Job Search & Interview

Is HR Interview a Formality? – The Realistic Truth About HR Interviews

The interviewing process can be extensive, and it can involve several interviews. The HR interview is the one that draws the most attention and incites the most concern in applicants. Some people are asking the question, “Is HR interview a formality?”

The truth is that the HR interview is much more than a formality. It’s a crucial step that many businesses fail to take and lose profits because of it. Here’s some information about the HR interview and why it’s more than a formality:

No Amount of Interviews Is Too Many

Each business has its own desired practices in place for interviews. The number of interviews a candidate has to take profoundly depends on the position and how high it is within the corporation. A low-level cashier most likely won’t have to go through more than one interview, and it will usually be with his or her direct supervisor.

Candidates going for more prominent positions may have to have two, three, or more interviews before the company brings them on board. It’s not unheard of for excellent job applicants to have to go through four to six interviews before the company decides.

Are HR Interviews Overkill?

Many businesses put their prospective employees through more than one interview. They may have to speak to the hiring manager, who is also the person who will interact with the new hires daily. The second interview may involve the hiring manager’s boss and perhaps a panel of a few other supervisors.

The last interview is usually the one with HR. The HR interview is not overkill for the business or the applicant. An applicant who is genuinely interested in the position will take as many interviews as necessary to secure the job. The management staff and HR reps may have to take a little extra time to hold the additional interviews, but doing so can improve the quality of the new hires tenfold.

The more people interact with a particular applicant, the more it will be revealed whether that person is a good fit for the company. Sometimes a hiring manager sees potential in a person, but his or her boss picks up on an area of concern. HR might catch some things the other two interviewers may not have caught.

Read More: Salary Not Discussed During Interview? Here’s How to Deal With It

HR Is the Gatekeeper

A famous person named Leila Janah said that businesses should look at recruiting (HR) as an entity that is immensely crucial to a business’s success. That’s what the HR department is.

They are a vital team of experts who ensure that only the safest candidates get in. A safe candidate is a person who will cause the least number of problems and issues for the company.

Many applicants confidently think they have a job locked down if they get approval from the hiring manager and his or her boss. However, the Human Resources Department can stop the entire process and choose not to hire an application. In this sense, they play the role of a gatekeeper, protecting the business from experiencing financial loss.

HR is invested in the business’s best interests, not the prospective employee’s. Therefore, during a final interview, their job is to look for reasons a potential employee may be a risk or detrimental to the company. Their goal is to eliminate everyone they can so that the company doesn’t have to pay for a hiring indiscretion in the future.

The Cost of “Bad Hires”

According to the Department of Labor, bad job hires can cost up to 30% of a new employee’s annual salary. That means the company can lose as much as almost $6,000 by wrongfully hiring a worker who earns only $9 an hour. That’s a massive loss for the business, and the stakes are much higher as the employee’s annual salary goes up.

Another company said that the average cost of hiring one employee is over $4,000. No business can afford to make a large number of hiring errors. That’s why there’s such a high need for a multi-layered vetting process that ends with the interview with HR.

What HR Looks for During an Interview

The answer to the question of “Is HR interview a formality?” is a firm no. HR has a strategy in mind, and it includes getting to know a potential candidate beyond the types of interview questions that managers and assistant managers may have already asked.

As mentioned before, HR will be looking for a reason each candidate might not be a good fit for the company. Thus, they’ll ask questions that answer the following concerns:

If the Person Has Any Conflicting Interests

The HR representative may ask questions to see if the candidate has any conflicts of interest. Interest conflicts can cause employees to drop in performance. In the worst cases, they can cause such employees to leave the company, which may cause management to be shorthanded at a highly inconvenient time. Thus, they may ask questions about a potential client’s outside interests and endeavors.

If Salary Will Be an Issue

The representative may go more into depth about how much the candidate earned in his or her previous positions and what salary that person is comfortable with. The individual may have already answered the question in the application. However, sometimes it’s necessary to repeat the question just to clarify.

Individuals who aren’t happy with the salary are more likely to leave the company. According to, more than 4,000 workers quit their jobs in 2021 for reasons that include low wages. HR can prevent something like that from happening by ensuring that a candidate is happy with the salary offered.

If the Individual Fits the Company Culture

Being confident that a potential employee fits the company culture is crucial. Therefore, the HR reps may ask questions that force the prospective employee to answer that question. The company culture is a mixture of its attitudes, beliefs, values, missions, and the like.

Employees who do not match the company culture will not last long with the company. They are very likely to leave the organization because they feel unfulfilled or unhappy. The last interview with HR will more than likely expose the mismatch if one is apparent.

What the Person Knows About the Company

HR might ask a candidate how much information they know about the company’s history, financial standings, products, services, and the like in the final interview. Finding out how much prospective employees know about the company is important because it shows their passion and dedication.

A dedicated person does research to find out about the company he or she is getting ready to join. A person only seeking a temporary job may not care as much. Since HR looks out for the business, it will want to push the people through who are most likely to grow with the company and care about its success and progress.

What the Individual Expects

The HR team may also ask the candidate some questions so that they can get a better idea of what the person expects the workday to be like. There may be a significant difference between what the job is like and what the individual expects it to be like. Therefore, the HR agent may ask the candidate to describe a day’s work based on what he or she believes it will be like.

A person who gets it right may move forward in the process. A person who doesn’t get it right may raise a red flat with HR. They may then take the time to explain what the person should expect in a day’s work and then check that person’s interest level.

What the Individual’s Intentions Are

HR may ask an applicant what his or her intentions are beyond the usual, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” question. They’ll want to ensure that the person’s stay is worth it for the expense the business has to put out just to train the individual.

Whether the Individual Is Problematic

Another thing the HR team may want to gain clarity on is the applicant’s “problematic temperature.” In other words, they may ask probing questions to find out if the worker might ever be problematic for the company in the future if he or she moves forward in the process. They may ask the applicant situational questions to get the answer to those questions subtly.

The term problematic can mean anything from the risk of trading company secrets to the risk of filing a lawsuit against the business in the future. Agents can pick up on that vibe by asking the candidates a few questions.

Is HR Interview a Formality?

HR interviews are so crucial for businesses that they won’t be going anywhere for a long time. Many companies will keep the practice of having HR representatives conduct their final screenings.

Individuals can think of HR interviews as loss prevention. The HR team does everything it can to prevent the business from losing money and credibility, and it prevents the candidate from losing time unnecessarily in the process. Businesses will be in a better position to flourish with more screening steps and processes in place.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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