28 HR Generalist Interview Questions You Need to Know

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The interview, in-person or virtual, is a crucial part of any recruitment process. As an HR Generalist, it’s highly important that you come to the interview prepared and ready to answer any questions fired your way with ease. This is your opportunity to determine the match between you and the organization, as well as to showcase how you can contribute to their HR initiatives. 

In this article, we’ve put together 28 HR Generalist interview questions that you can expect to encounter during your interview, along with tips on how you can formulate your answers. Read on to find out!

Contents
HR Generalist interview
Role-specific interview questions 
Behavioral interview questions
Situational interview questions
Problem-solving interview questions
Attributes- and motivation-focused questions

HR Generalist interview

The HR Generalist is probably the broadest role in an HR department and is also the first HR hire any company makes. This is a person with a broad range of responsibilities instead of a specialized line of work. 

For aspiring HR Generalists, this might mean that the kind of questions you’ll be asked at a job interview can vary greatly depending on the needs and requirements of the company. Aside from making sure that you have a good idea of your strengths, background, credentials, and past experience, you’ll also need to prepare for different types of interview questions. These can range from role-specific questions to situational questions. 

But worry not! We have listed common HR Generalist interview questions for you to start practicing with. They are divided into 5 categories and for each category, we’ll include sample questions and some tips for you to ace your interview.

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Role-specific interview questions 

The work of the HR Generalist covers most of the HR function, which can include hiring, compensation and benefits, administration, and so on. This means that your potential employer will want to make sure that you have adequate general HR skills and knowledge. How you answer these questions will showcase your suitability for the job and your HR expertise. 

Questions 

  • When drafting a new Human Resources policy, what factors are most important to you? 
  • Can you list the steps to process a suspension or termination of an employee
  • What are the ways to make sure that you stay compliant with national laws and regulations? 
  • How important do you think collecting data and creating reports on staff performance is? 
  • Why or why not would you consider 360-degree assessments suitable for improving work performance? 
  • How do you process a sexual harassment claim? 
  • Can you list the skills and expertise you think are necessary for an HR Generalist?
  • What can you do to make sure that your record-keeping is correct and up-to-date?   

Tips to answer these questions 

To ace these kinds of questions, be sure to lean on your general HR experience and knowledge. They provide you with a strong foundation to help make your answer more concrete, as well as showing the depth of your expertise. But don’t forget to also base your answers on your understanding and previous research of the company you’re applying for. Your potential employer is not looking for the best HR Generalist, but the HR Generalist that best fits their company. Show them that you can use your knowledge and expertise to add value to the organization.

Behavioral interview questions

The bulk of HR’s work is people-related — and, in many cases, this means dealing with difficult situations (think contract termination, turning down job candidates, or workplace grievances). To succeed in your job as an HR Generalist, you need to know how to behave in a sensitive, but also assertive, manner. Here are some behavioral questions that you might be asked during your job interview. 

Questions 

  • How do you ensure that you stay organized and efficient when working under pressure? 
  • How would you react when an employee approaches you with a sexual harassment/discrimination claim? 
  • Do you think you would have trouble dismissing a good friend? 
  • What do you do when you experience a conflict of interest at work? 

Tips to answer these questions 

When faced with these kinds of questions, try to give your answer with care, and don’t hesitate to ask for a minute or two to think through your answer. It’s always better to answer in the best way possible, rather than the quickest way possible. You should also keep in mind that on one hand, you need to ensure that you answer in a professional and positive manner, but on the other hand, you don’t need to be too apathetic or indifferent. The bulk of HR’s work is people-related and it requires as much heart as it requires skills and knowledge. Finding the sweet spot between being professional and being empathetic is the way to go. 

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Situational interview questions

Dealing with difficult HR situations hinges not only on how you behave but also on how you handle them based on your expertise. More often than not, during a job interview, you will encounter questions that focus on specific instances that you’ve experienced in the past, or hypothetical situations similar to what you might have to deal with in your new job. 

Questions 

  • At your previous job, what are the attributes you focus on in a job candidate?
  • Say your company is going through a cultural change. How would you communicate these changes to your employees to minimize resistance? 
  • Have you ever done something that led to regulatory issues? Tell us how you handle the situation. 
  • What would you do if an employee requests confidential or otherwise sensitive information from you? 
  • If an employee comes to you about the discrimination that he/she has been getting from management, how would you handle this? 

Tips to answer these questions

Use your previous experience in handling these situations as a basis for your answer. Companies don’t just want someone who can recite a hundred HR theories on how to, say, handle racism at work. They want real-life experience and this is a good opportunity to demonstrate that. Another thing is to not talk too much about how you feel or how you would personally react. The spotlight here should be on how you handle the situation in the best way possible for the company. 

And don’t forget to get up-to-date on national regulations and laws, as well as employment rules and company policies. These form the basic guideline that you need to follow whenever you make a decision regarding something — especially with more sensitive issues. 

Problem-solving interview questions 

An HR Generalist is involved in almost every aspect of the HR functions — from recruiting and benefits administration to HR business partner and employee relations. Having the ability to solve your organization’s most pressing HR issues is, therefore, a vital attribute for any HR generalist. This means that problem-solving questions will undoubtedly come up during your job interview. Here are some examples of the questions that you might encounter. 

Questions 

  • Can you propose an employee wellness program that we can use to boost morale?
  • What is an instance in which your advice to management led to a change in your company’s policy or improved your employees’ work experience? 
  • When faced with a high rate of unwanted turnover, what would you do to better retain your talent? 
  • What strategies would you take to ensure and/or improve employees’ job satisfaction? 
  • What do you consider to be the biggest challenge as an HR Generalist? How do you plan to overcome these challenges?
  • When experiencing conflict with other team members or leadership, how do you resolve this? 

Tips to answer these questions 

The first thing to be mindful about when answering these questions is that you need to be specific. It wouldn’t do to just make some general statements like “I would carefully analyze the situation and come up with a solution accordingly”. Go in-depth and use plenty of details about how you solved problems in the best interest of the company. Lean on your past experience to provide real-life examples of your problem-solving skills. 

Additionally, don’t forget to back your answer with facts. At AIHR, we believe in the saying that “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion”. This also holds true for job interviews. When giving answers to problem-solving questions, remember to provide data on, for example, the decrease in unwanted turnover, or increase in the eNPS score of your organization thanks to your initiative. 

Attributes- and motivation-focused questions 

Like most job interviews for other positions and fields, your prospective employer would want to know more about your competencies, as well as your motivation for applying as an HR Generalist. This is the perfect opportunity to showcase your character and your enthusiasm for this position, so be sure to come prepared! 

Questions 

  • What motivates you to apply for this job? 
  • Why do you think you are a good fit for this position as our HR Generalist? 
  • Name three of your biggest strengths as an HR Generalist. 
  • How would you describe our company culture and why do you think this is something you want to be a part of? 
  • How would your credentials and past experience help you excel in this position? 
  • Tell us about your biggest win and/or biggest fail in your career as an HR Generalist. 

Tips to answer these questions 

With these kinds of questions, the first tip that we have for you is to do your research about the company. It’s not enough to just tell your potential employer that you’re enthusiastic about working there — you need to walk the walk as well! Coming to the interview ready to answer any questions about why you like the company or why you think you’re a good fit is a good way to showcase your dedication and motivation. You can scroll through their social media pages, check out their websites, or read reviews on Glassdoor or Indeed. 

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And don’t forget, know your strengths! These are the kind of questions that would be asked to dozens of job candidates, so make sure that you can demonstrate what makes you unique from everyone else. It can be a fresh perspective from a different country and culture or mastery over a third or fourth language. Remember that these attributes have to be in line with what the employer is looking for, so use the job description as a guideline when you’re formulating your answers. 

Over to you

You’ve probably heard this time and time again — but practice really makes perfect. It is impossible to prepare for every situation that might occur inside the interview room, but that is no excuse to not come prepared with a general sense of what might happen and how you can behave. With a bit of preparation, you will surely land your dream job as an HR Generalist. 

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