Human Resources Manager
Interview Questions

When hiring a Human Resources Manager, look for a candidate who understands the important contribution they will be making to the smooth operations of your HR department and organization as a whole. This position requires a strong leader with a diverse background in all aspects of human resources management, including recruiting, training, compensation, benefits, and legal compliance.

The Human Resources Manager will assist the Human Resources Director in developing an HR strategy that supports the company’s business goals and mission. Your candidate should have the proven ability to successfully execute recruitment strategies and other programs designed to attract and retain the top talent in your industry. Place a high value on candidates who can demonstrate the initiative to analyze your current HR processes and procedures and make recommendations to enhance efficiency, productivity, and outcomes.  

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 Manager interview questions to help you get started: 

What is your management style? How did you develop it?  

What you want to hear: A Human Resources Manager is an emerging leader. Find out what they’ve learned along the way in their progressively responsible human resources roles. Are they modeling their management style on what they experienced with a previous supervisor or mentor? Have they taken leadership and other continuing education courses to refine their skills? Listen for a candidate to provide details on how they communicate, delegate, motivate, support, reward, and recognize their team.    

Red Flag IconRed flag: A candidate who doesn’t have a grasp on basic leadership skills, or appears to be rigid in their style without accounting for individual personalities, is a risk for demotivating their staff and reducing productivity.   

When interviewing a candidate, what do you look for?  

What you want to hear: Recruiting is a central part of the Human Resources Manager role. It is vital that your candidate knows how to not only attract good applicants but how to accurately evaluate their qualifications for the job. An experienced candidate will talk about using the interview process to learn what’s not on the resume itself. For example, why is the applicant leaving their current job? What does the applicant know about your company? How does the applicant explain movement from one job to another?, and so on. Additionally, and importantly, they should look for visual cues such as manner of dress, appropriateness of greeting, calmness versus anxiety, or focus versus disinterest. They should also discuss auditory cues such as interpersonal skills, problem solving skills, speaking skills, and the like.

Red Flag IconRed flag: Be very cautious about hiring a Human Resources Manager who does not have a clear plan for how to use the interview process. This can result in wasted time and resources as unqualified candidates are sent to hiring managers for consideration.

How do you stay current with employment laws applicable to your job? 

What you want to hear: Employment laws govern a myriad of human resources activities. It is essential that your Human Resources Manager be current with the law at all times when developing or enforcing company policies. For example, the Employee Handbook must be consistent with the laws governing overtime, family leave, and benefits; harassment claims must be processed and handled properly so as to  resolve the employee’s grievance and mitigate the company’s potential legal liability; and workplace injuries must be handled in accordance with worker compensation guidelines. Listen for a candidate who can list ongoing resources for information, including continuing education courses, HR and employment law newsletters, online HR chat rooms, and the like.   

Red Flag IconRed flag: A candidate who shows no initiative or plan for staying current on the law is a high risk of exposing your company to legal liability. 

What is your least favorite duty as a Human Resources Manager?    

What you want to hear: This question serves two purposes: assessing the candidate’s candor, and finding the weak spot that can impact their performance at your company. Fact is, every job has duties that are less interesting than others. What you’re looking for is a candidate who can be open about what they dislike and discuss ways they overcome that emotion to avoid any impact on productivity. For example, they might not feel comfortable with some of the calculations required to build a compensation study; or they might be extremely anxious when terminating an employee; or they might have to work hard to overcome a fear of public speaking in presentations. 

Red Flag IconRed flag: A candidate who claims not to have a least favorite duty is probably not being honest with you, and dishonesty in one area is a threat of dishonesty in other areas. Also, make sure the duty they dislike is trainable or the candidate expresses ways they successfully overcome the challenge. You don’t want to experience avoidance on a duty that is important to your organization. 

An employee approaches you with a complaint of harassment against their supervisor. What do you do?     

What you want to hear: A stellar candidate will begin this dialog by explaining the importance of first learning the company’s current policies and procedures on harassment. How are complaints filed? What is the process for investigating complaints? When are complaints referred to the legal department or outside counsel? Next, those current policies should be stacked up against current law to confirm compliance. Then the candidate would follow the company guidelines. Apart from that diligent exercise, the candidate should explain generally, at a minimum, that any complaint would be heard and recorded in confidence, the proper executives and counsel would be advised, an investigation would ensue, and resolution would be implemented swiftly so as to minimize any further discomfort by the employee and to mitigate the risk of liability by the company.  

Red Flag Icon Red flag: A Human Resources Manager without a clear and appropriate plan for handling grievances is a high risk for the company. Failing to address inappropriate behavior by a supervisor, or mishandling the matter, can expose the company to serious legal liability and financial loss.

Tell me about an initiative you developed and implemented that improved an HR department. 

What you want to hear: Successfully completing tasks is one part of a Human Resources Manager’s job. The other part is having the ability to assess a need and develop a plan of change or improvement. Look for a candidate who can describe in detail the facts surrounding the area of concern, what they saw as the problem, how they went about arriving at a proposed solution, how they got by in from management, the steps they took to implement their plan, and the outcome.

Red Flag IconRed flag: A Human Resources Manager who does not yet have initiative to share, or offers something seemingly inconsequential to the operations of a department, may not be prepared for the role in your organization.

Every interview question can help get you closer to the right fit for your Human Resources Manager position.

Be sure to keep an eye out for candidates who:

  • Bring experience in all aspects of the role
  • Have a clear plan for recruiting top talent in your industry
  • Stay current with all applicable employment laws and regulations