. Over the next few years, I anticipate some significant advances that will ease remote hiring, allowing it to become a smooth and reliable standard process instead of what it often is today.

Additionally, I believe that artificial intelligence will enhance candidate screening. For instance, many existing ATS solutions lack the ability to search for matching resumes beyond the keywords they are given. With AI, the ATS may be able to extrapolate or make connections that it can’t do today. For example, they may be able to determine the meaning of acronyms based on contextual information, letting the system find matches it would have previously missed.”

3. What qualities are most critical for HR professionals?

Here’s a fairly trick HR question, mainly because there isn’t technically a right or wrong answer. It’s also unique in that it lets the hiring manager learn more about your traits, preferences, and personality, albeit a bit indirectly.

Usually, a combination approach is necessary. You might want to include a few traits that were listed in the job ad, creating a sense of alignment. However, you can also go further, including personal insights about what qualities have helped you thrive.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“When it comes to critical qualities, I think strong ethics and trustworthiness one certainly two of the biggest. HR professionals are privy to a lot of personal information and often have to navigate complex situations while following all regulations and remaining compliant. Strong ethics make sure you have a guiding light, making it easier to act appropriately. Trustworthiness ensures that what should remain private does.

However, it’s also important to factor in impartiality and objectiveness. An HR professional can’t let their personal opinions cloud their judgment. It’s crucial that they remain neutral, particularly when moderating disputes or executing certain employee actions. That way, facts always guide decision making.”

32 More HR Interview Questions

Here are 32 more HR interview questions you might encounter:

    1. Why did you decide to become a human resources professional?
    2. What do you enjoy most about working in human resources? What do you enjoy least?
    3. What is your experience with policy creation and enforcement?
    4. Do you believe that onboarding is crucial for employee success? Why or why not?
    5. Have you ever witnesses something unethical in the workplace? If so, what did you do?
    6. How do you feel about job elimination? Do you have experience with layoffs or terminations?
    7. Has there ever been a time where you had to deviate from company policy to handle a personnel issue? Why did you choose not to follow the policy?
    8. What is your go-to question when conducting interviews to gauge a candidate’s personality or traits?
    9. If you discovered, after a new employee was hired, that there was inaccurate information on their application, what would you do?
    10. Which emerging trends will have the biggest impact on HR moving forward?
    11. Tell me about your experience with remote hiring processes.
    12. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced while working in human resources? How did you overcome it?
    13. Do you subscribe to any professional publications or belong to any professional groups?
    14. Do you currently hold any certifications, such as the PHR or SHRM-CP?
    15. Tell me about a time when you had to put your conflict resolution skills to work to settle a dispute between two employees. What about a dispute between a manager and an employee?
    16. Can you describe a time when you and a colleague didn’t agree on a course of action? How did you resolve the resulting conflict?
    17. Have you ever disagreed with a company policy? If so, what did you do, and why?
    18. The workplace is brimming with people whose communication styles may differ from yours. How do you adapt your approach to ensure critical information is conveyed and well understood?
    19. If a manager is dealing with a difficult employee, how would you proceed? For example, what advice would you give them? What steps would you personally take to help resolve the issue?
    20. Tell me about a time when you had to fire someone, and it didn’t go well. What happened? Is there anything you could have done differently to make the process smoother?
    21. How do you measure success in HR?
    22. If an employee came to you with a serious complaint about their manager, what would you do?
    23. Why do you want to work for our company?
    24. What strategies have you used to boost retention during your career?
    25. In your opinion, how valuable is a strong company culture in the world of hiring and recruitment?
    26. If a company is struggling with retention but can’t offer salary increases due to budget constraints, what recommendations would you have for improving the situation?
    27. What are your views on diversity initiatives? Do you think they are effective?
    28. When you need to find candidates for a hard-to-fill position, what resources do you use to locate them?
    29. What are the keys to a great candidate experience?
    30. What ATS, HRMS, HRIS, and other software solutions are you familiar with?
    31. Which HR niche do you have the most experience with?
    32. How do you stay on top of changes in employment law?

5 Good Questions to Ask at the End of an HR Interview

As your interview draws to a close, there’s a good shot that you’ll have a chance to ask some questions yourself. You need to make sure you have something to ask. By choosing intelligent, thoughtful questions, you showcase your interest in the role and come across as engaged, both of which can help you land the job.

If you aren’t sure what you should ask after you’ve given your HR answers during the interview, here are a few questions to ask HR interviewers before your meeting ends.

    1. What is the biggest HR challenge that the company is facing today?
    2. How would you describe the company’s culture?
    3. What does a typical day in this HR role look like? What about the most challenging one?
    4. Does the company provide continuing education opportunities to its HR staff?
    5. Which HR technologies does the company use?

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, shining during your interview can make a world of difference. Use the HR interview questions and answers, as well as the other helpful tips, to make sure you stand out from the crowd. That way, you can increase your odds of landing your perfect position, ensuring your HR career gets (and stays) on track.

And as always, good luck!

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About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.