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The interview is one of the most crucial components of hiring a potential employee. Everyone knows the feeling of the one being interviewed. Clammy palms, rattled thoughts, and shaky hands—these are common things a job applicant feels before sitting for an interview. But looking at the other end of the table, how does it feel to be the person from human resources interviewing?

The human resources (HR) department cradles the responsibility of finding the right people to fill job vacancies in the organization. Its hiring process is usually the sourcing, contacting, interviewing, and selecting the successful candidates.

So how do they go about the interviewing process so well? The human resources are skilled in conducting job interviews. After all, they studied for and specialized in it. And if you’re an aspiring HR specialist, you might wonder where they get their chockful of questions to ask during interviews. To provide you a guide, here are the common questions and follow-up questions to ask candidates in their interviews:

General interview questions

General interview questions are the traditional questions that you ask for all candidates of every position. They are not as specific as the other kinds of questions as these mainly aim to get a glimpse of the person’s background, expertise, experience, and qualities. Here are the common general questions that you are most likely to ask the applicants when interviewing for human resources:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • How did you hear about the position?
  • Why do you want to work for the company?
  • Why do you want to apply for the role?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Why did you leave your last company?
  • What did you do during your employment gap year?
  • What is your expected salary?
  • How do you see yourself in five years?
  • What made you apply for the position?
  • How would your old coworkers describe you?
  • What kind of workplace environment is the most desirable to you?

Behavioral questions

The behavioral questions aim to decipher the certain behaviors that would make a perfect candidate for the job. These can be used to assess the competency of the applicant to handle given scenarios that are important to the job. Behavioral questions are often straightforward and probing. Here are some of those questions you may ask to know more about the behavioral attributes of the applicant:

  • Describe a situation where you were able to successfully persuade someone in the workplace.
  • Tell me about a time when you faced a stressful situation in the workplace where you demonstrated your coping skills.
  • Mention a scenario where you used your good judgment and analytical skills in problem-solving.
  • Give me an example of when you were able to achieve your set goals.
  • Cite an instance where you had to obey a policy that you did not agree about.
  • How do you handle defeat?

When job applicants provide a thin answer, you can probe them more by asking follow-up questions like the following:

  • What did you do?
  • What are the challenges you had to face and how did you win over them?
  • How did you come up with that decision?
  • What made you do it?
  • How did you do it?
  • What was your role in that situation?

Case Interview questions

These are questions that include a scenario asking how the applicant would handle it. The questions are always related to the job responsibility. And these aim to tease the mind and find out how the applicant will deal with the situation rightfully. Here is an example of a case interview question for an app developer role.

  • How would you redesign the mobile app of X brand to make it more user-friendly?

Competency-based interview questions

Much like behavioral questions, competency-based questions seek to know the exact situations where the applicant demonstrated particular skills and attitudes. These questions aim to test or testify to the skill of the applicant. The answers are usually to be compared against pre-determined criteria. Here are some competency-based interview questions:

  • Describe a situation where you spearheaded the team.
  • Tell me about a critical decision you’ve made recently. How did you go about it?
  • What’s your biggest achievement to date?
  • How do you cope with adversity?
  • Cite a situation where you displayed integrity and professionalism.
  • Tell me about a time when you were told to do something that’s against your principles.
  • How do you influence others in the team?

Problem-solving interview questions

These questions don’t necessarily seek the conventionally right answers. You should be more interested in how the applicant is going to solve the given problem. These questions test the ability to analyze a problem and arrive at a logical decision. Here are some problem-solving interview questions you may ask candidates:

  • When faced with a conflict, what do you do?
  • How do you weigh the pros and cons before making decisions?
  • How would you handle an unsatisfied and irate customer?
  • What do you do when you get an unexpected challenge at work?
  • Tell me about a time when you saw a potential problem and resolved it before it even arose.
  • Cite a personal weakness that you needed to overcome for the improvement of your work performance. How did you do it?

Situational interview questions

These questions are based on situations that applicants may face once hired in the company. These will help you assess the compatibility of the person to handle the job. Here are some situational interview questions to ask job applicants:

  • Tell me about a time where you had to collaborate with a worker who was difficult to work with.
  • Cite an instance where you went above and beyond for your job.
  • Describe a time when you weren’t satisfied with your work. What could have made it better?
  • Was there a time that you had to make a good impression on a customer? Describe the situation and what you did.
  • Tell me about the times where your workload was severely heavy.
  • Describe a time when you handled a big project and had a difficult time completing it. How did you manage the project and its deadline?
  • Tell me about a significant work failure you encountered. How did you handle it?

Soft skills interview questions

There are several soft skills you need to assess upon hiring a candidate. Depending on the role, these may vary. But some of the universal soft skills needed to land the job are communication. Leadership, management, interpersonal, analytical, and problem-solving skills. Here are a few questions that you can ask when determining the soft skill attributes of the person:

  • Rate your communication skills from one to ten. Why?
  • How did you handle an unforeseen problem when your superior was away?
  • How do you handle constructive criticisms?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to juggle multiple tasks at a time. How did you handle it?
  • How would you break down a complex subject to a customer or your coworker?
  • Has your honesty landed you in serious trouble?
  • How do you handle projects that don’t go according to plan? How do you deal with such situations?
  • Tell me about a time where you had to perform a task you have not done before.
  • How do you get along with new coworkers?

Technical skills interview questions

These questions comprise inquiries dissecting the technical knowledge and experience of the applicant, which are necessary to perform the job. The required technical skills vary per job position, so the questions always come down from what field the role is. Here are some sample technical skill questions if you are interviewing for a computer programmer role:

  • What programming languages are you adept with? Describe your experience with each of them.
  • What do you consider an indefensible programming mistake?
  • How do you keep your technical and programming language up-to-date?
  • What do you enjoy about programming?
  • What’s the most difficult thing about working as a programmer?

And these are the questions to ask when interviewing for human resources. There are a lot more questions to know and variations that will depend on the job position you are interviewing for. If you want to get a roster of more questions and tips for nailing your interview with applicants, check out these Skill Success courses to guide you:

Ready to upskill in interviewing for human resources? Click here to get started.

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