Human Resources Officer Interview Questions
A human resources officer (HRO) can be in charge of many duties or a specialist who focuses on one particular area, depending on the company’s needs. Smaller companies will typically only have one HRO, while larger companies will have an entire HR Department with duties split between teams.
HRO positions are a unique blend of management and administration. As an HRO, it is up to you to make sure that you hire employees who will be an asset to the company and fit in well with the company culture. Additionally, it is also your job to make sure you develop and implement policies to ensure your staff is trained appropriately and knows how to manage their own job duties.
HRO responsibilities may include:
- Recruiting staff which may include developing job advertisements, conducting interviews, and hiring candidates
- Acting as a consultant with other departments on issues such as code of conduct, welfare, safety procedures, etc.
- Monitoring performance among staff
- Maintaining payroll and benefit allocation
- Developing company policy on issues such as safety, disciplinary procedures, management guidelines, etc.
- Handling employee disputes
- Being aware of and analyzing the need for policy changes in different departments
HROs are expected to have their finger on the pulse of the company. To be able to effectively train, manage, and enforce policy, a good HRO will need to be able to:
- Establish effective working relationships with employees in all departments
- Communicate company procedures and policies clearly
- Have an eye for detail
- Be able to maintain professionalism at all times
- Conduct research and analyze data
- Inspire confidence within management in order to implement personnel policies
- Build trust within the company so employees feel comfortable talking to you about confidential matters
- Effectively manage and lead a team
In order to gain an entry-level position, candidates will typically need a bachelor’s degree in human resources or a similar field. For management positions or jobs within larger companies, candidates will typically need at least two years of experience and sometimes even a master’s degree. Additionally, candidates can gain additional certifications to make themselves more appealing, such as the Professional of Human Resources certification.
Salaries for human resources officers range between $86K and $135K with the median being $110K.
Factors impacting the salary you receive as a human resources officer include:
- Degrees and Training (associate's degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree, specialized certifications (SHRM), etc.)
- Years of Experience
- Reporting Structure (seniority of the manager you report to, number of direct reports)
- Level of Performance - exceeding expectations
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Human Resources Officer Interview Questions
Question: What important content do you believe needs to be included in an effective HR policy or procedure?
Explanation: This is a general question which the interviewer will ask early in the interview. The purpose of general questions is to begin to explore your background, to get you talking, and to collect information the interviewer will use for subsequent questions.
Example: “Effective HR operations begin with clear policies and procedures which form the foundation for both employee behavior and effective human resource management. Some of the key elements of strong HR policies and procedures include a clearly stated purpose, clear and well-written policy statements, definitions of any terms which may not be familiar to the employees, statement of the scope of the policy, and finally, declaration of who is responsible for implementing the policies or procedures within the organization.”
Question: How do you keep current on contemporary HR policies and procedures, especially in terms of evolving legislation and regulations?
Explanation: This is an example of a follow-up question to the previous one asked by the interviewer. Interviewers will ask follow-up questions about topics they are especially interested in or which are important to the organization. You should anticipate follow-up questions to every answer you provide the interviewer.
Example: “As an HR professional, it’s critically important that I stay abreast of new developments, both within the field of human resources and with any applicable regulations and legislation. I do this in several ways, including reading industry journals, attending HR-related conferences, being a member of organizations such as SHRM, and subscribing to newsletters published by state, local, and national legislative bodies.”
Question: What are some of the steps you take to make the recruiting process go smoothly?
Explanation: This is an operational question an interviewer will ask you to learn about the processes you use when performing your job. Operational questions are best answered by describing the process, and if necessary, walking the interviewer through it step by step.
Example: “The key thing to keep in mind when recruiting employees is alignment with the organization's priorities and business objectives. Once I understand these, I perform a SWOT analysis to determine the recruiting requirements for the organization. I then work with the hiring managers to establish the recruitment criteria. Next, I create job postings that incorporate everything I’ve learned and will attract the appropriate applicants. Finally, I use a variety of channels to reach the candidates I am looking for.”
Question: What have you done to help reduce absenteeism and turnover in the workforces of the organizations you’ve worked with in the past?
Explanation: This is another operational question that addresses a specific area of concern for HR managers. Much of your interview will involve operational and technical questions. The best way to respond to these is straightforwardly with little embellishment. The interviewer will ask follow-up questions if they need additional information.
Example: “Employee absenteeism and turnover is normally a result of poor management or challenging working conditions. If an organization is struggling with these issues, the first thing I do is look for trends. For example, if a particular department has a high turnover rate, I interview the employees and get their impression of their management team and working conditions. Normally, there is a consensus that will identify issues. I can then address them and hopefully solve the problems.”
Question: What are the key things you consider when you have to communicate HR policy to the rest of the organization?
Explanation: This is another operational question. HR policies and procedures are important, but they are only effective if the employees understand them. Clear communication of HR policies and procedures is an important skill for an HR officer. You should be able to demonstrate your communication skills when answering this question.
Example: “One of the most challenging aspects of my job is making sure I clearly communicate HR policies to the entire organization. Steps I take to do this include developing a communication strategy, making sure the policy is written in clear and easy-to-understand language and presenting the information to the employees in multiple formats including verbally, written, and online while also asking for employee feedback to ensure they understand the policies.”
Question: What are the greatest challenges facing a human resources organization?
Explanation: This is another general question the interviewer will ask to understand your knowledge of the HR industry and the aspects of the job that are important to you. They also want to learn if the challenges you identify are the same ones their organization is facing. This will help them determine how good a fit you are for this role.
Example: “There are several issues the HR industry is currently struggling with which include inclusion and diversity, the impact of social media on workplace dynamics, low unemployment, and the challenge of recruiting new employees and creating a performance-based culture within the organization. Each of these challenges presents HR professionals with the opportunity to improve the workplace environment and the performance of the organization’s employees.”
Question: Do you believe counseling employees about personal problems is appropriate for an HR professional?
Explanation: The interviewer will ask you this type of question to understand where you draw the line between workplace and personal issues. This is critical for an HR employee because straying into the area of personal problems could violate an employee’s right to privacy which may lead to legal accusations brought by the employee against the organization. The best way to answer this question is to follow strict HR policies as dictated by the organization and any applicable regulatory agencies.
Example: “I recognize personal issues can sometimes impact an employee’s behavior on the job. However, I’m very careful not to violate an employee’s right to privacy by inquiring about any issues occurring outside the workplace. If I suspect an employee is being distracted by external or personal issues, I refer them to the company’s employee assistance program. If their performance continues to deteriorate, I then work with their direct supervisor to either improve their performance or take steps to manage them outside of the organization.”
Question: Sometimes, employees can become hostile or negative. How do you manage these types of situations?
Explanation: This is an operational question about a specific issue an HR employee typically encounters in the workplace. Being able to deal with these situations in an effective and compliant manner is important. Your response to this question should demonstrate your ability to do this.
Example: “As an HR officer, I’ve learned that anything I do requires a great deal of diplomacy. When I encounter a hostile or negative employee, the first thing I do is try to calm them down and de-escalate the situation. Once I’ve achieved this, I then have a discussion with them about the cause of their hostility or negativity. We then collaborate to develop possible solutions to the issue. Once the solutions are implemented, I circle back with the employee to make sure they are satisfied with the outcome or to identify any other issues which may impact their performance.”
Question: How do you identify opportunities for additional training and development for the organization’s employees?
Explanation: The interviewer is asking you this operational question to gain an understanding of your skills and experience in the area of employee training and development. This is key to many organizations because it is always easier to retain and develop employees than to hire externally for the skills the organization needs. Training programs are the responsibility of the HR department, but you need to work closely with the functional areas of the company to identify the type of training needed.
Example: “Employee training and development is one of the most important aspects of my job. I am constantly working with the operational and administrative departments within the company to identify their employee training and development requirements. I source programs from both inside and outside of the company to achieve these objectives. While most training programs are implemented at the departmental level, I work closely with the organization’s supervisors to discover if any individual employee needs specialized training.”
Question: What type of questions would you ask me if we reversed roles and you were the interviewer?
Explanation: This is a unique question that will only be asked to either HR employees or managers who will be hiring other employees. You should be prepared for this question and able to describe how you would conduct an interview. You don’t need to have specific questions prepared, but instead, describe the type of questions you would ask and the information you would be looking for during an interview.
Example: “This is a great question, and one I haven’t been asked before. If I were conducting this interview, I would ask many of the same questions you've already asked. I’d start by having the employee tell me about themselves, and then I'd ask some general questions to learn more about their background and experience. I’d then begin to ask operational and technical questions to understand their skills in the role for which they are interviewing. Finally, I would ask some behavioral questions to see how they would respond to specific job-related situations in order to determine if they would be a good fit or the organization.”
Additional Human Resources Officer Interview Questions
Since human resources officers are such a vital part of the company, they can expect to be subject to a comprehensive interview process. You should go into the interview knowing as much as possible about your target company and expecting the following questions:
How would you plan to implement meticulous payroll and benefits administration?
How do you deal with unethical situations? Any examples?
Give an example of a past HR policy you didn’t agree with.
What type of HR software are you familiar with?
Define company culture. What steps have you taken to promote a healthy company culture?
How would you protect the interests of all employees and maintain strict confidentiality of information?
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