interview advise for Permanent Human Resources jobs

Before you attend the interview for your prospective HR job, it's essential that you read through all the interview preparation information available to you, and ensure that you’re fully prepared for your interview. In the current marketplace, employers can afford to be increasingly particular about who they employ, so preparation is as important as personality or skill set.

Never speak negatively about a previous boss/colleague/company, always turn any negatives about your current/previous role into a positive, i.e. “I’d like to move to a bigger company as my previous company was quite small, however, this did mean that I had maximum exposure to all aspects of the business.”

It is extremely important that you know your CV inside out. You could be quizzed in detail on any aspect of your previous work history, education, experience or systems skills. Be prepared to discuss and provide lots of examples to back up your experience. 

We've split our interview advice into 5 sections:
1. General competency questions relevant for any role
2. Competency questions specific for any HR position
3. Competency questions relevant for managerial HR roles
4. Questions you can ask the interviewer
5. Research that you should always do before any interview.

general competency questions you may be asked:

These questions can come up in any interview, across all industries, and for all levels of seniority. 
• Describe the last time you were under pressure. What did you do to keep the level of stress manageable?
• Why are you interested in working in this industry and what do you know about it?
• What skills have you acquired, either through your work experience or extracurricular activities that may be appropriate to this role?
• In your previous position, when have you had to make a really difficult decision? How did you arrive at that decision and what was the outcome?
• What are some of the career objectives that you’ve set yourself and how will you make sure that you achieve them?
• What do you feel you can contribute to this company?
• Tell me about a large project that you’ve initiated.
• Give an example of when you’ve had to manage your own projects?
• What are your team-player qualities? Give examples.
• How has your education and work experience prepared you for this position?
• Give me a recent example of when you’ve failed to meet a target. (Remember to counterbalance a negative with a positive.)
• What would your supervisor say your strongest points are? What would he/she say are your weaknesses? (Again, counterbalance a negative with a positive.)
• What are your reasons for leaving your last/present job? (Never be negative about a previous employer).
• Where do you see yourself in 2 years time and how do you plan to achieve this?

competency questions you may be asked when interviewing for HR roles:

• Has there ever been a time when you’ve had to give bad news to a close work colleague, either about a redundancy, a disciplinary etc?
• It’s important that you’re up to date with all legislation, what do you know about the Agency Workers Regulations?
• What is the reason for grievance procedures and tell us about your experience in handling grievances?
• Describe a situation where you were required to gather a large amount of data, to analyse it objectively and to make a decision based on the results.
• What is your experience of working with lots of connected departments and suggesting change within these?
• Why have you chosen this particular profession and why do you think you’re best suited to it?
• Describe how you have had to change the way you normally work in response to changes in the industry.
• Tell me about a time when you’ve had to change your point of view or your plans to take into account new information or changing priorities.
• If you were hiring a person for this role, what would you look for?
• Are you willing to put the interest of the organisation ahead of your own?
• Tell me about a time when an equality or diversity policy was being ignored internally. What did you do?
• Give an example of when you’ve disagreed with your line supervisor on a solution to a problem and explain how you approached the situation?
• What areas within the HR arena have you been responsible for?
• Are you familiar with HR databases? If so, which ones and how extensively have you used them?
• Are you used to working closely with lots of members of staff?  
• How do you interact with others in the HR team? How would your colleagues describe your work ethic?
• What experience do you have of organisational change?
• How would you manage the differing agendas of the business to provide the most commercial outcome led by HR?
• Where do you feel that your key HR skills lie and how have these enabled you to develop personally and professionally?

competency questions you may be asked when interviewing for supervisory/managerial HR roles:

• Describe your management style.
• How would previous members of your team describe you?
• Part of this role will involve setting challenging and measurable goals/targets for the HR team. How would you do this?
• As an HR manager, how would you ensure that you represent our company in the most positive light when dealing with external bodies?
• As a head of human resources, you will be expected to foster a climate of continuous process improvement. How will you achieve this?
• How do you manage change and how can you communicate this to others? 
• What is the most demanding client group you have managed? How did you develop these relationships?
• How have you developed previous teams, perhaps supporting them through CIPD studies?
• Tell me about the last person you coached and how you helped improve their skills or job performance.
• Describe the last thing you did to improve performance and/or productivity on your team.
• Give an example of a time when you recognised that a member of your team was performing below the required standard. What did you do?

company preparation:

Before your interview please ensure that you have fully researched the company with whom you’re interviewing. The key points below are some areas where you should be knowledgeable:
• Who are they and what do they do?
• What is their mission statement?
• Have they won any awards recently?
• Research any recent press releases.
• What are industry commentators writing about them online?
• How do they describe their company culture?
• If they have other offices globally, where are they located?

questions you can ask the interviewer:
Sometimes at the end of an interview, your prospective employer may ask you if you have any questions. Here are a few that might be appropriate:
• What are the company’s short and long-term goals?
• What do you like most about working for this company?
• Do you have any particular reservations about my application for this position?
• Ask the interviewer what their background is. Remember, people love talking about themselves.

Good Luck!