Getting past HR interview and getting that job offer is not easy, here is a list of most difficult or tough HR interview questions.
Tell me about a time you used humor in a presentation. Did it work? If you had to give the same presentation again, how would you change it?
Through this difficult HR interview question, the interviewer is asking you this question to see how well you can be witty and humorous at the workplace. You can cite a situation where you tried to infuse a bit of humor when making a presentation; it can be taking a practical approach. In particular, if there is someone in the team or the organization that would get the joke — one can take a fun attitude. However, do mention that it is probably best to avoid the topic altogether when it is not always apparent when someone is offended or upset by a particular attempt at humor.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, you can say that when making presentations, you find safe topics to joke about. Any workplace-appropriate joke must not attack anyone or anything. You can add that you ensure that anecdotes are not very personal or lead to harassment charges. It could be that you slightly mocked a company or particular software. Well, it did get you a lot of applauding and broke the ice with your seniors. After all, you took a safe call. Also, mention that if you had to change the presentation, you wouldn’t change this part because it was fun — without being over the top.
Tell me about a time when something hilarious happened at work. What benefit did it serve?
Through this difficult HR interview question, the interviewer would like to know if you have a tacky sense of humor or enjoy doing things differently. For instance, here you can speak about a time when there was a lot of work pressure, and someone passed around a witty handbook on jokes or a diary, to add your favorite jokes.
It could be they thought of doing something fun or having a joke-session every day at lunch to help ease the tension. When used this way, humor creates an upbeat atmosphere. Doing so also encourages interaction, brainstorming of new ideas, etc. It gives the feeling that there are few risks in thinking outside the box. And the result is higher productivity, and it also provides a reason that if you’re in a more jovial atmosphere.
It is important to remember that work ethics will get a boost, and your enthusiasm is likely to be contagious. So when humor is used in the right way, you can work better as a team. Using the right tools of humor can help companies stand out and go beyond with their customer service. It also helps them collate a substantial, loyal following. So you feel that people or companies that want to stand out from the pack should use humor in an effective way to do that.
Tell me about a time when an attempt at humor didn’t work out the way you expected. What do you now know about the people or the situation that you didn’t know at the time? How would you approach the same situation today?
While answering this difficult HR interview question, you can say that there is a fine line between being funny and going overboard when making fun remarks. You can talk about a time when you were using humor in a workshop or even a presentation for innovation. However, the general feedback after the event was that it was too fun. It could be that you were focusing too much on humor, and this caused the distraction.
So it made you realize that there is something as being “too fun,” which is not fit for work. Some activities are a lot of fun, but you don’t see how it’s going to help you do your job better. In such cases or instances, it is best to avoid humor. Accept that you had failed to make a clear connection between the exercises and their impact–how making up words and defining them.
Any form of humor that is not enjoyed or seems to create a distractive work environment should be avoided.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, you can say that if given a chance, you would use the same creative muscles and come up with innovative solutions, while toning down the humor factor. Many people use humor as an alternative to getting anything done. But at the end of the day, the fun doesn’t replace work. You should know when to draw the line. And so the next time you decided to tone things down, and it was well-appreciated by everyone.
What do you understand by patience in the context of work?
While answering this difficult HR interview question, you can start by saying that patience is regarded as a heavenly virtue. It is the path to happiness, and people often say that patience and wisdom walk hand in hand. When one has to succeed in every walk of life, there is an immense need to have a great deal of enduring patience. There are a lot of factors and traits that play an essential role in achievements. And there is no doubt that patience is one of them to contribute significantly. Patience should not be ignored because you need it to live a satisfying life.
There are situations in which your patience is much required, and one has to deal with them effectively and tolerantly. With this, it can attain desired results and professional development. Patient people have more tolerance with processes. They can listen and check before acting. They try to understand the people and the data before making judgments and moving , waits for others to catch up before proceeding. They are also more sensitive to due process and proper pacing and follow the established procedure.
Describe a time when you had to listen to another’s views before making a critical decision.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, the interviewer would like to know how you exercised patience to make a critical discussion when it came to another person. You should say that patience is a crucial element of success in the workplace. There are times when one needs to face such situations that require patience. When citing this example, you can add that one needs to work some extra hours due to the urgency of some matters. And yet because of another person’s view, you may get stuck in an instance which causes your impulse to react quickly.
However, rather than showing this level of impatience at the eleventh hour, you are given a task to accomplish for certain valid reasons. These kinds of problems are common, and one may encounter at work. One should meet and deal with people, even though you consider they don’t meet your expectations. You may be treated differently, being regarded as you don’t meet with their expectations. Explain how you tried to embrace such situations and tolerate them. With the hard-working image of your superiors and coworkers, you built and gained their trust. Mention that with this level of patience, the chances of professional growth are favorable for you and others too.
Describe a time you had to follow a particular procedure or process, even though you disagreed with it.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, you can start by saying that there are instances when we all have to follow procedures though we don’t agree with them. It is times like these when one needs to exercise more patience. This requires one to evaluate tension points carefully. One has to see the perspective of the third party or authority in an unbiased way, and how others manage them may reveal problem-solving patterns.
This can help anticipate the unexpected and get closer to understanding the root causes of problems. Empathy always goes hand in hand with patience and helps to deal with situations like these. It could be that due to recession and slowdown, your company cannot hire new employees and asked you to work Saturdays. At times like these, it is essential to show that you care about their particular areas of concern and the tension points created.
One should remain unbiased and not take sides. You try to be extremely open-minded and patient under pressure to see it as an opportunity previously unseen. Though working on a Saturday was not something you supported, considering the time you had been with the company, you decided you should help them. Even though your patience is being tested, it also showed you the unique ways in which problems can be solved.
What do you understand by Self-disclosure?
Self-disclosure has become very common in the workplace. Research shows that sharing personal information about one’s self tends to foster goodwill, among others. When it comes to the work environment specifically, one should demonstrate vulnerability and endear colleagues. This can positively influence team performance, organizational behaviors, and turnover. People with personal disclosure tend to share his/her thoughts about individual strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. They are the people who admit mistakes and shortcomings and tend to be open about personal beliefs and feelings. They are the ones who are easy to get to know to those who interact with him/her regularly.
Tell me about a time you made a mistake at work. How did you handle it, and what did you learn from it?
There are times when we all make mistakes at work. And there are instances when you have to stand up for them because you know you are wrong. For example, it could be that you were responsible for negotiating and maintaining links with other groups or companies.
So when trying to break the ice, you mentioned how excited you are to interact with someone. However, you only got a cold stare in response, and the meeting ended without an agreement. You realized that while you were trying to be friendly, your colleague or associate did not entrain this friendly and self-deprecating attitude. It made you know that it probably lowered your standing with them. And thus, you learned that such revelations must be skillfully deployed.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, you can say that, the next time you decided to play it a little distant and stick to things like nice meeting your or pleasure working with you without being too friendly. It helps to break the ice, and yet you are not resorting to personal disclosure.
Tell about a time you had to adapt to changes over which you had no control. How did you handle it?
While answering this difficult HR interview question, you can mention that it happens very often that people do not adequately develop interpersonal skills for collaboration.
Hence, you have to adapt to changes over which you have no control. However, one should try not to get beyond the thirst for power, consistency, and closure. Overcoming the human reluctance to act in the face of ambiguous, paradoxical problems is always an issue. In this rapid world of change, agility, flexibility, learning, transformation, etc. are still pivotal.
Talk about a time when you had to probably learn new skills or adapt to a tech-savvy environment that was new to you. Say that you were unable to collaborate and overcome this issue fruitfully. However, you tried to be socially connected and did your best to ask colleagues about doubts. Instead of sticking to old methods, you decided to adopt change — and though it took time, it was something that you were able to overcome.
Through examples, convince us that you can adapt to a variety of people, situations, and environments.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, talk about your joinery of transition and transformation. You can say that everyone expects their leader to be consistent and predictable. However, this is not always possible, especially when it comes to decision making and behavior.
A leader should not be judged on predictability or the ability to be always 100 % right. Say that after becoming a leader or a manager in your company, you have focused on consistency. State that you should always be expecting the best from your team. In this process, while you lead, you also learn, and this is something that you adhere to every day — upholding high standards of execution and your core values.
Also, emphasize adapting to situations when honesty. When there are changes made in the company, you don’t dress up the facts. Instead, you focus on sharing facts about the project’s health, the company’s direction, or your people’s performance. You ensure that your colleagues and team members don’t have to second guess where you are coming from. Everyone in the team appreciates your straight forward views and honesty. And while you may struggle with learning some new skills, you do show that you are trying. This inspires them to pave the way too.
What do you understand from personal learning?
Personal learning is one of the most vital traits at work. It is true that the experience of the workplace you gain before graduating and starting your career laid the foundation. But post it, your entire career path is a learning process. Personal learning is the ability to picks up on the need to change personal, interpersonal, and managerial behavior quickly. They are people who watch others for their reactions to his/her attempts to influence and perform and adjusts.
Such individuals seek feedback and are sensitive to changing personal demands and requirements and changes. Personal learning provides a different perspective and a context for academic learning. It also allows putting theory into practice. This further helps one develop ideas for final year projects if such is part of your degree.
Describe a period in the past two years that demonstrates your dedication to continuous learning and self- improvement.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, mention that through the span of the past two years, you have tried your level best to boost skills. Say that most people don’t pursue learning for the sake of it – we’re usually learning. And you are not one of them. You like to achieve something specific, like a promotion or career change through learning and growth. These are goals which are not only helpful, but they also seem quite distant and intangible. Yet, if you have a plan and motivation, you can try setting yourself goals. These could be smaller goals to achieve a more concrete goal. And personal learning makes it possible.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, do say that you also set yourself some time-bouts goals like ‘I want to spend 3 hours learning this week’, or ‘I want to understand the basics of some new software.’ On the whole, you must achieve these smaller goals so that they can help you feel satisfied with your progress as you work towards something more significant. In this aspect, you’re also likely to be accountable for things.
There are times when you are worried and think that you are not going to stick to your learning. In such cases, you try to find someone to hold you to account. This could be a friend or colleague. They try to help you in the process and keep checking in with you to help you keep going. Also, mention that there are times when you feel courageous. During such times you can take on bolder learning tasks and complete any learning that might not have appealed to you earlier.
Describe a situation that demonstrates your willingness to challenge and stretch your current skills and abilities.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, the interviewer would like to assess your ability to accept challenges willingly. To this question, mention that you can appear self-confident. And though you may be a little nervous and though it may show sometimes, your colleagues and managers take this as a sign of humility. When they seek you to produce good work — that is all they are concerned with. Yet, you try not to show too much nervousness even though it is an entirely new skill set or ability that you have a handle. Since in the business world, shyness may be misinterpreted as failure to engage — especially when dealing with new teams or peers.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, mention that you didn’t have strong negotiation skills. So dealing with over conflicting priorities is difficult. Also, if there is a particular way in which you want the organization to help you achieve a learning objective. Mention that you tried to brush up on negotiation skills. Also, in the process, you should have the ability to understand and adapt to the workplace culture, as well as the particular demands it places upon you. You have also tried to increase commercial awareness by following management practices — in particular, the way organizations work.
Feedback is a useful step in personal learning and development. Describe several instances in which you proactively sought feedback and then acted upon the feedback to improve.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, start by saying that, considering that feedback is an essential part of effective learning, it is vital that you consider it seriously. In particular, interviewers appreciate candidates who have the ability to proactively seek feedback. It helps one understand the work and gives them clear guidance on how to improve their learning. Feedback is both informal or formal. Say that you seek both forms because it is a part of the overall dialogue or interaction and, not one-way communication. Mention if we don’t give feedback, what is the learner gaining, or indeed, assuming?
While answering this difficult HR interview question, state that through your career tenure, you have actively sought feedback, even though you were not getting the same at times, you did not think that everything is OK and there are no areas for improvement. You should add that as a learner, you value feedback. In particular, when feedback is appreciated by someone credible who they respect as a role model or for their knowledge, attitudes, or competence. Not getting feedback sends a non-verbal communication in itself. You also feel that this can lead to mixed messages and false assessments by the learner of their abilities. You can add how you immediately acted on the feedback after showing proof of learning. Responding positively and remembering the experience about what is being learned, confidently helped you to grow in terms of your career too.
Describe a situation that showcases your ability to learn from successes and failures and help others do the same.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, you start by saying that most organizations and individuals tend to focus on learning from success. However, you also believe that failure can yield crucial insights in various contexts. You can talk about a variety of experiences or instances here to give the interviewer an insight on the same. These could range from small mistakes and errors, product recalls, accidents to large-scale disasters. Say that your ability to learn from these failures allows you to bridge the gaps between different levels of analysis. Being able to learn from a failure takes the shape of more information about errors and malfunctions. This ability to learn also helps you get the motivation to learn from failure.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, mention that your implicit attitudes and characteristic is to focus on learning in any form. But this can be further developed through thoughtful analysis and transfers of successful routines. With the ability to identify erroneous processes and still lead to successful outcomes is what drives you. There are also instances when correct procedures are combined with adverse outcomes, and you have tried your best to learn from both of these opportunities. All of these have helped you in understanding the differences between slow- and fast-learning environments.
An aspect of learning and development involves demonstrating agility during changing conditions. Share a time when you found this most challenging.
Through this difficult HR interview question, the interviewer wants to know if you have the potential to demonstrate agility through the changing conditions at work. Learning agility is the ability to continually and rapidly learn. It also gives you the possibility to unlearn and relearn mental models and practices from a variety of experiences, people, and sources. One can easily apply that Learning in new and changing contexts to achieve desired results. You can cite an instance when you had to cover a whole lot than you expected, and it was here that agility helped. It could be a tech training or even learning a new skill.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, you can say that, one should try to continually lookout for new experiences to learn from. Agility gives you the ability to thrive on complex problems and challenges. It also helps enjoy making sense out of the different experiences they encounter. With the right approach and mindset towards learning and development, one delivers better performance as they have new skills ingrained in them. One should be more agile today than they were ever before. They can adapt to continuously evolving business strategies, working with people across cultures having cross-functional resources to handle, etc. It also implies that they can take on dynamic assignments on a real-time basis, all demand that leaders be flexible and agile.
What do you understand by self-development?
Self-development is a lifelong process, and it is a way for people to assess their skills and qualities, consider their aims in life, and set goals. This is imperative to realize and maximize their potential. One should have the ability to identify the skills you need to set life goals. These skills can enhance your employability prospects, raise your confidence. It can also lead to a more fulfilling, higher quality life. One should strive to make relevant, positive, and productive life choices and decisions for your future to enable personal. Self-development is also focussed on understanding different situations, and levels may call for different skills and approaches. People who focus on self-development tend to work to deploy strengths and even compensate for weaknesses and limits.
What is one area in which you are seeking to improve yourself?
While answering this difficult HR interview question, you can mention any skill or area that you want to enhance your self-development in; you can talk about self-management and self-growth because these are areas that interviewers often focus on. You can say how you tried to locate the resources, tools, and services that suit you the best – rather than depending only on the enterprise resources, tools, and services.
Though, in many instances, it meant that you were opting for learning slowly, you decided to spend a small amount of time every day on your goals. Others might prefer to spend more extended periods less frequently — but this is who you are. Through self-organization and management, you were able to document progress and evidence, which in turn helped your professional development.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, do add if a colleague helped in this process and shared their development plans, significant learning, and achievements. And you continued to the same so that everyone can benefit from the new knowledge and skills that have been acquired.
What do you consider to be your professional strengths? Give an example of when you had to use this attribute in the workplace.
Through this difficult HR interview question, the interviewer would like to know your personal skills and core strengths. Having a winners’ mindset is crucial because it is never wrong to embrace and address your failures. Along with this, say that you will learn from them. You can say that there are many instances when you have continued to learn from failures and keep a positive attitude, which helped you to deal with situations at different levels.
This helped you in professional growth and development. As you head into new experiences and learning situations, it is this positive mindset that you will achieve. Emphasize the fact that even essential talents and abilities can be developed over time through experience.Learning from failure is another core attribute, and you can try to take something from every personal encounter you have.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, you can say that daily, everyday interactions with people seem to teach us something that we can then apply in our own lives. Often, you get calls from customer service people who are charming and smiling despite having bad days. And this is something that you also want to learn and adapt.
It is possible to apply that attitude in your next encounter and make someone else similarly happy. You should also add that you are open to new opinions and new ways of doing things; you never know what you might learn.
What is one goal that you set for yourself that you successfully achieved?
While answering this difficult HR interview question, let the interviewer know that the primary goal you are setting for yourself is the ability to continually evolve. And for doing this, you try to keep a record of your personal development.
You also try to write down critical developments in your learning and development as they take place. Doing so helps you to able to reflect on your successes at a later date. Recording your personal growth or self-development helps you to motivate you to learn more skills in the future. It could be that you maintain a learning log or journal as you develop your skills and knowledge.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, add that constant learning is a cycle — but for effective learning, it is essential to reflect on your experience. You can add that you try to consider what you have learned from it. It could be that you review your development plans and your development activities. Doing so helps you learn from what you have done. This also helps ensure businesses continue to move you towards your goals, and what your goals or vision remain relevant to you.
What do you understand by Self-awareness
Self-awareness or self-knowledge is the key to personal growth. The lack of accurate information regarding our strengths and weaknesses hinders our growth. It also messes up projects, relationships, and even life plans.
Hence, self-knowledge is crucial to know your strengths and weaknesses is the best way to know yourself. People who are aware of their self-knowledge are the ones who seek feedback, they gain insights from mistakes and are open to criticism. These are people who are not defensive and are receptive to talking about shortcomings. They are the people who look forward to balanced (+/s and –’s) performance reviews and career discussions.
Tell me about a time you made a mistake at work. How did you handle it, and what did you learn from it?
While answering this difficult HR interview question, HR interviewers want to know if an individual can handle mistakes at work. Talk about a time when you made a mistake — it could be a wrong shipment or even managing a project with errors. You should add that self-awareness helps one to understand the importance of knowing themselves. You know that you can’t improve what you do not acknowledge. Say that you can accurately explain both their strengths and their weaknesses. So this also helps you in learning from your mistakes — and most importantly, identifying them.
Another essential aspect here is being self-focused. Individuals who have their limitations and impact understand that they need teammates to be successful. You appreciate the value that other people add and know that a self-centered person does not make a good team player. Hence, you try to rectify your mistakes. It could be that you went up to the manager and told them about the error.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, you can say that though you made an error, you were secure and confident. Instead of spending the time covering up mistakes or hiding weaknesses, you did the self-evaluation and helped fix the issue rather than hide it.
Tell me about a time you were less than pleased about your work performance.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, you can say that there are times when, in spite of giving 100% to the project, you feel that something is missing. It could be that your budget was restricted, or there were other hindrances here. However, you believe in self-knowledge, and rather than crying over spilled beans, you tried to find the flaws in the project and work on ways to fix them in the future. Add that you tend to see characteristics like secure communication, a positive attitude, and a sense of integrity that help you do the same. Without the self-knowledge characteristic, one can make or break a work environment.
One should also be able to bring their self into the workplace. Leaders can identify who they are as an employee. With this information, you try to play to your strengths while understanding their areas of developmental opportunity. Say that you are also better at managing their emotions in high-stress situations. You admitted that you are at fault and left your personal life at the door.
Explain how you balance the demands of work with the needs of your personal life.
While work is important, your employer also wants you to make the most of your personal life too. You can say that creating a work-life balance that works for you depends on how you assess your own needs. The work-life balance is not the same for all. This is about neatly dividing the hours in your day between work and personal life. It should also be focused on having the flexibility to get things done in your professional life while still having time and energy to enjoy your own life truly.
While answering this difficult HR interview question, you can say that you don’t strive for the perfect schedule. But your focus is on a realistic one. There are times or certain days when you tend to focus more on work. And then there are others you might have more time and energy to pursue your hobbies or spend time with your loved ones. Hence, this largely depends on how you achieve the same over time, not each day.