20 HR Assistant Interview Questions

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20 HR Assistant Interview Questions

Do you have an upcoming interview for an HR assistant role? There’s no better way to prepare for the interview than having a clear picture of the questions that often get asked. Though it’s often an entry-level position, the HR assistant role requires individuals with excellent interpersonal skills.

The ideal candidate should handle confidential and sensitive situations tactfully, professionally, and diplomatically. Whether you’re preparing for an interview or recruiting an HR assistant, you need to know the specific competencies, knowledge, and skills that candidates should display.

In particular, if you’re an interviewee, you should expect to be asked tough questions regarding HR-related issues at the workplace. 

What is an HR assistant?
Top 20 HR assistant interview questions
Role-specific questions
General questions
Competency questions
Behavioral and situational questions

What is an HR assistant?

A Human Resources assistant is an individual who performs the daily HR and administrative tasks of an organization. These professionals assist HR managers with employee recruitment, payment processing, and record maintenance, besides providing clerical assistance to other employees within the organization.

The administrative support they provide to HR managers may include documenting staff changes, scheduling onboarding tasks, preparing performance reports, and managing the HR department’s communications. They also support all external and external HR-related requests or inquiries.

The annual gross salary that an HR assistant typically earns ranges between $39,000 and $50,000.

HR Assistant Skills and Responsibilities

HR assistant skills and requirements

As the link between HR managers and other employees, HR assistants must possess outstanding communication and administrative skills. They must also be conceptual thinkers with impeccable time management and organizational skills, besides being able to multitask and adapt to fast-paced environments.

The key competencies an HR assistant needs include:

  • A qualification in Human Resources or a related field.
  • Two years of work experience in a similar role.
  • Organizational skills and attention to detail.
  • Familiarity with employment equity regulations and labor law.
  • Overall understanding of payroll practices.
  • Interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Knowledge of HR best practices and functions.
  • Ability to work in fast-paced environments and meet tight deadlines.
  • Computer skills with proven capability in MS Office, email, and hands-on experience with HR software.

Some of the HR assistant’s responsibilities include:

  • Assisting with day-to-day operations of the HR functions.
  • Providing administrative support to the HR department.
  • Handling HR-related employee requests and issues.

Top 20 HR assistant interview questions

When you get invited to an interview for an HR assistant role, you’ll undoubtedly feel nervous, wondering what questions will be asked. Well, here are the questions you can expect and how to go about answering them.

Role-specific questions

These questions gauge your understanding of the HR assistant role. The interview team also gets the opportunity to assess whether you’ve understood the job description and researched the organization.

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1. What HR training have you received?

This question offers the opportunity to showcase your qualifications and preparedness for the role. Start with your most recent training. If you don’t have an HR degree, highlight the HR-related training you’ve undertaken to qualify you for the job. It’s equally advisable to inform the panel about the HR-related workshops or conferences you’ve attended and how they helped broaden your expertise.

2. Why are you interested in this role?

Prospective employers want to know that you can contribute to their organizations’ growth. So, they’ll ask this question to evaluate your interest and suitability for the HR assistant role and the value you bring. When answering the question, briefly explain why you applied for the position and your motivation. Since this question gauges your ability to take on the duties and responsibilities of the HR assistant role, it’s best to focus on the job rather than the company.

3. Why should we hire you for the HR assistant role?

When asked this question, the interview panel wants to know what differentiates you from other candidates. So, focus on your competencies and strengths. You may also want to highlight what you can offer to the organization’s HR department in terms of personality, expertise, experience, and enthusiasm.

4. What do you know about our organization and its HR department?

This question evaluates whether you’re interested in the HR assistant role. Researching the organization and its HR department shows you’re passionate about working there. Discussing what you learned shows you understand the organization and the daily tasks and responsibilities related to the position. Focus on the organization’s milestones and positive offerings and avoid anything potentially negative.

5. What are the roles of an HR assistant?

To get hired for the HR assistant role, you must demonstrate that you understand the responsibilities that come with it. Explain how you can perform critical tasks such as payroll processing, recruiting, record maintenance, and communication alongside other HR practitioners in the organization.

6. What tasks did you perform in your last role?

Interview teams want to know if you’ve previously held positions that helped build your competency for the HR assistant role. Thus, they’ll ask about the tasks you performed in your previous work and how they relate to the role you’re getting interviewed for. 

Be sure to highlight your achievements in your past role. If anything is beyond your depth, don’t be shy to tell the panel about it and highlight your willingness to learn.

7. What challenges do you foresee in the new role?

Settling into your new job won’t be smooth sailing, and the interview team will want to know about the challenges you expect to face. Consider your competencies and the previous challenges and tailor your answer to fit the HR assistant job description.

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For instance, you may say that having worked in a small organization, you expect to encounter challenges adjusting to a larger company with a more diverse team. Point out how you surmounted the challenges you faced in your previous role and how the experience will help surmount those you foresee in your new role.  

8. Tell us about your most significant achievement

Every HR practitioner has a job-related achievement they’re proud of. Expect the interview team to ask about that because they want to hire people who add value to their organization. Suppose you helped streamline the payroll system at your previous workplace. Don’t be shy to mention it. 

You may also want to highlight some of your failures and the lessons you learned from them.

General questions

These questions have little to do with the role you’re applying for or your suitability but help the interview panel know more about you.

9. Tell us about yourself

Typically, this is the opening question in most interviews. Since first impressions matter, briefly highlight your life, education, and career. Avoid going into too much detail because your interviews will ask you to expound on areas where they need more information.

10. What are your salary expectations?

Research compensation for similar roles on platforms like Glassdoor and Payscale and have a market related figure adjusted to your skills level in mind when going to an interview.

11. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

As an HR practitioner, you undoubtedly understand the significance of staying on a job for a long time. During the interview, expect to be asked about your short and long-term goals. 

Discuss your career goals and the steps you’ll take to achieve them while showing you have the determination and ambition to succeed in the role you’re getting interviewed for. Take a look at our/AIHR’s HR Career Path tool and think about which roles you might be interested in the next couple of years in your career and what you’ll need to get there.

12. How would your past colleagues describe you?

This question requires you to reflect on your past experiences and discuss the traits your old colleagues would mention if asked about you. It seeks to unravel what you can offer to the workplace, so choose adjectives that portray your work ethic and disposition. Besides, emphasize the soft skills that make you the ideal candidate.

Competency questions

The competency-level questions asked in an interview seek to establish your way of thinking. The questions identify skills like communication, leadership, management, risk-taking, decision-making, adaptability, and teamwork. They include:

13. What’s your understanding of labor laws?

HR assistants should be well-acquainted with state and federal labor laws. Since the laws change all too often, you should show a willingness to stay apprised of the laws and regulations. 

Showcasing this competence proves to the interview panel that you can advise the organization in matters relating to labor law.

14. What is your experience with Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS)?

HR practitioners must show they have experience with the HRIS. Expect to be asked about your experience and how you’d choose the best HRIS for your organization. You may also want to mention HRIS software that could be relevant to the organization.

15. Which HR skills do you believe will help you succeed on the job?

This question evaluates what makes you uniquely qualified for the HR role you’re getting interviewed for. To answer it satisfactorily, explain the attributes you’ve demonstrated in your previous work and how they match the job. Also, consider what HR skills you will need to develop to contribute even greater value for the business. HR is an evolving field and new skills are needed than were needed before.

16. How do you handle working under stress?

Working as an HR assistant often involves deadlines and juggling multiple tasks at the same time, which can be quite stressful. How do you handle working under stress? Your ability to show you can work under unexpected and routine stress says a lot about your suitability for the role. When asked how you handle working under stress, you must prove to the interview panel that you can face every personal and professional curveball you’ll encounter and thrive while at it.

Behavioral and situational questions

As an HR assistant, your ability to handle challenging situations is critical. You’ll often be called upon to handle issues such as racism and sexual harassment. To this end, the interviewing panel may ask these behavioral questions:

17. How would you handle a sexual harassment complaint at work?

As the first point of contact between employees and HR managers, you must prove during your interview how you can answer sexual harassment complaints. Discuss HR investigation steps and how you will assign the complaint to an HR manager.

18. How do you think candidates from historically marginalized groups should get recruited?

Answering this question seeks to establish your understanding of practices and policies such as affirmative action. Discuss your experience recruiting candidates from marginalized groups.

19. Tell us about a time you had to collaborate with co-workers who were hard to work with

You’ll be asked this question to determine your ability to work with a diverse team. To answer it, you may explain that you took time to learn about the difficult co-workers at a personal level to understand them better.

20. Let’s say your employee engagement is low and your team’s task is to improve it. How would you start?

This question offers an opportunity to showcase your analytical skills. Discuss which employee engagement metrics you would measure to understand the reasons behind the low engagement. Explain the process you would follow to evaluate and improve employee engagement.

Key takeaways

An interview stands between you and your dream job. Although you might not tell which HR assistant interview questions will be asked during the interview, reviewing common interview questions can provide the head start you need to ace the interview. You may also want to note a few questions to ask during the interview to understand the role better.

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