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HR Interview - How to Prepare?


I have a HR telephone interview in two days.

They mentioned that it will take an hour and will not have any technical questions.

I was wondering how should I prepare for such an inteview.



Jacob Cohen
Tuesday, August 5, 2003

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

2. Can you tell me a little about out company?

3. How would you describe yourself?

4. What color was the moon on September 24, 1901.

5. Blah, blah, blah.... zzzzzZzzzzzzZzzzzzz

Tuesday, August 5, 2003

The most important thing I can recommend (and this sounds, although may not be, like the MS telephone interview to me) is to be well spoken, upbeat, and to never say no when they want to say yes.  Don't lie, but if the answer is no, make the no sound positive -- spin it.  I liken HR to politics.  You have to put on your best politcal face in order to play the game.

Tuesday, August 5, 2003

1. Relax.  Have in mind that you are going to meet new friends.
2. Smile while on the phone.  Your smile will come through in your voice.
3. Try to answer in complete sentences.  Don't be afraid to ask for a second to think about the question.  Don't make "um" noises while thinking.  A little silence is OK.
4. If you don't know the answer to a question, it is OK to say so, or to ask for clarification.
5. Relax (Did I say that already?)

My approach is simple.  I hope it is helpful.

Tuesday, August 5, 2003

It's an HR interview. Be happy and just talk about yourself. Do it naked. Be prepared to talk about previous jobs and technical issues at a layman level. People skills.

Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Sit forward in the chair, don't slouch, listen carefully to any questions and try and make it a conversation not a stilted set of questions and answers.

There'll be a set of target phrases they'll be keyed to, some of them will be technical but not technical in detail.  They'll want to know that if interviewed you won't be a bag of jelly and you won't make them look bad.  You probably already meet the technical criteria from what they already know but even non technical people can hear fuzziness in responses so accentuate the positive but don't claim the nobel prize.

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, August 5, 2003

If possible, stand up for the interview -- it makes a difference in how you sound.  Plus, if you're the nervous type, you can pace, and it'll keep your blood flowing while they ask you everything they could've already gleaned if they'd bothered to read your resume and cover letter.  (=

If technical details do come up, you will make an excellent impression if you can adequately explain complicated technical stuff in a way that they can understand.  (This is a skill that comes in incredibly handy on the job as well.)

Sam Livingston-Gray
Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Have a canned answer ready to the inevitable

"What is your greatest weakness?"

Andrew Reid
Tuesday, August 5, 2003


Wednesday, August 6, 2003

How should one reply to the following questions:-

What is your greatest weakness?

What was the most stressful part of your previous employment?

How would you deal with a negative situation in the work place?

Sari Loumanien
Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Give an example of when you worked well in a team?

What made it work?

And another example?

And another example?

Give example of when you worked in a team that didn't work well together?

What stopped it working?

And another example?

And another example?

What makes you feel good about work?

Anything else?

What makes you feel bad about work?

Anything else?

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Wear a suit.

Christopher Wells
Wednesday, August 6, 2003

If you already have a job or you have other offers, don't join this company.  Unless it is a consulting firm where smooth talking and politically correct speech is important, or a senior analyst position, a 1-hour HR interview is a waste of time for evaluating developers.  They are likely to be staffed with a bunch of people who know how to use their mouth the BS around the place and tell you what you want to hear without getting anything actual done. It also doesn't say good things about management if they decide to let HR have such an influence on selecting technical candidates.  Anything beyond a basic 5-10 minute screening will just eliminate most of the competent developers, giving the smooth-talking do-nothings an advantage.

T. Norman
Wednesday, August 6, 2003

"What is your greatest weakness?"

I'd have to say kryptonite.

Then again, I am also susceptible to magic.

And I am also vulnerable to extremely high voltages and sonics.

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

"Anything beyond a basic 5-10 minute screening will just eliminate most of the competent developers, giving the smooth-talking do-nothings an advantage. "

I dare say that if a developer is unable to hold an hour-long conversation with someone, he doesn't qualify as competent.

Being a developer is more than knowing how to write code.  I hate to break it to you, but developers are businesspeople too.

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Two things:
- be respectful and serious even when stupid questions are asked
- try to get the answer the interviewer wants to hear

19th floor
Wednesday, August 6, 2003

>"I dare say that if a developer is unable to hold an hour-long conversation with someone, he doesn't qualify as competent."

An hour-long interview with an HR person is not just "an hour long conversation with someone".  It is a test of how well you can BS around the place, and your ability to tell people what they want to hear and say a million words without telling them anything.  It is not even a good test of your communication skills, because if you try to be explicit and honest about everything you won't get the job (for example, you can't say you left your last job because your manager was a smelly and belligerent asshole, even if it was true).

Using an hour-long HR interview as the first line of elimination means they'll end up choosing the best technical person remaining after narrowing them down to a group of smooth talkers (thereby increasing the likelihood of eliminating an excellent programmer with average smooth-talking skills), instead of choosing the smoothest talker out of a pool of technically competent candidates.

T. Norman
Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Pick up one of those interview books & read it before the interview... it'll get you in the state of mind to put a positive spin on everything you've ever done, if you're not the kind of person who does that already.

I remember once interviewing a girl who had trained as an HR person, and I asked her point blank if she knew something on her resume, and she said "No... but that's becuase I haven't been given the chance to learn it."

How many of you could bring yourself to say that? It was transparent, but somewhere in my primitive mind I thought to myself "this girl has a positive attitude.... even if it's a fake one, and I wouldn't mind having someone like this around."

I'm not saying you should go that far, but if you're expecting the standard HR questions, why not prepare yourself with the standard HR answers?
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

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