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Career Development

What can you expect in a Human Resources Interview?

This HR interview profile brings together a snapshot of what sort of questions the candidates can come across in the job interview for a HR position in the NHS. These interview questions can be modified for any human resources position including such job titles as: HR Administrative Assistant, Analyst, Associate, Clerk or Coordinator.

HR administrator jobs vary enormously depending on the size and structure of the organisation, but in general, individuals in these roles are required to spend their time dealing with various employee issues and recruitment matters.

Pre-Interview Tasks

When preparing for a HR administrator job interview, it's important to spend time researching the kind of person the NHS usually employs, what values they're looking for and trying to gain a feel for the organisation’s culture. Quite often the interviews include a question about the NHS values, so check the Trust’s website in advance to find out what their specific values are.

Make sure you know about the current issues the NHS trust is facing or the specialities of that hospital. It's always nice to be able to say something positive about the specific trust as a reason why you want to work there. Think about the sort of situations you might experience, and how you would handle them calmly and professionally. Show that you are passionate about improving NHS standards and focusing on patients.

Experience-based questions

Any experienced HR professional can claim a background and competency in implementing the core HR responsibilities such as day-to-day employee relations, personnel transactions, and recruiting employees. To get at your core HR skills the interviewee can ask you the following type of questions:

-       Can you take us through your CV highlights?

-       What are your favourite components of the overall HR role? What do you enjoy doing the most?

-       Where did you find yourself investing the most time in your most recent HR role?

-       Describe the HR functions that were under your leadership and control in your most recent HR job.

Other questions can be more specific for the role you are applying for, e.g. a HR Administrator might be asked a question like “How would you manage a sickness/ absence?” and a HR Advisor could be addressed with this type of question “What experience do you have in setting up and managing new procedures?”

Competency-based questions

On top of the HR experienced-based questions, it’s quite common for the NHS to ask the competency-based interview questions as these enable the interviewee to answer the question regardless of experience within the job role or sector. These might include the following questions:

-     Tell us a time you had to manage a project, the challenges you faced and what you did to overcome them.

-     Tell us about a time you had a difficult relationship with a colleague. What did you learn about yourself from that?

-     Tell us about a time when you made a mistake and how you dealt with it.

-     Tell us about a time when you relied on a team member to get something done.

Look through the job description and pick out the competencies they are looking for, e.g. decision making, team working, problem-solving, responsibility. Once you have done this, think of examples for each one using the STAR model. To get a better idea about competency based questions and the STAR model, please read our previous article “What are Competency Based Interviews?”

Be yourself, stay as calm and friendly as you can, and good luck!

At the NHS interview, you will probably be marked against a checklist which will mirror to the large extent the job specification. So, make sure you understand the specifics of the job and don’t be shy to speak about your experience providing enough examples to facilitate your answers.

If you have questions about the upcoming interview, do not hesitate to contact the person named in the job advert and ask about type of questions. It will give you a better idea of what to expect and will also show that you're interested.

For more information about the HR role within the NHS take a look at our Guide to Working for the NHS in an HR Role. You can also check all of our latest HR vacancies and increase your chances to get a job in an NHS HR Department.  


Written by Tatiana Prichislenko, Marketing Manager at GoToJobBoard

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