Freshers Guide to crack HR Interview with best Preparation tips

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Complete guide for Freshers to crack Human Resource - HR Interview with best Preparation tips. This article discuss in detail, frequently asked questions and qualities a candidate should have to clear the HR Round. 

Freshers HR Interview Preparation Tips
Cleared man!! I am through technical round!! There’s this simple HR round now & it should be done” Heard this before ?

Most candidates have a misconception that, HR interview is a mere formality to give you an offer letter. Although in few cases, it is true, but in this current competent market scenario, it isn’t true with most recruiters.

With so many to choose from, and little separating the technical skills of freshers, HR round becomes an important differentiator to shortlist the right candidate. If an organization was a machine, the technical skills of an employee becomes the core machinery & their soft skills will be the lubrication - for a smooth run, you need both.

That’s where the HR round becomes so important for a fresher recruitment. Corporates like to hire candidates who are good at their soft skills and compatible with their organization, as much as they can do a technical job.

What does HR looks for

So now that we know the importance of HR interview round, what exactly does an HR look for during the interview ? Here are few core parameters, that most companies will try to evaluate a fresher against, during the HR round

Communication skill

Some candidates think, this is language skill. Sorry to disappoint, but communication is not always about language. It’s neither about your American accent nor Shakespearean English. Of course you need the basic skill to talk in English, but nothing more. The three key elements of good communication are

    • Listen – Actively listen to what the interviewer is asking. DO NOT interrupt the question or answer before question is complete.
    • Absorb – Understand the meaning and context of the question. If you do not, don’t hesitate to ask. Remember, no question is stupid.
      • Tip: Some candidates, who are not comfortable asking “Can you please repeat?” or “Can you please elaborate?”, can do this an alternate way. Explain the question back to interviewer as you understand & get confirmation. E.g. Q: “What are your outside interests?” You: “So you asking about any of my hobbies and interests other than in academics... right?”
    • Answer clear and loud– Once you get the question, answer in clear words, short and to the point and of course loud. Murmuring under your breath is often frustrating for the interviewer.
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Confidence

It’s pretty common for a freshers to get intimidated by the environment and the interviewers and to feel lot of nerves. But hey RELAX! Understand the fact that the company wants you as much as you need them. They called you in for HR round, because they want to select you, not reject you. So just be yourself, like you would be at your home or college playing with your friends. Few things what shows confidence are
    • Sit straight and keep a comfortable posture. Do not lean or sit on edge of the seat, nor lean back too much.
    • Keep eye contact. Don’t look into oblivion (read ceiling, curtains etc.), while answering.
    • Keep a pleasant and smiling expression and show an interest in the proceedings.
    • Answer with simple, clear words and loud enough for the interviewer to hear.
    • It’s okay to say “Don’t know”. That shows your comfort in accepting things you don’t know about.
      • Note: Don’t overdo “Don’t know” stuff. That might turn against you.
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Compatibility with the company

Each company has a different working culture. When a company evaluates a candidate, one major quality they will look for is how compatible you are with their working culture. Although you get information online on major corporates, preparing for this becomes slightly tricky for lesser known companies. So getting prepared for this part is not 100% feasible, but here are few things you can do, to avoid failing this.
    • Show flexibility – HRs see a freshers as a fresh clay, which could be molded to suit the company environment. Show them you are that, rather than a hard seasoned pot. Keep your options open, like working hours, location etc. unless absolute necessary. Understand that, it is important to kick start your career, rather than looking for comforts.
    • Stay neutral – Do not overreact or speak out extreme suggestions about any general topic, for which your opinion is asked for. They might be trying to evaluate you against one of their company policy.
      • Example: “What is your opinion on gay rights?” Don’t answer with a condescended tone or be disrespectful. Just answer neutral something like “Everyone should have the right to make choices based on personal preferences, which should go in line with the legality of the country”.
    • Stay legal/ moral – All company policies are based on legal code of the country and moral values. Understand this and while answering, stick on these lines. If question is “What will you do if you see a female colleague being harassed by your friend?” Your answer should be “I will report it to the manager.” An illegal conduct has zero tolerance in any corporate culture.

Learnability

The USP of a fresher to any company is the flexibility in utilizing his/her ability within its different operations - This could be for an expansion plan, an existing delivery process, for a product development team. This is only effective, only if the learning ability of a candidate is strong and steep enough - that is efficient and quick. The learning could be of a new technology, a new culture, a new life style.
    • Your academic graphs is one of the important indicators for this (& hence the cut offs). But that’s just one aspects and remember, you already cleared that hurdle.
    • This is mostly evaluated by few indirect questions – like asking about your experience with team work, any challenges you faced, project works, other trainings (academics / non-academics) you did outside regular schooling.
    • It will be prudent to have at least one example which will showcase you are willing and efficient in learning new stuffs.

Salary

Of course you know this – the compensation. A fresher doesn’t hold much bargaining power. But nevertheless, this is a common question asked during the interview. “What is your expected CTC?” Learn about the fresher’s package of the company & try to stay within the limits. All that a HR is trying to look here is, are you really interested in a company like theirs. So when a mid level company usually offers a package of 3-4 L for a fresher, and your answer is 10L, then it says you are looking for a top level company.

Basic themes of preparation

Now there are several website, offering HR interview questions and answers (we come to that in the next article here). While you go through them, you will understand, there is no exact or accurate answer for these HR questions. The answer varies with respect to company, candidate and what you want to put up in front of the interviewer.

Nevertheless there are few basic principles based on which a fresher should prepare for any HR interview. So before you dive into the questions and answers, let’s go through some of the underlying categories, based on which a fresher should prepare for an HR interview round.

Know yourself

Understanding yourself and determining what to present about yourself, is the most important and critical aspect of a HR round preparation. This not only lays the foundation for showcasing what you are, but also determines the tone and direction for the later part of the interview. 
Most HR round starts with this question “So...tell me about yourself”. There are two objectives, a HR is trying to achieve here. 1) They are trying to make you comfortable 2) To understand who you as a person is. Let’s break down the objectives and see how to answer
Trying to make comfortable environment

It’s assumed, a person is most comfortable with oneself & so is talking about oneself. So show that in your answer.
  • Answer confidently & comfortably. Do not hurry and talk fast.
  • Prepare this answer well in advance.
  • Answer should contain facts about yourself, like where you studied, where you grew up, what course you completed, from which college etc.
  • Give importance to recent information rather than play school details.
  • Include your achievements academic and/or non-academic, which will showcase your strengths.
  • You can also include information like your hobbies, and other interests like you play chess or you were your college chairman. These win very important brownie points.
  • What HR is expecting is to know more about you and that’s why it’s not so important to include your parent’s occupation or where your sibling work. 
  • Do not stretch it beyond couple of minutes. Keep statements to-the-points and include only those that are important to you.

 

Note: Of course most of these information are there in the resume, but remember, the objective is to make you comfortable as well.

Understanding who you are

This first question is the most important tool for you in any interview. Not only you get to talk about yourself, but can also dictate the lines in which the interviewer will ask their next questions.

  • Trick here is to hold up your strength (be careful not to boast) in a noticeable way. A simple technique would be to put it in last sentence.
    • Example: If you are very good at chess. Remember to make it the concluding sentence “... and apart from studies, I like to play chess & I’ve won numerous inter state championships and tournaments”. It’s a basic human tendency to remember the last word of a conversation - The “chess champion” STAYS throughout the interview.
  • The points you make here are going to complement the statements you make in later part of the interview. Use this question to lay path for later questions.
    • Example: Telling that you were your college chairman, is like giving a heads up example, of your strength as Leadership quality.
  • Another trick is to end the conversation with open sentences and make interviewer curious. This can be done if you hold a significant achievement in any field.
    • Example: “I like travelling... and have done many expeditions till now, including Himalayas” or “I am interested in archery, and have represented the country in Junior Olympics”. There are very good chance, the HR will ask you details about the same.

Here are the some common questions that you might come across from “Know yourself” category 

  • Tell me about yourself
  • What are your strength & weakness
  • Give an example of your strength
  • What are your goals in life
  • What are your hobbies or outside interests

Know the company

Knowing the company you are interviewing for is as important as knowing yourself. For, that will determine how you want to present yourself. It’s said, “Some facts are best used, when kept untold”. So while you have 100 facts about yourself, its representation depends on how well you know the company. E.g.: A travel portal company is interviewing you. While you hate travelling yourself, you love the tourism industry & knows a lot about country’s demography. So your answers should involve, your knowledge about tourism and keep aside the fact that you personally hate travelling a lot.

Here are few things you can look up or inquire about the company, before you attend and HR interview.

  • Read about company as much you can. This should include, the company’s area of expertise, various industries it serves, recent developments & news, its working culture etc.
  • If possible, talk to someone who knows about the company and its culture.
  • Learn about the location & areas of postings. This will help you choose your location preference. The finer details are hard to come by, but if known, will help you answer few tricky questions.
  • Try to learn about the fresher pay, various incentives and other perks it provides.

Here are the some common questions that you might come across from “Know the company” category

  • Why do you want to work for my company
  • Are you willing to relocate or travel
  • What motivates you in a job
  • How can you contribute to this company
  • What are your ambitions in next 5 years?
  • What is your dream company 

Common ground

Although knowing yourself and about the company covers most part of the interview, there are some common grounds that we need to prepare for, before the conclusion. These are some generic stuffs that HR asks during the interview. This is to test few specific qualities, they want to see in you. It could be some GK related, recent news related, your opinion on some sensitive topics etc. I’d say go with how you are in general and brush up things you are interested in.

If you are into news, don’t skip newspaper that one day because of interview. These are mostly meant to verify or strengthen the facts you mentioned during the above discussions and are usually not the make or break questions.

Here are the some common questions that you might come across from “Know the company” category
  • You said you’re interested in sports... Where is current soccer world cup happening?
  • Some puzzles
  • Opinion about some recent news.
Last but not least, there is one question, which you need to prepare for
  • Do you want to ask anything about the company or Job? Or do you have any questions ?

Now this probably is the last question, by which time the HR has mostly made up the mind to take you or not. But nevertheless, prepare a question that you want to ask about company or the job. Also thank them for the opportunity they provided you.

Common Mistakes

There are few common mistakes that lot of candidates makes for a fresher interview. Here are few commons ones we have seen happening 

  • Interrupting the interviewers – An interview is not a rapid fire round that you have press buzzer and get it answered as quickly as possible. Important thing is to respect the speakers, allow them to complete and then start your answer. This also helps in preparing your answer more appropriately (however well you know it).
  • Showing Overconfidence – Clearing technical round doesn’t necessarily get you an offer letter. Show as much importance to HR round as you gave for previous rounds.
  • Getting into arguments – An HR might ask your opinion on several common topics. That is only to understand your take on the topic and your confidence in your understandings. This is a not a debate forum to prove your opinion is right or wrong. So while you’re right with your facts, there is no reason for you to prove the other party wrong.
  • Feeling Indifference or being disrespectful – Every company has its own culture and policies. While some might interest you, others might not. But never show disrespect or indifference to the ones you don’t like during the course of interview. Of course you can politely express your dislike, but nevertheless you should respect the fact that, the company works like that.

No Never

Apart from the common mistakes, there are some never doers in a fresher interview. Here are few common ones

  • Never dress casually. An interview is a serious process and to show you understand and take it seriously, wear what carries that attitude. Even if a company allows casual wear in their work environment, attend the interview in formals or semi formals.
  • Never be late. Time is money, for everyone that is. Respect the time of the interviewer. Moreover, timeliness is a very important quality that every company looks for.
  • Do not keep fiddling with paper, files, pens etc. This shows a lack of confidence and concentration.

Conclusion

In a recruitment process, every round of interview is as important as the previous or the next one. Each one holds its own purpose and method of evaluation. Like understanding the question helps to answer it suitably, understanding the interview rounds are important in preparing and performing appropriately.