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40 HR assistant interview questions to hire skilled HR staff


The human resources (HR) department is one of the most crucial divisions of any organization and HR assistants play an important role in it. 

They help ensure that different HR activities are executed successfully. They handle a wide array of tasks including scheduling and organizing interviews, assisting with payroll, coordinating employee onboarding, and handling inquiries from employees and management.

To hire the best HR assistant, it’s important to evaluate candidates’ skills objectively and impartially; if you make the wrong hire, you risk disruptions in the HR department and the entire company. 

But how do you assess applicants’ HR competencies fairly and without bias?

The best way to do this is to use pre-employment skills testing and structured interviews, in which you ask applicants the right HR assistant interview questions.

In this article, we’ll talk about both – and give you sample questions and answers you can use to assess candidates’ skills. 

How to evaluate HR assistants’ skills

To make the right hire, you need to evaluate candidates based on their skills and knowledge rather than just on their resumes or what they say they can do.

A clear understanding of the tasks they handle will help you create an effective evaluation process. So, first you need to conduct a thorough job analysis to identify the skills you need to look for. Then, you can build a skills assessment to evaluate a candidate’s capabilities objectively.

Here are some tests that you can use when hiring your next HR assistant: 

  • HR Fundamentals: First and foremost, HR assistants need a solid understanding of the fundamentals of HR. Make sure your applicants know the basics with the help of this test. 

  • Time Management: Evaluate candidates’ ability to plan their and others’ schedules, prioritize tasks, and stick to deadlines. 

  • Problem-solving: Make sure your next HR assistant has the right analytical skills to tackle challenges successfully. 

  • Communication: Assess applicants’ ability to communicate effectively in a professional setting with this test.

  • Culture Add: Are your candidates’ values aligned with yours? Find out with this test. 

Combine skill tests with carefully designed interview questions for HR assistants and you’ll have a winning combination for recruiting the best talent.

Top 15 HR assistant interview questions and answers

Below, you’ll find our selection of the best 15 interview questions for HR assistants, along with our guidelines on what to look for in candidates’ answers. We’ve combined relatively easy questions to start the interview with more challenging questions that enable you to dive deeper into applicants’ strengths and weaknesses.

1. What do you think is the most important skill for an HR assistant and why?

Candidates should be well-aware of the multifaceted nature of the role of an HR assistant and identify key skills such as:

  • Organization

  • Communication

  • Empathy

  • Attention to detail

  • HR knowledge

They should explain why each skill is important and how it impacts the efficiency of the HR department and the overall employee experience

2. How do you handle confidential employee information?

Look for candidates who understand the importance of keeping confidential information secure. 

They should mention specific strategies they use, such as:

  • Secure file storage 

  • Strong password management

  • The principle of least privilege 

  • Regular training on data protection laws

If you’re operating in the EU, are they familiar with the implications of GDPR for employers? To make sure they are, you can use our GDPR and Privacy test.

3. What HR software tools are you familiar with?

Candidates should list the HR software tools they're proficient in and explain how they've used these tools in their previous roles to streamline HR processes. Examples might include: 

  • ATS (applicant tracking systems): Greenhouse, Lever, Taleo

  • Talent assessment: TestGorilla, iMocha, Criteria Corp

  • Onboarding: BambooHR, WorkBright, Zenefits, Gusto, Talmundo

  • Payroll: ADP Workforce Now, QuickBooks Payroll, Sage Payroll

  • People operations: Zelt, Personio, HiBob

Look for candidates who say they’d be interested to learn new technologies or those who have participated in the implementation or optimization of an HRIS system.

4. What do you do to ensure accuracy in your work, especially when dealing with employee records?

Accuracy is critical in HR for legal compliance and maintaining employee trust. 

Expect candidates to talk about strategies they use to ensure precision, such as double-checking data, keeping detailed logs of their actions, and using checklists. 

They might also mention how they stay updated on legal and policy changes to ensure that they’re able to manage employee records correctly. 

Ask them for examples of how their attention to detail prevented or corrected an error to gain insight into their conscientiousness (which you can also measure with our Big 5 OCEAN test).

5. How would you go about scheduling interviews in which multiple interviewers have to take part?

This question tests organizational skills and the ability to coordinate with different stakeholders. 

Candidates should describe a process that starts with understanding the availability and preferences of interviewers – and then propose available slots to candidates. They might talk about using scheduling tools, setting clear communication channels, and confirming appointments with all parties involved. 

The ability to anticipate and solve scheduling conflicts proactively is a key indicator of a candidate's problem-solving skills and their capacity to manage complex logistics smoothly.

6. What steps would you take to prepare a company-wide meeting?

Large meetings require meticulous planning, coordination, and communication skills. Candidates should come up with a comprehensive plan that includes: 

  • Booking the appropriate venue

  • Setting up necessary technology and materials

  • Coordinating with speakers 

  • Sending out invitations and agendas in advance

They might also discuss how they would ensure the meeting's objectives are clear and collect and organize any necessary follow-ups. 

7. Imagine you have to implement a HR policy change. How would you go about it?

Candidates should describe a comprehensive process that starts with identifying the need for change. 

They should then discuss how they’d form a cross-functional team to ensure the policy is well-rounded and addresses all stakeholders’ needs. 

Effective communication strategies are key, including clear messaging on the reasons for the change, the benefits to employees, and any potential impacts. 

Candidates should also mention the next steps they’d take, once the policy is implemented, such as to: 

  • Prepare training sessions to educate employees about it 

  • Set up mechanisms for feedback to monitor the policy's effectiveness

  • Make adjustments as necessary

This approach tests the candidate's ability to manage change, collaborate with others, and drive policy adoption in a way that aligns with organizational goals.

8. How do you manage the onboarding process for new hires?

Expect candidates to explain that a well-designed onboarding process extends through the first several months of employment. 

Candidates might discuss personalized onboarding plans that include:

  • Orientation

  • Role-specific training

  • Mentorship programs

  • Integration into the company's social and professional networks 

They should highlight the importance of setting clear expectations and milestones and regular feedback sessions to ensure new hires are able to get up to speed quickly. 

Additionally, effective candidates will mention assessing the onboarding process's success through surveys and adjusting the program based on feedback. 

9. What strategies would you use to improve employee retention?

Candidates should propose a multi-layered strategy that includes:

  • Conducting regular employee engagement surveys to identify areas for improvement

  • Creating clear career paths and development opportunities

  • Ensuring competitive compensation and benefits packages

They might also stress the importance of a positive company culture that values diversity, inclusion, and a good work-life balance. 

Examples could include implementing flexible working arrangements, recognition programs that celebrate employee achievements, and initiatives that support employee wellness and well-being. 

Answers that outline a holistic and proactive approach to retention suggests a deep understanding of the factors that contribute to employee satisfaction and loyalty.

10. Can you explain how to conduct a job analysis?

The best responses should detail a systematic approach to analyzing a role, including: 

  • Gathering information from team members and supervisors

  • Assessing data to define the essential functions and qualifications for the job

  • Creating job descriptions, performance evaluations, and training programs

They might also discuss the importance of regularly updating job descriptions to reflect changes in roles and ensuring compliance with employment standards and laws – or mention using talent assessment templates to evaluate employee performance and fit. 

11. How would you handle an employee complaint about harassment?

Harassment complaints will typically be handled by more senior HR staff, but HR assistants will often be the first point of contact of employees, so their role is crucial.

A skilled candidate will emphasize a zero-tolerance policy towards harassment and outline a procedure that includes an immediate and confidential investigation, in which they ensure the complainant's safety. 

Experienced HR assistants will explain how they’d provide support to all parties involved, such as counseling or mediation services, and enable HR managers to take action based on the investigation's findings, including disciplinary measures if warranted. Applicants might also mention the importance of reviewing harassment policies and ensuring employees are aware of them. 

This question tests the candidate's ability to handle sensitive issues with empathy, integrity, and a commitment to maintaining a safe and respectful work environment.

12. How would you go about updating the employee handbook?

Look for candidates who approach this task methodically. They should mention that they would: 

  • Do thorough review of the current handbook against organizational changes and best practices

  • Collaborate with the rest of the HR department, as well as other departments and team as necessary (legal, management)

  • Make the necessary adjustments and ensure the handbook reflects current operations, culture, and requirements

  • Define an effective communication strategy for rolling out the updated handbook

The candidate's process should demonstrate their attention to detail, project management skills, and ability to work well with others to ensure the handbook serves as a valuable resource for the entire organization.

13. How do you assess the effectiveness of benefits and compensation plans?

Expect candidates to detail a data-driven approach that supports the work of more senior HR staff, including benchmarking against industry standards, analyzing turnover rates, and using employee feedback tools like surveys and focus groups. 

They should talk about evaluating the alignment of compensation and benefits with organizational goals, such as attracting and retaining top talent or encouraging high performance. 

14. How would you handle a situation where you disagree with a senior HR manager's decision?

This question will help you evaluate candidates’ ability to approach such situations with tact and professionalism – but also stand their ground and explain their position constructively. They might explain that they’d gather data or alternative perspectives to present a well-reasoned case for their point of view. 

Effective communication skills are key, as is the ability to engage in constructive dialogue and, when necessary, to accept and support the final decision, even if they don’t agree with it. 

15. How would you convince management to invest in a new HR technology or initiative?

Here, experienced HR assistants will explain that they’d start with researching HR technologies that address the organization’s needs effectively – and analyzing each one in detail, to explore pros and cons. 

They should then explain how they’d talk about the potential ROI, efficiency gains, or competitive advantage that the technology would give the organization – and discuss strategies for handling management’s objections. They might suggest a phased implementation or pilot programs to demonstrate value. 

The best answers will demonstrate applicants’ ability to articulate a clear, compelling case that aligns with organizational goals.

25 extra HR assistant interview questions you can ask candidates

Looking for more questions? Below, we’ve listed 25 additional questions for HR assistants you can use in interviews. 

  • How would you describe your communication style?

  • What skills do you hope to acquire at this role?

  • What’s your level of proficiency with local employment laws and regulations?

  • How would you approach creating a training program on interviewing techniques?

  • Tell us about your experience with performance management processes.

  • Describe a project where you used data to improve an HR process.

  • Can you discuss a time when you had to handle negative employee feedback?

  • How do you balance the needs of employees and the objectives of the company?

  • Can you discuss a time when you had to adapt quickly to a change in HR policies?

  • What strategies would you use to boost employee engagement?

  • How would you facilitate a smooth layoff or termination process?

  • How would you support a large-scale hiring effort? What would you do to ensure a smooth recruitment process across many roles? 

  • How would you address a systemic issue in the company that is affecting employee morale?

  • Tell us about a time when you had to use your judgment to make a decision in the absence of clear policies.

  • How do you ensure that HR practices are aligned with the strategic goals of the company?

  • How would you reduce personal bias when making decisions?

  • How would you support an underperforming team member? 

  • Do you have experience with organizing yearly performance reviews? 

  • Tell us about a situation where you had to provide HR support in an emergency.

  • How do you navigate changes in employment laws that significantly impact company policies?

  • Can you explain the difference between exempt and non-exempt employees?

  • Discuss a time when you contributed to improving employee well-being and work-life balance. What strategies did you use?

  • How do you anticipate the future needs of the HR department and prepare accordingly?

  • Do you think AI has a role in HR? Have you used AI in your work in the past, and if yes, how exactly?

  • What do you think is the biggest challenge facing HR today?

Use the right interview questions to hire a skilled HR assistant

HR assistants ensure HR processes are running smoothly and that their department is able to meet the company’s recruitment, staffing, and payroll needs. Hiring the right HR assistant is therefore crucial for the success of any organization. 

A skills-based approach to hiring, where you use skills tests in combination with strategic interview questions, ensures that you can easily spot your best candidates. Or, otherwise said, those who not only meet the requirements of the role on paper but also have the practical skills and hands-on experience necessary for success.

TestGorilla has a vast test library containing hundreds of skills tests that you can use to evaluate candidates’ skills objectively and fairly – and shortlist candidates for an interview. 

Sign up for a free demo to talk to our experts and see how we can support you in hiring your next HR assistant – or try out our free plan to start building your first skills assessment today.


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