My next move

I have attended a number of interviews recently for head of HR and HR director positions. I have not been selected for any of these roles so far, despite my relevant experience in comparable industry sectors. I would appreciate any advice you could offer to help me prepare for future interviews.

Your CV is clearly working and getting you interviews. Treat each one as a learning experience: ask yourself what went well, or less well. What other answers could you have given? Which questions ‘threw you’?

These tips should help you in the future:

  • Preparation: Find out as much as you can about the organisation to demonstrate your understanding and interest in their business.

  • Consider the job and person specification carefully. Consider what skills and experience they are they asking for, and plan how you will demonstrate them at interview.

  • First impressions: Never underestimate the importance of punctuality and personal presentation. Plan your journey well. Be well-groomed and dress professionally.

During the interview

  • Be alert and enthusiastic, and maintain eye contact with your interviewer. Give real, factual evidence of your commercial contribution to the business and your key areas of strength. For example:

  • Where you have made a measurable, commercial contribution to the business.

  • Your commercial awareness (for example, turnover and profit, hire costs at your current and previous employers).

  • The commercial drivers in your business and how your HR strategy relates to them.

  • Examples of where you have demonstrated innovative, ‘out of the box’ thinking.

  • Budget planning and management.

  • Examples of dealing successfully with challenging line managers.

  • Examples of developing, coaching and mentoring colleagues.

  • Avoid asking detailed questions about the package and benefits at first interview. Focus instead on demonstrating your ‘fit’ and interest.

  • Be honest about any ‘stretch’ in the role for you. Companies can be wary of taking on someone with too much experience who might get bored and want to move on soon.

The close

Be ready to ask lots of open questions. Make sure the role matches your aspirations. If you are interested, ask about the next interview stage and thank the interviewer for their time.

Lynne Hardman, managing director, Hays Human Resources

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