25 HR Manager Interview Questions to Prepare You for Success
If you’re seeking an HR management position, interviews are an essential part of the recruiting process. They are your best opportunity to demonstrate that you have what it takes to do the job. The more primed you are with relevant and clear responses to questions, the better you present yourself as a standout candidate.
We’ve compiled a sampling of 25 HR Manager interview questions and some ideas for formulating your answers. Potential interview questions are limitless, and businesses use many different types as their standard. For this article, we’ve focused on the four categories of personal, role-specific, behavioral, and situational questions. Here we go!
Common personal questions
Personal questions are often asked as an icebreaker to get to know you as an individual and what your goals are. These kinds of questions will be similar to the following:
“Tell me a little about yourself.”
Keep your response brief. Don’t go into unnecessary detail or mention a whole lot about your personal life. Give a summary of your education and employment history, and then focus on your current position. You can explain what your responsibilities are and describe a project or initiative you are working on now. Highlight what you are passionate about and areas of success.
“What drew you into HR as a profession?”
If you planned on an HR career, that’s great, and you can relay why and what you enjoy about it. If you found your way in by another route, that’s perfectly fine too. You don’t have to pretend like it was your childhood dream to work in HR. Employment in other fields and occupations can provide broader experience, and you can explain how you’ve used it to your advantage in HR.
“Where do you want to be career-wise in five years?”
The interviewer is trying to find out if your goals align with the opportunities the position or organization can offer, so be honest. Let them know if you would like to specialize in a certain area or other aspirations you may have. Explain what steps you’re planning to take to make this happen.
If you’re not sure, be forthright about the options you’re considering. You want them to know you are ambitious and have given this topic some thought. You could emphasize your commitment to this particular position while you figure out your future endeavors.
“How would your past and present co-workers and managers describe you?”
Of course, you want to reflect positive attributes about yourself, but it’s important to display humility. Be confident in the positive ways others see you but don’t exaggerate. The interviewer is looking for honesty and is trying to gauge if you are genuine. You can reference a recent rating your supervisor gave you on a recent performance evaluation or share what co-workers have told you they appreciate about you.
“Why are you pursuing this HR manager role?”
Your response should demonstrate why you are interested in this specific job/company and that you are not just making mass applications. Show that you have researched the organization, why it appeals to you, and how you would be a good fit.
You can also share why you want to leave your current position. Indicate your desire for more of a challenge with increased responsibility that will make better use of your talents. If you’re trying to find a new job because you’re unhappy, be careful not to voice too many negative thoughts about your current employer, even if they’re warranted. Exhibiting bitterness can end up reflecting poorly on you. It’s better to say, “I’m looking for a healthier working environment” than “My current employer is a terrible place to work.”
Role-specific interview questions
HR manager positions require an array of skills and knowledge. Role-specific interview questions seek to learn if your abilities match the skill set required to perform the job. Here are some examples:
“How do your experience and educational background qualify you for this position?”
The interviewer wants to see if the kind of experience and education you have translates well into this position, so you need to provide details. This is your opportunity to directly tie your previous responsibilities and achievements to what’s listed in the job description, and to the HR management fundamentals.
You can also take it a step further and mention how your personal qualities have contributed to successfully handling your duties.
“What is your favorite part about working in HR?”
You probably enjoy quite a few facets of HR, so it may be challenging to narrow your answer down to one area. Is it working directly with and helping employees? Is it the strong impact it has on the organization? Maybe you like that HR involves a variety of responsibilities and puts so many of your skills to use.
Think about which part you would miss the most if it were removed from your duties and start with that, explaining what you like about it. Then you can mention a few other aspects that you find especially satisfying. The more you appreciate about HR, the more you will demonstrate that you have passion for your work.
“As an HR manager, what qualities do you possess that will help you drive results for our company?”
Affirm that your role as an HR manager goes beyond the practice of administering benefits or filling job openings. On the contrary, it involves ensuring all processes work the right way to support organizational goals. (There’s no point in filling a job with the wrong candidate or handling employee disputes unsuccessfully.)
Explain what you believe is effective people management and how you measure success. Be prepared to name an initiative you would like to implement and how it would impact this company’s bottom line.
“What experience do you have leading a project team as an HR manager?”
This question aims to determine if you can handle problems and provide solutions while leading a team and working on a project. Your response should reflect strong communication skills and your ability to motivate people and get to the source of problems.
If you haven’t led an HR project team, you can share a time that you observed great leadership from a team you were on. You can also use an example of when you’ve led a team in another field or a volunteer role from your personal life.
“What is your experience with HR software systems?”
Modern HR relies heavily on software and data. Ideally, employers will seek candidates who already have experience with the programs they have in place or are looking to implement. If you haven’t worked with their system, explain the extent of your experience with other systems and your ability to quickly learn new tools and software.
“What is your recruiting strategy for finding qualified applicants?”
The interviewer wants to find out if your recruitment approach fits in with the organization’s current practices or could bring in some needed improvements. It’s important to show that you have good judgment with a comprehensive plan that involves the crucial elements, such as:
- Understanding precisely what is required for open positions to match candidates who have the right skills.
- Well-written and defined job posts that incorporate the employer brand.
- Effective communication with applicants.
- A thorough application and interviewing process.
- Using innovative recruiting methods (social media, niche job boards, previous applicants, etc.)
“What do you foresee happening in the next five years that will change and shape HR?”
Savvy HR managers are well aware of how prevalent change is in the industry. They must stay current with emerging HR trends. Let the interviewer know that you have a grasp on what may affect HR and the direction it’s heading.
Choose a topic such as remote hiring and working, artificial intelligence, or diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging and discuss its future impact. If you can cite information from HR trade publications, conferences, or other sources, you will show that you’re keeping up with the latest industry research and developments.
Behavioral interview questions
An HR manager needs to have a balance of empathy and decisiveness. Behavioral interview questions seek to measure your problem-solving skills and approach to particular circumstances. Possible questions include:
“Please describe your management style.”
Naming the management style or styles you lean toward lets the interviewer know how you lead and like to be led. However, it’s also essential to indicate your flexibility and openness to try new methods that the organization embraces.
Be sure to emphasize your experience with motivating and coaching employees with actual examples from your past HR roles. If you are seeking your first management position, you can describe the management approach you have admired in others and plan to adopt.
“What are the strongest assets you have to offer, and what is one area you’d like to grow in?”
This is your opportunity to let the interviewer know the real you. Confidently highlight strengths that directly relate to this job’s duties and the organization’s values. Then you should back them up with a brief summarization of a time that your abilities led to achievement.
Interviewers do not expect that you will share your worst character flaw. However, they will be curious to see how you confront the concept of an area for improvement. To put a positive spin on it, pick a struggle you’ve had in the past but overcame by being self-aware enough to analyze your mistakes.
Another option would be choosing a weakness that can be easily overcome with training (“I’d like to enhance my data analytics skills,”) or one that is irrelevant to this particular job (“I need to be challenged, or I get bored.”) You should also comment on your strategy for developing in this area.
“Tell me about your HR mentor(s).”
Hearing about your mentors gives the interviewer a look into your personality. They can see what kind of person inspires you and that you are willing to seek out growth and learn from others. Even if you don’t happen to have a personal relationship with a certain mentor, you can discuss notable leaders in the HR field who you respect and follow.
“Explain how you work under pressure.”
HR managers must remain composed, think logically, and act appropriately in challenging circumstances. You need to show a potential employer that you are capable of this. Be prepared to give an example of how you’ve learned to deal with pressure in professional situations with problem-solving, time management, and decision-making skills.
Since an interview is a pressure situation, a calm and confident demeanor will back up your words while responding to this question.
“What is your concept of a positive work environment?”
HR managers influence the overall work environment for your employees, so the interviewer wants to see if you align with their company culture or could take it in an improved direction.
You can describe what kind of atmosphere brings out your best work. This can include attitudes and behaviors of people toward each other, as well as leadership considerations for communication, teamwork, and employee input. You can also share your ideas for further shaping an inclusive, supportive workplace.
“Name a time when your advice to management led to an improvement in your company or otherwise helped your employer.”
Refer to a situation when you recognized something that needed to be changed or enhanced. Then talk about the steps you took to get management onboard and make the improvements that led to success.
Don’t worry if this illustration is not a major achievement. If your influence has been limited by the type of roles you’ve held, your example can still carry weight. Even a small accomplishment that pertains to this position or the organization’s values can exemplify your capabilities well.
“What is your experience in dealing with conflict within an organization?”
Resolving interpersonal conflicts is a crucial responsibility for HR Managers. The interviewer wants assurance that you have the ability to see the big picture of the situation, understand both sides, and sort out the dispute professionally.
Provide an example of a conflict resolution incident and explain the situation, how it was created, and the specific actions you took to create a positive outcome.
“Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of?”
This is your chance to show enthusiasm and pride for something you’ve achieved. Even if the interviewer doesn’t specify, you should stick with something from your career and not your personal life. Your answer can display how you’ve grown professionally and which skills, credentials, character traits, and background you have to bring to the role.
“Do you have any questions for us?”
Always have at least a couple of questions prepared ahead of time, as well as any that have occurred to you during the interview. Asking questions will make you seem engaged and like you have a strong interest in the job.
A question based on your research of the organization is an excellent place to start. Try not to focus on what you can get out of the job. Instead, stick to specifics about the role or curiosity about the company.
Situational interview questions
HR managers consistently deal with complex and nuanced issues and circumstances. Situational interview questions gauge how you handle typical workplace scenarios and provide insight into your thought processes and communication skills. Here are some sample situational interview questions for HR managers:
“How would you introduce the idea to change something in the company to other employees?”
Change is inevitable for every workplace, so you need to demonstrate your ability to implement it. Share a situation where you’ve had to convince a group of employees that a certain change was necessary. Express that you understand that most people are comfortable with their routines and may resist variations, so you try to understand and validate their perspective instead of just asserting your authority.
Also, explain how you set an example of a positive attitude about the change, even if you had conflicting feelings about it.
“Have you ever chosen to deviate from company policy while working in HR?”
Enforcing policies is a key function of an HR manager. Because no policy can be perfectly applied to every situation, there are times when you need to have sound judgment to make tough calls or propose modifications.
If you have been in this type of scenario, explain how you put a great deal of thought into it and decided that the deviation was justifiable. Be sure to name the specific reasons why you chose to take this risk.
“Do you have an example of a time you had to deal with an unethical situation in a previous role?”
HR ought to set and maintain ethical standards for an organization, so HR managers must be principled professionals. Your answer to this question should be about a time that observed unethical behavior and took a stand to confront it by going through the proper channels.
If you don’t have a first-hand example, you could describe how you would handle a hypothetical scenario.
“Have you led or worked within a team of workers from diverse backgrounds? If so, please share what that was like.”
Your response should assure the interviewer that you have experience with diverse environments and feel comfortable working with a broad range of people. Offer a story about a successful collaboration you had with people who are different from you. Share how you overcame any differences and learned from having unique perspectives.
General preparation tips
Here are a few suggestions for what you can do to be better equipped for an HR manager interview overall:
- Go into the meeting with a clear grasp on your strengths and highlight the ones the company values most.
- Do thorough research on the organization and share details that reflect your knowledge of their business.
- Find ways to point out how you are well-suited for the position and have the qualities and solutions they need.
Putting it all together
Whether you’re applying for a promotion within your current organization or an entirely new prospect, strategizing ahead of time for the interview will give you more confidence in presenting yourself. In addition, carefully thought-out responses to HR Manager interview questions render an accurate picture of what you have to offer and maximize the interview to benefit both you and the hiring organization.