60 HR Specialist Interview Questions to Ace Your Next Interview

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60 HR Specialist Interview Questions to Ace Your Next Interview

If you want to ace your next HR Specialist job interview, it’s important to anticipate the type of questions recruiters and hiring managers will ask. Doing so can help you craft responses that highlight your skills and experience to match the job description and improve your chances of being hired. 

In this article, we’ve listed the 60 common HR Specialist interview questions you need to know, plus tips on answering them.

Of course, the interview questions will depend on the area of HR you specialize in, for example, recruitment, training & development, or compensation & benefits. Below, you’ll find sample questions from different areas of HR.

Contents
Role-specific interview questions
Situational interview questions
Behavioral interview questions

Role-specific interview questions

Role-specific interview questions are designed to evaluate a candidate’s ability to perform the job’s duties against the skill set needed to handle the role effectively. 

Examples:

  • How would you describe your work approach as an HR Specialist?
  • How do you manage workplace conflict as an HR Specialist? 
  • How would you know if you’ve hired the right person for the position? 
  • What HR software have you used? 
  • What does a successful onboarding process look like?
  • How do you calculate different employee turnover rates?
  • Tell us about your experience with making reports on staff performance. 
  • What’s the first step you would take in developing a strategy to improve employee morale?
  • Tell us about your experience in implementing new company policies or programs. 
  • How do you keep company information organized and updated in an effective way?
  • What is your process for creating an employee training program?
  • How do you identify training needs? How would you conduct a skills gap analysis?
  • Which are the top benefits in our industry? 
  • How do you determine if the training program was effective? What’s the best way to assess how training impacts employees’ performance?
  • What should be the minimum annual paid vacation days for full-time staff? How should this change year on year with our organization? 
  • What makes a good HR Specialist?
  • The HR Specialist position requires strict compliance with labor policies. What experience did you have to help you research and follow these policies?
  • What are the best benefits for remote workers?
  • What benefits should we offer to support diversity?
  • What benefits should we emphasize in our job description to attract interns?

Tips:

Check the requirements in the job description. Create a list of the skills you have that match those requirements. Review these details before the interview. According to ATS company Workable, some of the job requirements of HR Specialists include experience with HRIS and ATS, understanding of labor legislation and payroll process, and familiarity with full-cycle recruiting.

Give specific examples of your on-the-job experience when you answer role-specific questions. Providing examples demonstrates your hands-on knowledge that you really know what you’re doing instead of just saying them.

For example, if you were asked how you would handle employee complaints involving compliance, you can give specific examples of compliance incidents you have experienced. Choose one and provide an in-depth explanation. Refer to policies or laws that are relevant to that example. Then, discuss how you handled it and the results.

Highlight on your credentials – in addition to your degree, do you have SHRM or AIHR certifications? Be sure to indicate them on your resume and mention them in your interview. The more information you provide, the better your chances of passing the interview and, ultimately, getting the job offer. Just be careful to be modest about it, though, and mention them during appropriate moments during the interview.

Be honest. Let the recruiters know if you don’t possess the required skills or education/certifications listed on the job requirements. Who knows, they may be willing to train you. If not, keep in mind that maybe, the role is not a good fit for you. What’s more, you may encounter challenges that would make it too hard for you to succeed in the position.

HR Specialist Role

Situational interview questions

Situation-based questions involve skills in problem-solving and managing complex workplace issues. You can share details about how to anticipate the challenges and how you would address them. 

As you answer these questions, remember the core skills and knowledge essential for the HR specialist role.

Examples

  • What would you include in a performance-based increase company policy?
  • When creating a quarterly forecast report of your hiring requirements, what details would you include? 
  • What benefits would you recommend to help improve employee retention? 
  • What strategies would you use to boost our employer brand?
  • Describe how teamwork is essential in your job as an HR Specialist. 
  • How would you handle it if you know your manager is 100% wrong about their employee turnover forecast?
  • Describe a difficult work situation as an HR specialist and how you resolve it.
  • As an HR specialist, how do you prioritize your work?
  • Describe how you would organize training sessions for new employees within their first week or month.
  • Describe your experience with employee referral programs. How did rewards contribute to the program’s performance? Looking back, is there anything that you would like to improve?
  • Describe the typical challenges of working with hiring managers.
  • Talk about a hiring process within your last organization. What worked well? What would you improve? 
  • What sourcing technique do you use to find qualified candidates? Which technique method is most effective?
  • Our current time to hire and cost per hire is xxx. What could we improve? Where would you start?
  • What if you were asked to increase the volume of your hires for the next six months by 25%? What would you change about your approach? How would you maintain the quality of hire?
  • One employee complained to HR about increased workload due to a team member resigning. You know that you’ve just reached your hiring requirements for this quarter. How would you address this concern?
  • What benefits would you recommend we offer to remote employees?
  • How would you decide which benefits and perks to remove or add?
  • How do you stay organized when you have many tasks simultaneously and with the same priority levels? 
  • Administrative duties are at the center of the HR specialist role. What experience do you have in administration?

Tips: 

According to The Balance Careers website, the best way to face situational questions is to use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) approach:

  • Situation – Describe a similar situation to answer the question. Include information like the type of organization, the existing business process, and what was at stake. 
  • Task – Explain the problem and its cause: was it unexpected or avoidable? Who was affected by it? How did it affect your job?
  • Action – Elaborate on the action you took to handle the situation. Include your analysis of the problem that led to the action. How did you decide on the best solution? Did you choose alone or consult other people? Was the solution based on a similar situation you had before?
  • Results – Discuss the outcomes. Highlight the results of your action and how they helped solve the problem. Use quantifiable information if you can. 

For example, you were an HR specialist for an automotive manufacturing company. 

Here’s an example of using the S-T-A-R method to answer the situation-based question: 

Question: Describe a situation in which your sense of empathy was helpful in your work as an HR Specialist.  

Answer:  

During the interview, tell the situation where workers threatened to go on strike if their request for a wage increase was denied.

As an HR specialist, discuss your task of checking the company records to validate employees’ requests. During your investigation, you discovered that the rising living costs and the absence of an increase in the last several years validated their demand for pay hikes. 

Explain your action of resolving employee-employer conflict by advising managers to approve the salary increase request or risk losing the workers to competitors.

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Conclude with the result. Mention that within the next three months, the managers increased the wages to the satisfaction of nearly all the employees. 

Behavioral interview questions

Interviewers use behavioral job interviews to learn about the candidate’s past work experiences. Interviewers look for concrete evidence that validates the candidate’s actual skills and abilities to perform the job. 

Plenty of research states past behavior is a proven indicator of future actions. Hence, examples of your previous experiences give employers an idea of how you would handle similar circumstances if you were hired.

Examples

  • How do you ensure that new employees understand and follow company policies? 
  • Describe a time you successfully resolved differences between an employee and upper management.
  • Have you ever encountered regulatory issues like overtime pay or employee classifications at work? If yes, how did you handle them?
  • What are your go-to resources to stay updated with the changes in labor laws?
  • What’s your top way to communicate detailed health insurance plans with employees?
  • Tell us about a mistake you made at work (e.g., miscalculated an employee’s total available vacation days.) What did you do to fix it? 
  • How do you update employee records accurately?
  • Describe a time when you designed an employee training program.
  • What major challenge did you face as an HR Specialist? 
  • Describe a time when you failed in your role as HR Specialist and the lesson you learned? 
  • How do you stay motivated at work?
  • How do you handle conflict with your manager?
  • How do you discuss career path opportunities with employees? What do you do to determine their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Mention an example of a training program that failed to address employees’ needs. Describe what went wrong and how you would improve the next time?
  • What’s the most challenging employee training scenario you have faced? What did you do?
  • How would you identify which benefits to retain and what to remove?
  • How would you deal with an employee who’s overworked due to a team member’s extended parental leave?
  • Describe your daily routine as an HR Specialist. 
  • How do you approach job interviews? What is your game plan?
  • How do you analyze large volumes of candidate data?

Tips: 

Just like role-specific and situational interview questions, use the S-T-A-R method. 

Prepare for the job interview by reviewing the job description. JDs can reveal plenty of helpful information about the skills the role requires. Then use relevant past experiences to explain how you are an ideal candidate for the position. 

For example, if the role you’re applying for involves a lot of payroll duties, mention how you accurately and timely process payroll updates with your last company, including new hires, terminations, and changes to pay rates.

Again, answer each question as honestly as you can because it doesn’t work to try to pretend to be someone just to get the job.

Summing it up

Passing the job interview is crucial in getting selected for the HR Specialist role.  

And you can increase your chances of getting hired by knowing and practicing your answers to the different types of role-specific, situational, and behavioral-based job interview questions.

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