10 HR Interview Questions and How to Answer Them (2024)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

To prepare for an upcoming human resources interview, review these sample interview questions.

10 HR Interview Questions and How to Answer Them (1)

Acing a human resources (HR) job interview takes preparation. In addition to researching the company and polishing your resume, studying interview questions and preparing potential responses can set you up for success in landing your next job. Hiring managers use interviews to learn about your personality, qualifications, skills, and how you think in different situations.

You'll likely face a variety of questions. Some may be standard HR interview questions, while others will be specific to the job you're applying for.

Continue reading to familiarize yourself with common interview questions and sample answers.

10 HR interview questions

Let’s explore some HR interview questions, the thinking behind them, advice on how to respond, and some sample answers.

1. Tell me about yourself.

This is often the first question asked in an interview. The employer wants to know what experience you've had, your career path, and what skills you can bring to the organization.

Consider the employer’s needs and how your skills meet them. Prepare a brief answer summarizing your experience, qualifications, and ambitions for the future. Keep your response short (no more than two minutes), and relate it to the job description.

Read more: 10 Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

2. What is your understanding of the role of a human resources department?

This is asking what you know about HR as a professional field. For entry-level positions, interviewers often ask this to check that you understand what the job entails. This can also be a more senior-level question, where the interviewer wants to understand your approach and your level of HR knowledge.

Example response: I know that the HR departments are responsible for many things, including employee selection, recruiting and training processes, workplace communication, payroll and benefits administration, disciplinary actions, termination processes, and much more. The HR department also liaises between management and employees to resolve any issues or concerns. I believe HR is a crucial function that contributes to any company's culture and productivity.

One way to prepare for this question is to take a course that covers different aspects of HR. Consider the University of London's free course, The Manager's Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Managing People at Work, to review concepts and strategies around leadership, compensation, performance management, conflict management, and more.

10 HR Interview Questions and How to Answer Them (2)

3. Why do you want to work in the HR department?

This question is investigating your commitment and your approach to human resources.

Example response: Human resources play an important role in any company because the department manages and promotes the most vital asset—people. As an HR professional, I enjoy being able to help people fulfill their potential by hiring the right people and then helping them thrive in their jobs. HR allows me to express my personality every day. I love the day-to-day tasks we engage in and helping to solve the problems that may arise.

Read more: A Human Resources Department Guide

4. Why do you want to work for our company?

Employers will want to find out if you've taken the time to research their business and understand its objectives. Your answer should provide a factual overview of what you know about the company, explain why you would like to work for them, and explain how the role fits your career plans.

5. What are your greatest strengths?

Interviewers often ask candidates to discuss their strengths in an interview to gauge how they might perform in the role and what skills they would bring to the team. Consider your two or three most job-relevant attributes and frame them in a concise answer that highlights specific skills and achievements. Sharing real-life examples of your strengths in action shows you know how to use your strengths to drive results and solve problems.

Read more: 10 Examples of Strengths and Weaknesses for Job Interviews

6. Please tell me about a time you had to deal with a complaint from a staff member about someone more senior.

Managing conflict is an integral part of any HR role. It can involve resolving issues between employees and managers, addressing performance issues, or dealing with other problems. It’s important to show you can handle these conversations carefully, diplomatically, and confidentially. During your interview prep, consider the most relevant examples you have to share and prepare a response describing the steps you took to resolve the situation. Use these prompts to help formulate your answer:

  • Who did you talk to?

  • How did you get them to open up?

  • What did you do next?

  • What was the outcome?

Watch this video for more ideas on managing conflict and formulating an answer to this interview question.

7. How do you ensure equality and diversity policies are followed in the workplace?

This question will assess your knowledge of workplace laws and regulations concerned with equality, diversity, and anti-discrimination. It will also show how you ensure implementation.

To answer, share professional examples of how you’ve supported existing workplace policies or helped shape new policies and procedures, such as ongoing staff training, to help ensure staff is educated about, compliant with, and accountable to company policies.

8. What do you believe makes a successful team?

As an HR professional, employers will want to know about your experience working with teams and helping them work together effectively. Think about the importance of skills like communication, collaboration, trust, respect, and responsibility and how they factor into a team’s success. Prepare a response highlighting specific qualities and share an example from your work experience that demonstrates how such qualities led to team success, such as closing a sale or launching a campaign.

9. Tell me about your ability to get results.

This question will be one of many behavioral questions that ask you to describe how you've handled situations in the past to gauge your future decision-making. Prepare responses with specific examples from previous jobs to show how well you met your goals and exceeded expectations.

Example response: "As a recruitment manager, I consistently met my monthly interview goals by implementing creative candidate marketing strategies, such as..."

Take this one-hour guided project, Accomplishment STAR Techniques for Job Interviews, to generate compelling stories about how you solve problems, lead teams, and more.

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10. What makes you most qualified for this position?

This is an opportunity to confidently summarize your qualifications and experience, highlighting how well you match the position and the company. Your answer should mix qualifications, certifications, and personal achievements.

Questions to ask at the end of an HR interview

Asking questions at the end of the interview shows that you're interested in the job and have researched the company.

Below are some sample questions to consider:

  • What would my first month look like if I were hired for this position?

  • What do you like most about working here?

  • How do you measure success in this role?

  • What qualities do outstanding employees at this company embody?

  • Is there anything else I can provide to support my application?

Read more: Questions to Ask at the End of an Interview

HR interview questions for specific jobs

There are many jobs in the HR profession, such as HR generalist, talent acquisition manager, or compensation manager. Tailoring your HR interview preparation to the specific HR roles you're applying to can help you succeed. Let’s look at different HR roles, what employers are looking for, and the questions a hiring manager might ask you in an interview.

HR director/manager interview questions

An HR director oversees all aspects of HR human resources management. The interviewer will look for real insight, experience, and leadership in your answers. While HR director and HR manager job titles are sometimes used interchangeably, a director generally has a more strategic focus.

HR managers oversee the daily activities of human resources staff, develop department goals, maintain current knowledge of federal and state labor laws, and ensure employment policies and procedures are compliant. You’ll need to demonstrate the ability to manage diverse day-to-day functions and have in-depth HR knowledge.

Here are some HR interview questions to help you prepare for your interview:

  • What are your expectations of yourself as an HR director?

  • What is the most challenging part of human resources management?

  • What do you think determines progress in HR?

  • What were your most significant achievements in your last position?

  • Tell me about a time when you had to react quickly to change. What did you do?

  • Describe your experience with employment law and compliance.

  • Tell me about a time when you had to manage conflict at work. Share an example of how you dealt with this situation.

  • Tell me about a time you helped improve employee engagement at work. What did you do? How was this achieved?

  • How would your colleagues describe your leadership or management style?

  • What’s the biggest challenge facing HR today? What would you do about it?

Read More: Situational Interview Questions: Definition + How to Prepare

HR generalist interview questions

As an HR generalist, you may work in many areas of human resources, from recruitment to benefits. You may also be called an HR coordinator. In this job role, you'll typically report to an HR manager. The interviewer may be looking at your ability to demonstrate commitment, understand different business areas, take a detail-focused approach to work, and your experience in a team setting.

Questions you might encounter in an interview for this role include:

  • Why did you decide to pursue a career in human resources?

  • Describe your ideal company, location, and job.

  • What interests you about this opportunity?

  • What do you think it takes to be successful in an HR career?

  • Tell me about your most significant HR accomplishment.

  • Tell me about the least successful or challenging HR initiative you've worked on. What did you learn from it?

Compensation and benefits analyst interview questions

A compensation and benefits manager/analyst determines appropriate employee pay levels based on their role and experience. They may also manage benefits packages, including vacation time and insurance options. If you choose the role of a benefits-focused HR professional, your primary focus is on employee benefits like insurance plans, retirement plans, and wellness programs.

Here are some HR interview questions to help you to prepare:

  • What do you know about our company's compensation structure?

  • How do you build relationships with coworkers and managers?

  • What is most important when you implement a new compensation plan for employees?

  • What benefits have you administered in the past?

  • How will you stay current with the newest employee benefits laws and regulations?

  • What experience do you have in auditing employee benefits records?

  • What software packages are you familiar with for administering employee benefits? What is your preferred software package, and why?

  • What do you think are the most important benefits offered to employees today? Why?

  • What is the most challenging benefits issue you have ever faced in your career? How did you handle it?

Recruiter interview questions

Recruiters identify and attract candidates for open positions from within and outside a company. This can include posting job listings, reviewing resumes, interviewing candidates, and managing the hiring process through onboarding a new employee. This role typically works closely with hiring managers to determine current and upcoming recruitment requirements.

Here are some HR interview questions to help you to prepare:

  • Describe a time when you persuaded a talented candidate to join a company.

  • Why do you want to work in recruitment? What specific skills and experience do you have that make you a good fit as an HR recruiter?

  • Give us an example of when your attention to detail helped you on the job.

  • What are your biggest achievements in your career so far?

  • What do you think candidates in our sector value most when applying to jobs?

Read more: Interviewing Skills to Benefit Your Career

How to prepare for an interview

Interviews help evaluate your suitability for the role and ensure you're a good fit for the organization. To do this, your interviewer will ask questions about yourself, your skills, and your experience. Therefore, preparing for your interview is important to be as informed and confident as possible.

Before an interview, you can do many things to help yourself succeed, such as researching the company, practicing answers to common questions, and getting used to talking about achievements that demonstrate how you meet the job selection criteria.

Read more: How to Prepare for an Interview

1. Research the organization.

One of the first steps in preparing for an interview is researching the organization. You want to know what it does, its mission, its size, how long it's been in business, and any recent news to be as informed as possible to help tailor your interview responses.

Some things you can do:

  • Read the company's website.

  • Review press releases.

  • Check online discussion boards and job sites like Glassdoor or Indeed for comments about the company.

  • Review social media accounts for information about the company's culture or employees.

2. Understand the company's work culture.

Researching the company's work culture is important. Companies tend to look for people who fit their culture. This is one of the key criteria when selecting candidates. If you understand the company’s values or what qualities it looks for in its employees, you can tailor your responses accordingly. It’s also important information in determining whether you think a company is a good fit for you.

As an HR professional, you should understand the importance of company culture. You may even get a specific question about what you think about the culture of the company to which you're applying.

3. Prepare and practice your answers.

Preparing answers in advance offers the chance to practice your responses and arrive at the interview feeling confident. Be prepared with real-life examples that showcase your skills and knowledge. Read over the job posting. Identify the challenges the company is experiencing so you can prepare answers to show how your life and career have prepared you to help drive its success. Practice aloud and, if possible, rehearse with someone with HR experience and can offer feedback.

Read more: How to Prepare for Job Interviews

Get interview ready with Coursera

Coursera offers a variety of online learning experiences for advancing your HR career and preparing for upcoming interviews.

To boost your leadership, decision-making, and conflict management skills, consider the free Manager's Toolkit course from the University of London. You can also use this course to prepare talking points for an interview.

To delve deeper into HR and earn a credential, consider the Human Resource Associate Professional Certificate from HRCI. This program covers talent acquisition, learning and development, compensation and benefits, employee relations, and more.

To build job search skills, such as analyzing the job description, answering interview questions, and optimizing your resume, consider the Art of the Job Interview course from Big Interview.

10 HR Interview Questions and How to Answer Them (2024)

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