Interview advice for senior HR professionals

Written by
Changeboard Team

05 Mar 2012

05 Mar 2012 • by Changeboard Team

Do your research & demonstrate it

Undertake a number of web searches on the organisation, naturally look over their website, but always remember this is a sales tool for every company's customers and audience groups, try to obtain as many independent articles on the company you can gather from the media or trade presses. Look to understand more about your interviewer, look to understand their background. If you are going through an agency, ask them what they know of the person.

Ensure during the interview that you are able to demonstrate the research you have done, demonstrate how your personal strengths, qualities and drivers relate to the company's vision, culture and values. If also given the opportunity, ask the interviewer for their opinion about something you have gauged from your research.

Understand your own strengths & competencies

Almost all interviews will include a competency based element. There are many different questions that the interviewer can use to determine whether you possess certain competencies. These questions are not complex, responses do not have to be long to be effective, and can be structured in different ways. The structure of your response, the relevance of the example, its detail and your evident accomplishment will determine your success.

By matching the role profile competencies to specific examples from your past in preparation for the interview, you will be able to cover most eventualities. There are more common competencies that are tested in senior HR interviews. Are you comfortable that regardless of the circumstance, you know what competencies your 6-8 key achievements demonstrate? 

Quantify your responses

Remember you must be prepared to adapt your examples regularly; if you're too prescriptive you will not answer the specific question asked and the impact of your example will be lost.

In answering any question you must also consider what your differentiator is. If the same questions are to be asked of a shortlist of candidates, you must ensure your response stands out credibly above others.

An example or response will be stronger if you can clearly demonstrate the quantitative or qualitative improvement, saving, or efficiency made through your actions. This will allow the interviewer to probe further and for you to demonstrate you are comfortable discussing figures, and measures of your actions and success. 

Be conscious of your audience - if you are speaking to a member of HR there may be a more behavioural focus to the interview, where as an operational leader may want to understand the bottom line impact of your actions.

Be conscious of your body language

It's clearly not just what you are saying but how it's being delivered - your presentation. Nerves play a part in all interviews, however when assessing leadership qualities clearly presentation and communication style will be a consideration for the assessor. ‘How do I feel a message will be delivered by this person, are they a confident communicator and are they building rapport and engaging me?

If you feel comfortable doing so, mirror the body language of your interviewer, or at least be conscious of yours. Are you sitting forward and appear anxious? Or do you appear relaxed and comfortable?

Remember - it's a two way process

Ensure you have all the questions you want answered prepared ahead of the interview. If you feel comfortable, take these into the meeting with you.

You're not the only person being assessed on the day and don't feel uncomfortable declining a further interview if you don't feel the company, role or relationship feels right. If either party makes a mistake, you'll ultimately part company.