Preparing for HR adviser interview & work-related test. Any tips?

Good morning everyone.

I posted last week about wanting to return to work, after a year off on Maternity leave, I joined my last role 6 years ago as a office manager, and progressed to standalone HR Manager and completed by level 7. I got some fab advise that I had proofed by ability progressing and qualifying but lacking confidence, all very true and a year off with a baby!

I have been offered an interview on Monday for a fixed term contract as a HR Adviser, part of this process is a 45 minute work related test. I have not completed one of these before, can anyone give me any insight on what this is likely to entail? I am very nervous and lacking confidence after a break from work, and my concern is if I am unprepared for the test, it will affect my confidence going into the interview afterwards. 

Also any tips on how to prepare for the interview? I have a wealth of experience, and got to this stage through competency based questions on the application, so this fills me with some confidence my skill set meets the job, but i will feel better if I can go in with some answers prepared, and do not want to go in with a ton prepared answers and they ask me completely different things. I know I cannot fully prepare but after a while out of the workplace this feels very daunting!

Thank you for reading and I hope someone will offer me some advise/support :)


  • Hi Cher
    work related test could mean any number of things so it's hard to say what you will be asked to do. Could you contact the company and ask them if they could advise what format the work related test will be in and what will be involved?
  • For the interview, don't prepare answers: prepare examples. Think back over the various tasks you have completed, projects you finished and jobs you took on in your previous roles. Articulate to yourself what your contribution was, what you achieved and what you learned from each one.

    For the test... Other than asking them for hints, there's not much you can do to prepare (that's why it's a test!). Have a go. Do your best. Don't worry if it's hard. I like to set horrible tests because if everyone finds them easy there's nothing to choose between. But if everyone finds them hard, you can make judgements based on how they went about the task and what bits they did well.
  • Hi Cher

    If they were proposing to use a psychometric test, then it would be good practice to tell you that. Therefore that probably isn't what you are going to encounter but as Emma advises I would phone and ask if they can give you any further information about the test, such as whether it is a psychometric or ability test. If it will be a psychometric test, then there are practice sites you can use: www.shldirect.com/.../practice-tests

    My guess (which might be way off) is that they are going to ask you to undertake some form of activity that approximates what you will have to do in the job. I have asked people to draft letters and perform payroll calculations - not work out tax and NI but things like working out an hourly rate or a pay increase. I have also seen home-made inbox exercises, although not used on myself. You might have some hypothetical situations to comment on, although I would usually do this during the interview rather than in writing.

    This might not be relevant to the test, but as you are going for an Advisor role the one area I would brush up on would be employment law developments through the year. I have just Googled "employment law developments 2018" and found bulletins from firms of solicitors giving their views on exactly that topic. You will then feel more confident and be equipped to assure them that your year out does not mean you are out of touch.

  • In reply to Elizabeth:

    Thank you guys this is most helpful!
    Elizabeth your reply has been a huge help actually, I had already been brushing up on EL changes, after having this year on maternity I am a tad rusty on more recent changes! The link is fab too, and in reality I think with it being an advisor role which is focused very much on casework, it is highly likely EL changes are part of the test.

    Robey I really found your comment useful, I will be preparing some examples linked to projects I have worked on and tasks. :)
  • In reply to Robey:

    I agree with Robey, it's all about preparing examples. And practice saying them out loud - you may feel like an idiot, but if you ask yourself sample questions out loud and answer them (while in the shower, driving, just alone in the house), you get used to saying them, so when you're in the stress of an interview situation you're more comfortable and confident responding. It's not about having a script; just easy and thought through answers that might be relevant to a number of things you could be asked.

    The other thing I always advise people (I do interview counselling for Smart Works when I can) is to prepare your first answer - it's almost always a general opener about your career to date and how it prepares you for the role in question or something along those lines. Think about the three key points you'd want to make in response to that question - what are the things that set you apart - and structure an answer around it that is focused and not too long. Again, practice saying it out loud - and to a trusted friend or family member if you can. Check they get the key points you are trying to convey. If you can start with an answer you're confident with, it just helps you get going in an interview. After that point - well they're asking questions about you and what you can do - which should be something you know all about, better than anyone!

    Good luck.
  • Hi Cher
    We ask candidates to write a letter to a fictional member of staff to explain their sick leave is coming to an end and to produce an interview schedule.
    Good Luck!
  • In reply to Robey:

    This is really helpful, as it's equipping me to prepare and be confident. Really just remembering that it depends who applies and how the scoring works out. Which is really out of the applicants (my) hands.
  • Hi Cher,

    I was given a case study in an interview once: a manager had come to you to say they wanted to dismiss someone who didn't get on with the team and had been falsifying timesheets. I had to note down my thoughts on the questions I'd want to ask if I was investigating this, what kind of process I'd follow, any additional considerations etc. They gave me 15 minutes or so to digest it, make some notes and then we discussed it.

    Either way, take a deep breath, give yourself a moment to think, remind yourself you've got bags of experience and then crack on. Good luck: it'll be a triumph!
  • Hi Cher, well done on landing an interview.
    I recently had an interview which was work based. It involved me giving guidance to a fictional manager on the process to follow involving a maternity process. I had 15 mins to read through their maternity policy, I then had to explain how the manager processed through it.
    Good luck, I’m sure you will be fine.