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HR Interview Questions Answers

Question 1 : Can you work under pressure ?

Answer 1 : Absolutely…(then prove it with a vivid example or two of a goal or project accomplished under severe pressure.)

Question 2 : Why aren’t you earning more money at this stage of your career ?

Answer 2 : You like to make money, but other factors are even more important. Example: “Making money is very important to me, and one reason I’m here is because I’m looking to make more. Throughout my career, what’s been even more important to me is doing work I really like to do at the kind of company I like and respect. (Then be prepared to be specific about what your ideal position and company would be like, matching them as closely as possible to the opportunity at hand.

Question 3 : What are your greatest strengths ?

Answer 3 : You know that your key strategy is to first uncover your interviewer's greatest wants and needs before you answer questions. And from Question 1, you know how to do this. Prior to any interview, you should have a list mentally prepared of your greatest strengths. You should also have, a specific example or two, which illustrates each strength, an example chosen from your most recent and most impressive achievements. You should, have this list of your greatest strengths and corresponding examples from your achievements so well committed to memory that you can recite them cold after being shaken awake at 2:30AM. Then, once you uncover your interviewer's greatest wants and needs, you can choose those achievements from your list that best match up. As a general guideline, the 10 most desirable traits that all employers love to see in their employees are: A proven track record as an achiever...especially if your achievements match up with the employer's greatest wants and needs. Intelligence...management "savvy". Honesty...integrity...a decent human being. Good fit with corporate culture...someone to feel comfortable with...a team player who meshes well with interviewer's team. Likeability...positive attitude...sense of humor. Good communication skills. Dedication...willingness to walk the extra mile to achieve excellence. Definiteness of purpose...clear goals. Enthusiasm...high level of motivation. Confident...healthy...a leader.

Question 4 : What do you for when you hire people?

Answer 4 : Speak your own thoughts here, but for the best answer weave them around the three most important qualifications for any position. Can the person do the work (qualifications)? Will the person do the work (motivation)? Will the person fit in (“our kind of team player”)? Sell me this stapler…(this pencil…this clock…or some other object on interviewer’s desk). Of course, you already know the most important secret of all great salesmanship – “find out what people want, then show them how to get it.” If your interviewer picks up his stapler and asks, “sell this to me,” you are going to demonstrate this proven master principle. Here’s how: “Well, a good salesman must know both his product and his prospect before he sells anything. If I were selling this, I’d first get to know everything I could about it, all its features and benefits.” “Then, if my goal were to sell it you, I would do some research on how you might use a fine stapler like this. The best way to do that is by asking some questions. May I ask you a few questions?” Then ask a few questions such as, “Just out of curiosity, if you didn’t already have a stapler like this, why would you want one? And in addition to that? Any other reason? Anything else?” “And would you want such a stapler to be reliable?...Hold a good supply of staples?” (Ask more questions that point to the features this stapler has.) Once you’ve asked these questions, make your presentation citing all the features and benefits of this stapler and why it’s exactly what the interviewer just told you he’s looking for. Then close with, “Just out of curiosity, what would you consider a reasonable price for a quality stapler like this…a stapler you could have right now and would (then repeat all the problems the stapler would solve for him)? Whatever he says, (unless it’s zero), say, “Okay, we’ve got a deal.” NOTE: If your interviewer tests you by fighting every step of the way, denying that he even wants such an item, don’t fight him. Take the product away from him by saying, “Mr. Prospect, I’m delighted you’ve told me right upfront that there’s no way you’d ever want this stapler. As you well know, the first rule of the most productive salespeople in any field is to meet the needs of people who really need and want our products, and it just wastes everyone’s time if we try to force it on those who don’t. And I certainly wouldn’t want to waste your time. But we sell many items. Is there any product on this desk you would very much like to own…just one item?” When he points something out, repeat the process above. If he knows anything about selling, he may give you a standing ovation. “The Salary Question” – How much money do you want ? For maximum salary negotiating power, remember these five guidelines Never bring up salary. Let the interviewer do it first. Good salespeople sell their products thoroughly before talking price. So should you. Make the interviewer want you first, and your bargaining position will be much stronger. If your interviewer raises the salary question too early, before you’ve had a chance to create desire for your qualifications, postpone the question, saying something like, “Money is important to me, but is not my main concern. Opportunity and growth are far more important. What I’d rather do, if you don’t mind, is explore if I’m right for the position, and then talk about money. Would that be okay?” The #1 rule of any negotiation is: the side with more information wins. After you’ve done a thorough job of selling the interviewer and it’s time to talk salary, the secret is to get the employer talking about what he’s willing to pay before you reveal what you’re willing to accept. So, when asked about salary, respond by asking, “I’m sure the company has already established a salary range for this position. Could you tell me what that is?” Or, “I want an income commensurate with my ability and qualifications. I trust you’ll be fair with me. What does the position pay?” Or, more simply, “What does this position pay?” Know beforehand what you’d accept. To know what’s reasonable, research the job market and this position for any relevant salary information. Remember that most executives look for a 20-25%$ pay boost when they switch jobs. If you’re grossly underpaid, you may want more. Never lie about what you currently make, but feel free to include the estimated cost of all your fringes, which could well tack on 25-50% more to your present “cash-only” salary. The Illegal Question Illegal questions include any regarding your age…number and ages of your children or other dependents…marital status…maiden name…religion…political affiliation…ancestry…national origin…birthplace…naturalization of your parents, spouse or children…diseases…disabilities…clubs…or spouse’s occupation…unless any of the above are directly related to your performance of the job. You can’t even be asked about arrests, though you can be asked about convictions. ANSWER: Under the ever-present threat of lawsuits, most interviewers are well aware of these taboos. Yet you may encounter, usually on a second or third interview, a senior executive who doesn’t interview much and forgets he can’t ask such questions. You can handle an illegal question in several ways. First, you can assert your legal right not to answer. But this will frighten or embarrass your interviewer and destroy any rapport you had. Second, you could swallow your concerns over privacy and answer the question straight forwardly if you feel the answer could help you. For example, your interviewer, a devout Baptist, recognizes you from church and mentions it. Here, you could gain by talking about your church. Third, if you don’t want your privacy invaded, you can diplomatically answer the concern behind the question without answering the question itself. Example: If you are over 50 and are asked, “How old are you?” you can answer with a friendly, smiling question of your own on whether there’s a concern that your age my affect your performance. Follow this up by reassuring the interviewer that there’s nothing in this job you can’t do and, in fact, your age and experience are the most important advantages you offer the employer for the following reasons… Another example: If asked, “Do you plan to have children?” you could answer, “I am wholeheartedly dedicated to my career“, perhaps adding, “I have no plans regarding children.” (You needn’t fear you’ve pledged eternal childlessness. You have every right to change your plans later. Get the job first and then enjoy all your options.) Most importantly, remember that illegal questions arise from fear that you won’t perform well. The best answer of all is to get the job and perform brilliantly. All concerns and fears will then varnish, replaced by respect and appreciation for your work. The “Secret” Illegal Question Much more frequent than the Illegal question (see Question 55) is the secret illegal question. It’s secret because it’s asked only in the interviewer’s mind. Since it’s not even expressed to you, you have no way to respond to it, and it can there be most damaging. Example: You’re physically challenged, or a single mother returning to your professional career, or over 50, or a member of an ethnic minority, or fit any of a dozen other categories that do not strictly conform to the majority in a given company. Your interviewer wonders, “Is this person really able to handle the job?”…”Is he or she a ‘good fit’ at a place like ours?”…”Will the chemistry ever be right with someone like this?” But the interviewer never raises such questions because they’re illegal. So what can you do? ANSWER: Remember that just because the interviewer doesn’t ask an illegal question doesn’t mean he doesn’t have it. More than likely, he is going to come up with his own answer. So you might as well help him out. How? Well, you obviously can’t respond to an illegal question if he hasn’t even asked. This may well offend him. And there’s always the chance he wasn’t even concerned about the issue until you brought it up, and only then begins to wonder. So you can’t address “secret” illegal questions head-on. But what you can do is make sure there’s enough counterbalancing information to more than reassure him that there’s no problem in the area he may be doubtful about. For example, let’s say you’re a sales rep who had polio as a child and you need a cane to walk. You know your condition has never impeded your performance, yet you’re concerned that your interviewer may secretly be wondering about your stamina or ability to travel. Well, make sure that you hit these abilities very hard, leaving no doubt about your capacity to handle them well. So, too, if you’re in any different from what passes for “normal”. Make sure, without in any way seeming defensive about yourself that you mention strengths, accomplishments, preferences and affiliations that strongly counterbalance any unspoken concern your interviewer may have. What was the toughest part of your last job? State that there was nothing in your prior position that you found overly difficult, and let your answer go at that. If pressed to expand your answer, you could describe the aspects of the position you enjoyed more than others, making sure that you express maximum enjoyment for those tasks most important to the open position, and you enjoyed least those tasks that are unimportant to the position at hand.

Question 5 : How do you define success…and how do you measure up to your own definition?

Answer 5 : Give a well-accepted definition of success that leads right into your own stellar collection of achievements. Example: “The best definition I’ve come across is that success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal.” “As to how I would measure up to that definition, I would consider myself both successful and fortunate…”(Then summarize your career goals and how your achievements have indeed represented a progressive path toward realization of your goals.) “The Opinion Question” – What do you think about …Abortion…The President…The Death Penalty…(or any other controversial subject)? In all of these instances, just remember the tale about student and the wise old rabbi. The scene is a seminary, where an overly serious student is pressing the rabbi to answer the ultimate questions of suffering, life and death. But no matter how hard he presses, the wise old rabbi will only answer each difficult question with a question of his own. In exasperation, the seminary student demands, “Why, rabbi, do you always answer a question with another question?” To which the rabbi responds, “And why not?” If you are ever uncomfortable with any question, asking a question in return is the greatest escape hatch ever invented. It throws the onus back on the other person, sidetracks the discussion from going into an area of risk to you, and gives you time to think of your answer or, even better, your next question! In response to any of the “opinion” questions cited above, merely responding, “Why do you ask?” will usually be enough to dissipate any pressure to give your opinion. But if your interviewer again presses you for an opinion, you can ask another question. Or you could assert a generality that almost everyone would agree with. For example, if your interviewer is complaining about politicians then suddenly turns to you and asks if you’re a Republican or Democrat, you could respond by saying, “Actually, I’m finding it hard to find any politicians I like these days.” (Of course, your best question of all may be whether you want to work for someone opinionated.) If you won $10 million lottery, would you still work? This type of question is aimed at getting at your bedrock attitude about work and how you feel about what you do. Your best answer will focus on your positive feelings. Example: “After I floated down from cloud nine, I think I would still hold my basic belief that achievement and purposeful work are essential to a happy, productive life. After all, if money alone bought happiness, then all rich people would be all happy, and that’s not true. “I love the work I do, and I think I’d always want to be involved in my career in some fashion. Winning the lottery would make it more fun because it would mean having more flexibility, more options...who knows?” “Of course, since I can’t count on winning, I’d just as soon create my own destiny by sticking with what’s worked for me, meaning good old reliable hard work and a desire to achieve. I think those qualities have built many more fortunes that all the lotteries put together.” Looking back on your last position, have you done your best work? To cover both possible paths this question can take, your answer should state that you always try to do your best, and the best of your career is right now. Like an athlete at the top of his game, you are just hitting your career stride thanks to several factors. Then, recap those factors, highlighting your strongest qualifications.

Question 6 : Looking back, what would you do differently in your life ?

Answer 6 : 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.”

Question 7 : How do you feel about working nights and weekends ?

Answer 7 : 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.

Question 8 : Who has inspired you in your life and why?

Answer 8 : Have a few heroes in mind, from your mental “Board of Directors” – Leaders in your industry, from history or anyone else who has been your mentor. Be prepared to give examples of how their words, actions or teachings have helped inspire your achievements. As always, prepare an answer which highlights qualities that would be highly valuable in the position you are seeking.

Question 9 : How do you feel about reporting to a younger person (minority, woman, etc)?

Answer 9 : 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 canWhat 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.”

Question 10 : Tell me about yourself?

Answer 10 : Start with the present and tell why you are well qualified for the position. Remember that the key to all successful interviewing is to match your qualifications to what the interviewer is looking for. In other words you must sell what the buyer is buying. This is the single most important strategy in job hunting. So, before you answer this or any question it's imperative that you try to uncover your interviewer's greatest need, want, problem or goal. To do so, make you take these two steps: Do all the homework you can before the hr interview to uncover this person's wants and needs (not the generalized needs of the industry or company) As early as you can in the interview, ask for a more complete description of what the position entails. You might say: “I have a number of accomplishments I'd like to tell you about, but I want to make the best use of our time together and talk directly to your needs. To help me do, that, could you tell me more about the most important priorities of this position? All I know is what I (heard from the recruiter, read in the classified ad, etc.)” Then, ALWAYS follow-up with a second and possibly, third question, to draw out his needs even more. Surprisingly, it's usually this second or third question that unearths what the interviewer is most looking for. You might ask simply, "And in addition to that?..." or, "Is there anything else you see as essential to success in this position?: This process will not feel easy or natural at first, because it is easier simply to answer questions, but only if you uncover the employer's wants and needs will your answers make the most sense. Practice asking these key questions before giving your answers, the process will feel more natural and you will be light years ahead of the other job candidates you're competing with. After uncovering what the employer is looking for, describe why the needs of this job bear striking parallels to tasks you've succeeded at before. Be sure to illustrate with specific examples of your responsibilities and especially your achievements, all of which are geared to present yourself as a perfect match for the needs he has just described.

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