(Interview) Most Popular HR Interview Questions

Interview : Most Popular HR Interview Questions

What are your outside interests?

Try to gauge how this company?s culture would look upon your favorite outside activities and be guided accordingly.

You can also use this question to shatter any stereotypes that could limit your chances. If you?re over 50, for example, describe your activities that demonstrate physical stamina. If you?re young, mention an activity that connotes wisdom and institutional trust, such as serving on the board of a popular charity.

But above all, remember that your employer is hiring your for what you can do for him, not your family, yourself or outside organizations, no matter how admirable those activities may be.

The ?Fatal Flaw? question

As every master salesperson knows, you will encounter objections (whether stated or merely thought) in every sale. They?re part and parcel of the buyer?s anxiety. The key is not to exacerbate the buyer?s anxiety but diminish it. Here?s how?

Whenever you come up against a fatal flaw question:

Be completely honest, open and straightforward about admitting the shortcoming. (Showing you have nothing to hide diminishes the buyer?s anxiety.)

Do not apologize or try to explain it away. You know that this supposed flaw is nothing to be concerned about, and this is the attitude you want your interviewer to adopt as well.

Add that as desirable as such a qualification might be, its lack has made you work all the harder throughout your career and has not prevented you from compiling an outstanding tack record of achievements. You might even give examples of how, through a relentless commitment to excellence, you have consistently outperformed those who do have this qualification.

Of course, the ultimate way to handle ?fatal flaw? questions is to prevent them from arising in the first place. You will do that by following the master strategy described in Question 1, i.e., uncovering the employers needs and them matching your qualifications to those needs.

Once you?ve gotten the employer to start talking about his most urgently-felt wants and goals for the position, and then help him see in step-by-step fashion how perfectly your background and achievements match up with those needs, you?re going to have one very enthusiastic interviewer on your hands, one who is no longer looking for ?fatal flaws?.


How do you feel about reporting to a younger person (minority, woman, etc)?

You greatly admire a company that hires and promotes on merit alone and you couldn?t agree more with that philosophy. The age (gender, race, etc.) of the person you report to would certainly make no difference to you.

Whoever has that position has obviously earned it and knows their job well. Both the person and the position are fully deserving of respect. You believe that all people in a company, from the receptionist to the Chairman, work best when their abilities, efforts and feelings are respected and rewarded fairly, and that includes you. That?s the best type of work environment you can hope to find.

On confidential matters?

Your interviewer may press you for this information for two reasons.

First, many companies use interviews to research the competition. It?s a perfect set-up. Here in their own lair, is an insider from the enemy camp who can reveal prized information on the competition?s plans, research, financial condition, etc.

Second, the company may be testing your integrity to see if you can be cajoled or bullied into revealing confidential data.

What to do? The answer here is easy. Never reveal anything truly confidential about a present or former employer. By all means, explain your reticence diplomatically. For example, ?I certainly want to be as open as I can about that. But I also wish to respect the rights of those who have trusted me with their most sensitive information, just as you would hope to be able to trust any of your key people when talking with a competitor??

And certainly you can allude to your finest achievements in specific ways that don?t reveal the combination to the company safe.

But be guided by the golden rule. If you were the owner of your present company, would you feel it ethically wrong for the information to be given to your competitors? If so, steadfastly refuse to reveal it.

Remember that this question pits your desire to be cooperative against your integrity. Faced with any such choice, always choose integrity. It is a far more valuable commodity than whatever information the company may pry from you. Moreover, once you surrender the information, your stock goes down. They will surely lose respect for you.

One President we know always presses candidates unmercifully for confidential information. If he doesn?t get it, he grows visibly annoyed, relentlessly inquisitive, It?s all an act. He couldn?t care less about the information. This is his way of testing the candidate?s moral fiber. Only those who hold fast are hired.


What would you say to your boss if he?s crazy about an idea, but you think it stinks ?

Remember the rule stated earlier: In any conflict between values, always choose integrity.

Example: I believe that when evaluating anything, it?s important to emphasize the positive. What do I like about this idea??

 ?Then, if you have reservations, I certainly want to point them out, as specifically, objectively and factually as I can.?

 ?After all, the most important thing I owe my boss is honesty. If he can?t count on me for that, then everything else I may do or say could be questionable in his eyes.?

 ?But I also want to express my thoughts in a constructive way. So my goal in this case would be to see if my boss and I could make his idea even stronger and more appealing, so that it effectively overcomes any initial reservation I or others may have about it.?

 ?Of course, if he overrules me and says, ?no, let?s do it my way,? then I owe him my full and enthusiastic support to make it work as best it can.?


How could you have improved your career progress?

You?re generally quite happy with your career progress. Maybe, if you had known something earlier in life (impossible to know at the time, such as the booming growth in a branch in your industry?or the corporate downsizing that would phase out your last job), you might have moved in a certain direction sooner.

But all things considered, you take responsibility for where you are, how you?ve gotten there, where you are going?and you harbor no regrets.


What would you do if a fellow executive on your own corporate level wasn?t pulling his/her weight?and this was hurting your department?

Try to gauge the political style of the firm and be guided accordingly. In general, fall back on universal principles of effective human relations ? which in the end, embody the way you would like to be treated in a similar circumstance.

Example: ?Good human relations would call for me to go directly to the person and explain the situation, to try to enlist his help in a constructive, positive solution. If I sensed resistance, I would be as persuasive as I know how to explain the benefits we can all gain from working together, and the problems we, the company and our customers will experience if we don?t.?




And what would you do if he still did not change his ways?

ANSWER: ?One thing I wouldn?t do is let the problem slide, because it would only get worse and overlooking it would set a bad precedent. I would try again and again and again, in whatever way I could, to solve the problem, involving wider and wider circles of people, both above and below the offending executive and including my own boss if necessary, so that everyone involved can see the rewards for teamwork and the drawbacks of non-cooperation.?

 ?I might add that I?ve never yet come across a situation that couldn?t be resolved by harnessing others in a determined, constructive effort.?


You?ve been with your firm a long time. Won?t it be hard switching to a new company?

To overcome this objection, you must point to the many ways you have grown and adapted to changing conditions at your present firm. It has not been a static situation. Highlight the different responsibilities you?ve held, the wide array of new situations you?ve faced and conquered.

As a result, you?ve learned to adapt quickly to whatever is thrown at you, and you thrive on the stimulation of new challenges.

To further assure the interviewer, describe the similarities between the new position and your prior one. Explain that you should be quite comfortable working there, since their needs and your skills make a perfect match.


May I contact your present employer for a reference?

Express your concern that you?d like to keep your job search private, but that in time, it will be perfectly okay.

Example: ?My present employer is not aware of my job search and, for obvious reasons; I?d prefer to keep it that way. I?d be most appreciative if we kept our discussion confidential right now. Of course, when we both agree the time is right, then by all means you should contact them. I?m very proud of my record there.

Give me an example of your creativity (analytical skill?managing ability, etc.)

Remember from Question 2 that you should commit to memory a list of your greatest and most recent achievements, ever ready on the tip of your tongue.

If you have such a list, it?s easy to present any of your achievements in light of the quality the interviewer is asking about. For example, the smashing success you orchestrated at last year?s trade show could be used as an example of creativity, or analytical ability, or your ability to manage.


Where could you use some improvement?

Keep this answer, like all your answers, positive. A good way to answer this question is to identify a cutting-edge branch of your profession (one that?s not essential to your employer?s needs) as an area you?re very excited about and want to explore more fully over the next six months.


What do you worry about?

Redefine the word ?worry? so that it does not reflect negatively on you.

Example: ?I wouldn?t call it worry, but I am a strongly goal-oriented person. So I keep turning over in my mind anything that seems to be keeping me from achieving those goals, until I find a solution. That?s part of my tenacity, I suppose.?


I?m concerned that you don?t have as much experience as we?d like in?

This question is related to ?The Fatal Flaw? , but here the concern is not that you are totally missing some qualifications, such as CPA certification, but rather that your experience is light in one area.

Before going into any interview, try to identify the weakest aspects of your candidacy from this company?s point of view. Then prepare the best answer you possible can to shore up your defenses.

To get past this question with flying colors, you are going to rely on your master strategy of uncovering the employer?s greatest wants and needs and then matching them with your strengths. Since you already know how to do this from Question 1, you are in a much stronger position.

More specifically, when the interviewer poses as objection like this, you should?

Agree on the importance of this qualification.

Explain that your strength may be indeed be greater than your resume indicates because?

When this strength is added to your other strengths, it?s really your combination of qualifications that?s most important.

Then review the areas of your greatest strengths that match up most favorably with the company?s most urgently-felt wants and needs.

This is powerful way to handle this question for two reasons. First, you?re giving your interviewer more ammunition in the area of his concern. But more importantly, you?re shifting his focus away from this one, isolated area and putting it on the unique combination of strengths you offer, strengths which tie in perfectly with his greatest wants.


How do you feel about working nights and weekends?

First, if you?re a confirmed workaholic, this question is a softball lob. Whack it out of the park on the first swing by saying this kind of schedule is just your style. Add that your family understands it. Indeed, they?re happy for you, as they know you get your greatest satisfaction from your work.

If however, you prefer a more balanced lifestyle, answer this question with another: ?What?s the norm for your best people here??

If the hours still sound unrealistic for you, ask, ?Do you have any top people who perform exceptionally for you, but who also have families and like to get home in time to see them at night?? Chances are this company does, and this associates you with this other ?top-performers-who-leave-not-later-than-six? group.

Depending on the answer, be honest about how you would fit into the picture. If all those extra hours make you uncomfortable, say so, but phrase your response positively.

Example: ?I love my work and do it exceptionally well. I think the results speak for themselves, especially in ?(mention your two or three qualifications of greater interest to the employer. Remember, this is what he wants most, not a workaholic with weak credentials). Not only would I bring these qualities, but I?ve built my whole career on working not just hard, but smart. I think you?ll find me one of the most productive people here.

I do have a family who likes to see me after work and on weekends. They add balance and richness to my life, which in turn helps me be happy and productive at work. If I could handle some of the extra work at home in the evenings or on weekends, that would be ideal. You?d be getting a person of exceptional productivity who meets your needs with strong credentials. And I?d be able to handle some of the heavy workload at home where I can be under the same roof as my family. Everybody would win.?


Are you willing to relocate or travel?

First find out where you may have to relocate and how much travel may be involved. Then respond to the question.

If there?s no problem, say so enthusiastically.

If you do have a reservation, there are two schools of thought on how to handle it.

One advises you to keep your options open and your reservations to yourself in the early going, by saying, ?no problem?. You strategy here is to get the best offer you can, then make a judgment whether it?s worth it to you to relocate or travel.

Also, by the time the offer comes through, you may have other offers and can make a more informed decision. Why kill of this opportunity before it has chance to blossom into something really special? And if you?re a little more desperate three months from now, you might wish you hadn?t slammed the door on relocating or traveling.

The second way to handle this question is to voice a reservation, but assert that you?d be open to relocating (or traveling) for the right opportunity.

The answering strategy you choose depends on how eager you are for the job. If you want to take no chances, choose the first approach.

If you want to play a little harder-to-get in hopes of generating a more enticing offer, choose the second.


Do you have the stomach to fire people? Have you had experience firing many people?

Describe the rational and sensible management process you follow in both hiring and firing.

Example: ?My whole management approach is to hire the best people I can find, train them thoroughly and well, get them excited and proud to be part of our team, and then work with them to achieve our goals together. If you do all of that right, especially hiring the right people, I?ve found you don?t have to fire very often.

?So with me, firing is a last resort. But when it?s got to be done, it?s got to be done, and the faster and cleaner, the better. A poor employee can wreak terrible damage in undermining the morale of an entire team of good people. When there?s no other way, I?ve found it?s better for all concerned to act decisively in getting rid of offenders who won?t change their ways.?


Why have you had so many jobs?

First, before you even get to the interview stage, you should try to minimize your image as job hopper. If there are several entries on your resume of less than one year, consider eliminating the less important ones. Perhaps you can specify the time you spent at previous positions in rounded years not in months and years.

Example: Instead of showing three positions this way:

6/1982 ? 3/1983, Position A;

4/1983 ? 12/1983, Position B;

1/1984 ? 8/1987, Position C;

?it would be better to show simply:

1982 ? 1983, Position A;

1984 ? 1987 Position C.

In other words, you would drop Position B altogether. Notice what a difference this makes in reducing your image as a job hopper.

Once in front of the interviewer and this question comes up, you must try to reassure him. Describe each position as part of an overall pattern of growth and career destination.

Be careful not to blame other people for your frequent changes. But you can and should attribute certain changes to conditions beyond your control.

Example: Thanks to an upcoming merger, you wanted to avoid an ensuing bloodbath, so you made a good, upward career move before your department came under the axe of the new owners.

If possible, also show that your job changes were more frequent in your younger days, while you were establishing yourself, rounding out your skills and looking for the right career path. At this stage in your career, you?re certainly much more interested in the best long-term opportunity.

You might also cite the job where you stayed the longest and describe that this type of situation is what you?re looking for now.


What do you see as the proper role/mission of?

?a good (job title you?re seeking);

?a good manager;

?an executive in serving the community;

?a leading company in our industry; etc.

Think of the most essential ingredients of success for each category above ? your job title, your role as manager, your firm?s role, etc.

Identify at least three but no more than six qualities you feel are most important to success in each role. Then commit your response to memory.

Here, again, the more information you?ve already drawn out about the greatest wants and needs of the interviewer, and the more homework you?ve done to identify the culture of the firm, the more on-target your answer will be.


Would you lie for the company?

Try to avoid choosing between two values, giving a positive statement which covers all bases instead.

Example: ?I would never do anything to hurt the company..?

If aggressively pressed to choose between two competing values, always choose personal integrity. It is the most prized of all values.


Looking back, what would you do differently in your life?

Indicate that you are a happy, fulfilled, optimistic person and that, in general, you wouldn?t change a thing.

Example: ?It?s been a good life, rich in learning and experience, and the best it yet to come. Every experience in life is a lesson it its own way. I wouldn?t change a thing.?


Could you have done better in your last job?

Again never be negative.

Example: ?I suppose with the benefit of hindsight you can always find things to do better, of course, but off the top of my head, I can?t think of anything of major consequence.?

 (If more explanation seems necessary)


Describer a situation that didn?t suffer because of you but from external conditions beyond your control?

For example, describe the disappointment you felt with a test campaign, new product launch, merger, etc., which looked promising at first, but led to underwhelming results. ?I wish we could have known at the start what we later found out (about the economy turning, the marketplace changing, etc.), but since we couldn?t, we just had to go for it. And we did learn from it??


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