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How to hire a skilled HR manager


Your organization’s growth and success depend on how well you manage your best assets – your employees. 

Making sure everything employee-related runs smoothly and optimizing talent so your business can thrive is the responsibility of a human resources manager. So hiring an HR manager is an important task, and you need a strategic plan. To help you along, we’ve put together this quick guide to hiring a human resources manager that includes advice on how to create a great HR manager job description, where to find top HR manager talent, and how to evaluate your future HR manager’s skills.

What is a human resources manager – and why should you hire one?

HR managers oversee recruitment and hiring, compensation and benefits processes, staff training and development, and create and enforce appropriate workplace policies and procedures. 

The responsibilities of an HR manager will vary from company to company, but their core duties typically include the following:

  • Develop talent acquisition strategies 

  • Source, recruit, and hire talent

  • Create and implement staff training and professional development programs 

  • Ensure smooth onboarding processes

  • Engage in job design, talent mapping, and talent planning

  • Manage payroll processes 

  • Conduct performance reviews

  • Develop and enforce workplace policies 

  • Handle employee disciplinary meetings, terminations, conflicts, and investigations

  • Conduct exit interviews 

  • Maintain compliance with federal, state, and local employment laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act.

What are the typical requirements for an HR manager? 

Depending on your industry and the size of your business, the requirements for your HR manager will vary. Here are a few common HR manager job requirements that you’ll need to adapt to your organization’s needs: 

  • A degree in human resources, business administration, psychology, or equivalent

  • Demonstrable experience as an HR manager or in another HR role

  • Excellent talent-acquisition, recruitment, and retention skills

  • Experience with using HR software tools, including applicant tracking systems (ATS) and skills-assessment platforms

  • A strong understanding of performance management, talent analytics

  • In-depth knowledge of labor laws

  • Knowledge of HR and talent-management best practices, policies, and procedures

  • Experience in researching and creating compensation and benefits packages

Why should you hire a human resources manager?

Hiring an HR manager sets your business up for future growth by helping you expand, maintain, and develop your employees and teams. In addition to ensuring employees are engaged and productive, HR managers also help you comply with labor laws and regulations. 

Key HR manager hard skills

Defining the skills of your ideal candidate is an essential part of developing a seamless HR manager recruitment process. 

Here’s a list of the key hard skills you should look for in your candidates: 

Talent-acquisition and recruitment strategies

Your HR manager is responsible for setting the right talent-acquisition strategies that will support your business’ goals. For this, they need to have not just theoretical knowledge but also hands-on experience with different sourcing and recruitment methods, such as:

  • Passive candidate sourcing

  • Employee referral programs

  • Campus recruitment

  • Internal recruitment 

Keep in mind that some talent gaps don’t necessarily require hiring full-time employees; sometimes, working with independent contractors or consultants might be the best approach. Ideally, your next HR manager will be well-versed in recruiting freelance talent, too. 

Performance management

Employees will be more motivated to do a good job if their efforts are appreciated – and performance management is key for that. For this, HR managers need to know how to: 

  • Evaluate employee performance in cooperation with team leads and department managers

  • Create a stimulating environment where employees feel valued and appreciated

  • Identify and reward top performers 

  • Identify poor performers, analyze patterns and potential reasons, and propose improvement strategies

  • Build a comprehensive learning and development framework to help employees grow

To enable employees to grow and realize their full potential, you need an HR manager who has exceptional performance-management skills.

Employee retention

There are many strategies for employee retention that you can use to build a devoted workforce, such as to: 

  • Build a healthy and inclusive workplace culture

  • Give employees enough flexibility

  • Do frequent one-on-one meetings

  • Reward achievements and provide growth opportunities

… and many more. 

But it’s important to realize that strategies need to be adapted to your company and its own workforce and needs. Your HR manager needs to know how to use the right approaches that resonate with your employees and motivate them to stay. 

Benefits and compensation management

Designing and managing compensation, benefits, and reward programs is one of the core duties of any HR manager. 

For this, they need to know how to perform market research, determine competitive compensation plans, create attractive benefits packages, and ensure equitable pay for employees to eliminate pay gaps and discrepancies. 

Labor-law knowledge

HR managers’ critical role in workforce management requires an in-depth understanding of labor law. This enables them to: 

  • Ensure all company policies and procedures are compliant with local, state, and federal labor laws and regulations

  • Maintain the company’s reputation and employer branding

  • Build healthy employee relationships and protect employees’ rights

  • Manage potential risks and liabilities

  • Ensure that all contracts of employment are enforceable and protect the company’s and the employees’ interests adequately

  • Adhere to non-discrimination, equal-opportunity, and data-privacy laws

HR analytics 

Your next hire’s ability to analyze a broad range of data to support talent-management activities will be instrumental in the success of your human resources function. 

According to McKinsey & Company, few companies make full use of people analytics to create reliable and consistent predictions – so, if you hire someone who has the right skills to help you achieve that, your organization will be ahead of the curve and able to support its employees’ growth in new ways. 

Skills that human resources manager candidates must have graphic

Essential HR manager soft skills

Soft skills are key for HR managers. Their success depends on constant communication with employees, candidates, and other managers, so they need to always be attentive to others’ needs, offer empathy and understanding, and bring clarity to complex situations. 

Here are some of the most essential soft skills you should look for in your next HR manager: 

Strong leadership skills 

HR managers need to know how to inspire, motivate, and guide others – and that means not only other HR team members but all employees. Excellent leadership skills are essential for that. 

Look for candidates who understand the value of different leadership styles and know how to adapt theirs to the needs of the company. 

Interpersonal and communication skills

Relationship building is a key component of the success of any HR professional – and even more so of HR managers. They need to build and maintain strong relationships with prospective candidates, new hires, existing employees, and other members of the leadership team. 

For this, they need a range of sub-skills, such as: 

  • Active listening 

  • Conflict resolution and negotiation

  • Empathy and understanding

  • Cultural competency

  • Teamwork skills

Strategic thinking

Big-picture thinking is key for all management roles. Look for candidates who know how to: 

  • Build effective high-level strategies without getting lost in the details

  • Guide teams towards the successful execution of those strategies

  • Manage resource allocation in a way that helps guarantee the success of different initiatives

  • Work with other business units to support business goals

Organizational and time-management skills

HR managers are often responsible for managing multiple projects and recruitment processes at once; to not get overwhelmed and burn out, they need excellent organizational and time-management skills. Look for applicants who know how to prioritize tasks and plan their (and their team’s) schedule effectively. 

How to evaluate HR manager skills: Pre-employment tests for HR managers

Pre-employment tests provide hiring teams a simple way to get a true sense of a candidate’s abilities. In this section, we’ll first discuss the why and then the how of skills testing to help you build a streamlined HR manager hiring process.

The benefits of using skills tests when recruiting HR managers

Implementing talent assessments early in the hiring process is more effective than resume screening for narrowing down the initial list of applicants, enabling you to identify the best candidates for the job. 

Skills tests enable you to: 

1. Differentiate between exceptional candidates

Pre-employment tests offer you a reliable and quantifiable way to prioritize highly skilled candidates. When relying on resumes to assess applicants, it can be hard to sort the wheat from the chaff, because many resumes look incredibly similar. Resumes primarily outline experience rather than skills.

With pre-employment testing, all applicants are asked the same questions, enabling you to focus on concrete skills and analyze candidates’ results side by side.

2. Reduce your HR manager recruitment costs

Lowering recruiting and hiring costs by reducing time to hire is often a top priority for HR departments.

Assessing applicants with pre-designed tests created by industry experts helps you minimize time spent evaluating candidates’ skills individually while protecting your hiring budgets. 

3. Hire without bias

Reducing hiring bias ensures that all applicants receive an equal and fair chance of representing their suitability for the role.

When you test applicants’ skills with pre-employment tests, you can hide applicants’ identifying data when reviewing results. This helps ensure that only the results influence your decision to invite individuals to progress to the next stage of the hiring process. 

How to build a skills assessment for an HR manager 

With TestGorilla, it’s easy to create a skills assessment for your next HR manager. In our test library, you’ll find 300+ skills tests, ranging from role-specific to personality and culture tests

For an in-depth evaluation, you can combine up to five skills tests in a single assessment. You can also add custom questions, plus an intro and/or outro video to create a more personalized candidate experience

Here are our top picks for tests you can use to evaluate your next HR manager’s skills: 

  • HR fundamentals: TestGorilla’s HR Fundamentals test enables you to assess the core skills that any HR professional needs: human resources expertise, business acumen, recommending actionable solutions, and managing relationships. 

  • HR manager test: With this assessment, you can identify candidates who have the skills to build and manage a successful HR strategy to take care of your most important asset, your people. Find HR managers who know how to recruit the best talent, help your employees grow, mitigate risk, and guide key business decisions. 

  • Talent acquisition: If you’re currently looking to hire at scale, it’s essential to find an HR manager with excellent talent-acquisition skills who can help you source and recruit the best talent. This test will enable you to identify candidates who have the right experience and knowledge to help meet your recruitment goals.

  • Leadership and people management: To build a successful human resources team (or department), HR managers need excellent leadership skills. Evaluate candidates’ ability to guide and inspire others and drive positive outcomes for the team and the company. 

  • Business judgment: Do your applicants have a good nose for value? Can you trust them to make the right decisions for your business, even in complex and challenging situations? This test will help you find out. 

  • Time management: To stay on top of their tasks and schedule, HR managers need excellent organizational and prioritization skills. With this test, you can evaluate candidates’ ability to manage their time effectively by planning, executing, and reflecting on tasks and projects.

  • Communication (intermediate): Communication is one of the most important core skills of any HR manager. This intermediate-level test will enable you to assess applicants’ written, verbal, and interpersonal communication skills in business settings.

  • Culture add: HR professionals have a pivotal role in shaping your company’s culture, so hiring someone who’s aligned with your values and mission is critical. Fill out a short survey and send this test to applicants to evaluate their culture-add potential.

With TestGorilla, you can also customize each assessment based on your business needs. Here are some of the ways you can do that: 

  • Add customized questions, including qualifying questions to determine applicant eligibility 

  • Choose from five different question types: multiple choice, video, file upload, code, and essay

  • Conduct asynchronous video interviews by asking applicants to answer by recording a short video

  • Assign points to different answers to help you rate your candidates’ answers quickly and efficiently

Plus, TestGorilla’s HR Fundamentals and Talent-Acquisition tests are included in our free plan, so you can create an entirely free assessment for HR managers.

HR manager interview questions

Skills tests will help you identify your top applicants, whom you can then invite to an interview for a more in-depth assessment of their skills and experience. 

Here are some interview questions you can ask candidates for the HR manager role: 

  1. Can you describe what a typical employee onboarding process should look like, from start to finish?

  2. How do you approach the development and retention of high-potential employees?

  3. How do you assess the ROI of employee training and development programs?

  4. How do you stay updated on changes in labor laws and regulations?

  5. Can you discuss your experience with talent analytics?

  6. Can you provide an example of a time you resolved a high-stakes conflict at your organization?

  7. How do you make sure you stay neutral and impartial during disputes?

  8. What methods do you use to assess employee satisfaction and engagement?

  9. How do you balance the needs and priorities of employees with those of the organization?

  10. Can you provide an example of how you've contributed to the strategic goals of your previous organizations?

If you need more ideas, head on to our selection of top HR manager interview questions and general HR interview questions.

Where to find great HR managers

Once you’ve defined the skills your next manager needs to have, it’s time to source the best talent on the market.

Here are a few strategies for finding and hiring a skilled HR manager:

1. Post your job online

The first step is posting your job ad on relevant job boards, including: 

  • LinkedIn

  • HR Jobs 

  • Indeed

  • Glassdoor

  • Monster

2. Ask for referrals

Employee referrals are a key part of an inbound recruitment strategy and are often among the most effective sources of great hires. 

Send the job ad to your employees and ask them if they know anyone who might be a great fit. Many organizations offer incentives for candidate referrals to encourage employees to share their personal recommendations. 

3. Promote your company on the right channels to attract applicants

These days, job boards aren’t the only places candidates use to search for new jobs. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are excellent tools to build your employer brand and promote your company, its values, and culture to help attract fresh new talent. 

4. Join human resources organizations 

Join HR organizations like the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and The Human Capital Institute (HCI) to gain access to a wealth of HR resources and networks and to connect with fellow members. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth as a recruitment tool. 

5. Attend human resources conferences

Attending HR conferences is not just important for getting up to speed with the latest HR trends and technologies, but it’s also a great way of networking with a huge pool of prospective talent – and especially for HR leadership roles. 

How much does an HR manager cost?

The average annual pay of a HR manager in the US is $84,212 and typically falls between a range of $67,000 to $106,000. This figure includes base salary and additional pay, such as bonuses or profit sharing. 

An HR manager’s salary depends on: 

  • The person’s skills and qualifications

  • Their experience in a HR management role or similar

  • The company’s size, industry, and location

  • Other benefits 

Use skills testing to hire a talented HR manager

A skilled HR manager will set up your team for success – but to find the right person, you need to build an efficient, skills-first recruitment process. 

Making the wrong hire for such a strategic role can cost you not only a lot of money but many missed opportunities, too, so it’s important to evaluate applicants’ skills accurately and objectively. And for this, skills tests are ideal. 

With TestGorilla, hiring an HR manager becomes simpler, faster, and more effective than ever. Get started for free today and start developing your own pre-employment assessment.


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