30 interview questions for HR managers

30 interview questions for HR managers

The administrative functions of a company rely on a well-run human resources department, with HR managers acting as the cornerstone of operations, employee experience, and policy enforcement. 

To find the most suitable HR candidate who can fulfill all of these operational requirements, you’ll need the perfect recruitment process that includes an HR Management test and the best interview questions for HR managers. 

If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of interview questions that will help you get to know your candidate and understand their strengths, weaknesses, and HR management experience, you’ve come to the right place. 

Keep reading to find the top 30 interview questions for HR managers and answers to look for from your candidates. 

30 interview questions for HR managers with sample answers

We’ve compiled this list of 30 interview questions for HR managers with responses you’re likely to receive from ideal candidates. Ask your interviewees some of these questions to find the best candidate for an HR manager role: 

When did you first show an interest in becoming an HR manager?

This question gives candidates an opportunity to explain their previous experience and how their career path led to their interest in becoming an HR manager. 

Some applicants might describe certain projects from their previous experience that helped them realize they would be effective HR managers.

Other candidates might discuss how they have inherent people management skills that made them interested in an HR management role. Use TestGorilla’s HR Fundamentals test to assess your candidate’s interest in HR.

What skills make you the perfect candidate for managing a payroll?

One of the most significant duties that HR managers contribute to is payroll. Candidates might reference how they have used their advanced analytical skills to collect all the necessary data to assess employees’ timesheets and payment information.

Applicants may also explain that problem-solving is necessary for overseeing the payroll since it can help them manage errors effectively and ensure employees are paid. 

Look for candidates who provide instances of when their skills are necessary in payroll management. Some examples include using their mathematical skills to ensure the payroll is balanced and noticing discrepancies, like a payment for an employee who is no longer working for the business. 

In your opinion, what makes HR vital to a company?

This question helps you find out how much your applicant understands the role they’re applying for and what they’ll be doing if they get the position. 

A candidate should be able to give examples of when HR is vital, such as in addressing employee engagement, enhancing workplace culture, and managing a company’s hiring or termination processes. 

Ideal candidates will identify at least three or four significant contributions of a well-run HR team, such as the following: 

  • Managing payrolls effectively
  • Maximizing employee happiness 
  • Managing disciplinary actions
  • Creating policies
what makes HR vital to a company

Do you feel comfortable discussing employment law?

Since HR managers are typically responsible for handling contracting, disciplinary processes, employee relations, and hiring or firing, your applicant must fully understand basic employment law.

They should be able to quote or at least reference laws relating to subjects like unfair treatment or discrimination since these are fundamental to handling cases of discrimination and harassment in the workplace. 

The best candidates will explain how they use US labor laws to guide their formal processes, especially when firing an employee. 

They should also explain the benefits of this, such as helping your business avoid complex and potentially costly legal cases regarding unfair dismissal and treatment. 

What digital tools do you think have revolutionized the HR profession?

Digital tools like automated payroll management systems, online employee engagement platforms, and automated process management systems are key to helping HR managers streamline their duties. 

Yet only 37% of HR managers are confident in their ability to handle the changes technology is bringing to the HR field and to use new technologies like artificial intelligence.

An ideal candidate should be able to describe the benefits of using digital tools and provide a list of the types of tools they’d recommend implementing in your business. The following are some benefits of using these technologies:

  • Faster task completion time
  • Fewer human errors
  • Improved data management

Look out for candidates who reference such benefits, and assess their confidence in using HR technologies. 

If you want to test your applicant’s proficiency with digital tools, try giving them a Computer Literacy skills test from TestGorilla.

What inspires you as an HR manager?

Learning about your HR manager applicant’s personality is an effective way to determine whether they will fit your cultural dynamic. Candidates may refer to celebrities or notable figures in history who helped shape their core values.

The best candidates may talk about famous business management professionals they modeled their skills and values after. Some might list specific skills that they try to incorporate into their everyday work, such as:

  • Effective leadership
  • Strong delegation
  • Work ethic
  • Business development 

Other impressive answers might refer to figures famous for shaping modern HR, like David Ulrich, founder of the Ulrich HR model. 

How important is a good relationship with your HR director?

As a recruiter, you’ll want to know if your applicant can collaborate effectively with a senior HR director. Candidates may provide reasons why such a relationship is important, such as maintaining open dialogues about policy compliance and mutually agreeing on progression objectives that will drive your business forward. 

Applicants might also explain how a good relationship with an HR director has benefited them in their previous role. They might recall a time when their director helped them deal with a difficult disciplinary procedure or complicated employment law-related matter. 

The ideal candidate will be able to recognize the importance of positive working relationships. Watch out for candidates who prefer to work alone since they might not have the interpersonal skills necessary for an HR management role. 

What parts of HR do you find the most interesting?

Use questions like this to gauge the candidate’s genuine passion for the role. All candidates are likely to give a subjective answer, but the most engaged candidates should refer to topics such as the following:

  • The complex relationship that HR has with employment law
  • Balancing people’s needs with the interests of the business
  • The impact of HR on company development 

Better yet, they may explain how they hope to pursue their interests in their future career, perhaps by progressing into an HR director role or taking on more business management or legal responsibilities to explore the HR world in more depth.

What about this company attracts you to the role?

This question is imperative for understanding how much research your applicant has done into your company. Their answer might refer to your specific company culture or team structure and how they thrive in these conditions.

Candidates should also be able to list your organization’s core values and explain how they resonate with your objectives, values, and work ethic.

An experienced HR management applicant might be able to build on this and discuss how they plan to expand on your company’s most attractive qualities.

For example, if your organization has flexible working opportunities, an applicant might use their understanding of employee engagement and incentives to suggest ways to further increase flexibility. These could include introducing hybrid working, four-day working weeks, and much more. 

Answers like these flaunt the applicant’s knowledge of people and what encourages them to work effectively. 

How much experience do you have in HR?

HR management is a mid- to senior-level role, so understanding if your candidate has experience in HR or business is essential. HR is a diverse field, so candidates can come from different employment backgrounds. 

Try to identify candidates who have experience as business managers, HR administrators, or legal assistants. 

Such applicants likely have the right skills, like database management and operational knowledge. These abilities will enable them to:

  • Effectively guide a team of executives
  • Run payrolls
  • Enforce policies 

Explain your problem-solving process and why it’s effective.

HR managers use their comprehensive problem-solving skills to manage complex disciplinary processes, resolve conflicts between employees, and find effective strategies for tackling business development objectives. 

Your applicant should have a strong grasp of how and why HR managers use problem-solving skills, illustrating their explanation with examples. For instance, they may describe how HR managers use problem-solving skills to address regulatory requirement compliance issues or employee complaints.

You should prioritize any applicants who can provide examples from their previous roles of when they showed exemplary problem-solving skills. Also, pay attention to those who provide a coherent step-by-step process. These examples can include using a flow process, such as the following: 

  1. Collect the facts 
  2. Check policies
  3. Gain a second opinion 
  4. Respond 

How integral is leadership to an HR manager role?

HR manager applicants need to be confident in fulfilling some leadership duties. Your applicants may describe how HR managers use leadership skills to delegate tasks and enforce policies and regulatory requirements specific to their industry.

Other candidates might explain that leadership skills are beneficial in formal processes, such as disciplinary processes, when HR managers must deliver constructive instructions to improve the performance of employees under review. Ideal applicants will tell you how leadership skills help them guide their teams instead of simply enforcing a hierarchy. 

If you want to test your applicant’s leadership skills and instincts, use a Leadership & People Management skills test

Do you consider people management to be one of your strengths?

Similar to leadership, people management is at the core of an HR manager’s role, so the best candidates should have people management skills. A candidate might explain how effective people management in an HR capacity helps them achieve the following:

  • Establish positive working relationships
  • Balance workloads
  • Deliver constructive guidance 
Why is people management considered a crucial skill for HR

The best candidates should be able to give an example from their previous role of when they showed effective people management skills, such as giving advice, building trust, and practicing effective communication. 

What do you think are the most important steps to mediating conflict?

HR managers may need to mediate conflict in meetings, so your candidate should explain their process for handling conflict in a calm and measured manner. They may provide a set of steps like the following: 

  1. Act quickly to avoid escalation 
  2. Gather information from both parties
  3. Establish a safe environment to speak calmly 
  4. Find common ground
  5. Identify any more serious issues, such as bullying or harassment 
  6. Put a monitoring process in place

Candidates who provide clear steps such as these can work effectively under pressure, using their communication skills to reinforce positive working dynamics. Test your candidates’ communication skills with a Communication test.

What is the most effective recruitment process?

HR managers play a leading role in hiring new candidates. Your applicant should explain their selection process and provide the tools they use to quickly find the perfect candidates. 

Your applicants might use applicant tracking systems to process resumes faster or prefer to set up an informal call with potential candidates to establish a positive rapport with them before their interview.

Take note of applicants who clearly explain why their process is effective for securing top talent. These candidates may be the most engaged when it comes to finding talent that can drive the business forward.

If an employee required a performance management process, how would you approach this?

HR managers might need to follow a performance management process if an employee performs below expectations. The best candidates will do this with compassion and dignity. 

Your applicant should explain that handling performance management delicately with a support-first approach is often more effective for enhancing the employee’s performance. These candidates may be better positioned to establish positive relationships with employees that support positive outcomes.

Are you comfortable firing employees or making them redundant?

Firing employees and making them redundant is a challenging part of an HR management role, but candidates need to show they can approach this with confidence. Your applicant may explain that approaching hiring or redundancy processes with a designated plan can help them manage emotions and expectations effectively.

Candidates should explain that clear communication is central to firing and layoffs to avoid any confusion about finishing dates or reasons for termination.

The most effective HR candidates will show a strong regard for employment law when responding to this question since they’ll need to avoid accusations of wrongful termination when firing or laying off an employee.

How do you approach disciplinary processes and why?

Similar to approaching firing and redundancy, applicants must be able to handle disciplinary processes with care, compassion, and patience to ensure they gather all the necessary facts.

Candidates should respond by first explaining that HR disciplinary processes are an effective way of dealing with serious issues, such as the following:

  • Policy violations
  • Non-compliance with regulatory requirements
  • Claims of unacceptable behavior

The best applicants will deal with these matters in a measured way and don’t view a hearing as an opportunity to berate an employee or be unprofessional. 

Are you a team player?

Your HR manager candidate needs to be an effective team player to collaborate with other managers and HR directors. Around 80% of employers look for team-building and interpersonal skills, so prioritize candidates who display these abilities. 

Candidates may explain how being a team player benefits the HR managerial process, such as by building trust with employees, making them more comfortable with approaching managers with their concerns, and offering feedback and process improvement suggestions. 

Ideal candidates should also explain the qualities needed to be an effective team player, like being approachable, even-tempered, and compassionate.

Try to prompt your applicant to give an example of when they were an effective team player, such as when they supported a colleague through a difficult time in their life or took on more responsibilities for the benefit of their team’s project management. 

Which of your values align with this company?

To integrate seamlessly into your company’s culture, your candidate needs to understand the organization’s values before their interview. This not only shows whether they’ve researched the organization but also enables them to tell you about times they’ve upheld your company values in their previous role. 

Candidates might explain why these values are important to them and how they use them in their day-to-day duties.

For example, if one of your company’s values is dedication, your ideal applicant might explain how they embodied this in their previous role. They might say that they were dedicated to upholding clear processes that ensured compliance and to facilitating a positive employee experience.

Why not test your applicants’ value system with a personality and culture test from our test library? 

If you notice an employee violating one of your policies, what is your first priority to manage?

Your HR manager candidate should always understand the importance of company policies, especially if they’re related to federal regulatory requirements for specific industries. 

Candidates may say that following a clear process in the event of a policy violation is an effective way to avoid unnecessary escalation and educate employees on how to conduct their duties in a compliant way. This process can involve the following: 

  • Holding a conversation with the employee to gauge their understanding of the policy
  • Obtaining a clear account of their actions from both themselves and their supervisor
  • Educating them on the policy and why their actions were in violation 
  • Beginning a thorough consultation process 
  • Collaborating with the HR director to determine if the violation is serious enough to warrant disciplinary action 

Policy violations are serious and require a strict response method, so look for answers that clearly outline the best course of action in alignment with appropriate business ethics. Applicants who are unable to provide a step-by-step process may be more prone to panic in these scenarios and might not handle the situation constructively.

Do you think cost reduction falls within your scope of responsibility?

Your applicant may respond to this question in several ways, but the best responses will outline why HR managers contribute to cost reductions and how they can do this. 

Candidates might explain that automating some processes, such as payroll or data management, can lead to fewer personnel requirements, reducing costs. 

An applicant should also state that because HR managers are primarily responsible for making redundancies to reduce costs, cost reduction falls within their scope of responsibilities. 

To examine whether your candidate has the negotiation and business judgment skills necessary for cost reduction, use a Negotiation test or Business Judgment test

You’re implementing a new project management process, but your team isn’t co-operating. How do you manage this?

Effective responses to this question will show you your candidate’s problem-solving, communication, and team leadership abilities. 

Applicants may tell you how they plan to use their communication skills to outline the expectations and importance of this process. They might also mention how they would use their team leadership skills to clearly respond to any questions the team might have. 

Top applicants will then explain how they use their problem-solving abilities to rectify any mistakes caused by their team’s initial confusion, leading to more clarity and greater confidence in their team. 

What software helps you the most as an HR manager?

HR managers use software to streamline some of the central components of their job. Candidates should explain how HR information systems help them keep track of information like the following:

  • Employee data
  • Vacation requests
  • Special requirements
  • Staff benefits 

Other candidates might mention data management software that helps them track performance. This software enables them to conduct reviews and appraisals with more comprehensive data. 

Some of the most knowledgeable candidates might explain how learning management systems help them maintain clear records of employee training.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment in HR?

This question prompts an understandably subjective response. Candidates might describe how they managed large amounts of data while working as an HR administrator or how they handled a complex disciplinary process in their previous management role. 

However, ideal candidates will focus on what they learned from their professional accomplishments and the character traits they believe propelled them toward success. 

Look out for applicants who explain how they hope to apply the lessons they learned from their accomplishment in their next role – these candidates will be most concerned with your company’s success. 

What are the most effective strategies for encouraging better collaboration at work?

The best HR candidates recognize the importance of collaborative working environments. Applicants should provide clear step-by-step strategies that encourage better collaboration, focusing on what makes these strategies important.

Here are some examples of strategies candidates may provide: 

  • Building trust and mutual respect 
  • Providing skills-based tasks to focus on each employee’s strengths to better support each other 
  • Encouraging workplace friendships to make employees more comfortable in each other’s presence
  • Prioritizing a diverse workspace 
  • Promoting experimentation and trial and error 

Your candidate should also reference times when they’ve implemented these strategies. For instance, they might provide metrics on how increasing their hiring diversity impacted collaboration in the office. 

The best candidate will also explain how critical-thinking skills helped them generate these strategies. To test your applicant’s critical-thinking abilities, give them a Critical Thinking test from our test library. 

An employee tells you they’ve had an uncomfortable encounter with another colleague. What are the most important skills to deploy in scenarios like this?

In response to this question, you should always prioritize candidates who show they can handle delicate situations calmly and reasonably. Applicants should know that it’s important to act with the law in mind in these scenarios to avoid accusations of wrongful termination or workplace bullying. 

However, candidates can also emphasize the importance of using empathy, active listening, and compassion to make employees feel comfortable and safe when disclosing this information while staying impartial and professional. 

If a colleague stopped turning up to work, how would you handle this?

The most important thing a candidate should mention in response to this question is how they would ensure that the company maintains its continuity when an employee stops coming to work. They should also explain that it’s important to follow company procedures, contact the employee, and offer support. 

The best candidates will discuss the importance of continually monitoring operation levels and ensuring that other colleagues aren’t impacted too much by the colleague’s absence.

The candidate should be able to use their problem-solving abilities to find intermediary measures to reduce any disruption while they find more information about the employee’s absence. 

What do you think holds you back as an HR manager?

HR managers should be self-aware and able to hold themselves accountable for their weaknesses. Candidates may mention various obstacles to their success, such as a lack of confidence, assertiveness, or even minor skills like time management. 

What is integral in a candidate’s response is how they plan to improve on their weaknesses. The ideal candidate will describe their strategy for developing in their next role for the employer’s benefit. 

For example, an applicant who lists time management as their weakness might explain how they aim to use more effective strategies like the Pomodoro technique to improve their task management abilities. 

What would your previous HR director say were your most significant progression points?

The answer you receive to this question will give you a good indication of the performance you can expect from the candidate if they’re successful in the recruitment process.

Be wary of candidates who use this as an opportunity to discredit their previous employer or explain that they disagree with their assessment. 

Although their opinions may be valid, these candidates might be unable to hold themselves accountable for their lack of progression or have the self-awareness to identify areas where they could improve. 

When should you use these 30 interview questions for HR managers?

When you’re conducting a recruitment process, it’s important to think about the best time to use interview questions for HR managers.

After you’ve collected all the data you need by using our situational judgment, role-specific, personality and culture, and cognitive ability tests, you can conduct an interview and use some of these interview questions for HR managers. 

Combined with the data collected from your assessments, you’ll have all the information you need to make a confident decision on the best candidate for your role and streamline your overall recruitment process. 

Find the perfect HR manager with the help of TestGorilla

Finding the ideal HR manager candidate doesn’t need to be rocket science. We’ll help you build a comprehensive yet streamlined recruitment process so that you can find your ideal applicant in no time. 

Our data-first approach provides our users with a simple and accessible way of gathering data on candidates to determine whether they can succeed in the role before they’ve reached the interview stage. 

Request a demo with us online, or try TestGorilla for free, and let us show you how we’re changing the recruitment game forever.

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