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What to Expect on an Initial Interview With HR

by Jill Leviticus

Your first interview with human resources is more than just a formality. HR evaluates your skills and experience but also takes into account other things unrelated to the job, such as grooming, grammar and confidence. If you don’t do well during the initial interview, you won’t advance to the next stage. Understanding what happens during an HR interview can help ensure you make a positive impression.

Job-Related Information

During the initial interview, the HR recruiter explains the duties of the job. He also might give you some background on the company and describe how the position helps the company accomplish its goals and objectives. He might discuss the size of the department, note the work schedule and briefly explain the group's major projects. Details about the company’s benefits packages and special perks are often a subject of conversation during the first interview. HR also might tell you the salary range for the position or ask you what salary range you will accept.

Background and Experience Questions

The initial interview helps the company determine if you have the basic skills needed for the position. The HR recruiter might ask you to elaborate on information on your resume. For example, he might ask you to describe how you used a particular piece of software and how often you used it. You also might be asked what value you can offer the company or to describe your proudest accomplishment in a previous position. Don’t be surprised if the recruiter asks about your strengths and weaknesses. Choose a weakness that isn’t directly related to the duties of the position, and make sure you state your strengths without bragging.

Behavioral Questions

Recruiters use behavioral questions to determine how you would react to various situations if they hire you. For example, the recruiter might ask what you would do if a co-worker didn’t complete her part of a team project. Other topics for behavioral questions might include what you would do if you didn’t agree with a supervisor’s decision or how you would handle a disagreement with a co-worker. It can be difficult to answer these types of questions when you’re nervous. A little practice before the interview can help you feel more confident.

Skills Assessment

The recruiter might ask you to complete a skills assessment as part of the initial interview. In some cases, the assessment might test rudimentary skills, such as basic math or English ability. In others, it might evaluate your ability to perform a specific task, such as completing a spreadsheet or editing an article. The Ask a Manager website notes that assessments help companies ensure that candidates don’t misrepresent their skill levels and advises that the candidate’s former employers might have different standards. If you’ve been told that you’ll take a particular type of test as part of the interview, be sure to brush up on your skills a day or two before the interview.

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