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How to Assess HR Manager Skills During an Interview

How to Assess HR Manager Skills During an Interview

December 26, 2023

In the dynamic and people-centric realm of Human Resources (HR), the role of an HR manager is pivotal. These professionals serve as the bridge between organisational goals and the workforce, ensuring a harmonious and productive work environment. 

To identify and hire the right HR manager for your organisation, a thorough assessment of their skills is essential. In this guide, we will look at the core competencies you should be looking for throughout the interview process.

Understand the core competencies 

HR managers are expected to excel in a diverse range of competencies. Familiarise yourself with the fundamental skills required, including but not limited to employee relations, talent acquisition, performance management, legal compliance, and strategic planning. 

A comprehensive understanding of these core competencies will serve as a foundation for effective assessment. You won’t know what you are looking for until you fully understand the demands of the role. If you have no experience in HR, it’s worth working with a specialist recruiter to help you to navigate this sector.

How to Assess HR Manager Skills During an Interview CMD Recruitment

Develop a skill matrix 

Create a skill matrix that outlines the specific skills and competencies deemed essential for success in the HR manager role. This matrix can serve as a guide during the evaluation process, allowing you to systematically assess each candidate’s proficiency in key areas. 

The matrix may include technical skills, such as familiarity with HRIS (Human Resources Information System) software, as well as soft skills like communication and conflict resolution. The matrix will be unique to the demands of your company.

Use behavioural interview techniques

Behavioural interviewing is a powerful tool to assess how candidates have applied their skills in real-world situations. Pose questions that prompt candidates to share specific examples of their achievements, problem-solving abilities, and experiences in HR management. 

Look for evidence of successful conflict resolution, talent development, and the implementation of HR initiatives. This might be evident from their CV, or from the examples of past experience they share with you during the interview.

How to Assess HR Manager Skills During an Interview CMD Recruitment

Use case studies in your interview process

Incorporate case studies or scenario-based assessments into the interview process. Present candidates with hypothetical situations they may encounter in their role as an HR manager and evaluate their approach, decision-making process, and problem-solving skills. 

This practical assessment provides a glimpse into how candidates would handle real challenges within your organisation. While candidates might be trained to give the best possible answer during the interview process, knowledge of best-practice will be evident from this interview technique, even if they don’t always implement it.

Test technical proficiency

Assess the candidate’s technical proficiency, particularly in areas such as HR software, data analysis, and compliance regulations. An effective HR manager should be adept at leveraging technology to streamline HR processes, analyse workforce data, and ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations. 

They should also be aware of advances in the sector that are likely to change their role in the coming years. Being stuck in the past in terms of technology and procedures could be a sign that the candidate is unwilling or unable to adapt.

How to Assess HR Manager Skills During an Interview CMD Recruitment

Evaluate communication and interpersonal skills

Effective communication and interpersonal skills are non-negotiable for HR managers. Evaluate a candidate’s ability to communicate clearly, listen actively, and build positive relationships within the organisation. 

Look for evidence of successful collaboration with diverse teams and the ability to convey complex HR concepts to employees at all levels. Their communication skills should be assessed throughout the interview process, from the moment they step through the door to the moment they leave.

Assess emotional intelligence

Given the people-focused nature of HR, emotional intelligence is a critical skill. Assess a candidate’s ability to understand and manage their own emotions, as well as their capacity for empathy and awareness of others’ emotions. 

HR managers with high emotional intelligence can navigate complex interpersonal dynamics and contribute to a positive workplace culture.

How to Assess HR Manager Skills During an Interview CMD Recruitment

Look for signs of continuous learning

The field of HR is constantly evolving, with new trends, technologies, and legal requirements emerging. Assess a candidate’s commitment to continuous learning and adaptability. 

Ask questions about their efforts to stay updated on industry best practices, attend relevant workshops or conferences, and adapt their strategies to meet the changing needs of the organisation.

Closing thoughts

Assessing HR manager skills requires a multifaceted approach that considers both technical expertise and soft skills. By employing behavioural interviewing, case studies, and a comprehensive skill matrix, you can gain valuable insights into a candidate’s ability to navigate the challenges of HR management. 

Remember that a well-rounded HR manager possesses a diverse set of skills, combining technical proficiency with emotional intelligence and effective communication. Through thoughtful assessment, you can identify a candidate who not only meets the current needs of your organisation but is also equipped to drive positive change and foster a thriving workplace culture.

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