The Footnotes

BUSINESS & ECONOMICS

Job interview tips for the HR graduate

Learn some HR Graduate tips from a successful Deloitte recruit.

Life’s short and let’s be honest, the interview is probably this afternoon so let’s make a start:

When an interviewer asks:

“How have you prepared for this interview?”

They’re looking for evidence of organisation and planning as well as company research.

Do not say: “I looked at your website” because literally anyone can do this. It doesn’t show depth of understanding, merely the possession of an internet hook up and eyeballs.

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 show you knowledge of the area. For example, “I read in Mumbrella about how your company have recently started doing XYZ. This sounds like it has great potential for XYZ”.

Smashed it.

This is obviously one of those things you simply cannot fake. So you will genuinely need to keep abreast of current issues in the your field before applying for roles.

“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 and by stating this, you’re showing your ignorance.

While yes, ‘helping people’ may be a part of the work, a human resource professional is a far cry from a social worker and therefore may involve tasks like making employees redundant. By all means, flout your interpersonal skills, they’re BIG in this field, but steer clear from the cliche of ‘helping people’.

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. 

Your answer should show your understanding of the industry. For example, “I’m really interested in the changing nature of the workforce. I’ve noticed that 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.”

“We’ve received hundreds of applications, 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 complementary, eg. creativity, data management or commercial law.

HR is a competitive field so it’s important to sell yourself effectively and efficiently in an interview. Enthusiasm and commitment are also important factors that won’t go unnoticed.

“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 interpersonal skills through work experience as well as written communication knowledge, analytical and research skills and organising and planning skills in projects where applicable.

“Tell me about your work experience”

The ideal answer here would include paid or unpaid experience in the human resources field 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.

Ready? Let’s go!

Job interview tips for the HR graduate
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