15 HR Generalist Interview Questions with Sample Answers
6 min read
7 Sep, 2023
Dive into our curated list of HR Generalist interview questions complete with expert insights and sample answers. Equip yourself with the knowledge to impress and stand out in your next interview.
1. How would you handle a conflict between two employees?
When preparing for this question, keep in mind that conflict resolution is an essential skill for HR professionals. The interviewer wants to see that you can handle sensitive situations professionally and efficiently, bringing both sides to a resolution.
As an HR Generalist, I would first ensure that I fully understand both sides of the conflict by meeting with each employee separately. I would remain impartial and promote open communication, encouraging each party to express their feelings and concerns. Based on this, I would identify a fair resolution that respects the interests of both employees and the company.
2. Can you describe a time when you had to interpret a company policy to staff?
Interviewers often ask this question to gauge your communication skills and your ability to handle questions about company policy. They want to see that you can explain policies clearly and effectively to all staff members.
In a previous role, we introduced a new attendance policy. There were many queries from staff members about the policy's specifics. I took the time to explain the policy individually to those who had questions, ensuring they understood the reasons behind the policy and how it would be implemented and monitored.
3. How have you handled a situation where you had to fire an employee?
This question seeks to understand your ability to handle uncomfortable situations professionally and empathetically. Your answer should demonstrate your ability to make tough decisions while keeping the company's best interests at heart.
I once had to let an employee go due to frequent policy violations despite repeated warnings. I held a private meeting with the individual, explained the reasons behind the decision, and offered support in terms of final paycheck, benefit details, and job search resources. It was a tough situation, but I focused on handling it with dignity and respect.
4. Share an experience where you utilized data to make an HR decision.
Data-driven decision-making is a vital part of modern HR. Interviewers ask this question to understand your ability to use data to inform your decisions and the impact it had on the company.
In my previous role, we had high turnover rates in two departments. I analyzed exit interview data and uncovered common themes: lack of growth opportunities and dissatisfaction with management. I presented my findings to leadership and we implemented Mentorship programs and leadership training, which significantly reduced turnover over the next year.
5. What steps would you take to improve our company culture?
Interviewers ask this question to see if you’ve researched the company and to gauge your understanding of the role culture plays in employee engagement and retention. Your answer should reflect the company’s values and mission.
Based on my research and understanding of your company's values, I would suggest implementing a peer recognition program. Studies show that peer recognition can significantly improve morale, engagement, and retention. Additionally, I would recommend regular team-building activities to promote camaraderie and mutual respect.
Would you like a 4 day work week?
6. Can you describe a time when you had to navigate through a major change in the company?
This question is designed to test your adaptability and resilience during times of change. The answer should portray your ability to communicate effectively and proactively manage change.
When our company went through an acquisition, it was a time of significant change and uncertainty. I proactively communicated with all departments to alleviate concerns, held informational meetings, and guided employees through the transition, which helped to maintain morale and prevent turnover.
7. How do you ensure compliance with labor laws and regulations?
Compliance is a crucial aspect of the HR role. This question gauges your understanding and knowledge of labor laws and how you ensure that the company adheres to them.
I keep up-to-date with local, state, and federal labor laws and relevant changes. I conduct regular audits of our HR policies and procedures to ensure they are compliant. I also organize training sessions for management to understand and adhere to these regulations.
8. Can you discuss a time when you made a mistake and how you handled it?
Interviewers ask this question to assess your sense of accountability and your ability to learn from mistakes. Your answer should demonstrate self-awareness and growth.
In my early days as an HR Generalist, I incorrectly classified a few employees as exempt instead of non-exempt, which led to overtime payment issues. Upon realizing the mistake, I admitted it to my Manager, corrected the classifications immediately, and ensured all owed overtime was paid. I learned the importance of double-checking my work and gained a deeper understanding of labor laws.
9. How do you handle confidential information?
This question is asked to understand your integrity and discretion, as HR professionals often handle sensitive information. Your answer should reflect your commitment to maintain the highest standards of confidentiality.
Confidentiality is of utmost importance in HR. I always store sensitive documents securely, restrict access to necessary personnel only, and never discuss confidential information outside of a professional context. I strictly adhere to company policies and legal guidelines regarding data protection and privacy.
10. How have you used HR technology to improve efficiency in your past roles?
The interviewer wants to assess your familiarity with HR technology and how you leverage it to enhance HR functions. Your answer should demonstrate your ability to utilize HR technology effectively.
In my previous role, I introduced an HRIS system, which automated many manual tasks like tracking attendance and managing benefits. The system reduced paperwork, increased accuracy, and allowed the HR team to focus on more strategic tasks, enhancing overall efficiency.
11. How do you approach employee onboarding?
The interviewer wants to know if you understand the importance of a good onboarding experience and how you can ensure a smooth transition for new hires.
A good onboarding is crucial for employee engagement and long-term retention. I always prepare a comprehensive onboarding plan, which includes a warm welcome, introduction to the team, a tour of the office, training sessions, and regular check-ins during the first few months.
12. Can you describe a time when you implemented a significant HR policy?
This question is used to assess your policy development skills and how you handle the implementation process.
When I noticed a significant increase in remote work requests, I spearheaded the development and implementation of a remote work policy. The policy outlined eligibility, expectations, and resources for remote employees. I held meetings to communicate the policy and address any concerns, ensuring a smooth transition.
13. How would you handle a situation where a manager is not following HR policies?
This question gauges your interpersonal skills and your ability to handle sensitive situations involving senior staff.
I would schedule a private meeting with the manager to discuss their non-compliance. I would respectfully explain the policy, why it's important, and the implications of not following it. If the behavior continues, I would escalate the issue to higher management or the CEO, if necessary.
14. Can you discuss a time when you resolved an issue between management and an employee?
This question tests your conflict resolution skills, particularly between management and staff. Your answer should show your ability to be impartial, professional, and effective in resolving such issues.
I once mediated a situation between a manager and an employee who felt unfairly treated. I facilitated a dialogue where both parties could voice their perspectives. I helped them understand each other's viewpoints and find a mutually agreeable resolution, preserving the professional relationship and maintaining a positive work environment.
15. How would you ensure ongoing professional development for employees?
This question helps the interviewer understand your strategies for employee development and retention. Your answer should show your commitment to fostering a culture of continuous learning and growth.
I believe in creating a culture that values learning and development. I would implement regular employee skill assessments to identify areas for improvement, provide relevant training programs and workshops, encourage mentorship, and offer opportunities for employees to attend industry conferences and seminars.