INTERVIEW GUIDE – Human Resources Professionals

In a knowledge-based economy with several generations at work, an exponential growth of social media, niche job sites and job boards, telecommuting, and more — the role of the HR Practitioner is ever evolving. We’ve included herein a range of interview questions to support your search for the right HR driver.  

Interview Questions by Category

  1. Describe your HR experience from your first role to present. Highlight which HR tasks you enjoyed most and least. How would you like to see your HR career progress?
  2. How does your academic background relate to HR? Do you have any certifications? More specifically, have you been responsible for:
    • HR Strategy
    • Competency-Based Management
    • Recruitment / Resourcing
    • Classification / Job Descriptions
    • Organizational Development
    • Payroll, Compensation and Benefits
    • Learning and Development
    • Performance Management
    • Talent Management
    • Succession Planning
    • Occupational Health and Safety
    • Labour Relations
    • HRMS Design and Implementation
    • HR Metrics
    • Employment Equity
    • Pay Equity
    • Conflict Resolution
    • Legal HR (Human Rights, ESA, etc.)
  3. What HR Management Software or System (HRMS) have you worked with? Do you have experience with Oracle (Fusion, PeopleSoft), SAP, Workday, JD Edwards, QuickBooks, etc.?
  4. How was sensitive / confidential information managed in your past work environments? Were files stored physically or electronically? Did you ever have to manage a breach of personnel information? If an employee told you something that would have an impact on the organization’s reputation, and you were asked to keep it confidential, what would you do?
  5. What is the largest and smallest HR group you’ve worked with? Name the benefits of both.
  6. Within your position, what role did you play to enhance the morale and culture of the organization?
  7. In the spectrum of being people-oriented or more process-oriented, which are you? Would you consider yourself a big picture thinker or more detail oriented?
  1. Did you consult on strategies for recruitment? What positions have you been responsible for staffing?
  2. What are the key elements of a good job description? Please describe your experience in developing job descriptions.
  3. How did you locate candidates? Did you rely on applicants who applied directly? Did you use online resume databases (Monster, Workopolis)? Did you use business network sites or industry associations? Did you recruit at colleges or universities? Did you attend or host job fairs? Did you post your jobs online, if so, where?
  4. Have you recruited summer students through internships or co-op programs?
  5. How many candidates would you seek to interview for each role? Did you conduct the interview alone, or as a committee? Did you conduct Skype or video-conference interviews?
  6. Did you develop interview and/or reference questions? Provide an example.
  7. What is your interview style: functional, behavioural, case scenarios – or a mix of all three?
  8. What was your role in the hiring decision? Did you make hiring recommendations?
  9. What is the most challenging position for which you have recruited, and what steps did you take to locate and recruit the ideal candidate?
  10. Tell me about a role that you were not able to fill. Go through some of the challenges and how you handled them. What was the end result?
  11. How accurate do you believe references to be? What have you gained in doing them? Have you ever retracted a job offer due to a poor reference?
  12. Did you have candidates do testing for any of the roles you filled? If so, which ones? Did you design or develop the tests or did a manager design and score them?
  13. Were you responsible for making the job offer verbally or in writing? What type of questions did you address when making an offer of employment?
  14. Did you have candidates decline the position due to a counter-offer? What was your organization’s policy about counter-offers? Did you negotiate or walk away?
  15. Did your former organization hire both permanent and temporary employees? Did you manage the structure of the workforce in this regard?
  16. Did you consider candidates that needed relocation services? Did you relocate anyone?
  17. Did you consider candidates on a working Visa in Canada, and were you able to retain them?
  18. Did your organization take steps to encourage diverse hiring?
  19. Did you or your firm keep any recruitment statistics? Please describe.
  20. What qualities do you believe make someone a strong recruiter? Which of those qualities do you have, and which ones are you still trying to develop?
  21. How much of your business time would you like to be devoted to recruitment in your next role?
  1. Please describe your key duties, and which areas of HR you supported? Were you the first point of contact for the HR team?
  2. Have you been responsible for employee scheduling?
  3. Did you contact candidates to schedule interviews, and/or to let them know they were not selected?
  4. Were you responsible for data entry into your company’s HRIS? Did you produce HR reports? Did you make suggestions for changes to the firm’s HRIS?
  5. Did you update or prepare employee handbook or online guides for employees?
  6. Did you prepare letters of offer for employment, Confirmation of Employment, Letters of Termination, or other HR related documentation?
  7. With respect to attendance management, did you enter vacation and sick leave or other time off in the system?
  8. Did you complete the forms or paperwork associated with a workplace injury? Were you part of the company’s Health and Safety Committee?
  9. Did you coordinate or track training?
  1. Have you identified a need and contributed to, the development of a new HR policy and / or practice? Please describe.
  2. What HR policies have you developed, implemented, or revised: code of conduct, confidentiality, travel and expenses, education allowance, attendance and banked time, conflict of interests, leaves (bereavement, jury, sick), discipline, retirement, etc.?
  3. Was your HR Manual with policies and procedures stored online, and searchable by managers? Or, how did managers access your organization’s policies?
  4. Who contributed to and approved HR policies? What steps did you take to communicate changes to a policy that was not well received, or adopted?
  1. How did HR align with the organization’s strategic plan?
  2. How did HR operate in relation to other groups within the organization (Accounting, Production, Executive Management, etc.)? Did you have obstacles working with a specific group, if so, why and how did you iron them out?
  3. Did your role include the strategic direction of compensation policy and practices?
  4. Were you part of fostering effective working relationships with unions?
  5. What were your primary objectives when establishing hiring needs? Did these vary across different departments? Please explain.
  6. What elements of employment legislation came into play most often in your role? Did you work with employment lawyers or advisors?
  7. What steps did you take to enhance the decision making process within the organization? How did this impact the company’s HR strategy?
  8. Did you seek employee feedback; if so, how did it contribute to HR policy or strategies?
  9. Did you consider your organization’s HR strategy fair and consistent? If so, why?
  10. How was change management part of implementing a new structure or workflow?
  11. How could your role in HR impact our organization positively?
  1. Was employee relations a function of HR or was it the responsibility of the group manager?
  2. What was your role in managing the relationship between the employee and employer? What topics resurfaced frequently from both sides? How did you facilitate communication?
  3. Tell me about an employee relations issue you dealt with which required disciplinary action. Discuss the steps you took to resolve the issue.
  4. Did your organization conduct workplace surveys? How was the information used?
  5. What is one element of your employee relations program that you consistently championed? Were there any elements that you disagreed with? Why?
  6. Did you have formal employee recognition programs in place? If so, please explain. Did you lead or coordinate these programs? CASE SCENARIO: If you hired a new worker whose motivation waned quickly on the job, what steps would you take to address the matter?
  7. How were employee complaints addressed? Did your organization have a formal violence and harassment policy, and who governed it? How did you assess and manage risks of workplace violence? How many incident reports did you oversee? How was the policy communicated?
  8. How did your role contribute to increasing productivity?
  9. Were you part of new hire orientation (onboarding)?
  10. Who was responsible for ergonomics and work space management? Did you address any ergonomic issues in your workplace? If so, what steps did you take?
  11. Did you address accommodation requests, and oversee their implementation (duty to accommodate disabilities, family status, religious needs, etc.)?
  12. If morale seemed low to you, what steps did you take to contribute to a more positive atmosphere? CASE SCENARIO: Your most highly productive employee has been exhibiting behaviour in the workplace that has become toxic to morale. What approach would you take to solve the problem?
  13. Were you responsible for writing your company’s employee relations policy? Did you oversee its implementation?
  14. Did you document and follow performance management issues? How did you partner with management to improve the performance of low performers?
  15. Were you involved in managing long-term absences?
  16. Did you work with collective bargaining and trade unions? Were you involved in grievances or arbitrations? Did you conduct investigations related to employee issues?
  1. Describe your organization’s training and development program for each business unit. Did you design or expand it?
  2. How were training needs identified? Did your role include job analysis? Did you consult with managers and did annual performance appraisals offer insights into training requirements?
  3. What was your role in onboarding new employees? Did you develop a plan for new starts?
  4. Who delivered training? Did you develop training materials for in-house courses?
  5. Did you manage a training budget, and if so, what size of budget?
  6. On which topics did you train and how did you ensure that the information was retained following the training session?
  7. What training tools did you employ: classroom style learning, one-on-one discussion, video training, e-learning, hands-on learning, written documentation, coaching?
  8. What do you think of the statement: “Adults retain 30% of what they hear once?”
  9. What do you think the difference is between employee training and employee learning? How do you think learning can be measured?
  10. What have you observed about training adult learners successfully? How did you ensure that the learning experience was good enough to allow for knowledge transfer and retention to occur? Did you administer questionnaires following training sessions?
  11. How have you obtained feedback on the effectiveness of your organization’s training programs? What have you done with this feedback to improve participant learning?
  12. Outline the steps of your employee development plan.
  13. Did your organization offer mostly in-house training, or did you send employees to external training courses? If external, which ones did you find successful?
  14. Did you foster cross-training within the organization? What challenges did you experience?
  15. How did you manage employees who wanted career progression when no advancement opportunities were possible?
  16. When an employee was retiring or leaving on maternity or parental leave, how did you tackle knowledge transfer?
  17. How was training tracked year over year within the organization?
  18. What e-learning techniques did you implement?
  19. Learning trends show that the human attention span is decreasing as a result of technology and rapid demand for information. Thus the trend toward “micro learning” or short spurts of teaching on the employee’s on schedule. What have you observed in the context of attention spans in adult learning? What steps would you take to enhance micro-learning?
  1. What was your role in maintaining your organization’s compensation system?
  2. What research did you undertake to establish salaries or pay grades? How often do you benchmark compensation activities?
  3. Tell me about a suggestion you made that was implemented in a previous employer’s compensation and benefits system or process.
  4. Was a formal performance evaluation system part of the compensation review?
  5. Were you responsible for developing promotion strategies, or retention strategies tied with a compensation program?
  6. Have you dealt with base salaries, bonus pay systems, commission structures, and other incentives?
  7. How were pay increases addressed in your last role (i.e. inflation, company or employee performance, etc.)?
  8. To what degree are you involved with employee benefits? Did you interact with your insurer to reduce rates, or to get advice about an insurance question?
  9. What benefit package did you manage and what was your involvement in the daily details of benefit management (i.e. when an employee’s salary went up, was it your responsibility to adjust it in the benefits profile to ensure the employee’s life insurance was accurately reflected?)
  10. Did your firm offer indirect benefits such as compressed time, part-time or tele-work options?
  11. How did Human Rights or Health and Safety surface within your role as Compensation Manager?
  1. Describe the health and safety training that you delivered to employees. How did you track that training had occurred?
  2. What is the most common health and safety issue that came up in your previous role and what actions did you take to reduce its occurrence? What was the most common injury? How many of the injuries or accidents you investigated were preventable?
  3. In your experience, what is the most effective way to communicate safety measures to employees so that they remember them?
  4. How have you handled issues of sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace? Did your firm ever face threats of violence against an employee, or actual violence? How was the problem addressed?
  5. What was your role in the investigation, documentation and resolution of harassment or violence?
  6. How would you handle a manager who thought safety procedures were a waste of time?
  7. What would you do if a manager asked you to ignore a safety violation?
  8. After six months in this role, what kind of health and safety routine would you have in place?
  9. How was drinking and driving prevented for workplace celebrations or work parties that included alcohol?
  10. Did you manage back-to-work programs for employees who were off work due to injury? What was the longest period of time an employee was on leave due to injury?
  11. What would you do if you suspected an employee was not injured, however, was off work due to an injury he/she stated occurred at work?
  1. Have you worked in labour relations, and with collective agreements? How many employees were part of the bargaining unit?
  2. Did you investigate and evaluate complaints or concerns raised from the union?
  3. Did you monitor workforce adherence to labour agreements?
  4. Did you communicate with union representatives? If so, were they national or local representatives? What were the key subjects?
  5. Do you have experience dealing with issues around poor performers, dismissals, duty to accommodate, overtime, suspensions, layoffs and/or grievances?
  6. Did you research into wage data, economic data, employment law, human rights legislation, provincial or territorial legislation, or other?
  7. Explain the grievance procedure. Did you schedule grievance hearings? Did you negotiate settlements to avoid formal hearings?
  8. Did you experience a strike or lockout during your employment? What was your role?
  9. In your relationship with managers, what were some of the challenges you faced in supporting them from a labour relations perspective?
  10. What was your role in managing the relationship between the employee and employer? What topic resurfaced frequently from both sides?
  11. Tell me about a labour relations issue you dealt with which required disciplinary action. Discuss the steps you took to assist in resolving the issue.
  12. Did you, or were you part of, negotiating collective bargaining agreements?
  13. How would you say that a positive employee /union relationship is a good investment which leads to cost savings?
  1. What is the minimum wage in our province or territory? How have increases in minimum wage had an impact on your organization?
  2. As an employer wishing to terminate an employee, what steps should you take to avoid wrongful termination?
  3. Did you take part in terminations, and if so, what was your role? Did you have employees sign a Release Agreement?
  4. What can an employer deduct from an employee’s pay?
  5. Have you ever implemented a dress code? If so, please explain how you communicated this.
  6. Are you familiar with the correlation between human rights and dress code?
  7. What elements of Employment Standards have you had significant experience with:
    • Hours of work and overtime
    • Leaves of absence
    • Sick leave
    • Notice of termination
    • Breaks
    • Minimum hours of work
    • Uniforms
    • Deductions
    • Termination of employment
    • Hiring
    • Harassment
  8. Have you had to attend meetings with an ESA officer regarding an ESA complaint by an employee? If so, what subject and what was the outcome?

CASE SCENARIO: After considerable performance management, it’s determined that a 50 year old employee with 6 years of service will be terminated. What are the minimum provisions under ESA for notice of termination and severance? What would you recommend to the employer?

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