An HR manager offers advice

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What are the typical questions an entry-level HR candidate can expect to ask, and what do employers hope to learn from these answers?

At VSP Global, a Sacramento, Calif.-based vision, hospital and healthcare company, job applicants are often asked about a time they encountered a conflict with a coworker and how they got it. resolved, according to Ron Orr, senior director of VSP. talent acquisition.

Other probable information requests are as follows:

  • As a recent HR graduate starting your career, what are the key elements that you look for in a job and a business?
  • In 30 seconds or less, please share your general understanding of this role.
  • What is your high level understanding of VSP Global and how does this role relate to the mission?
  • Please share three of the most relevant courses, projects, tasks or volunteer efforts that you have experienced so far that have best prepared you for this role. Be specific.

SHRM online asked Orr what advice he had for entry-level HR candidates on how to behave in a job interview with the company. Comments have been edited slightly for length and clarity.

SHRM online: What information are you looking for in the candidates’ responses?

Orr: We are looking for demonstrated behaviors that correspond to the values ​​of our company and whether or not they meet the minimum qualifications for the position. For all roles, we are also looking for specific skills, such as self-awareness, the ability to build confidence, customer focus and agile learning, [that help] we are hiring candidates [who] are not only ready for the position they are interviewed for, but also adaptable to future business needs. Candidates who answer questions in a concise, direct, and job-oriented manner are impressive.

SHRM online: “Tell me about you” often surfaces as an interview question. What answers are investigators looking for here?

Orr: We train our managers to avoid asking this and we focus more on specific knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviors that are most relevant to the work, values ​​and culture of our company.

If this question is asked of you as a candidate, focus your answer on anything related to the position, for example, what you can contribute, what you are looking for in a position or what led you to apply, and all what you own. – or related to skills that can help you stand out positively from other candidates.

SHRM online: How can a new HR candidate (or someone who has not been in the job market for some time) frame their volunteering activities when asked about their professional experience?

Orr: We are open to any experience in determining the most qualified candidate for the job, whether that experience comes from volunteering, training, military service, etc. As long as the candidate can effectively share their knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviors, there is no need to frame their response other than clearly stating that this was a volunteer experience.

From our point of view, whether the position has been paid or unpaid, a key element of our assessment for the most competitive candidates will be the “recency and frequency” factor. It is therefore important that it is a [candidate is a] reintegration into the labor market or a new graduate – that certain key skills are acquired and put into practice along the way to ensure the relevance of the role to which they are applying.


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