If you get called into an HR/payroll interview, there are a lot of things you cannot control, from your own experience to the biases of those interviewing you. There are things you can control, however – here are a few tips to get yourself a leg up on the next HR/payroll position you pursue.
Prepare, prepare, and then prepare some more.
Getting an interview for an HR/payroll position is great – but it is only an opportunity, not validation. Just because you’re called in does not mean that they are lucky to have you take time out of your busy schedule to meet with them. It means they are prepared to hear your sales pitch. And no good sales pitch ignores what the buyer needs and wants – so you need to do some research.
Go through the company’s website, conduct a Google search for recent news; find connections that can give you insight into the company culture and even the hiring department if possible. Demonstrating knowledge of the company shows drive and passion – people want to work with “go getters.”
Preparation includes bringing well-thought questions to the table. Don’t ask things that you can or should have found online (i.e. where are all of your locations, how many people work here, etc.) Prepare questions that are looking for clarity and highlight that you did your homework. “I see you recently launched X service – how is that going, is this a service you see as a key strategic initiative for your origination?” Other questions should give you a clearer picture of what it would be like to work for this organization and be ready with answers as to why you would be an ideal cultural and skillset fit.
Finally, preparation includes having copies of your resume and any other materials you would like to share printed and ready to give to the interviewee. Yes, they’ve already seen your resume, but having it on-hand reveals preparation.
Show up to your interview early, well-fed, and dressed appropriately. As part of your preparation you will spend time on their website and social media channels. These should help inform your dress choice. If you are not sure how to dress, overdress. And why should you eat? You don’t know how long you’ll be at the interview and a hungry mind is typically not a sharp one.
Prepare for follow-up
One of the most frustrating parts of the HR or payroll job search and interviewing is the waiting. Try to mitigate this by asking about the timeline and decision-making process. Ask how you can follow-up to get updates and leave with the attitude that you will be hearing back soon. Send thank-you note as even today interviewers say that a well-written, personalized response that reiterates why you’re the best candidate for the position does indeed give a candidate an edge.
By controlling what you can control, you will not only be a prepared candidate, but you will be able to assess if the role is one that is the right fit for you.