Blog | 04.06.19

What Are the Best Questions to Ask in a Human Resources Interview?

Preparing the right interview questions can be tricky, especially when you’re looking to recruit an HR professional. While exploring general interview topics (like strengths, weaknesses, and goals) is always useful—you have to ask engaging, specialty-specific questions to really test the quality of an HR candidate.


Our team here at HR Personnel Services is committed to making the HR hiring process as smooth and painless as possible. That’s why we provide award-winning HR recruiting and staffing solutions for organizations of every size across the nation. Today, to help you find that perfect HR candidate, we’ll be walking through a few essential questions to ask in an HR interview.


How Would You Approach a Job Elimination?

In an industry full of tough calls, job eliminations rank at the top of the HR ladder. Firing or laying an employee off is never easy—which is why it’s essential to ask this question. Your candidate’s response will inform his or her philosophy on job terminations, and can shed light on how comfortable the candidate is with the idea of letting an employee go.


Depending on the role you’re hiring for, you can feel free to split this question up into multiple segments. For example, if your candidate has previous experience with job eliminations, you can ask him or her to walk through a particularly challenging termination—and how they managed it. This is a perfect follow-up question because it allows you to judge how successfully they put their philosophy into action. It’s easy to outline an approach with confidence, but much harder to demonstrate why that approach works in challenging situations.


This question isn’t off the table for entry-level or contract HR candidates either, especially if you see opportunities for them to grow within your company. You can outline one or two hypothetical job elimination scenarios and ask the candidate to explain how they would approach it to assess how they’ll handle difficult calls when under pressure.


How Would You Handle an Underperforming Employee?

Thankfully, not all HR interventions are as dire as job terminations. Employees experience stress, they fall behind, and sometimes need a helping hand to get back on the right track. With this question, you can test your candidate’s philosophy towards managing struggling employees—and see whether that line of thinking complements your vision and culture. Are they too lax, too harsh? Or does their approach align seamlessly with what you’re looking for?


As with the first question, you can split this question up into multiple pieces. For example, you could ask the candidate to outline his or her approach to performance improvement plans. What specific steps would they take to evaluate and assist an underperforming employee to bring them up to snuff? Similarity, you could ask for a particular example of when the candidate dealt with a struggling employee and had to implement a performance improvement plan.


This question is particularly important because it measures your candidate’s ability to course correct. How do they coach, train and elevate others into rockstar employees? Do they focus on rewarding these employees for their hard work—or simply move onto the next issue once performance levels come back up into the green? Details like that can really set the great HR employees apart from the good.


Describe Your Ideal Company Culture

Hard skills aren’t the only thing that you should look for in an HR candidate—you also need to make sure that you find someone who is a good fit for your company culture. Culture fit also has a major impact on employee performance and retention, which ultimately affect your company’s bottom line. HR candidates that complement your company culture will be more satisfied in their role—and work harder towards achieving strategic goals.


This is a particularly important question when searching for HR executives. How closely does their response align with your existing corporate culture—or the one you’d like to build? By having the candidate describe their ideal culture in their own language, you can see exactly which elements overlap and contrast with your company’s vision.


Find the Right Fit the First Time

Want to make the HR hiring process easier? Then it’s time to connect with HR Personnel Services. We streamline the whole recruiting process by finding the perfect candidates for your company’s unique needs. Our HR recruiters take the time to learn about your organization’s goals, objectives, and culture—leveraging our nationwide network of professionals to find highly qualified individuals who suit your business needs and culture.


Last but not least, feel free to contact us if you want more advice on what questions to ask a HR manager, HR specialist, or entry-level staff member. We’re always happy to help.

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