Secrets from Human Resource Directors

Lauren Malmon ImageBy: Lauren Malmon, MA/HR
Principal of Career Innovations

You can ace the interview with a few insiders’ pointers and the right preparation!


Remember these things:

1. Human Resource Directors want to see that you have done your homework, concerning both yourself and their organization. Review the assessment topics at the bottom of the page. Review the organization’s web site content, annual reports, and news, and/or talk with employees. Compile several intelligent questions to ask the interviewer(s).

2. Expert interviewers expect clear, concise answers using concrete examples from your previous experience. The best approach is to take a few seconds to consider your answer, answer the question, tie it to an example of your work, and then stop. More is not necessarily better. Use the Problem-Action-Result model to frame your answer, focusing on results/impact achieved.

3. Human Resource professionals want you to let your guard down and volunteer negative information, possibly so they can “disqualify” you. This may sound rather harsh, but discovering negative information early on helps hiring people to narrow down a range of candidates. Candidates often unknowingly offer negative information when answering questions such as “what did you think of your last boss?” “what are your greatest weaknesses?”, and “what did you like least about your last job/company?” Even if a particular situation was a negative one for you, such as your reason for leaving a job, try to describe it in a constructive or positive light. Practicing your answers helps a lot.

What questions might you expect to be asked in an interview? What common themes do Human Resources and experienced hiring managers inquire about?

• A short summary of your background and why you are there today (“Tell me about yourself.”)

• Your personality

• Your greatest strengths

• Your greatest weaknesses (pick one, turn it around to a positive or show how you have overcome it)

• Your greatest accomplishments

• Your competitive advantage (the one distinguishing factor between you and others with similar backgrounds/experience)

• How your co-workers would describe you (speak to your strengths and teamwork)

• Your personal values

• How you worked under pressure

• How you have reacted to conflict

• When you participated in or led a team

• How you solved important problems/challenges or exhibited creativity

• A work situation in which you might have done something differently

• What you like/don’t like about your chosen career field

• How you have kept current in your field

• People you like to work with and those you find most difficult to work with

• Your short-term objectives and your long-term goals (and how long you would stay with the organization)

• Your “ideal” workplace

• Your salary requirements (put this discussion off as long as possible!)

• How long it would take for you to make a contribution to the organization

• Why you want to leave your current position/gaps in your resume/why you left your last job

Lauren Malmon, MA/HR has over 15 years of experience in Human Resource Management, resume writing, and career development with hundreds of clients in private practice, Fortune 500 and small companies, the world’s largest Outplacement consulting company, Universities, and the Federal Government. She is Principal of Career Innovations ( specializing in complex job histories and career changers. She can be reached at