PRACTICE PERSONNEL/HR INTERVIEW
Try a practice interview for personnel / HR management, answering typical questions and also getting tips on how you should answer. There are also other questions students have been asked at HR interviews.
- Practice interview for personnel management
- Other questions students have been asked
- Tests given to candidates
- Group exercises
- Tips from interviewees
PERSONNEL MANAGERS must be good at LISTENING when interviewing people for jobs, and also at WRITING reports. They need to be able to ANALYSE the requirements for a particular job (rather like this!) and to MAKE DECISIONS on who to invite for interview. They must CO-OPERATE with other managers when dealing with staff problems in their particular departments and must be able to PLAN ahead to predict future needs for training and recruitment.
Employers will be looking to see how you can talk about and demonstrate these skills at your interview. The sort of evidence you could offer includes:
- MAKING DECISIONS - deciding where to live off campus and who with next year.
- SPOKEN COMMUNICATION - campus drama group.
- NEGOTIATING - asking for time off from a vacation job.
- TACT - resolving an argument between friends.
- LISTENING - working as a barman or waitress.
Before you arrive ...
Before your interview research the company. Initial interviews may be held on campus or at head office. Second interviews are typically selection centres where you will take part in group exercises with other candidates. You may get spatial, numeracy and logical reasoning tests - the Careers Service has examples of these at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/psychotests.htm Also see our Interview Reports
There follow some of the questions that might be specifically asked of students at interviews for jobs in personnel, Human Resource Management and related areas. General interview questions are not asked here, so you might also like to try the general or multiple choice interviews as well for standard interview questions that can be thrown at any candidate. Click on "First Question" to begin. Think carefully about how you would answer, then click on "Show Answer Tips" to get an idea of how you should be answering.
If you have been to an interview or assessment centre recently please fill in our interview report form to help other students.
- Tell us about yourself.
- How would others describe you? (BT)
- What motivates you?
- Are you mobile?
- Questions related to my application form
Competency Questions. See our competency applications and interviews page for help with these.
- Describe a situation when .....
- you have overcome a difficult situation. How? (BT)
- you have demonstrated good relationship skills (BT)
- you came up against those in authority
- when you achieved something
- when you have strived to move a business forwards? (BT)
- met a deadline
- you carried out customer service skills beyond your usual tasks? (BT)
- A challenge you have faced: how you conducted the challenge, the advantages and disadvantages of your method, the steps you took, results of the challenge. (BT)
- Describe a time where you given customer service beyond your usual tasks?
- Asked questions based on the key competencies given on their website e.g. describe a time when you
- had an important decision to make,
- have lead a team
- worked as part of a team,
- have had to influence others of your opinion. (NHS)
Commercial awareness questions. Make sure you do LOTS of research! See our Commercial Awareness page for help with answering these questions
- Questions on performance and profitable growth: how to save an organisation money/make money (BT)
- Questions on your career development plans to see if your plans fit in with their scheme. (BT)
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of our company?
- What departments/people does HR deal with?
- Who else have you applied to?
- How to you relate customer service to a position in Personnel?
- Why do you want to work in HR? (BT)
- Why do you want to work for our company? (BT)
- Describe the automotive industry (for an HR post in the car industry)
- Numerical 35 questions in 35 minutes. Interpreting data: difficult if not mathematically minded. Hard to finish in the time allocated. Practice maths: the test was very difficult.
- Phone interview: verbal, personality and management style tests. (BT)
- No tests were given, verbal and numerical reasoning tests are done online beforehand. (NHS)
- Verbal. 48 questions in 25 minutes.
- See our practice aptitude tests
- In-tray exercise based on a fictional scenario. In timed conditions you are given lots of different information and asked to provide a report by the end of the day. This exercise is quite intensive as you don't have a lot of time; I had already practised in-tray exercises before at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/interviews/intray.htm so found the exercise a lot easier than some of the other candidates. (NHS)
- Role-play exercises: you are given time to prepare for each: this consists of looking at lots of reports, data and emails, and making notes. You then have a meeting with another candidate, followed by a group meeting with five other candidates. Current trainees take on fictional roles within these scenarios. The final exercise is a one-on-one interview within this fictional role-play, but for a different scenario. (NHS)
- Building something out of newspapers!
- Pretend boardroom discussion: had to chair a meeting on a certain topic.
- Personnel-related task: worked for 10 minutes on your own and discussed ideas as a group.
- Group exercise involving making a paper chain. Given 30 minutes to decide how we wanted to make the chain and which resources we wanted to use. Each piece of equipment was given a different price and we had to calculate how many links we think we could make in 5 minutes and calculate the revenue by deducting the costs of the equipment. (BT)
- Group exercise based on the scrabble game board. We were given the letters and asked to construct a crossword using telecommunications words. We brainstormed some words then tried to use the squares and letters that offered the highest value so that we could gain a high score. We had to split up the tasks with one person keeping a count of the scores, another designing a hard copy on paper of the task and another writing out the clues. (BT)
- We had to do a group situational exercise where one of us was given a business scenario and then the respondent had to give their reasoning as to what they would do, then the question was opened up for discussion to the remaining 3 interviewees. I also had to take part in a pairs exercise where we had been given a sheet of information that differed from each other. Using this information we had to decide the best way for a lorry transporting goods to reach the warehouse. (BT)
Presentations. See our presentation skills page
- I had to give a twenty minute presentation I had already designed on PowerPoint to an assessor on the future of the company, an individual exercise consisting of pulling out relevant information from an article on mobile phones and constructing a presentation and report for a client telling them the best phone and tariff for their business needs. (BT)
- 15 minute presentation on "leisure and consuming". Was asked questions at the end.
- Know your application form.
- Relax and be yourself. It's not as nerve racking as it first appeared. It also helps to chat with the others being assessed before you begin as I found it easier to work as a group if it didn't appear as though you were competing against each other. The day was well structured and enjoyable. Although not conducted by the BT Human Resource department, there was a representative available to answer any questions. (BT assessment centre)
- You really are marked on the key competencies they provide you with, and you are given plenty of opportunities to demonstrate these skills. If you are aware of the competencies and think about the task, is quite clear through the exercises which skills you should be using. You are given plenty of opportunities to ask questions throughout the recruitment process, and the current trainees are all really nice and helpful. (NHS)
- Prepare well in advance.
- Prepare answers to obvious interview questions.
- Prepare for a structured interview. See our competency questions page
- They give you a time to arrive but actual interview times are staggered: this is so you get an opportunity to talk to current trainees, and ask questions, as you don't get to do this in the interview.
- They kept asking similar questions again to check you were telling the truth. They appeared to be checking what you had written on your application form and CV, and were trying to ensure it was true (BT telephone interview).
- Just be yourself, try to relax and don’t panic when they fire the questions at you. The questions seem to be based on your application and your knowledge of the organisation. They are checking if you fit in with their business. (BT)
- Think about why you want to work for the organisation and why you are suitable.
- They give you a time to arrive but actual interview times are staggered: this is so you get an opportunity to talk to current trainees, and ask questions, as you don't get to do this in the interview. It is a 24hr event, from 1pm to 1pm. There is however quite a lot of waiting around; you are probably actually tested for around 3 hours. In the evening you have some free time, a talk, and then a dinner with the other candidates and some current trainees. You are provided with overnight accommodation. You are also required to fill in a report of how you think you have developed your skills over the 24hr period. (NHS)
- Overall a positive experience. Interviewer was very friendly and relaxed.
- It was an enjoyable day: everyone was friendly. Just be yourself.