How to Prepare for an Interview for an HR Executive

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Dress professionally for your HR executive interview.
Dress professionally for your HR executive interview. (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

A human resources executive is often part of the senior management or leadership team of an organization. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, attaining a position as an executive is often difficult due to the intense competition among applicants for highly paid positions. As an HR executive of the company, you will shape corporate employment and benefits policies, work with senior leadership on performance issues, be a strategic partner and direct the recruitment process. As you eagerly anticipate your upcoming interview, prepare by doing your homework on the company and reviewing your own experience and successes.

Things You'll Need

  • Organization annual report (optional)
  • Form 990 (optional)
  • Resume
  • Notebook

Study the company's performance and history. Obtain an annual report for a public organization, or the Form 990 for a non-profit organization, to learn about the company's income and identity. Perform an Internet search and read newspaper and magazine articles about the company to learn the corporate culture, financial challenges and public perception.

Spend time reading the company website. Look at the human resources portal to determine what benefits the company offers, how accessible information is and review current job postings and job descriptions. Read the profiles of company executives and look for areas of common interest such as sports or hobbies.

Compare the number of employees your potential employer has to your experience. If larger than you have experience with, be prepared to answer questions on how you will handle overseeing the needs of a larger number of employees. If the potential organization is smaller, anticipate answering questions on whether stepping down to overseeing a smaller number of employees is acceptable professionally and personally.

Review your resume. Use your computer or notebook to list each job on your resume and write five to 10 additional pieces of information about each job. Include challenging situations, benefits you implemented or changed, problems you solved, difficult employee relations issues, recruiting successes, budgeting experience and a detailed explanation of why you left. Read through this private, expanded resume several times to prepare yourself for any experience questions the interviewer may ask.

Write down a list of questions the interviewer or panel may ask you. Include questions such as your management style, how others in your previous or current job view you, how you handle stressful situations and your personal and professional human resources goals. Practice answering the questions out loud, but avoid trying to memorize your answers so as to not sound over-rehearsed.

Prepare three to five questions to ask the panel. Most interviews, both for executive and non-executive positions, have a period scheduled for questions from the potential candidate. Ask questions concerning the organization's human resources challenges, anticipated changes in staffing levels, current benefits structure, future expansion into other states or countries and the perceived role of human resources within the organization.

Tips & Warnings

  • Plan on dressing in formal business attire, unless you know the executive team expects you to dress more casually.
  • Bring several extra copies of your resume to the interview.
  • If the interview is in an unfamiliar location, leave early to avoid being late.

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