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How to Prepare for an Interview for an HR Executive

by Ruth Mayhew, Demand Media

An interview for an human resources executive role might consist of HR discipline-related
questions; however, a significant portion of the interview typically focuses on the prospective
leaders philosophy about how HR factors into the companys success. Generally speaking,
there will be more questions that probe the executives perspective on strategy and corporate
governance than on the day-to-day operations of the HR department.
Step 1
Check routine items off your to-do list for your interview. Routine items include appropriate
interview attire, driving directions to the company offices or another location for the
interview and an adequate number of copies of your resume, references and materials you
may want to share during the interview, such as news articles about your HR
accomplishments with other organizations.
Step 2
Research the organization more thoroughly than you might if you were interviewing for a
lower-level HR position. Potential HR executives may be expected to know much more about
the companys overall business performance, since so much of the organizations human
resources its most valuable capital factors into success and profitability. Search for news
articles about the companys business reputation, industry presence and corporate citizenship;
sign up for RSS feeds to provide up-to-minute news about the company. For executive
positions, you should be prepared to share more about your leadership perspectives and
strategy than would other HR positions. In an article titled "The Successful Executive
Interview: 4 Key Steps," states: "An executive who is hired should have at least one
two- to three-hour plus structured in-depth interview where the candidate does about 90% of
the talking, not a free flow of ideas."
Step 3
Study the organizations filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission if its a
publicly traded company. Look at the performance reported in the companys annual report
disseminated to investors. If youre interviewing with a start-up organization, the founders
may have provided you with a copy of their business plan or prospectus. Of particular interest
to HR executives is the organizations corporate filing concerning officers compensation and
stock options, as well as liabilities reported, such as pending litigation related to employment
Step 4
Draft questions to ask during your interview. One of the worst things an interviewee can do is
not ask a single question of the interviewers, regardless of how thorough their explanations
are during the interview. Your questions could include, What are the companys long-term
goals concerning human resources and its presence in C-level leadership? or What was
your background with the organization, or prior to joining the company? Asking questions
about the interviewers experiences with the organization demonstrates an interest in why
they joined the company, which can shed light on why you might be interested in joining
their executive ranks.
Step 5
Rehearse your interview questions with a mentor or someone who understand the
expectations of an HR executive. Enlisting the support of someone whos familiar with high-
level HR roles will be much more helpful than simply going over your responses to practice
interview questions with someone who doesnt understand the expectations of executive
Step 6
Construct a professional statement about the role of HR strategic development pertaining to
the organizations overall profitability. Human resources executives who are invited to C-
level leadership may have a greater impact on the companys direction pertaining to its
human capital. Therefore, preparing a statement of your philosophy of how workforce
initiatives support the companys ability to operate in the black is a wise move for would-be
HR executives. In addition, be prepared to speak extensively and eloquently about your
management style; you will be called upon to talk about your successes and how you intend
to bring those contributions to the organization.
References (3) The Successful Executive Interview - 4 Key Steps
Quintessential Careers: Top 20 Executive Interview Pet Peeves from Hiring Decision-
CIO: Week 12 - Preparing for Executive-Level Interviews
Resources (1)
Human Resource Executive Online: Lights, Camera Interview
About the Author
Ruth Mayhew began writing in 1985. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational
Workforce in the Health Care Industry" and "Human Resources Managers Appraisal
Schemes." Mayhew earned senior professional human resources certification from the
Human Resources Certification Institute and holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the
University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Key points of the article:
How to "Package & Spin" your work experience so it's the perfect fit for the job.
Become more CONFIDENT in your self-presentation easily calm nerves or fear.
Weave desirable behavioural competencies into your answers.
Use professional words & phrases to communicate your value.
Talk about your strengths and past successes in a convincing way.
Discover the best questions for YOU to ask to show them you're smart and engaged.
Tell them exactly what they want to hear so you GET HIRED!
According to the author after getting an offer for interview one should proceed in the
following manner.

One of the most basic thing author says is to check routine items of your to-do list. This list
includes interview attire. Attire should be professional, neat and clean. One should also
include his or her news articles and accomplishments. Since the candidate is applying for a
position in London he should show his willingness to relocate and be prepared for the same.
The author suggests doing comprehensive and in depth study of the company including its
overall business performance the company in consideration over here is HSBC.HSBC has
performed considerably better than its expected targets. This information is readily available
on the company official website. The candidate can subscribe to RSS feeds of the company to
be abreast of the recent happenings in the company. All these steps will increase knowledge
of the candidate about the company which will help the candidate in the interview.
According to the author it is advisable to the candidate that one should go through the recent
annual report of the company to have an idea about the contribution of human capital in
companys success since the candidate is applying for HR position the above information is
much more relevant to the cause. The annual report of HSBC can be availed from the
Financial Services Authority (United Kingdom).
Other aspect that the author highlights is about asking relevant questions to the interviewer.
Not asking a question can create a negative image about the candidate. Asking a question
demonstrates the devout interest candidate has in the company it also him to differentiate
himself from other passive candidates.
Since the candidate belongs to Xavier University he can take the help of the student Human
Resource association of the University for preparing his interview answers. He can practice
his demo interaction with his colleagues can also take help from alumnus of the Xavier
University and since the alumnus has the extensive experience it will greatly help the
candidate while preparing.
Since during an HR interview the company gives weightage to the candidates philosophy
therefore he should be clear about his principles and how he can implement them in
accordance with the organisations policy and achieve maximum growth.
If the candidate follows these guidelines then he has the better chances of securing the job.

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