HR interview questions: The top 10 questions asked in the HR interview

In the initial screening phase of a hiring process, an HR professional (usually a recruiter or HR Generalist) will ask candidates a set of HR interview questions. The purpose of these questions is to gauge the candidates’ basic skills and interest for the role, and to clarify various points about their application and resume.

Here, we put together a list of the best human resources interview questions for candidates, plus sample answers.

What are the top 10 HR interview questions?

1. Why did you decide to apply to this role?

This question aims to evaluate the candidate’s interest in the role. Are they really motivated to get hired for this specific job or do they just mass-apply to every job ad under the sun? Candidates should show that this application was a conscious decision on their part.

Sample answer:

I have been following your company’s successes for some time now and I know you have a great software development team. I was thinking that this would be the best environment for me to apply the skills I acquired during my internship and Master’s degree. So, I checked your careers page regularly and when I saw this job ad, I thought it was finally time to try my hand. I have experience in web development and I’m really interested in the projects you’re mentioning in the job ad – in fact, one of them was the subject of my thesis. I really think I’m a good fit for the job and can grow even more in your workplace.

2. What experience do you have that would be relevant to this role?

With this question, recruiters can assess whether candidates have truly understood the role’s requirements and whether they think they can do the job. The best candidates will readily explain how their previous experience relates to the job ad.

Sample answer:

In your job ad, you mention you want someone with talent in inbound sales. I was actually a sales associate at a local store in my area for about three years. During this time, I learned how to approach customers and ask them the right questions to understand what they need. I learned to handle difficult customers and solve crises. I can also be persistent without being pushy, which I think is a great asset for any salesperson.

3. Tell me about your experience in …

While similar to the previous question, this question proactively asks about the most important aspects of the role. For example, if a company is hiring for a copywriter, they’ll certainly ask about the candidate’s experience in different types of writing or editing.

Sample answer:

During my time as a marketing specialist in Acme Inc., I got to write a lot of marketing copy. I was solely responsible for writing emails we sent to prospects and customers, including newsletters. I also wrote short copy for social media and, occasionally, articles for our blog.

4. What did you like most about the job description?

This is one of the best HR interview questions to ask to start a conversation on requirements and responsibilities. And, it’s useful to assess how much the candidate has understood the role.

Sample answer:

First, the job description itself was very well-written and gave me a good idea of what the role was about. Second, I really liked the fact that this accounting role involves collaboration with others. I love accounting, but I don’t want to sit at my desk to look at numbers all day – I want to have the chance to work as part of a team where we can exchange opinions and knowledge of new accounting methods and organize the company accounting department in the best way possible.

5. Why are you leaving your current job? / Why did you leave your previous job?

The best candidates will cite good reasons for moving on from their previous role. Being negative or badmouthing their employer is a red flag. Of course, there’s a balance – honest candidates will often give an honest answer, and sometimes, their previous employer really is at fault for the end of their employment relationship. Attitude is what matters in these HR interview questions. For example, it’d be reasonable if a candidate mentioned they left their previous job because their employer wasn’t paying their workers the fair market rate. But, it’d be a red flag if they launched a tirade on what a fraud their previous employer was.

Sample answer:

I really liked my previous job and team. I started as a junior and worked my way up to a team lead in marketing. However, I think that my time in this company has come full circle – I’m actually the one who coaches others while I don’t learn anything myself anymore. Learning is important to me, so I want a new job that will challenge me and help me develop further.

6. What do you know about our company’s product/services?

The purpose of these types of HR questions is clear: the HR professional wants to ensure that the candidate has researched the company and understands what they’re applying to. Candidates don’t need to show deep knowledge of the company and its products, but they should certainly know everything that can be discovered via a simple online search – of course, if they have already used the company’s products/services or they know someone who works there, that’s a plus.

Sample answer:

I know that your company manufactures machinery and factory equipment. Actually, I used your brand when I was working at Acme SA a couple of years ago. I was really impressed with how high-quality and durable that equipment was. I also saw your company has recently opened a new manufacturing branch, a good sign for your company’s success.

7. Tell me about this gap in your resume.

This is one of several very common HR interview questions that may refer to anything “out of the ordinary” or interesting in a candidate’s resume, such as a job that lasted for only a few months or that was seemingly unrelated to the candidate’s background, or an outright gap in the candidate’s employment history. The purpose of these HR interview questions is to clarify these points and make sure there aren’t any red flags.

Sample answer:

After I finished my master’s degree, I started working non-stop for six years. That’s why I decided to take a break from work and travel to other countries to volunteer. This helped me clear my mind and help other people, while acquiring new skills (like communication and organizational ability).

8. Describe the workplace where you’ll be most happy and productive.

This can take other forms, too, such as “What can we do to keep you happy if you were hired?” or “What do you like about your current job that you’d like to find here as well?” These are examples of culture fit interview questions that aim to assess the candidate’s suitability as an employee of the company. Usually, there’s no right or wrong answer. It all depends on whether each candidate is a fit for each individual company.

Sample answer:

I like workplaces that emphasize both autonomy and teamwork. I like collaborating with others and exchanging ideas, but I also want to have flexibility to work uninterrupted for some time. Also, I value the absence of restrictions, such as a casual dress code unless I’m meeting with customers or partners.

9. What are your salary expectations?

Similar HR questions to this have to do with various “technical” aspects of the job, such as willingness to travel or relocate, or ability to follow a shift schedule. HR professionals use this question to ensure they’re not speaking to a candidate who has excessively high salary expectations (or who is generally unable to meet the demands of the job). Candidates shouldn’t be asked to divulge their salary history or current salary – in fact, it’s downright illegal to do so in some jurisdictions – but expectations are a good way to make sure both parties are in sync.

Sample answer:

I’ve done some research on the average salaries for this type of role in my area and I think I would expect this role to pay between X and Y. But I think we can discuss this further at a later time if you think I’d be a good fit for the role. Could you tell me the salary range you have in mind?

10. Do you have any questions?

Regardless of the stage in the hiring process, candidates should always have the opportunity to ask questions themselves so they can decide if the job is a good fit for them. The other reason that HR uses this question is to find out if candidates are truly interested in knowing more. They should ask smart questions about the company, and preferably, questions related to the role, too.

Sample answer:

Could you tell me what the next steps in the hiring process are? Also, I read an online interview where your CEO said that your company wants to work with voice recognition technology. I’m fascinated by that. Will this role involve work on these types of projects?

We hope you liked these HR interview questions and answers. In addition to these typical HR interview questions, you can see many more common or advanced questions in our complete interview questions library. It includes hundreds of questions about the HR interview and the next phases of the hiring process, by role and type.

Looking for an all-in-one recruiting solution? Workable can improve candidate sourcing, interviewing and applicant tracking for a streamlined hiring process. Sign up for our 15-day free trial today.

Get a free trial

Nikoletta Bika

Nikoletta Bika is a senior writer at Workable and holds an MSc in HR. She writes about all things HR and recruiting, with a particular interest in bias, data, technology and the future of work. She hates meaningless jargon and dreams about space travel. She tweets @Nikoletta_Bika.

Latest in this category

The best interview questions to ask candidates

Best interview questions to ask candidates (and how to evaluate answers)

Whether you’re an experienced job interviewer or just starting out, you’re likely looking ...

Best way to schedule an interview time with multiple candidates and interviewers

Scheduling interviews is a burden. Finding times that work for candidates and interviewers...

Pros and cons of one-way video interviews with candidates

As technology advances and becomes more accessible, the set of tools available to recruite...