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10 HR Generalist Interview Questions [With Sample Answers]

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Imagine you have an upcoming interview for an HR generalist role and are unsure how you should prepare.

No interview process is the same, and you can expect human resource managers to ask questions ranging from situational to personality related.

The field of human resources has a lot of layers and an expansive knowledge requirement.

Without demonstrating the right skills, you could miss out on an opportunity.

Here are the most common HR generalist interview questions you may get asked during your interview.

10 Common HR Generalist Interview Questions

Human resources hiring managers may ask these common HR generalist questions to understand how your background matches the role.

These questions will evaluate your knowledge of HR policies and procedures, and demonstrate how you would enforce these.

This list is not all-encompassing, so ensure you’re aware of all subjects in this field.

If you study these topics and review your experience with them, the answers will be easier to provide.

  1. What do you know about the HR generalist role?
  2. How would you research and prepare a new job posting?
  3. How would conduct an interview?
  4. How do you go about recruiting new employees?
  5. How would you inform potential candidates about our company?
  6. How do you respond to candidates that reject an offer?
  7. What do you consider to be the most important components of the onboarding process?
  8. How do you handle difficult employees?
  9. How are you managing your knowledge of labor laws and their changes?
  10. Is there any particular HR area that you enjoy the most and the least, and why?

Related Interview Questions: You may get asked situational interview questions that probe your ability to perform the role.

You could also get asked questions that are similar to office management interview questions.

Also, be prepared for behavioral questions that gauge how you interact with employees and your management leaders.

These types of first-round interview questions are high-level and meant to provide a general understanding of how you are as an employee.

What Should I Say in an HR Generalist Interview?

You should demonstrate your qualifications to do the role.

Your responses should be engaging, professional, and full of information.

Do not present ‘fluff’ during an interview, and don’t ramble, but give meaningful responses.

Ensure you answer the question that is asked.

If you get asked a question that you have experience with, consider the skills you have that you would use if you were in the situation.

Then craft an example response of how you would perform if the situation were to happen.

What Skills Are HR Generalist Interviewers Looking For in a Candidate?

Human resources managers hiring for HR generalists roles are looking for you to have the ability to manage tasks.

HR generalists carry out a variety of HR functions, such as interviewing, benefits enrollment, and recruitment. Here are the skills needed for candidates in this role:

  • Analytical Skills: The HR generalist must know how to review reports and interpret data that helps them make decisions that impact employees and new hires.
  • Presentation Skills: The HR generalist should know how to prepare and present presentations to pass key HR information to employees.
  • Diversity and Inclusion Sensitivity Skills: An HR generalist must know how to engage all types of people and be empathic to their worldviews and experiences.
  • Dynamic and Adaptable Skills: The HR generalist must know how to adapt to changes in policies and be dynamic, so they can explain those changes to employees.

What Traits Are HR Generalist Interviewers Looking To Avoid in a Candidate?

Human resources managers will also be watching for traits that do not align with the role.

The following traits aren’t a fit for the HR generalist role:

  • Aloofness: Do not present yourself as unaware and disconnected.
  • Disorganized: If you present as a disorganized candidate, the interviewer will assume you cannot handle the workload of an HR Generalist.
  • Poor Communication: Do not demonstrate poor verbal and written abilities or a lack of active listening skills.

Sample HR Generalist Interview Questions and Answers

Here are 10 of the most common HR generalist interview questions.

1. What Do You Know About the HR Generalist Role?

Why Is This Question Asked?

This question gets asked to get an idea of your knowledge about the role.

Answer this question to reveal your expertise, as well as your understanding of what they are looking for in the position.

What To Focus on When Answering the Question?

Talk about the duties of the role and how it impacts the organization.

Briefly touch on the skills you have that make you qualified for the position.

What To Avoid When Answering the Question?

Avoid highlighting any lack of experience related to the role.

Don’t speak about tasks and skills that are not generally related to the role, even if a previous HR generalist role required you to do so.

Example Answer

The HR generalist manages multiple functions of the HR department, such as payroll administration, benefits enrollment, recruitment, and onboarding.

They also manage the employee cycle.

My background in all these areas has given me experience in managing these various tasks.

2. How Would You Research and Prepare for a New Job Posting?

Why Is This Question Asked?

The interviewer is accessing how you manage the recruiting process.

This question will measure how effective you are in attracting new talent.

What To Focus on When Answering the Question?

Discuss your research methods that help collect data to create the job posting.

Also, add how you would post the job and the tools you would use to make it gain traffic.

What To Avoid When Answering the Question?

Avoid giving unrelated responses to the question.

Refrain from referencing specific job postings unless it’s from an example that you could provide based on your experience.

Example Answer

I would work with the hiring manager to learn about the ideal candidate and the scope of the duties for the role.

In the job posting, I would highlight the benefits of the organization and the position’s requirements.

I would also list the qualifications and skills I am seeking and any other information related to the role.

I’d use recruitment tools such as Indeed and LinkedIn to attract applicants.

3. How Would You Conduct an Interview?

Why Is This Question Asked?

The interviewer seeks to understand how you engage with new people.

They seek to know your methods for evaluating a candidate to see if they are a fit for a role.

What To Focus on When Answering the Question?

Discuss your pre-interview approach and how you prepare to learn about the candidate before they arrive.

Then discuss the types of questions and interview methods you would use, such as situational interview questions.

What To Avoid When Answering the Question?

Avoid statements that suggest you would have a prejudgment about a candidate before the interview.

Never speak about evaluating a candidate based on their race, religion, political alignments, or sexual orientation.

Example Answer

Before each interview, I would review the candidate’s application and resume.

I will also do some social media research on them, such as accessing their LinkedIn profile.

During the interview, I would greet the candidate and conduct a small icebreaker, and then proceed with the interview questioning.

I like to provide a comfortable, conversational-style interview experience.

4. How Do You Go About Attracting New Employees?

Why Is This Question Asked?

The interviewer wants to access how well you understand the recruiting process.

They also seek to understand how you would apply your HR knowledge to their organization.

What To Focus on When Answering the Question?

Focus on key steps in the recruiting process.

Mention processes that are standard in the industry.

Then include how you improve processes to make the recruiting process work for you.

What To Avoid When Answering the Question?

Avoid discussing procedures that may not be relevant to that organization.

Don’t skip around processes, instead ensure they follow an ideal flow.

Example Answer

I ensure to craft a job posting that attracts the ideal candidate.

I use tools such as LinkedIn or Indeed to gain interest.

Then I review applications and assessments and gather a pool of candidates for an interview.

During the interview, I vet candidates for the right fit.

Then I collaborate with hiring managers to select a candidate.

After conducting reference checks and drug tests, I work with the hiring manager on an offer.

I also narrow our selection down to two candidates, in case the chosen candidate rejects the offer.

5. How Would You Inform Potential Candidates About Our Company?

Why Is This Question Asked?

This question will show if you have researched the company.

It will also show you if you understand how to talk about the company to a potential new hire.

What To Focus on When Answering the Question?

Focus on the key operational details of the organization.

Also, discuss what you know about their current employee culture.

You can also talk about factors such as a company’s diversity policy, their promote-from-within culture, etc.

What To Avoid When Answering the Question?

Don’t give false information about the organization.

Also, don’t repeat rumors or information you may have found in online reviews.

Example Answer

I inform potential clients about the company and what we do.

I give a brief description of how we carry out operations and where.

Then I provide some insight into the company culture, our growth plan, and how the role contributes to it.

6. How Do You Respond to Candidates That Reject an Offer?

Why Is This Question Asked?

The interviewer uses this to understand how you manage to overcome objections.

They also want to see how your temperament is when hearing no.

What To Focus on When Answering the Question?

Focus on how you would tone your response to the candidate and what methods you would use to overcome objections.

What To Avoid When Answering the Question?

Don’t suggest that you would be passive in your response to the candidate.

Also, do not suggest you would be dismissive or rude to the candidate.

Example Answer

If a candidate rejects an offer, I would gently probe them for their reason and offer any responses that could give them clarity concerning their reasons.

I would ask them to identify any issues with our interview process that may have concerned them.

If the candidate’s position remains the same, I will thank them for their time in the interview process.

If necessary, I’d provide feedback to the HR leaders about areas we can improve the interview process.

7. What Do You Consider Are the Most Important Components of the Onboarding Process?

Why Is This Question Asked?

The interviewer wants to know if you understand how the onboarding process works and which steps are the most crucial.

What To Focus on When Answering the Question?

Focus on the start of the onboarding process and how important the initial impression is for the new hire.

Mention a well-executed training launch and the importance of follow-ups and check-ins with new candidates.

What To Avoid When Answering the Question?

Don’t glorify the entire onboarding process.

Discuss one area that you consider is the most important.

Be able to provide reasons why you feel the area you discuss is the most important.

Example Answer

First impressions are crucial.

The first few weeks of the onboarding process are the most important.

We can demonstrate to the new hire why they’ve made a great choice.

It is also the critical training window where we can ensure the new employee is adequately trained on our processes.

8. How Would You Handle a Difficult Employee?

Why Is This Question Asked?

The interviewer seeks to understand how well you manage conflict.

It will also reveal if you align yourself with company policies and other labor laws.

What To Focus on When Answering the Question?

You may use an example of how you have managed a difficult employee and highlight the specific steps you took.

Focus on the outcome and how expectations were met.

What To Avoid When Answering the Question?

Don’t provide a response that suggests you are reactive.

Do not be high-level in your responses but offer a specific example that shows how you would manage a difficult employee situation.

Example Answer

When I’m presented with a difficult or upset employee, I listen to their concerns and quickly identify what their problems are.

I give empathy statements and have a discussion with them about the policies and laws that govern their situation.

If this does not resolve the issue, I would escalate the issue for further review while keeping in communication with the employee about the process.

9. How Are You Keeping Current on Labor Laws and Their Changes?

Why Is This Question Asked?

An HR generalist must stay up to date with labor laws.

The interviewer wants to know what you already know concerning labor laws and what you are doing to ensure your knowledge of labor laws stays up to date.

What To Focus on When Answering the Question?

Discuss the personal learning goals you have for your HR career development.

Mention tools, bulletins, and well-known HR communities where getting updates on labor laws is common, such as SHRM.

What To Avoid When Answering the Question?

Avoid quoting specific laws if you aren’t fully knowledgeable of them.

Do not speak on labor laws from states not related to the states in which the organization has employees.

Example Answer

I network with many HR generalists, giving me exposure to HR seminars and other sessions that discuss updates in the field.

I am also subscribed to HR bulletins such as SHRM, which send out notifications when there are changes to laws that affect HR policies.

10. Is There Any Area of HR That You Enjoy the Most and the Least? Why?

Why Is This Question Asked?

The interviewer is determining your specialty and how they can place you within the HR department.

What To Focus on When Answering the Question?

Be specific by identifying one or two areas that you like the most and explain why.

Tell the area of HR you like least and give a positive reason why.

What To Avoid When Answering the Question?

Don’t provide a negative reason for the answer about the areas you like least.

Also, avoid generalizing your answer by saying you like all the areas.

Example Answer

I enjoy finding new talent for the organization.

I am a people person, and meeting new people is my strength.

I enjoy teaching and informing new hires about our company and leading them through the hiring process.

I am not fond of managing employee complaints because I like to see people happy; however, I am trained in de-escalating situations and using active listening skills to find solutions to problems.

Other Common Interview Questions You Could Be Asked

You could also get asked other interview questions that aren’t specific to the HR generalist role.

These questions could address your career outlook or seek to identify your work ethic.

1. What Are Your Salary Expectations?

Why Is This Question Asked?

The interviewer asks this to ensure that what they budgeted for the role meets your requirements.

This consideration is a key part of the selection process as they compare your expectations against the expectations of other candidates.

What To Focus on When Answering the Question?

Focus on a tight range as your salary expectation.

Answer with confidence considering any research you have done to substantiate your answer.

What To Avoid When Answering the Question?

Don’t provide a wide range.

Your range allows flexibility around your ideal number.

Also, do not rebuttal with probing questions about what others in the role currently earn or have earned.

Example Answer

I am seeking an offer in the range between $80,000 and $85,000.

I am flexible and will consider the complete compensation package with your offer.

2. Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

Why Is This Question Asked?

The interview seeks to know if you set goals for yourself.

They also want to see how you plan to build your career with the role you are interviewing for.

This question gauges how you see yourself growing within their organization.

What To Focus on When Answering the Question?

Begin with the goal you desire to meet five years later.

Tie the goal back to where you are today.

Include how the organization and the role will help you meet that goal.

What To Avoid When Answering the Question?

Don’t mention plans and goals that do not relate to your current career path.

Also, avoid suggesting plans that would move you away from the company.

Example Answer

In five years, I desire to be an HR manager or director.

I consider this role a great part of my pathway to this goal.

I believe ABC company invests in its people, and I believe my HR training will increase with you.

3. Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

Why Is This Question Asked?

This question gives the interviewer an idea of why you’re in the job market.

This consideration helps them identify if the reason why you’re leaving does not conflict with what their role and organization offer.

What To Focus on When Answering the Question?

Focus on your career and how your reason to leave impacts or promotes your career.

You can also focus on the endeavors that may prompt you to leave a job.

If your reason is because of the company, the best focus is on how the role wasn’t a fit for your values.

What To Avoid When Answering the Question?

Avoid bashing the employer you are leaving or have left.

Don’t make any negative statements but be honest if there were challenges with your previous role.

Example Answer

While ABC company has a solid culture, I am ready to expand my skills.

I am seeking to move into working in HR in another industry, so I can become better at working with a variety of employee profiles.

4. Explain Why Your Background and Experience Are Good for This Job?

Why Is This Question Asked?

The interviewer seeks to understand how you view your experience.

This question is another way to explore if you understand the HR generalist role and the skills it requires.

What To Focus on When Answering the Question?

Focus on the experience that relates directly to the role.

Also, highlight any skills that could support the requirements of the HR generalist role.

If asked about challenges, consider talking about weaknesses during an interview with humility and self-awareness.

What To Avoid When Answering the Question?

Don’t discuss experience that does not relate to the requirements of an HR generalist.

Do not ramble over key components of your resume or mention roles that aren’t on your resume.

Example Answer

My experience as an HR Specialist with ABC company for the last five years has given me excellent training on the basics of the HR function.

I have assisted with writing out components of employee handbooks, reviewed and posted job descriptions, and managed job boards for applications and potential candidates.

5. Why Do You Want This Job?

Why Is This Question Asked?

The interviewer uses this to determine if you’ve researched their organization.

They also seek to know what your career objectives are.

What To Focus on When Answering the Question?

You should focus on the HR generalist role and the specific requirements that the company is looking for in the position.

Your answer should also include what you find attractive about the company and how it fits with your goals.

What To Avoid When Answering the Question?

Avoid only discussing the role.

Do not mention your current or previous job as a reason why you are interested in their role.

Example Answer

Your company has an excellent reputation for developing its people.

With your variety of job types, I believe working as your HR generalist will expose me to new experiences that will sharpen my skills.

I’m excited about the possibility to grow as an employee, as well as help your employees grow while executing the duties in this role.

Additional Tips for HR Generalist Interviews

Dress professionally for the interview.

Remove any jewelry or facial ornaments that may be distracting.

Speak professionally using complete sentences without a lot of technical or complicated language.

If your interview is virtual, interview in a quiet room without distractions.

Ensure your background is clean and neutral.

Make use of a professional background image if available, and prevent any interruptions from children or pets.

How Do You Prepare for An HR Generalist Interview?

Study the history and operations of the organization.

Be aware of any press releases involving the organization.

Also, refresh your knowledge of labor laws and other HR-related technical knowledge.

Review your resume and recall projects and metrics that you were responsible for.

Be able to speak about these without stammering.

What Should You Wear for an HR Generalist Interview?

Wear business-professional clothing that is neutral in color, such as blue, black, or other earth tones.

Ensure shoes are tied and properly fitted.

Don’t wear athletic gear, tennis shoes, or sandals of any kind.

How Should You Introduce Yourself in an HR Generalist Interview?

Greet each interviewer in the room and introduce yourself with your first and last name on your application or resume.

Don’t extend for handshakes unless the interviewer(s) prompts you to do so.

If you are approaching the receptionist or the first person you reach, mention you have arrived for your interview, the time, and the name of the person you will interview with.

What Questions Should You Ask at the End of an HR Generalist Interview?

Here are some ideas of questions to ask an interviewer before wrapping up the process:

  • What do the typical day-to-day responsibilities in this role look like?
  • What are the next steps in the interview process?
  • What is the management style like?

After your interview, thank the interviewer for their time and express that you look forward to hearing from them concerning the next steps.

Also, send a thank you email to the interviewer to summarize your skills and reiterate your interest in the role.

Wrapping Up

An HR generalist interview may be detailed and lengthy.

You should prepare to answer role-specific questions and personality questions during the interview.

Remember to be yourself and let your personality shine.

Practice active listening to make your interview a conversation where you contribute to the discussion naturally.

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