HR Interviews | Foundation 6 – Lesson 8

Go back to Job Search Prep Syllabus.

Everything about selling yourself to HR can be summed up thusly: Dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

In many companies, HR does not have the power to hire you, but they do have the power to nix you. In other companies, HR operates on behalf of the hiring manager… but think about what kind of pressure that puts HR under: they are hiring someone they’ve never met to work with someone else they may not know, and if it’s not a good match, someone’s going to be at the door blaming them for the problem. So, as a pain/risk avoidance measure, HR in these cases will adhere as closely to the job description provided by the hiring manager as they possibly can.

Now, you know from Willy how much we care for those job descriptions.

So, what do you do?

You do this:

  1. You establish rapport. Find a way to share a human connection with the individual IMMEDIATELY, before the questions begin.
  2. You answer all questions directly and succinctly. You turn “off” your salesperson hat and turn “on” your commodity hat for a bit. There are boxes and those boxes need to be checked. Next.
  3. You don’t judge. You give the person you’re talking to the benefit of the doubt, assume the person has more mental capacity than the job calls for, and as a result, feels the same way about the questions s/he’s asking you as you do. (And by the way, you can use this as the foundation for the human connection you watn to make.)

Don’t worry about selling this person. HR is generally not a buyer, HR is an influencer. Answering the questions lets the person you’re talking to cover his/her butt by filling out the appropriate paperwork. Making the connection turns the person into an ally.

Yes, lots of people are trying to get this person’s attention. Don’t worry about that. It’s not in what you say, it’s in how you say it. If you are sincere and earnest, that will come through and will get you noticed in a good way, which is what you want!


Rent/download and watch the movie Tommyboy. You are Chris Farley. Your journey in selling yourself is his journey in selling brake pads. Pay particular attention to the scene in the restaurant: that’s you working with HR. (The kitchen would be the hiring manager, for those of you who need to see the whole analogy.)

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2 responses to “HR Interviews | Foundation 6 – Lesson 8”

  1. jmwatts says:

    I’d like to make sure I’m getting the real point of this lesson.

    The point is to try to make a real connection with the HR person on a personal level and establish that relationship. Not necessarily to understand what the boss is like or what people in the department you’re interviewing for are like, etc. but to say hi, I recognize you’re a real person just doing your job and I’m going to easy to work with right off the bat.

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