You may have heard in the past that hiring managers make a decision within ten minutes on a candidate. This came from a 2012 study where hiring executives were asked, “How long does it typically take you to form either a positive or negative opinion of a job candidate during an initial interview?” The median response was ten minutes. In other words, you have just ten measly minutes to make an impression to keep you in the running for the HR or payroll position you covet.
What do you do with your ten minutes? Start from the minute you walk through the door by being enthusiastic, upbeat, and projecting confidence but be careful, the line between confidence and arrogance is a thin one. The opening minutes of your interview will set the tone, so make sure you are ready, not rehearsed, to answer the typical opening interview questions.
Question: Why are you here today?
Be ready to tell the hiring manager for your HR or payroll interview why you are looking and why their open position appeals to you. What makes the company one you would like to work for? What makes the HR/payroll position a unique fit to your specific skillset? And of course, be ready to answer why are looking. With each answer, make sure you’re addressing the question and job description while remaining upbeat and positive.
Question: Tell me about yourself.
Be proud but not boastful with highlights from your HR/payroll career. Make sure you have an answer that is not a filibuster, with clear accomplishments tied to your path. Tie these accomplishments to the opportunity and the organization you’re interviewing with.
Question: How will you fit in?
There are a lot of ways you could be asked this, the bottom line is a hiring manager is looking to see if you are a cultural fit. Have the self-awareness to know what you need to succeed. Do you prefer more entrepreneurial or more structured companies, what type of manager are you and how do you like to be managed? You’re not doing yourself any favors by not being 100% honest with these questions as you want an HR/payroll position where you will thrive in terms of both skills and cultural fit needed.
Question: “What sets you apart from the other candidates?”
Sometimes posed as “Why should we hire you?” this question is where you can shine.
Have short narratives ready describing when you overcame significant challenges. Provide a window into what makes you tick. Think ahead on how you’re going to answer and practice. When you’re in the interview your response should be confident, but not come across as robotic and rehearsed.
As we said in a previous post, do your homework and be prepared. This includes being prepared to nail the first ten minutes! The more successful first impression you have on the interviewer, the better likelihood you have to land that HR/payroll position.