HR Interview Questions Asked by Recruiters & Tips to Answer

HR Interview Questions Asked by Recruiters & Tips to Answer | Leadership | Emeritus

It’s raining interviews these days. People are getting calls, and the recruiters are busy with back-to-back interviews. They will ask you questions to validate their hunches and judgments. These questions range from your resume to your career choices, personality, and sometimes your future. It’s only recommended to be as ready as possible. So here are the top 10 questions you must answer and prepare for well. In addition, 20 questions might come or might not. You should be ready irrespective.

In my opinion, people make the most mistakes in these ten questions, and hence a few tips have been provided. The rest 20 are generic, business awareness related, or some very specific ones to a few personal choices. They are relatively easy to manage.

Go ahead, read the tips and prepare well. Remember reading this article is not the end of your preparations; it’s the beginning before the beginning.

Questions & Tips

  1. Talk to me about your career journey/trajectory so far?
  • Always start from the present experience and spend the most time talking about the current role. Help people see the storyboard behind career choices and career decisions. Connectivity is critical. It builds trust. If there isn’t one, then take some time to make a story. If not for past choices, then at least have a vision for the future-ready.
  • Don’t simply jump from explaining one job to another. Talk about skills, key achievements in those roles, and how they made you a better professional.
  • Take a pause and check if more details are needed. Do not share extra information. Asking is always better.
  • If the career span is more than five years, you may skip talking about the education qualification. However, for less than five years of experience, touch upon your education.
  • You can lead the flow of questions from the interviewer by mentioning a project/activity for each job where you have done well, which leads to the interviewer asking for more details of the project. This way, you have control over the interview direction positively.
  1. Can you elaborate on the career objective?
  • Make sure the CO is not a copy-paste version from google or a friend’s resume. Your CO should be 100 percent aligned with you, your career choices, your skills, and your plans for the future. It’s not mandatory to have a career objective; it’s fine if you have a two-year plan. If not a two-year plan, then at least share some ideas you might have for yourself. Some clarity is critical. You may talk about skills you want to develop and the kind of role and exposure you want. Keep it at a high level. If you have a very specific answer, make sure you add some flexibility to it.
  1. What are your expectations from your future organization?
  • The worst answer is the one that comes in monetary forms. “I need X amount. ” Monetary discussions happen basis value propositions. Stick to that rule.
  • Think about your answers regarding learning opportunities, growth opportunities, work experience, mentoring, and coaching.
  • It’s fine to talk about a certain kind of culture where you feel you can flourish.
  • Try and marry your values and strengths with those of the organization.
  • You need to have some basic research and knowledge about the organization.
  • Most importantly, ask yourself what do you need from a job?
  • Avoid designations and titles just like money.
  1. Why are you looking for a change?
  • Growth opportunities, better career exposure, learning opportunities, and a bigger playground are excellent answers. Make sure you can quantify them with anecdotal evidence. You should be able to have a dialogue around it and share the plan.
  • If you have been with the organization for more than five years, it’s fine to say you want to break your comfort zone. But make sure you can define it.
  • Avoid saying, “I am bored, I need some excitement, I think the boss is bad, the organization is political.”
  • All the answers should be constructive and positively framed. It doesn’t mean you need to lie; if there is a problem, think it through before the meeting, detach yourself from it and be fearless about it.
  • A job change should never only be for a monetary increase, even if that’s your reason. You have to put a value proposition. Why would anyone give you a job because you are just so underpaid? It needs to make sense for you and the employer. So, dig deeper.
  1. What are the two things you like about your current employer?
  • Be honest and genuine, and fearless. It’s fine to accept the good points. It could be the current boss, culture, value, pay grade, etc.
  • The follow-up question might be “then why are you leaving, “and that’s where you will have to be clear with the question above. It’s completely fine to go to good organizations. It’s fine if the firm is great, and the boss is also good. You need to believe in your answers and share that with conviction.
  • Manage the intimidation which might come with the questions. Expect some pressure and anticipate it before the interview.
  1. Two things you do not like about your current employer?
  • Remember, this is a trick question. It’s not your gossip session. You cannot go on cribbing about your employer.
  • Be mindful of your role, responsibility, and your reputation.
  • If there are a few things that you feel your current employer can do better, then take ownership, phrase them with maturity and say it along with a probable solution.
  • You might have to check your problem-solver attitude if this question comes.
  1. How much do you know about our organization?
  • Your first go-to response is to read the website. Let me break it to you; it’s not enough.
  • You have to speak to people, employees, peers, and references and frame a view.
  • If it has to be a website, make sure you read press releases, the latest news, and updates.
  • Make sure you know about the industry and the problems. Competition knowledge is critical too.
  1. I see you have taken many courses, can you pick one out of them and talk to me about it?
  • In the last two years, this has become a trend; people ventured into course shopping. They loaded the profiles with at least 20 plus courses. If that’s your case, you have a problem to deal with.
  • The courses you take might not need to be on your resume. Your resume needs to be aligned with the job role, and so does the interview.
  • You may talk about other skills which are not related, but your focus should be on skills that add value.
  • So, shortlist some top courses as per the role and go deeper.
  • It would help if you held a conversation around the skill or course taken. No one wants to see degrees; people want the trust of application.
  1. What would you say are your top 5 skills?
  • This is a question of judging self-awareness. You can’t answer this question if you have not thought about it earlier. So, think and plan beforehand.
  • It is advisable to take a strength questionnaire or some test. Easily available on google.
  • Keep at least 5 to 7 strengths ready. Align the ones which go with the job role.
  • Share evidence, stories, and anecdotal evidence to help people appreciate the depth.
  1. What are your developmental areas?
  • One part of self-awareness is strength, and another part is developmental areas. It would help if you were ready for both.
  • It might be worrisome if one of the critical skills for the new role falls under your development areas.
  • If all critical skills are in your development areas, you need to think about the job again.
  • In every other case, try and ascertain where you are on those skills. What is the gap, and how can you cope with it?
  • It’s fine to have development gaps; please add your action plan to improve upon. It’s not fine to know and not do anything about them.
  • The above ten questions are my best pick. The below questions are more generic. Before appearing in an interview, one should go through them and see if these topics are covered too. They don’t have any tips since these are generic, business-related questions or sometimes extremely personal ones:
  1. How has technology impacted the industries at large?
  2. How will you handle conflicts in teams? Can you give examples?
  3. How do you handle stress and pressure at work? Can you share a few examples?
  4. What is your view on Inclusion and Diversity?
  5. How can you make teams more inclusive?
  6. What is a VUCA world?
  7. How do you suggest the organization should cope with the VUCA world
  8. How aware are you of what is going on in the world?
  9. Can you list down the top 3 global trends or highlights?
  10. What is ESG ? have you heard of it? Can you explain the impact?
  11. Can you explain a project which was a significant success and why?
  12. Can you list down at least two failures, and what did you learn from them?
  13. How do you see the future of work evolving?
  14. There have been education shifts ( MBA< engineering, sciences etc.), can you help me draw up a correlation and justify your decision>
  15. You have a family business; I think you might join the family business quite early. Can we speak about it?
  16. You seem to be highly underpaid; can you explain the imbalance?
  17. You seem to be highly overpaid; can you justify it?
  18. Have you had any difficult conversations? How will you go about it?
  19. Your profile is very interesting. You seem to be multi-talented; how do you balance all these interests yet maintain a vertical depth (mastery) in one of them?
  20. How do you maintain your work-life balance?

A generic tip for interviews is to be authentic and to the point. It’s your resume and career; why should you be taken aback by any question? There exists the possibility to anticipate all landlines and diffuse them with honesty, sincerity, and sometimes wit. Please invest time thinking about job shifts, gaps, and early exit. Those are the places where people make the most mistakes.


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~ Ankit Jhamb | HR Leader

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