5 interview questions HR should be prepared to answer


Job interviews are now much more of a two-way conversation, with interview questions coming from both sides. Here are some tips to prepare HR for the hot seat.

Traditional job interviews looked a little like this: the HR lead or recruiter would fire off a bunch of interview questions at the candidate, who would nervously cobble together some responses and try to present themselves in the best possible light. 

Towards the tail end of the interview, the interviewer would ask: ‘Do you have any questions for us?’ to which the candidate might ask something about the salary, benefits or a generic question about the company’s culture.

These days, the job interview is much more of a two-way conversation with both sides under the spotlight.

Candidates have a smorgasbord of options at their fingertips, which means they’re perhaps pickier or more cautious, or they’re simply curious to learn about what you have to offer them.

They still need to sell themselves, of course, but a slight shift in power means employers also have to deliver a compelling pitch.

HRM asked five HR and recruitment experts to share some of the common job interview questions employers should be prepared to answer, as well as some suggested ways to respond.

1. If I’m successful, what will I be expected to achieve in the first six months?

Brendon Le Lievre, coach and owner of Hare Consulting, says candidates are increasingly cautious about signing on for a role in case it turns out to be vastly different to what they expected.

A new phenomenon is emerging amid the Great Resignation – the Great Regret. A quarter of people in the US who recently quit their jobs now regret it, and that sentiment is being expressed by local employees too. As a result, candidates want to ensure that what they’re signing up for is going to be worth it.

“This question also lets them know about the thought that’s gone into this role and whether it has been recently changed to match the new working environment or if it’s a continuation of the duties the previous occupant completed,” says Le Lievre. 

“A good question from a candidate shows they’re thinking about the role and the contribution they could make.” – Brendon Le Lievre, coach and owner of Hare Consulting

Candidates might view this as an opportunity to influence how the role is shaped, he adds, and it gives them the opportunity to give the interviewer a very clear indication of how they’ll be able to grow in the role.

How should HR respond to this question?

It’s important that deep thought goes into the role you’re recruiting for, says Le Lievre. 

What are the immediate holes they’re plugging? What problems can they help you solve? And how will that role evolve as the business does? Many candidates will be looking for dynamic, fluid positions, rather than feeling as if they’ll be pigeon-holed into a box.

“Think about how things have changed and what the priorities are for the work. How will the new person make a contribution quickly while they’re settling in? What makes the role exciting? And how will they be supported through induction and onboarding?”

2. Can you demonstrate what the company’s values look like in action?

Candidates want to see you walk your talk, says Gillian Kelly, Director, Head of Talent Marketing at Outplacement Australia.

“The candidates I’m hearing from in 2022 are more confident and determined to be active in the interview process to get insights on important issues,” she says.

 Job seekers can see right through employers that are simply paying lip service to their values, she adds. They’ll want to see evidence.

Kelly says that could look like storytelling and deep evidence-backed analysis to “amass genuine insights” to demonstrate your culture to candidates.

“As more candidates understand the value of behavioural questioning best practices, I think we can potentially expect to see more of these deeper questions employed by savvy job seekers – especially at an executive level – to spark genuine two-way dialogue and to gather data to make comparisons and decisions on issues of importance, such as culture and values alignment.”

How should HR respond to this question?

Kelly suggests having a bank of carefully crafted stories up your sleeve that illustrate the strength of your culture. 

“If a candidate mentions a particular value – like diversity or innovation – be ready to share a specific example that gets granular and leaves no doubt that the company walks the talk.”

3. What are some of the things that make people stay with your company? 

Positive, two-way communication during the interviewing process can aid employee retention, recruitment, workplace relationships, says Rod McDermott, CEO of  McDermott + Bull and Activate 180.

“The market is candidate-centric. Therefore, individuals are becoming more discerning when considering joining a company. This question, or variations of it, allow the candidate to gauge a company’s culture and determine how the organisation retains its employees. 

“Even if it’s not asked, I advise hiring managers to touch on this topic so they highlight how our company develops people, provides growth opportunities, and cares about our associates’ overall wellbeing and happiness, not strictly job performance.”

How should HR respond to this question?

McDermott says the rule is pretty simple: be real.

“The more candor you can provide, the more the candidate will feel that they’re not just hearing a company’s script. If things aren’t perfect in a certain area, say that. Be transparent and address what the company is trying to do to level up. I call this the 90-day rule. Say – ‘In your first 90 days, you’re likely to experience this here. Therefore, I’d like to tell you about it and what we’re doing to address it so you’re not discouraged by it.'”

4. What are the main reasons people leave your organisation?

This might be a difficult question to answer, but it’s a critical one to get right.

“This question can give an indication of a number of things – the willingness of an organisation to be candid and honest, and that they are actually attentive to why people are leaving,” says Rachel Emer CAHRI, Executive Manager of People and Culture at Palmerston Association.

“I cannot see a downside to the new bar set for employers to reach.” – Rachel Emer CAHRI, Executive Manager, People and Culture at Palmerston Association

“It could also lead to further questions around strategies adopted to address the reasons, or the factors highlighted could be a reality of the organisation or sector. For example, do they only expect a two year tenure, or have limitations for career advancement?” 

How should HR respond to this question?

Emer says honesty is the best policy.

Discussing some of these topics contributes to the candidate having a full understanding of the role, and what the organisation does and, importantly, does not offer. 

“Successful hires result from both parties entering the relationship armed with as much accurate information as possible. Often this information is limited or marketed in a particular way to attract candidates and not present a full and realistic picture during recruitment due to the pressure to fill roles.”

5. Tell me about the team I’ll be working with. What are their strengths and working styles?

With many people now working in hybrid environments, there is a new emphasis on the experience people will have with their immediate team – rather than the company as a whole. 

“Many may not even have the opportunity to meet face-to-face for some time (or ever), so having an insight into work style preferences provides valuable knowledge,” says Donna Brown, HR manager at the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters.

“A question about working styles allows real insight for the candidate to assess team fit, team alignment and also development areas they may wish to identify.”

For example, Brown says you might find out that the job seeker is a flexible thinker in their approach to complex problems, in which case you might say: ‘Many of the team members are highly analytical and structured in their approach to work, so how might you work well with them?’

How should HR respond to this question?

 First, you need to have insights into how your employees prefer to work.

Brown’s organisation has been closely monitoring working styles of employees over the last 12-18 months and will be using this data to help onboard new hires.

“As an internal HR practitioner, this may be a little easier to have this intel, but recruiters can also be armed with information by getting to know the client, the role and the type of team the candidate would be working with. The ‘how’ of the role is as important as the ‘what’.” 

Times are changing

Candidates are becoming much savvier during the interview process, says McDermott.

“Universities are providing classes that focus on interview skills and include role-playing, which is something that wasn’t done in the past,” he says. 

“Additionally, because it’s a candidate’s job market, individuals are finding that they have to drill down on opportunities to compare one company with another. As a result, they have these very insightful questions… This is forcing companies to be better if they want a shot at securing great candidates.”

While it might feel a little uncomfortable being in the hot seat, don’t be put off by a bold interview question from a candidate. Those are the kind of people you want to hire.

“A good question from a candidate shows they’re thinking about the role and the contribution they could make,” says Le Lievre. “It also demonstrates the value they could bring to the organisation through new thinking and the courage to challenge the status quo.”

Another reason candidates are asking more interview questions is because they’re trying to set themselves up for success, says Kelly.

“They are increasingly taking responsibility for their own career development and management, and are accepting more ownership of their role in the interview process for assessing suitability and alignment of the role against their future goals.”

Emer agrees with this, stating: “Work impacts our lives broadly, in areas such as sense of self, satisfaction, and emotional and physical wellbeing. The stakes are higher to find the right role.

“It might make attraction, recruitment and retention more of a challenge, but I cannot see a downside to the new bar set for employers to reach.”


Do you want to sharpen your recruitment skills and learn how to ask the right interview questions? Sign up for AHRI’s short course to arm yourself with best-practice information.


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5 interview questions HR should be prepared to answer


Job interviews are now much more of a two-way conversation, with interview questions coming from both sides. Here are some tips to prepare HR for the hot seat.

Traditional job interviews looked a little like this: the HR lead or recruiter would fire off a bunch of interview questions at the candidate, who would nervously cobble together some responses and try to present themselves in the best possible light. 

Towards the tail end of the interview, the interviewer would ask: ‘Do you have any questions for us?’ to which the candidate might ask something about the salary, benefits or a generic question about the company’s culture.

These days, the job interview is much more of a two-way conversation with both sides under the spotlight.

Candidates have a smorgasbord of options at their fingertips, which means they’re perhaps pickier or more cautious, or they’re simply curious to learn about what you have to offer them.

They still need to sell themselves, of course, but a slight shift in power means employers also have to deliver a compelling pitch.

HRM asked five HR and recruitment experts to share some of the common job interview questions employers should be prepared to answer, as well as some suggested ways to respond.

1. If I’m successful, what will I be expected to achieve in the first six months?

Brendon Le Lievre, coach and owner of Hare Consulting, says candidates are increasingly cautious about signing on for a role in case it turns out to be vastly different to what they expected.

A new phenomenon is emerging amid the Great Resignation – the Great Regret. A quarter of people in the US who recently quit their jobs now regret it, and that sentiment is being expressed by local employees too. As a result, candidates want to ensure that what they’re signing up for is going to be worth it.

“This question also lets them know about the thought that’s gone into this role and whether it has been recently changed to match the new working environment or if it’s a continuation of the duties the previous occupant completed,” says Le Lievre. 

“A good question from a candidate shows they’re thinking about the role and the contribution they could make.” – Brendon Le Lievre, coach and owner of Hare Consulting

Candidates might view this as an opportunity to influence how the role is shaped, he adds, and it gives them the opportunity to give the interviewer a very clear indication of how they’ll be able to grow in the role.

How should HR respond to this question?

It’s important that deep thought goes into the role you’re recruiting for, says Le Lievre. 

What are the immediate holes they’re plugging? What problems can they help you solve? And how will that role evolve as the business does? Many candidates will be looking for dynamic, fluid positions, rather than feeling as if they’ll be pigeon-holed into a box.

“Think about how things have changed and what the priorities are for the work. How will the new person make a contribution quickly while they’re settling in? What makes the role exciting? And how will they be supported through induction and onboarding?”

2. Can you demonstrate what the company’s values look like in action?

Candidates want to see you walk your talk, says Gillian Kelly, Director, Head of Talent Marketing at Outplacement Australia.

“The candidates I’m hearing from in 2022 are more confident and determined to be active in the interview process to get insights on important issues,” she says.

 Job seekers can see right through employers that are simply paying lip service to their values, she adds. They’ll want to see evidence.

Kelly says that could look like storytelling and deep evidence-backed analysis to “amass genuine insights” to demonstrate your culture to candidates.

“As more candidates understand the value of behavioural questioning best practices, I think we can potentially expect to see more of these deeper questions employed by savvy job seekers – especially at an executive level – to spark genuine two-way dialogue and to gather data to make comparisons and decisions on issues of importance, such as culture and values alignment.”

How should HR respond to this question?

Kelly suggests having a bank of carefully crafted stories up your sleeve that illustrate the strength of your culture. 

“If a candidate mentions a particular value – like diversity or innovation – be ready to share a specific example that gets granular and leaves no doubt that the company walks the talk.”

3. What are some of the things that make people stay with your company? 

Positive, two-way communication during the interviewing process can aid employee retention, recruitment, workplace relationships, says Rod McDermott, CEO of  McDermott + Bull and Activate 180.

“The market is candidate-centric. Therefore, individuals are becoming more discerning when considering joining a company. This question, or variations of it, allow the candidate to gauge a company’s culture and determine how the organisation retains its employees. 

“Even if it’s not asked, I advise hiring managers to touch on this topic so they highlight how our company develops people, provides growth opportunities, and cares about our associates’ overall wellbeing and happiness, not strictly job performance.”

How should HR respond to this question?

McDermott says the rule is pretty simple: be real.

“The more candor you can provide, the more the candidate will feel that they’re not just hearing a company’s script. If things aren’t perfect in a certain area, say that. Be transparent and address what the company is trying to do to level up. I call this the 90-day rule. Say – ‘In your first 90 days, you’re likely to experience this here. Therefore, I’d like to tell you about it and what we’re doing to address it so you’re not discouraged by it.'”

4. What are the main reasons people leave your organisation?

This might be a difficult question to answer, but it’s a critical one to get right.

“This question can give an indication of a number of things – the willingness of an organisation to be candid and honest, and that they are actually attentive to why people are leaving,” says Rachel Emer CAHRI, Executive Manager of People and Culture at Palmerston Association.

“I cannot see a downside to the new bar set for employers to reach.” – Rachel Emer CAHRI, Executive Manager, People and Culture at Palmerston Association

“It could also lead to further questions around strategies adopted to address the reasons, or the factors highlighted could be a reality of the organisation or sector. For example, do they only expect a two year tenure, or have limitations for career advancement?” 

How should HR respond to this question?

Emer says honesty is the best policy.

Discussing some of these topics contributes to the candidate having a full understanding of the role, and what the organisation does and, importantly, does not offer. 

“Successful hires result from both parties entering the relationship armed with as much accurate information as possible. Often this information is limited or marketed in a particular way to attract candidates and not present a full and realistic picture during recruitment due to the pressure to fill roles.”

5. Tell me about the team I’ll be working with. What are their strengths and working styles?

With many people now working in hybrid environments, there is a new emphasis on the experience people will have with their immediate team – rather than the company as a whole. 

“Many may not even have the opportunity to meet face-to-face for some time (or ever), so having an insight into work style preferences provides valuable knowledge,” says Donna Brown, HR manager at the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters.

“A question about working styles allows real insight for the candidate to assess team fit, team alignment and also development areas they may wish to identify.”

For example, Brown says you might find out that the job seeker is a flexible thinker in their approach to complex problems, in which case you might say: ‘Many of the team members are highly analytical and structured in their approach to work, so how might you work well with them?’

How should HR respond to this question?

 First, you need to have insights into how your employees prefer to work.

Brown’s organisation has been closely monitoring working styles of employees over the last 12-18 months and will be using this data to help onboard new hires.

“As an internal HR practitioner, this may be a little easier to have this intel, but recruiters can also be armed with information by getting to know the client, the role and the type of team the candidate would be working with. The ‘how’ of the role is as important as the ‘what’.” 

Times are changing

Candidates are becoming much savvier during the interview process, says McDermott.

“Universities are providing classes that focus on interview skills and include role-playing, which is something that wasn’t done in the past,” he says. 

“Additionally, because it’s a candidate’s job market, individuals are finding that they have to drill down on opportunities to compare one company with another. As a result, they have these very insightful questions… This is forcing companies to be better if they want a shot at securing great candidates.”

While it might feel a little uncomfortable being in the hot seat, don’t be put off by a bold interview question from a candidate. Those are the kind of people you want to hire.

“A good question from a candidate shows they’re thinking about the role and the contribution they could make,” says Le Lievre. “It also demonstrates the value they could bring to the organisation through new thinking and the courage to challenge the status quo.”

Another reason candidates are asking more interview questions is because they’re trying to set themselves up for success, says Kelly.

“They are increasingly taking responsibility for their own career development and management, and are accepting more ownership of their role in the interview process for assessing suitability and alignment of the role against their future goals.”

Emer agrees with this, stating: “Work impacts our lives broadly, in areas such as sense of self, satisfaction, and emotional and physical wellbeing. The stakes are higher to find the right role.

“It might make attraction, recruitment and retention more of a challenge, but I cannot see a downside to the new bar set for employers to reach.”


Do you want to sharpen your recruitment skills and learn how to ask the right interview questions? Sign up for AHRI’s short course to arm yourself with best-practice information.


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