10 Minute Insights
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10 Minute Insights

Here’s how you impress HR in any interview

An insight into exactly what they’re looking for from your answers

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

(Looking for quick takeaways? Skip to the end for the bullet points, but don’t forget to come back and read it fully!)

Why bother?

It’s easy to see an HR round as an inconsequential step to ask about your address before the big step of testing your technical qualifications. But don’t underestimate the power of charming HR. For competitive slots where multiple applicants are interviewed, it’s often the impression you leave on them (or lack thereof) that seals your fate. I’ve even had instances where I excelled at the HR round, didn’t cut it technically but the hiring manager liked my energy so much that she gave me another chance to interview 6 months later (which I did pass). So here are a few tricks from my playbook to ace this test -

1. Can you do the job?

In any interview, but especially if you’re switching tracks and moving into new professional ground, the number 1 thing you need to stress and repeat is how qualified you are for it. Point to events in your previous experience and how you’ve handled them (excellently) Experience is always valued higher than a simple qualification (your degree, any courses you’ve taken) but definitely don’t discount the latter. If this is a new track in your career, be open about the skills you need to learn but try to have examples of similar situations you’ve encountered in your past. Ex: My new job needed me to know a specific software but I had previously picked up a similar software in a month and I have a lot of experience in the underlying fundamentals of building websites.

2. Would you be a good fit with the current team?

The best teams don’t look for rockstars, they look for athletes. Team members who work well together are crucial, especially when conflicts arise (inevitably). Nothing hinders the smooth flow of productivity like a piece that is not a good fit. Ask about the team and its values. Can you talk about a time when you demonstrated them?

3. Will I have to replace you anytime soon?

It takes effort for a hiring manager to go through resumes and pick the right fit and they’d like to decrease the number of times they do it. Be excited about the opportunity you have. Be upfront about how much you’re interested in it. Your goal is to make them feel, “Hmm… if they’re so interested in this post, it’s unlikely I’ll have to replace them soon” And that’s a point in your favor.

Notes you should definitely hit -

  1. A good elevator pitch - An answer to the question “Tell me about yourself” which is succinct and doesn't exceed 2 minutes
  2. Immaculate knowledge about every point in your resume - Don’t be the person who’s unsure of what they did in a previous role 3 years ago.
  3. You’re eager to learn and grow in this role
  4. Your knowledge about the company - Be prepared with basic knowledge about the company & the domain it operates in with 10 minutes of googling
  5. Expectations from you - Have a few questions prepared to ask your potential future employer. My faves include: “How can I exceed expectations in 6 months?” and “How can I hit the ground running in this role?” Be sure to listen and take actionable takeaways from these answers

BONUS: Always treat the person on the other side as a potential future colleague. Pay close attention to the questions they ask and try to give honest answers. Expect some standard questions about your background and goals and be well prepared for those.

Key takeaways -

For any employer, picking an employee is always an investment. Your chances of getting picked improved tremendously if you decrease any perceived risk and convince them that -

  1. You can do the job well
  2. You would be a great addition to the team
  3. You will stick around for a while

All the best for your next interview! I hope this helps with your preparations!

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Keerthana Krishnan

Keerthana Krishnan

Exactly between Amy Santiago and Yennefer of Vengeburg. Software Engineer. Speaker. Writer. Creator. Work-in-progress ⚙️🔥🌴🌶️😎 She/her