If an interviewer asks, “How have you prepared for this interview?”…
They are looking for evidence of organisation and planning and that you have researched the company and the job, that you have prepared answers to obvious questions and prepared questions to ask them. Do not say, “I looked at your website”, because anyone can do this. To be a stand out applicant you need to go beyond the obvious and speak about how you are genuinely interested in the industry and regularly read various relevant publications. For example, “I read the Financial Review as often as I can, so I am quite up to date with the recent ‘xyz’ conversations that are surrounding this industry, and specifically this company. Though specifically for this interview I read through your press release archive on your website to see the messages that the company was broadcasting to the public in light of ‘xyz'”.
I also recommend that you become aware of current issues in the personnel field before you begin applying for roles – not just those in your industry.
When an interviewer asks, “What attracts you to Human Resources?”…
Don’t talk about ‘helping people’ or ‘working with people’, because a common misconceptions about HR is that you help people. While yes, ‘helping people’ may be part of the work. you are not paid to be a social worker and may also need to carry out actions that are not helpful to people, such as making them redundant. Most jobs will involve ‘working with people’ in some way and HR is not unique in this, so avoid those lines.
Remember, you are managing a resource just like any other. A banker is managing money, a Marketing Manager is managing products, a HR manager is managing people.
Instead your answer should show that you have done your research and know what HR is about, for example, “I am really interested in the changing nature of the workforce, over the past five years there has been a growing emphasis on flexible working conditions and how initiatives like this can increase staff engagement and retention.”
If an interviewer is to say,”We have received hundreds of applications for personnel, Why should we choose you?”…
Your answer should reference the job description and also should go above and beyond. Talk about a skill that you have which is complimentary, eg. I am creative, I am great with data, I am interested in Commerical Law (the cornerstone of labour law).
HR is a very competitive field to enter and so you have to sell yourself effectively at interview. Enthusiasm and commitment are important factors in work and so if you can get them across in an interview you will certainly appeal more than the many other applicants who did not.
When asked, “How has your education prepared you for then industry”…
If you have a Business Studies or an Industrial Relations Degree then the answer is simple! Add to this by talking about specific subjects that you enjoyed or challenged you, what you learnt and how it is relevant to the workforce.
If you have done a non-relevant degree don’t worry. In this instance you need to emphasise those relevant transferable skills that you developed. For example, do you have extensive database literacy, data analysis skills, computer skills or management experience? These are all extremely valuable traits.
You could also mention that you have developed verbal communication skills through work experience, written communication in essays, analytical and research skills in almost any aspect of your course and organising and planning skills in projects.
Remember, the fact that you have studied effectively and to a high level will suggest to an employer that you are willing to work hard.
Finally, if an employer says, “Tell me about your work experience”…
The ideal answer here would include paid or unpaid experience in a personnel department, but if you don’t have this, many other jobs will have relevance. Almost any job will give you an insight into the things that make a workforce happy, productive and most importantly, efficient. Even being a waitress will give you insight- tell them how satisfied staff were at your last job, what changes could be made to improve efficiency and strategies to enforce this. Recounting your own experience of Human Resources may also be helpful- eg. the systems of previous experiences.