HR Questions – Frequently Asked
How would you handle a negative coworker?
Everyone has to deal with negative coworkers – and the single best way to do so is to remain positive. You may try to build a relationship with the coworker or relate to them in some way, but even if your efforts are met with a cold shoulder, you must retain your positive attitude. Above all, stress that you would never allow a coworker’s negativity to impact your own work or productivity.
What would you do if you witnessed a coworker surfing the web, reading a book, etc, wasting company time?
The interviewer will want to see that you realize how detrimental it is for employees to waste company time, and that it is not something you take lightly. Explain the way you would adhere to company policy, whether that includes talking to the coworker yourself, reporting the behavior straight to a supervisor, or talking to someone in HR.
How do you handle competition among yourself and other employees?
Healthy competition can be a great thing, and it is best to stay focused on the positive aspects of this here. Don’t bring up conflict among yourself and other coworkers, and instead focus on the motivation to keep up with the great work of others, and the ways in which coworkers may be a great support network in helping to push you to new’ successes.
When is it okay to socialize with coworkers?
This question has two extreme answers (all the time, or never), and your interviewer, in most cases, will want to see that you fall somewhere in the middle. It’s important to establish solid relationships with your coworkers, but never at the expense of getting work done. Ideally, relationship-building can happen with exercises of teamwork and special projects, as well as in the break room.
Tell me about a time when a major change was made at your last job, and how you handled it.
Provide a set-up for the situation including the old system, what the change was, how it was implemented, and the results of the change, and include how you felt about each step of the way. Be sure that your initial thoughts on the old system are neutral, and that your excitement level grows with each step of the new change, as an interviewer will be pleased to see your adaptability.
When delegating tasks, how do you choose which tasks go to which team members?
The interviewer is looking to gain insight into your though t process with this question, so be sure to offer thorough reasoning behind your choice. Explain that you delegate tasks based on each individual’s personal strengths, or that you look at how many other projects each person is working on at the time, in order to create the best fit possible.
Tell me about a time when you had to stand up for something you believed strongly about to coworkers or a supervisor.
While it may be difficult to explain a situation of conflict to an interviewer, this is a great opportunity to display your passions and convictions, and your dedication to your beliefs. Explain not just the situation to the interviewer, but also elaborate on why it was so important to you to stand up for the issue, and how your coworker or supervisor responded to you afterward – were they more respectful? Unreceptive? Open-minded? Apologetic?
Tell me about a time when you helped someone finish their work, even though it wasn’t “your job.”
Though you may be frustrated when required to pick up someone else’s slack, it’s important that you remain positive about lending a hand. The interviewer will be looking to see if you’re a team player, and by helping someone else finish a task that he or she couldn’t manage alone, you show both your willingness to help the team succeed, and your own competence.
What are the challenges of working on a team? How do you handle this?
There are many obvious challenges to working on a team, such as handling different perspectives, navigating individual schedules, or accommodating difficult workers. It’s best to focus on one challenge, such as individual team members missing deadlines or failing to keep commitments, and then offer a solution that clearly addresses the problem. For example, you could organize weekly status meetings for your team to discuss progress, or assign shorter deadlines in order to keep the longterm deadline on schedule.
Do you value diversity in the workplace?
Diversity is important in the workplace in order to foster an environment that is accepting, equalizing, and full of different perspectives and backgrounds. Be sure to show your awareness of these issues, and stress the importance of learning from others’ experiences.
How would you handle a situation in which a coworker was not accepting of someone else’s diversity?
Explain that it is important to adhere to company policies regarding diversity, and that you would talk to the relevant supervisors or management team. When it is appropriate, it could also be best to talk to the coworker in question about the benefits of alternate perspectives – if you can handle the situation.yourself, it’s best not to bring resolvable issues to management.
Are you rewarded more from working on a team, or accomplishing a task on your own?
It’s best to show a balance between these two aspects – your employer wants to see that you’re comfortable working on your own, and that you can complete tasks efficiently and well without assistance. However, it’s also important for your employer to see that you can be a team player, and that you understand the value that multiple perspectives and efforts can bring to a project.
Tell me about a time when you didn’t meet a deadline.
Ideally, this hasn’t happened – but if it has, make sure you use a minor example to illustrate the situation, emphasize how long ago it happened, and be sure that you did as much as you could to ensure that the deadline was met. Additionally, be sure to include what you learned about managing time better or prioritizing tasks in order to meet all future deadlines.
How do you eliminate distractions while working?
With the increase of technology and the ease of communication, new distractions arise every day. Your interviewer will want to see that you are still able to focus on work, and that your productivity has not been affected, by an example showing a routine you employ in order to stay on task.
Tell me about a time when you worked in a position with a weekly or monthly quota to meet. How often were you successful?
Your numbers will speak for themselves, and you must answer this question honestly. If you were regularly met your quotas, be sure to highlight this in a confident manner and don’t be shy in pointing out your strengths in this area. If your statistics are less than stellar, try to point out trends in which they increased toward the end of your employment, and show reflection as to ways you can improve in the future.
Tell me about a time when you met a tough deadline, and how you were able to complete it.
Explain how you were able to prioritize tasks, or to delegate portions of an assignments to other team members, in order to deal with a tough deadline. It may be beneficial to specify why the deadline was tough – make sure it’s clear that it was not a result of procrastination on your part. Finally, explain how you were able to successfully meet the deadline, and what it took to get there in the end.
How do you stay organized when you have multiple projects on your plate?
The interviewer will be looking to see that you can manage your time and work well – and being able to handle multiple projects at once, and still giving each the attention it deserves, is a great mark of a worker’s competence and efficiency. Go through a typical process of goal-setting and prioritizing, and explain the steps of these to the interviewer, so he or she can see how well you manage time.
How much time during your work day do you spend on “auto-pilot?”
While you may wonder if the employer is looking to see how efficient you are with this question (for example, so good at your job that you don’t have to think about it), but in almost every case, the employer wants to see that you’re constantly thinking, analyzing, and processing what’s going on in the workplace. F.ven if things are running smoothly, there’s usually an opportunity somewhere to make things more efficient or to increase sales or productivity. Stress your dedication to ongoing development, and convey that being on “auto-pilot” is not conducive to that type of success.
How do you handle deadlines?
The most important part of handling tough deadlines is to prioritize tasks and set goals for completion, as well as to delegate or eliminate unnecessary work. Lead the interviewer through a general scenario, and display your competency through your ability to organize and set priorities, and most importantly, remain calm.
Tell me about your personal problem-solving process.
Your personal problem-solving process should include outlining the problem, coming up with possible ways to fix the problem, and setting a clear action plan that leads to resolution. Keep your answer brief and organized, and explain the steps in a concise, calm manner that shows you are level-headed even under stress.
What sort of things at work can make you stressed?
As it’s best to stay away from negatives, keep this answer brief and simple. While answering that nothing at work makes you stressed will not be very believable to the interviewer, keep your answer to one generic principle such as when members of a team don’t keep their commitments, and then focus on a solution you generally employ to tackle that stress, such as having weekly status meetings or intermittent deadlines along the course of a project.
What do you look like when you are stressed about something? How do you solve it?
This is a trick question – your interviewer wants to hear that you don’t look any different what you’re stressed, and that you don’t allow negative emotions to interfere with your productivity. As far as how you solve your stress, it’s best if you have a simple solution mastered, such as simply taking deep breaths and counting to 10 to bring yourself back to the task at hand.
Can you multi-task?
Some people can, and some people can’t. The most important part of multi-tasking is to keep a clear head at all times about what needs to be done, and what priority each task falls under. Explain how you evaluate tasks to determine priority, and how you manage your time in order to ensure that all are completed efficiently.
How many hours per week do you work?
Many people get tricked by this question, thinking that answering more hours is better – however, this may cause an employer to wonder why you have to work so many hours in order to gel the work done that other people can do in a shorter amount of time. Give a fair estimate of hours that it should take you to complete a job, and explain that you are also willing to work extra whenever needed.
How many times per day do you check your email?
While an employer wants to see that you are plugged into modern technology, it is also important that the number of times you check your email per day is relatively low – perhaps two to three times per day (dependent on the specific field you’re in). Checking email is often a great distraction in the workplace, and while it is important to remain connected, much correspondence can simply be handled together in the morning and afternoon.
Tell me about a time when you worked additional hours to finish a project.
It’s important for your employer to see that you are dedicated to your work, and willing to put in extra hours when required or when a job calls for it. However, be careful when explaining why you were called to work additional hours – for instance, did you have to stay late because you set goals poorly earlier in the process? Or on a more positive note, were you working additional hours because a client requested for a deadline to be moved up on short notice? Stress your competence and willingness to give 110% every lime.
Tell me about a time when your performance exceeded the duties and requirements of your job.
If you’re a great candidate for the position, this should be an easy question to answer – choose a time when you truly went above and beyond the call of duty, and put in additional work or voluntarily took on new responsib-ilities. Remain humble, and express gratitude for the learning opportunity, as well as confidence in your ability to give a repeat performance.
What is your driving attitude about work?
There are many possible good answers to this question, and the interviewer primarily wants to see that you have a great passion for the job and drat you will remain motivated in your career if hired. Some specific driving forces behind your success may include hard work, opportunity, growth potential, or success.
Do you take work home with you?
It is important to first clarify that you are always willing to take work home when necessary, but you want to emphasize as well that it has not been an issue for you in the past. Highlight skills such as time management, goal-setting, and multi-tasking, which can all ensure that work is completed at work.
Describe a typical work day to me.
There are several important components in your typical work day, and an interviewer may derive meaning from any or all of them, as well as from your ability to systematically lead him or her through the day. Start at the beginning of your day and proceed chronologically, making sure to emphasize steady productivity, time for review, goal-setting, and prioritizing, as well as some additional time to account for unexpected things that may arise.
Tell me about a time when you went out of your way at your previous job.
Here it is best to use a specific example of the situation that required you to go out of your way, what your specific position would have required that you did, and how you went above that. Use concrete details, and be sure to include the results, as well as reflection on what you learned in the process.
Are you open to receiving feedback and criticisms on your job performance, and adjusting as necessary?
This question has a pretty clear answer – yes – but you’ll need to display a knowledge as to why this is important. Receiving feedback and criticism is one thing, but the most important part of that process is to then implement it into your daily work.Keep a good attitude, and express that you always appreciate constructive feedback.
What inspires you?
You may find inspiration in nature, reading success stories, or mastering a difficult task, but it’s important that your inspiration is positively-based and that you’re able to listen and tune into it when it appears. Keep this answer generally based in the professional world, but where applicable, it may stretch a bit into creative exercises in your personal life that, in turn, help you in achieving career objectives.
How do you inspire others?
This may be a difficult question, as it is often hard to discern the effects of inspiration in others. Instead of offering a specific example of a time when you inspired someone, focus on general principles such as leading by example that you employ in your professional life. If possible, relate this to a quality that someone who inspired you possessed, and discuss the way you have modified or modeled it in your own work.
How do you make decisions?
This is a great opportunity for you to wow your interviewer with your decisiveness, confidence, and organizational skills. Make sure that you outline a process for decision-making, and that you stress the importance of weighing your options, as well as in trusting intuition. If you answer this question skillfully and with ease, your interviewer will trust in your capability as a worker.
What are the most difficult decisions for you to make?
Explain your relationship to decision-making, and a general synopsis of the process you take in making choices. If there is a particular type of decision that you often struggle with, such as those that involve other people, make sure to explain why that type of decision is tough for you, and how you are currently engaged in improving your skills.
When making a tough decision, how do you gather information?
If you’re making a tough choice, it’s best to gather information from as many sources as possible. lead the interviewer through your process of taking information from people in different areas, starting first with ad vice from experts in your field, feedback from coworkers or other clients, and by looking analytically at your own past experiences.
Tell me about a decision you made that did not turn out well.
Honesty and transparency are great values that your interviewer will appreciate – outline the choice you made, why you made it, the results of your poor decision – and finally (and most importantly!) what you learned from the decision. Give the interviewer reason to trust that you wouldn’t make a decision like that again in the future.
Are you able to make decisions quickly?
You may be able to make decisions quickly, but be sure to communicate your skill in making sound, thorough decisions as well. Discuss the importance of making a decision quickly, and how you do so, as well as the necessity for each decision to first be well-informed.
Ten years ago, what were your career goals?
In reflecting back to what your career goals were ten years ago, it’s important to show the ways in which you’ve made progress in that time. Draw distinct links between specific objectives that you’ve achieved, and speak candidly about how it felt to reach those goals. Remain positive, upbeat, and growth-oriented, even if you haven’t yet achieved all of the goals you set out to reach.
Tell me about a weakness you used to have, and how you changed it.
Choose anon-professional weakness that you used to have, and outline the process you went through in order to grow past it. Explain the weakness itself, why it was problematic, the action steps you planned, how you achieved them, and the end result.
Tell me about your goal-setting process.
When describing your goal-setting process, clearly outline the way that you create an outline for yourself. It may be helpful to offer an example of a particular goal you’ve set in the past, and use this as a starting point to guide the way you created action steps, check-in points, and how the goal was eventually achieved.
Tell me about a time when you solved a problem by creating actionable steps to follow.
This question will help the interviewer to see how you talented you are in outlining, problem resolution, and goal-setting. Explain thoroughly the procedure of outlining the problem, establishing steps to take, and then how you followed the steps (such as through check-in points along the way, or intermediary goals).
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Have some idea of where you would like to have advanced to in the position you’re applying for, over the next several years. Make sure that your future plans line up with you still working for the company, and stay positive about potential advancement. Focus on future opportunities, and what you’re looking forward to – but make sure your reasons for advancement are admirable, such as greater experience and the chance to learn, rather than simply being out for a higher salary.
When in a position, do you look for opportunities to promote?
There’s a fine balance in this question – you want to show the interviewer that you have initiative and motivation to advance in your career, but not at the expense of appearing opportunistic or selfishly-motivated. Explain that you are always open to growth opportunities, and very willing to take on new responsibilities as your career advances.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how successful has your life been?
Though you may still have a long list of goals to achieve, it’s important to keep this answer positively-focused. Choose a high number between 7 and 9/ and explain that you feel your life has been largely successful and satisfactory as a result of several specific achievements or experiences. Don’t go as high as a 10, as the interviewer may not believe your response or in your ability to reason critically.
What is your greatest goal in life?
It’s okay for this answer to stray a bit into your personal life, but best if you can keep it professionally-focused. While specific goals are great, if your personal goal doesn’t match up exactly with one of the company’s objectives, you’re better off keeping your goal a little more generic and encompassing, such as “success in my career” or “leading a happy and fulfilling life.” Keep your answer brief, and show a decisive nature – most importantly, make it clear that you’ve already thought about this question and know what you want.
Tell me about a time when you set a goal in your personal life and achieved it.
The interviewer can see that you excel at setting goals in your professional life, but he or she also wants to know that you are consistent in your life and capable of setting goals outside of the office as well. Use an example such as making a goal to eat more healthily or to drink more water, and discuss what steps you outlined to achieve your goal, the process of taking action, and the final results as well.
What is your greatest goal in your career?
Have a very specific goal of something you want to achieve in your career in mind, and be sure that it’s something the position clearly puts you in line to accomplish. Offer the goal as well as your plans to get there, and emphasize clear ways in which this position will be an opportunity to work toward the goal.
Tell me about a time when you achieved a goal.
Start out with how you set the goal, and why you chose it. Then, take the interviewer through the process of outlining the goal, taking steps to achieve it, the outcome, and finally, how you felt after achieving it or recognition you received. The most important part of this question includes the planning and implementation of strategies, so focus most of your time on explaining these aspects. However, the preliminary decisions and end results are also important, so make sure to include them as well.
What areas of your work would you still like to improve in? What are your plans to do this?
While you may not want the interviewer to focus on things you could improve on, it’s important to be self-aware of your own growth opportunities. More importantly, you can impress an interviewer by having specific goals and actions outlined in order to facilitate your growth, even if your area of improvement is something as simple as increasing sales or finding new ways to create greater efficiency.