We’re seeing positive movement in the job market after last year’s dip* and it might have encouraged you to evaluate your own career prospects. A recent discussion on the CIPD Community page highlighted some key considerations for HR professionals changing roles.

Whether you’re ready to take the leap from your HR generalist role or just looking for a fresh start in a new company, here are six things to keep in mind when interviewing for HR positions.

job interview desk talking

1. Understand the importance of balancing employee and business needs

Before heading into your interview, you need to have a good grasp of the company culture and the employer’s expectations from the HR role. You may display your enthusiasm by sharing ideas on what employee engagement initiatives and processes you’d like to introduce should you get the role. But while showing enthusiasm is important, employers can sometimes misinterpret this as being too one-sided.

HR is just as much about compliance and due processes as it is about the people. So, it’s crucial that your desire to help employees is balanced out with being able to understand and support the business’ needs. You should be able to show you are there for the business, especially when it comes to executing difficult business decisions, e.g., carrying out grievance procedures or handling redundancies.

2. Demonstrate adaptability

If you’re transitioning to a different industry or sector, adaptability is important. An organisation in hospitality would have different HR needs to a manufacturing company. Successful HR professionals must be able to take on board different processes and use insights for efficient decision-making. Even if you’re staying in the same industry or sector, each company will have their own unique values. You must be able to incorporate these nuances into your work and reflect them in your people strategies.

3. Focus on the company’s workforce problems

All organisations have their own set of challenges and asking what they are opens up the opportunity for you to showcase your problem-solving skills and creativity.

Suggest practical workable solutions and detail how you would go about implementing them. Maybe talk about a similar scenario you’ve faced and how you’ve tackled it. If it’s not something you’ve come across personally, then adapt something that your previous organisation did well that might work in this particular situation. Beyond the messaging and intentions, it’s important that you can show you’ll be able to deliver a solution that is practical and measurable.

4. Know your HR tech stack

In every industry and sector, technology is playing an ever-increasing role and HR is no different. HR professionals are constantly bogged down, juggling daily admin and supporting high-level business strategies. Tech tools, like HR software, can relieve some of that burden, allowing you to automate repetitive tasks and making people processes, such as approving absence requests and carrying out performance reviews, easier to handle.

With many organisations looking towards a more digital approach to their workforce and wanting to close their digital skills gap, knowing how to use HR software to your full advantage and demonstrating this in your interview is crucial to success.

5. Discuss metrics and deliverables

When it comes to employee engagement and retention, there are some things you might think that companies should be doing and you’d wish to implement, such as a wellbeing strategy or a better onboarding process. But employers might be sceptical and respond with, ‘But what will that really achieve?’ You need to articulate how these recommendations will impact this company.

Having the right data and measuring what matters is extremely important in determining what is and isn’t working. Your prospective employer is keen to know how you can make a meaningful impact and for that, you need evidence. A good understanding of the information your HR system can provide is useful, whether it’s being able to monitor sick day trends over time or being able to follow up with employee performance issues.

6. Share the depth of your HR knowledge

With all the changes in employment law, government regulations, and data security, not to mention considerations about work post-lockdown, it’s extremely hard to keep up with everything. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Organisations need HR to be aware of the latest workforce-related guidance and regulations and to act accordingly, such as updating company policies and how data is kept, and communicating important information to the business. Maybe you can discuss a recent event that might impact your prospective employer and share how you would tackle it.

Being chosen for a desired role is often challenging, so hopefully, these pointers can help with tackling those tough interviews.

*ONS Report on Job Vacancies

Hannah Mandapat author image

Hannah Mandapat

Marketing Executive

Hannah has over five years of experience in the technology space, having worked in various marketing roles involving copywriting, social media management, and email marketing.