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Sheena Joseph, Content Marketer

30 Oct, 196 mins read

Job hunters often get to speak with HR professionals before they enter the interview with the hiring manager of the department they are applying for. Many youngsters struggle with the HR round because there are no technical questions asked. The panel may ask questions that require answers that cannot be learnt from a book. This may make it look like a chit chat session. Believe with your entire brain that it is no chit chat session.

If you haven't been in the corporate world long enough, you may think that the HR round is an opportunity to show that your confident, positive, and awesome. You are not wrong. But, that's not the HR professional's main concern. It is much more than that.

The interview with the HR professional determines whether you are qualified to move on to the next level of the recruiting process. Recruiters use the HR round to learn about your soft skills and assess how likely you are to contribute to the growth of the company. They want to know if you are genuinely interested in the company and the job. It will also give you a chance to learn more about the role you are applying for.

The HR professional wants to understand your background, personality, strengths, and weaknesses. Their job is to find out who you are as a person. The company wants to know what kind of employee you will be. It is not something your mark sheet or resume will tell them. Which makes the HR round a chance to create a great first impression.

But, above all, HR round tests whether you will be a good cultural fit. Blending with the team you work with is important for the morale of the company. Their job is to maintain that balance.

The round is meant for testing your compatibility more than competency. They will form an opinion about the candidate that plays a crucial role in the next rounds. They will also make recommendations to your hiring manager and give you feedback that will come in handy in your career.

Three Tasks To Complete Before Marching To The HR Round

Now that we know messing up the HR round is not an option, you need to prepare for it and it’s not a tough cookie. You have to complete three tasks before going into the interview.

1. Read the job description thoroughly

Learning about your potential role will give you footing. Knowledge of expectations from the candidate will help you to understand the questions better and provide relevant answers. If you have an idea about the skill-sets required for the job and qualification the company is looking for, you can equip yourself with the details. This also means that you will not end up blabbering and appearing clueless in front of the HR professional.

2. Learn about the company

When we say ‘learn about the company’, we say ‘take a history lesson. You should know how the company started, who the founder is, and what the vision is’. Get as much as information you can on major turning points and achievements of the firm including acquisitions and losses. If the HR professional test your research skills or the interest in the company, you don’t want to come up empty.

3. Watch the news

If the company has made it to the news in recent days, it will definitely come up in the interview. Not being aware of that can be fatal in the HR round. Ups and downs in the market which can make a difference (good or bad) are also important. Every corporate loves a candidate who is up-to-date with current affairs. Even though it is better to not talk about them, you should also know about any scandals or PR Disasters Company faced in the recent past.

The HR Round Checklist Once you complete the three tasks, you are equipped for the interview. But, small mistakes can throw you off the course. What you need is a checklist. Follow every single item, and you will be at your best for the HR round.

  1. Dress comfortably. Wear neat clothes that make you feel relaxed with minimal accessories.
  2. Update your resume. Match it to the requirements of the job profile.
  3. Carry a printed copy of your resume.
  4. Reach 15 minutes before the scheduled time. This will give you time to relax and check your appearance.
  5. Be calm, composed, and yourself.
  6. Greet the interviewers by their last name. Find out how to pronounce it beforehand from the receptionist.
  7. Let the interviewer lead the process.
  8. Be enthusiastic throughout the interview (both verbally and physically).
  9. Look attentive. If you naturally have sleepy-looking eyes, try to nod to show that you are perceptive and responsive.
  10. If the HR round has a panel to interview you, answer to the person who asked the question. But, make eye contact with others periodically.
  11. Don’t use arrogance as a self-defence mechanism if you are nervous.
  12. Don’t bluff. Establish yourself simply as a candidate who is fit for the job.
  13. If you don’t understand a question, ask them to repeat.
  14. If you don’t know an answer, say that you don’t know it.
  15. Make sure that your answers are consistent with your resume or any conversation you have had with anyone in the company.
  16. Try to avoid yes and no answers. Elaborate your answer whenever possible.
  17. Ask about the follow-up timeline before leaving. This will help you to reach out at a specified time rather than nagging them constantly.
  18. Send thank-you notes to everyone you met during the interview.

Most Common Questions Asked In The HR Round

When it comes to dealing with questions, you can expect traditional questions and behavioural questions. The latter will demand answers from your past. The HR professional is trying to estimate your abilities to match the job description, understand how professional you are, and call your bluff. Let’s deal with the traditional questions first.

1. Tell me about yourself Do not think this one is merely an ice breaker. The HR professional gets a sense of consequent questions from your answer. Do not narrate your resume or personal life. And, never counter this question with ‘what do you want to know’. It is rude. Talk about your past roles and mention a few of your strengths that are relevant to the job. If you are a fresher, talk about your extracurricular activities that demonstrate your organising or planning skills and creativity. You can talk about experiences involving volunteering for NGOs. Conclude the answer with why you are suitable for the position or why want to be part of the company.

2. What are your strengths and weaknesses? This is one of the most common questions in the HR round. While describing your strengths are easy, talking about weaknesses is tricky. Saying that you have no weaknesses is not a choice. While talking about strengths, choose the ones relevant to the job. Include analytical skills, problem solving skills, ability to maintain a great rapport with clients, developing a supportive team, attention to detail, and ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment. You can also say that you are innovative and highly motivated. When you are talking about weaknesses, do not mention things that are completely negative. You can say that you get impatient to finish tasks perfectly or you struggle to speak up in meetings. Choose a weakness that will not make you incompetent for the job. Do not forget to mention how you are working on doing better.

3. Why are you interested in this position?

4. What do you know about our company? These are the questions that test your research skills and genuine interest in the job. They are also easy to answer. You can say how you will be contributing to the growth of the company and how the job will help you grow. Frame your answer around the idea that your abilities are a match for the job and your values, as well as interests, align with the company’s vision.

5. What is your philosophy towards work? Showcase your commitment towards the career. You can say that every task is important and will be done to the best of your abilities within the deadline.

6. Do you consider yourself successful? Do not associate materialistic ideas with success. You can say that success is an ongoing progress. Frame your answer around that your idea of success is achieving goals and moving forward.

7. Tell me about your dream job This seems like an easy one. But, the HR professional is trying to find out your future plans. They want to if you will stick around and be dedicated to the job. You can talk about your future plans. But your answer should indicate that this potential job will contribute to your plan to achieve future goals. That way, your time with the company is worthwhile for both you and the company.

8. Why are you leaving your current job? This question is always asked. You cannot say anything bad about your current employer. It makes you look like not loyal, unprofessional, negative attitude, and potential negative influence on the work environment. Talk about the positive benefits you are looking forward to the new company. You can say that you are looking for more challenging roles that utilise your leadership skills.

9. What is your expectation in terms of salary? Do not say a specific number. Mention a range that starts with your current salary. Research on the industry standards and pay scale of the company.

10. Do you have any questions for me? This question is not a formality. Saying that you don't have any questions is a mistake. Think of a thoughtful and curious question that shows that you are keen about the job and company. You can also ask the interviewers how their personal experience has been while working in the firm. You can also ask about the values/challenges/future plans of the firm.

The HR professional can gain better insight into who you are as an employee with behavioural questions. Be sure to answer them with consistently and truthfully.

1. Tell me about a time when you experienced conflict/dispute/difficulty with a co-worker and how you dealt with it.

2. Are you a team player?

3. Tell me about a problem you had with a supervisor

4. What irritates you about co-workers

5. What is the most challenging thing about working with you?

All five questions are a way to determine who you are as a co-worker. The HR professional is testing if bringing you into the team will be a good idea or not. The interviewer wants to know about the professional conflicts you have been part of. Be careful when you are describing past events. Do not blame yourself or your colleagues. Talk more about how you resolved the issue rather than whose fault it was. Say that the conflict came from differences in perspectives and everyone in the team worked towards the solution in harmony. When it comes to the challenging aspects of working with you, say that you tend to take up more than you should or that you are a perfectionist. Talk about a well-intentioned and manageable flaw.

6. Can you describe an instance in which you messed up?

7. Can you describe a stressful situation at work and how you handled it?

8. Describe an incident in which your judgement/communication skills/creativity/planning skills was critical to solving a crisis?

9. Tell me about a difficult decision you made on the job

10. Describe a lesson you learnt on the job

All five questions are meant to test your skills and abilities on the job. The HR professional also wants to know whether you have lied about having these skills in the resume or while answering the traditional questions. Make sure that you give importance to professionalism and healthy workplace equations in the answers. Take responsibility for the mistakes that you committed. But, mention what you learnt from it and how you have overcome the flaw.

11. Have you led/motivated/managed others?

12. Describe your management style

Both of these questions are meant to test your leadership abilities. Convey that you can coordinate the team and get the task done while maintaining a positive work environment. Say that your management style comes with promptness and flexibility. Bring up your attention to detail and ability to meet deadlines.

13. What has disappointed you about work?

14. Have you ever worked in a job that you hated?

Both of these questions are meant to test your workplace dynamic. You cannot badmouth your previous company. You can say that not having enough challenges or an opportunity to grow have disappointed you. You didn’t hate the job but felt indifferent towards it.

15. Are you willing to work overtime/ night shift/Weekends?

16. How long would you expect to work for us in case you are hired?

Both the questions are meant to test your commitment and dedication. You can say that when work comes with an extended number of hours due to good reason, you are happy to work overtime. And as long as the management is seeing you as an asset, you are willing to stay.

17. How do you respond to change?

18. Describe your ability to work under pressure

Frame your answer around the qualities that makes you efficient. Say that you are patient, persistent, practical, and positive. Certain positions and assignments come with pressure and frequent changes. Indicate that being under pressure doesn’t discourage you but motivates to overcome the challenge. Conclude with saying that you try to stay focused in all situations.