HR Interview Questions and Tips
Okay, so you have managed to hold your nerves in control and brave the questions of the
HR. You are now at the end of your interview session. What next? The answer is, there
are a few more steps to go. For instance, the HR person may ask you if you have anything
to ask of him/her. How do you respond to that? It is quite likely that you are stressed out
and nothing comes to your mind. This article deals with this situation and gives you a few
intelligent questions that you may ask.
First of all let us try to understand why the HR person puts you in such a situation. Is
he/she simply being nice to you or is there more to it? One possible reason is that the
company wants to project an image of transparency. The company wants you to know
that it encourages two-way communication between the top management and the
subordinates, an atmosphere where everyone can ask relevant questions and expect to get
answers. In other words, the company respects the employee’s need to know about
matters that affect him, no matter where he is in the hierarchy.
Next, and more important, this situation checks your presence of mind and ability to form
intelligent questions. So far you have been simply answering questions asked of you.
How do you behave when you are in a position to ask questions? What kind of questions
do you ask? It also shows how serious you are about the company and the job.
Let us get on to some questions now.
Some Useful Questions
Before you set out to ask questions, keep the above reasons in mind. It would be good to
sincerely thank the HR person for such an opportunity. You can start with something like
“I have really enjoyed this opportunity to meet you and your team at .. (the company
name). Yes, there are a few things I would like to know, thank you for asking” However
it is not wise to ask the HR a volley of questions and turn it into a counter interview.
Consider the questions below and choose one or two from them that you find the most
useful to you.
What do you personally find the most enjoyable part of working for this company?
May I ask why or how you joined this organization? / What brought you here?
I would like to know about the work atmosphere here…
Would you be able to tell me about this company’s vision/philosophy?
How would you evaluate this organization’s strengths and weaknesses?
I would like to know a little about my day-to-day responsibilities.
Is this an immediate requirement? How soon would you be taking people on board for
I would like to know how my skills compare with the other people who have applied
for this position.
I am really interested in this opportunity and I feel I have the required skills for this
position. What would I have to do next?
Now that our interview is coming to close, is there anything you would like to know
about my ability towards this job?
Would you be able to tell me a little about what the company expects from its
employees? What are the most important assets and skills for this company?
Does the company follow a structured path in promoting the employees? How does it
If the company finds me good at the job, how would it advance me? What would be
the next step in my career growth?
If I performed well in the current position, what are the additional likely opportunities
for me within this company?
Are there any special areas in this company that the top leaders emerge from?/ Are
there special areas like say sales or engineering that have more prospects for growth
within this company, or do the leaders come from a cross section of different areas?
The company has decided to recruit for this position from outside. How does the
company choose between recruiting from within or outside?
How far does this particular position contribute to the bottom line?
What advice would you give to someone selected for this position?
What are the current challenges of this position/department within the company?
Before I leave, can I have a formal/written description of the position? This would
help me to review the activities and evaluate what is expected of me.
Is this job likely to lead to other positions in the company? What is the usual route?
Would you be able to tell me a little about the people I will be working with?
Before I take your leave, let me check my understanding of the position. The
designation is …., the responsibilities are …., it is in the ….. department, and I would
be reporting to ……. Please correct me if I have got it wrong anywhere.
How does this company promote equal opportunity and diversity?
Would you be able to tell me who the company regards as its stars? What have been
their most important contributions?
How do the subordinates address their seniors in this company?
Could you tell me about the management style of this company?
If you selected me for this position, what assignment would I be starting on?
Does this company have a formal mission statement? Am I allowed to see it?
What are the most important parameters along which this company evaluates an
Some Usefull Question Answers
1. Tell me about yourself?
I am down-to-earth, sweet, smart, creative, industrious, and thorough.
2. How has your experience prepared you for your career?
Aside from the discipline and engineering foundation learning that I have gained from
my courses, I think the design projects, reports, and presentations have prepared me most
for my career.
Through internships, I have gained self-esteem, confidence, and problem-solving skills. I
also refined my technical writing and learned to prepare professional documents for
By working on multiple projects for different student organizations while keeping up my
grades, I've built time management and efficiency skills. Additionally, I've developed
leadership, communication, and teamwork abilities.
In general, life has taught me determination and the importance of maintaining my ethical
3. Describe the ideal job.
Ideally, I would like to work in a fun, warm environment with individuals working
independently towards team goals or individual goals. I am not concerned about minor
elements, such as dress codes, cubicles, and the level of formality. Most important to me
is an atmosphere that fosters attention to quality, honesty, and integrity.
4. What type of supervisor have you found to be the best?
I have been fortunate enough to work under wonderful supervisors who have provided
limited supervision, while answering thoughtful questions and guiding learning. In my
experience, the best supervisors give positive feedback and tactful criticism.
5. What do you plan to be doing in five years' time?
Taking the PE exam and serving in supervisory/leadership roles both at work and in
6. What contributions could you make in this organization that would help you to
stand out from other applicants?
In previous internships, my industriousness and ability to teach myself have been
valuable assets to the company. My self-teaching abilities will minimize overhead costs,
and my industriousness at targeting needs without prompting will set me apart from
others. Additionally, one thing that has always set me apart from my
scientific/engineering peers are my broad interests and strong writing abilities. I am not
your typical "left-brained" engineer, and with my broad talents, I am likely to provide
7. What sort of criteria are you using to decide the organization you will work for?
Most importantly, I am looking for a company that values quality, ethics, and teamwork.
I would like to work for a company that hires overachievers.
8. What made you choose your major?
My academic interests are broad, so I sought civil engineering to achieve a great balance
of mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, and writing.
9. Have your university and major met your expectations?
The College of Engineering at MSU has exceeded my expectations by providing group
activities, career resources, individual attention, and professors with genuine interest in
My major has met my expectations by about 90%. I would have enjoyed more choices in
environmental courses, and would have preferred more calculus-based learning.
10. What made you choose this college?
I chose this college for the following reasons: my budget limited me to in-state schools, I
was seeking an area with dog-friendly apartments, the MSU web site impressed me, I saw
active student groups, and the people were very friendly.
THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY IN AN INTERVIEW
Avoid the following interview pitfalls as part of a strategy that sells your strengths and assets.
1. "What does your company do?"
Ask questions that show you're well informed and eager to work at the company, not those to
which you should already know the answers, or that can be easily gleaned from the company's
website or annual report.
2. "My salary requirements are very flexible."
Compensation is often the touchiest subject in an interview. Certainly you want to know what
a company will pay, and interviewers want to know what you're willing to take. It's a
negotiation, not a game. When push comes to shove, you should be willing at least to give a
range, even if you have to be broad and say, for example, "I'm looking for something between
$30,000 and $60,000."
But don't pretend to be flexible when you aren't. If you're worried that your salary
requirements are too high for the job, you may need to do some serious thinking about how
low you're willing to go. Don't sell yourself short, but ask yourself how much you honestly
think you're worth. Do research about what similar jobs pay and what salaries are like in the
region. If a company comes back with too low an offer, you can always try and negotiate up.
3. "It would be hella cool to get jiggy with this job."
Maybe that is how all of your friends talk (and it's become a habit with you), but it's not the
way you should speak during a job interview. Using slang is a serious turnoff for interviewers.
You may be articulate, intelligent, and confident, but like, you sure won't sound that way.
4. "Bill Gates himself offered me a $100,000 bonus."
Don't lie! You'll be found out, and you'll regret it. Someday when you least expect it, someone
somewhere will discover that you didn't really increase sales by 999 percent in six months.
Interviewers know you'll probably exaggerate a little to sell yourself; but don't cross the line
between exaggeration and out-and-out lying.
5. "In five years, I see myself on a boat in the Caribbean."
When interviewers ask you about long-term goals, they want an answer that relates to the
company. Telling them that you really want to be living on a farm (unless you're applying for
an agricultural job) isn't going to convince them that you're an ambitious professional in your
Even if you don't plan to stick around long, say something that reflects a commitment to the
position and the company. This may seem to contradict the previous exhortation about lying,
but try to think of it as a rhetorical question. You might still be at the same company in five
6. "Sorry, I don't know how to do that."
Rather than admitting that you don't have a specific skill, stress that you're a fast learner and
are excited about the possibility of acquiring new skills. Most companies would rather hire an
enthusiastic, smart person who needs to be trained than someone who already has the
required skills but isn't as eager to learn.
7. "You see, I just went through a painful divorce. . . ."
Even if an interviewer starts getting personal, don't follow suit. You may think you're being
open and honest, but you're really just coming across as unprofessional, unfocused, and
disrespectful. Keep it businesslike and polite.
8. "What can your company do for me?"
Interviewers hate arrogance and selfishness. They want to know why they should hire you.
Stress the contributions you can make. Tell them about how your efforts helped previous
employers. Don't start asking about raises, bonuses, and promotions right away.
Remember, you're the one being interviewed, and while you should use the opportunity to get
your questions answered, you shouldn't make it seem as if you'll be doing them a favor if they
9. "I left my last job because my boss was a real jerk."
Bad-mouthing your previous employer is possibly the dumbest thing you can do during an
interview. Even if your last company was a chaotic hellhole, your boss was a monster, your
coworkers were Martians, and you got paid in tin cans, say that you left to look for more
responsibility, you wanted greater opportunity for advancement, or you were just ready for a
PHONE INTERVIEW GUIDE
The objective of a telephone interview is twofold:
a. To provide the company an opportunity to verify your interest and qualifications for the
position. You must convince the interviewers that you are right the person for the job.
b. To arrange a personal visit as soon as possible. You must aggressively pursue the on-site
The telephone interview can be scheduled either during the workday or the evening depending
on your work schedule and that of the company. Generally, the company will call you. If you
do not hear from the company within 15 minutes of the appointment, you should assume that
something unexpected has delayed the call and call the company. If you do not get the hiring
authority, be sure to leave a message that you called as a demonstration of your interest. In
your message state you want to reschedule the call.
After the initial exchange of pleasantries, open with a positive expression of your interest
based upon what you have heard about the position then say "I’m looking forward to
arranging a personal visit with you. In the meantime, what may I tell you to help you better
understand my qualifications?’
Respond with information about your accomplishments. Take the time in advance to develop a
brief "commercial" outlining your strongest abilities and accomplishments.
Provide concrete examples from your career that demonstrates your ability to do the job.
Think through some of the issues that may come up in the interview. Be sure you have any
notes, facts or figures that maybe helpful in your conversation. Determine this information
through studying the company web-site, annual reports, etc.
When you are asked if you have questions about the job, these owners might be appropriate.
Can you tell me more about of the specific duties, responsibilities and expectations for
What are the long term and short term opportunities of this position?
What are as the three top priorities and challenges of the position?
You need to remember three things…
(1) If you are asked about your income expectations, try not to discuss salary or benefits at
this time. If the hiring official asks something such as "How much money will it take to get
you?" reply with, "salary is important; however I’m more interested in the opportunity at this
time." If you are asked again,
Respond accurately and truthfully state your last year’s salary.
Be sure to designate bonus if applicable.
Indicate your last review and /or salary increase and next anticipated review.
Finish by saying you are sure the company will make a fair and equitable offer.
(2) If you like the job opportunity, tell the interviewer you are interested and ask when you
can come for a personal visit. Coordinate schedules for a face-to-face interview at this time
Oh, and, by the way, if the interviewer makes you an acceptable offer - TAKE IT.
Keep in mind the most important issue during this process is selling yourself. Cover your
technical expertise but think people.
(3) Call your recruiter after the interview to provide critical feedback.
FACE TO FACE INTERVIEW GUIDE
Whether you're looking for your first job or your fifth, you're after an entry level sales position
or top management spot, there are some universal rules to successful interviewing. An
interview is not a two way street! It is your job to sell yourself with a positive attitude and
enthusiasm. Regardless of your initial impression of the job opportunity, your main objective is
to obtain a JOB OFFER by outshining the competition. It is impossible to properly evaluate a
position before a bona fide offer has been extended. Preparation for an interview should be a
serious matter. Interviewers are looking at you not only as a candidate but as a performer in
1. Go to the library or use the Web and research the company. Find things to discuss
during the interview. This impresses the interviewer.
2. Know the five year growth of the company and future direction.
3. Know the company's financial position, i.e. net worth, stock price etc.
4. Know the competitors.
5. Know the product line.
6. You should call on at least three possible customers to get their opinion of the
company and the product. Let the interviewer know this. Tell the interviewer with
whom and where you investigated their company.
1. Employers reject improperly dressed candidates. Accept the fact that many employers
have an unwritten dress code and like to hire properly dressed candidates. Forget your
own personal preference. You should dress according to the impression you want to
create, i.e., successful, conservative, and business-like.
2. Men--Conservative blue or gray suit, white starched shirt, conservative tie with
contrasting colors, shined shoes dark socks over calf, avoid aftershave.
3. Women--Skirted suit or tailored dress, dress feminine not sexy, avoid excessive make-
up and perfumes.
4. Hairstyles for both men and women should be modest.
5. Men, Facial hair, if any, should be modest and neatly trimmed.
6. Your attire/appearance WON'T get the job, but it CAN certainly rob you of it.
a. No sports jacket for men.
b. No pantsuits for women.
c. Dress for your boss's job.
d. You can't be TOO conservative.
1. Get exact directions to the interview site at least one day ahead of time.
2. Be 15 minutes early.
3. Be courteous to the staff…especially the secretary. An employer is always influenced
by opinions of other employees.
Take a resume with you even if the interviewer has one.
1. Do not fold it!
2. Offer the resume to the person in a new file folder.
4. Take your "that a boy" letters and offer them at the appropriate time.
5. When requested, provide a typed list of names, addresses, phone numbers, and
letters of personal and professional references.
1. Example: "Good morning, Larry. I am…"
2. Shake hands firmly and look the person in the interviewer eyes. Maintain good eye
contact during the interview.
3. Maintain high energy level.
4. Sit up.
5. Back straight.
6. No coffee, (to spill).
7. No smoking.
Note: It is to your advantage if a subject of mutual interest arises, but do not fake knowledge.
Be yourself. Poise, confidence, and self-respect are of great importance.
1. Motel room: Position yourself for good eye contact, (Don't be afraid to move a chair; it
shows positive traits. i.e., control.
2. Employer's office: If there is more than one chair, take the one closest to the side of
the interviewers desk. The desk is the barrier!
3. Bar/Restaurant: Sit across from the person and wait for the interviewer to order drinks
before you do. Do not feel compelled to drink if you normally don't drink.
1. Eye contact! Look directly at the interviewer.
2. Listen! Give the person the opportunity to talk. Do not touch anything on the
interviewer's desk. Do not fidget with anything you have, such as a pen, tie, etc.
3. Relax and be confident (do deep breathing to relax).
4. Be enthusiastic-use your eyes, hands, and voice inflection to show support.
Be Succinct - Keep your answers brief, concise, and to the point. Everyone gets nervous in
an interview, but some try to disguise it by talking-excessively. The more nervous you get, the
more you talk. The more you talk, the more you convince the interviewer that you are not
right for the position. Avoid negatives by returning to a positive and stress that positive. As an
example: "Well, Susan you have had three jobs in five years. Answer: Mary, I made a mistake
on that Acme job by not checking their financial situation closely. I have been with U.S.
Surgical for two years now and, as you can see, I've done a fine job. I'm seeking a career
opportunity that offers greater stability and that's why I'm here."
Be Specific - If you're explaining your accomplishments, try to support your claims by citing
figures or specific accomplishments. Ranked #2 out of 10 people in my region; I was $75,000
over quota last year; my W2 has increased x thousands of dollars over the last 2 years. If
you're discussing skills or talents that you can bring to the job, give clear examples of how
you've demonstrated these abilities in other relevant situations.
Sell Yourself - Now is not the time for humility. It is not bragging, and no one will find it
offensive if you cite your achievements or awards or describe unique business programs that
you have devised. It's an accepted and expected part of the interview process. Make sure that
the interviewer knows about your accomplishments or special experiences. If the interviewer
doesn't ask, find a way to bring them into the conversation. Be sure to mention any that aren't
listed on your resume. No one else is going to sing your praises, and you usually don't get a
second chance in these situations. Now is the time to bring out your ‘that a boy' file and show
written rankings or letters.
Note: Translate your achievements, accomplishments, and personal qualities into benefits to
Maintain Credibility - and don't over inflate your responsibility. Don't try to make a low-level
position sound as if you were actually the CEO's right-hand man or woman. Most interviewers
have a good idea of the responsibilities that accompanied your previous job-especially if you're
interviewing in the same industry. If you inflate your position, you'll undermine your entire
credibility, and the interviewer will doubt all your other real achievements. Once you're
considered deceptive, you won't have any chance at being hired. Always be honest.
Maintain Your Composure - Regardless of what happens in the interview keep calm, poised,
and professional. If the interviewer seems to ignore you, don't get flustered. If the interviewer
looks unimpressed, don't assume you have lost. If the individual contradicts something you
say, explain your position but don't lose our temper or let the interviewer goad you into an
argument. Don't become defensive if the interviewer seems to question certain responsibilities
or achievements that you claim. It's all part of the game. Your composure may well be tested
during the interview.
Pay Attention - Sometimes people are so "charged-up" that they try to anticipate where the
interviewer is going. They just jump in with the answer before the interviewer has completed
the question. Let the person finish the questions and make sure you know what is being
asked. If you're not sure, ask the interviewer to clarify the question. The last thing you want
to do is plunge headlong into a story that doesn't give the interviewer the information he's
seeking. You'll come across as rattled and confused-not exactly the stuff employer's dreams
are made of.
1. Answer these questions in terms of the qualifications required of the job being filled
and your business background.
2. Keep responses concise and brief.
3. Avoid being derogatory and/or negative when asked about previous jobs and bosses.
4. "Tell-me-about-yourself" means, Tell me about your qualifications.
a. Prepare ahead of time a five to ten minute discussion of your qualifications.
b. Discuss your experiences.
c. Tell how well you performed (resulting in raises, promotions, innovative
designs, sales volume, increased profits, etc.)
Your Personality Questions
1. Always answer in terms of your qualifications.
2. Support your claims by sharing experiences.
3. Answer personality questions in terms of ACCURATE ANSWERS supported by past
1. Avoid talking salary until the job has been offered.
2. Negotiate salary from strength.
3. Your present earnings will be on the company application you fill in. Mark the
"expected earnings" portion of the application, "Open or Negotiable."
4. If unemployed, seek a salary equivalent to your last earnings.
5. On the initial interview, you should NOT directly discuss:
a. MANAGEMENT OPPORTUNITIES
b. FRINGE BENEFITS
Asking Questions When Interviewing For A Job
Ask yourself are they related to the job, the company, its products, services and people? An
interview is a two-way street. These questions should communicate your interest in the
1. Don't cross-examine the employer.
2. Ask questions requiring an explanation. Questions which can be answered with a "yes"
or "no" are conversation stoppers.
3. Don't interrupt when the employer is answering YOUR question.
4. Ask job-relevant questions. Focus on the job, the company, products, services, and
5. Prior to the interview, write your list of Interest Questions and take them with you.
6. Ask about your potential peers, subordinates, and superiors. Take notes.
7. Ask the employer how he/she got where they are today.
Job Satisfaction Questions
Do they pertain to the importance of the job, does the authority you'll have match to the
responsibility, the reward for a job well done, and the long-range career opportunities?
1. Don't ask salary questions or about fringe benefits, retirement, or vacations.
2. Don't go overboard, four to eight questions of this type should be plenty.
3. Do ask about long-range career opportunities.
Past Performance Questions
Ask questions like:
1. How many people have held this position in the past several years?
2. Where are these people now?
3. Were they promoted or did they leave the company?
1. Ask what the employer wants in a candidates, what experience, educational
background, and performance.
2. Always ask what personality characteristics the employer desires.
3. Make a sales statement based on the employer's prerequisites or desires. (If you lack
an asset, sell a compensating asset.)
Ask For The Job
1. "I can perform the job you want. I've done it before and I've done it well."
2. "I'd like to work for you. What else do you need to know to make this happen?"
IF YOU MAINTAIN A "QUESTIONING AWARENESS" YOU WILL AUTOMATICALLY ASK
THE "RIGHT" QUESTIONS, GIVING YOU A CONSIDERABLE ADVANTAGE WHEN
1. Assume that you are the right person for the position.
2. Summarize all points of agreement.
3. Tell the person you want the opportunity and you are sure you could work well with
him personally from your initial meeting.
4. Close after summary. As an example: "Jim, do you make the final decision?" "Fine, I'm
ready to pursue the next step in the interviewing process. Can we see Susan
tomorrow?" If the interviewer says they would like to see you again or that the
interviewer will be in touch with recruiter, summarize and close again. Tell the person
you are ready to pursue the next step and ask for a day's notice that you might
coordinate your schedule.
On Your Way Out
1. Thank the person for the time.
2. Shake his hand firmly and look the person in the eyes.
3. Tell the interviewer you look forward to the next interview.
4. Say good-bye to the secretary.
1. Send a handwritten letter, fax, telegram, or e-mail thanking the interviewer for the
opportunity of interviewing with the company and 3 or 4 good reasons to consider
you. If this doesn't go out the day of the interview or the next day it won't be worth
the paper it's written on.
2. If you do not have an answering service or recording device, buy one, or as an
alternative, use the number of a friend who has one.
Career oriented people are more interested in gaining valuable experience, advancement,
opportunities, and enhanced working environment rather than immediate salary increase.
A lateral salary move, though rare, should always be considered based on career potential.
1. Make an inventory of what you did and how well you did it.
2. Research prospective employer, the nature of the business, its products and people.
3. Attire should be conservative and business-like, giving the impression of success and
MOST CANDIDATES ARE NOT EFFECTIVE DURING AN INTERVIEW, BE AN EXCEPTION!