When hiring a Human Resources Coordinator, look for a diligent and responsible candidate who can be relied upon to support the administrative functions of your Human Resources department. This role provides invaluable assistance to your Human Resources Manager and Human Resources Director, and serves as a key point of contact for other departments in your organization.
The successful HR Coordinator candidate should have a broad knowledge of human resources and business administration. For talent acquisition duties, a candidate will need prior experience sourcing candidates with a variety of tools such as resume databases and online communities. When working with department teams, the candidate’s interpersonal and communications skills, conflict resolution skills, and ability to handle sensitive information in confidence will be paramount. Administratively, knowledge of business software such as Microsoft Office and Slack, and HR efficiency software such as a Human Resources Information System (HRIS) and Automated Tracking Systems (ATS) are a plus.
General interview questions (such as “Can you tell me about yourself?” and “Why are you looking for another job?”) are a great way to get to know your candidate’s personal history, interests and goals. However, be sure to add inquiries specific to the role they’re interviewing for, so you can gain valuable insights into their likelihood of success in that position.
Below are Human Resources Coordinator interview questions to help you get started:
Is it more important to listen or to be heard?
What you want to hear: The candidate’s response to this question will give you insight into how they will approach working with team members and staff. An excellent candidate will explain that listening is the foundation of good communication and strong employee relations. If an employee wants to discuss a concern or issue with the Human Resources department, it is essential to first listen to all they have to say and make sure the facts and inquiry are clearly understood. Only then can you formulate an appropriate response and ensure your thoughts are heard.
Red flag: A Human Resources Coordinator who doesn’t recognize the importance of listening before speaking is a risk for misunderstanding a situation and responding with inappropriate action. This behavior can make problems worse or, in some circumstances, even create legal liabilities.
Let’s say you are given multiple tasks to complete under tight deadlines. How do you handle it?
What you want to hear: A Human Resources Coordinator should thrive handling job duties in a fast-paced environment. At any given time they may be called upon to prepare and distribute a report, conduct a new employee orientation or onboarding, handle a conflict between team members, and the like. Listen for a candidate who can describe the techniques and tools they use to stay organized and focused without sacrificing accuracy, including the use of certain software applications, note-taking methods, or calendaring and time management systems.
Red flag: A candidate who appears flustered by the question itself either lacks enough experience with multitasking under pressure or simply doesn’t have the problem solving skills to function as an HR professional.
What types of personal and sensitive information have you been exposed to in previous jobs? How did you maintain the confidentiality of that information?
What you want to hear: A strong candidate will explain that the HR department is privy to a range of personal and sensitive employee-related information, and that unauthorized disclosure of such information can run afoul of employment laws. This includes home addresses and social security numbers, salary information, performance reviews, and perhaps even a documented behavioral issue such as sexual harassment. The candidate should confirm the categories of information they have seen or dealt with in their past jobs, and the specific steps they took to preserve confidentiality at all times. For example, they may mention not leaving employee files on their unattended desk, handling all verbal conversations about sensitive information in closed offices, securing files in Microsoft Office or other software systems, and never engaging in office gossip.
Red flag: A candidate who is unfamiliar with the rules of confidentiality will require specific training programs in this area. Additionally, any candidate who appears to have a casual attitude about confidentiality or demonstrates a tendency for engaging in gossip is a high risk for exposing the company to legal liability.
An employee is leaving our company to join a competitor. How would you conduct the exit interview?
What you want to hear: Before a Human Resources Coordinator can be tasked with conducting an exit interview, they must understand the value of that step in the offboarding process. Listen for a candidate who can explain that the exit interview, handled properly, can provide tremendous insights into the current operations of the organization and where there is room for improvement. They should share specific questions they might ask the exiting employee, such as “Why did you begin looking for another job?”, “Are you staying in the same field, or moving to a related or different field?”, “Did your manager help you succeed?”, “What was your least favorite part of the job?”, or “What do you think your department, the Human Resources department, or the company could do better?”.
Red flag: A candidate who is focused on the idea that the employee is leaving to a competitor is missing the point of the exit interview. The exit interview is not an adversarial process but an opportunity to learn why the employee is leaving and perhaps use that information to make improvements so others employees don’t leave as well.
Share an experience when you improved a system or process.
What you want to hear: The Human Resources Coordinator works with systems and processes each day when carrying out administrative support duties. It may be digital documentation of employee records, handling an employee grievance, managing employee benefit data, posting open positions on job boards, tracking the interview and hiring processes, or the like. A strong candidate will be able to tell you about a specific Human Resources Information System (HRIS) or other system or process they found to be lacking in some way and the solution they came with to improve on what they saw.
Red flag: Although the role of Human Resources Coordinator is fundamentally task driven, you want a candidate who recognizes that observing the status quo and taking the initiative to challenge it when appropriate is also part of the job description. Great ideas come from everywhere and especially from the employees who are on the front lines of any given system or process.
Why is it important for a Human Resources Coordinator to understand conflict resolution techniques? Can you share an example of a conflict between employees that you resolved?
What you want to hear: An office setting by nature brings together many different personalities and working styles. As a result, friction or outright conflict between employees is almost inevitable. When such a situation occurs, the Human Resources Coordinator may be the first point of contact in HR for receiving a complaint. Listen for a candidate who can detail the importance of conflict resolution to the smooth operations of the organization, and the need to resolve conflict as early as possible before a situation escalates. They should be able to cite a specific example of a conflict they were confronted with and how they approached resolving it.
Red flag: A candidate who is unfamiliar with conflict resolution techniques will require additional training in this area. Failure to handle grievances in a timely or effective manner, including the judgment to know when to send the issue up to a supervisor or HR specialist, can result in lower morale, reduced productivity, and potential legal liability for the company.
Every interview question can help get you closer to the right fit for your Human Resources Coordinator position.
Be sure to keep an eye out for candidates who:
- Understand all of the administrative functions of the HR department
- Recognize the importance of discretion and confidentiality
- Will take the initiative to recommend improvements to systems or processes