Although the HR profession is mocked by many, there is no denying the fact that human resource management stands beyond hiring, firing, and party planning. Being an HR is not a cakewalk. An HR professional needs to have the oratorship of Winston Churchill, leadership skills of Abraham Lincoln, and the vision of Elon Musk. The HR department plays a pivotal role in hiring the resources who will take an organisation to newer heights. There is an ever-increasing need for HR professionals in the corporate world and an internship may prove to be a stepping stone in your career.
Why an HR internship?
1. If you are a BBA or MBA student, an internship will provide you with hands-on experience of what you learn in theory. It will help you develop skills relevant to your career and hone your existing skills along with building meaningful connections.
2. If you are a recent graduate planning to do an MBA in human resources, a short internship will help you figure out whether the realm of HR suits you or not. After all, you don’t want to spend a lot of money on another degree just to regret it later on.
3. If you’re still studying, have strong communication skills, and are considered to be a people’s person but are confused (like most of us) about your career choices, then an internship in HR will help you gain a clarity regarding your career. You’ll get to know whether your areas of strengths complement a career in management.
Skills employers look for in an HR professional (and how to showcase them in an interview)
1. Communication – HR personnel have to interact with a variety of people – managers, employees, clients, potential employees, etc. and they have to do it in both written and oral form. It is imperative that they do it efficiently and convincingly.
Highlight it in an interview – Place all your arguments/statements confidently in a comprehensible manner. Mention your activities on social media, participation in debates, extempore, and other such activities.
2. Organisation – It doesn’t just mean keeping your files organised but also managing time and completing tasks efficiently. You’ll have a lot of tasks to manage, so you need to have an orderly approach to finishing your tasks quickly.
3. Multitasking – Your responsibilities may range from leading a team, managing industrial relations, and creating HR branding strategies to generating an engagement between the organisation and its employees. You have to don different hats at the same time which requires you to be efficient in multitasking.
Highlight the above skills in an interview – Mention an event that you had organised – a wedding, a trip, a college fest, or a multi-step project and stress how you carried it out successfully by prioritizing different tasks.
4. Problem Solving and Conflict Management – An HR professional needs to ensure that employees stay in harmony with their co-workers and senior management.
Highlight it in an interview – Mention a time when you were involved in a conflict between two people and how you resolved it in a respectful manner.
5. Human Resource Information Software (HRIS) – This intersection of human resources and information technology allows HR activities to occur digitally making it more efficient for HR professionals.
The training on HRIS could be quite expensive for a student so there is a high probability that most of you are not certified in it. If you are, highlight this skill in your resume. If you’re not, list any other technical skills that you have, convincing the interviewer that you are a quick learner and will master the software which their HR department uses.
How to prepare for an HR internship interview?
Conceptual knowledge is as vital as demonstrating your soft skills in an interview. Before the interview, research well about the company – its vision, achievements, management, and the existing HR policies. Showcase your skills so as to convince the interviewer that you are a perfect fit for the role. Mention why the role and the company interest you and what you can bring to the table. Along with the cliched questions like ‘Tell me about yourself’, ‘Why should we hire you’, and ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’, the following questions may be asked in interviews-
Subject-based interview questions –
. What is the difference between human resource management and human resource development?
. What are management functions?
. What are fringe benefits?
. Why is it important to have a grievance handling procedure?
HR interview questions –
. How has your experience/education prepared you for your career?
. Your manager says he can’t afford graduate recruitment, how would you convince him otherwise?
. What would you measure to determine whether the HR department was doing an effective job for the company?
. Can you contribute to our business success? If yes, how? (This question is asked to see if a candidate acknowledges that an HR personnel can be an asset to the business or not)
Ask questions about your role – this would not only show the interviewer that you are interested but also help you understand if it matches your expectations. Check out these subject-based HR interview questions and tips to prepare for your first role. You can also read this invigorating story of clearing 6 selection rounds to get an HR internship to get a clearer view of the selection process.
Now that you know how to ace an interview, here is an overview of your responsibilities as an HR intern –
1. End to end recruitment – As an HR intern, you have to identify and understand the requirement of teams, do the initial screening, conduct the first round of interview, shortlist candidates, and schedule interviews with concerned managers. After the selection of a candidate, you are to verify his/her documents, issue the offer letter, and complete the joining formalities (or exit formalities in case an employee moves out of the organisation).
2. Research – The HR policies need to be refurbished from time to time and new HR initiatives have to be incorporated in an organisation. An intern is responsible for carrying out the research and giving recommendations which go into renewing the policies with required changes.
3. Arrangements – An HR intern is also responsible for making meeting, travel, and stay arrangements for the workforce of a company.
4. Employee communication and engagement – One of the primary roles of an HR personnel is to ensure that the workforce is happy and stress-free. To do so, HR interns will have to organise various events (festive celebrations and team bonding activities) and communicate with the employees regarding their work, issues they might be facing, etc.
5. Tracking cost – An HR intern keeps records of various expenses in a company. She also issues reimbursements to employees for company expenses.
Tips from ex-interns –
1. Network extensively – Connect with people sharing the same interest and build your professional network.
2. Identify your skills – Skills required to build a career in human resources are mostly soft skills. Identify which skills you possess and which ones you need to hone.
3. Target your resume to the job – Showcase all your achievements and skills relevant to the role you are applying for. Be specific while listing your previous experiences, if any.
4. Join an HR association – This would help you stay updated with the current trends, advancements, and opportunities in the field of human resources. SHRM, for example, is the largest association for HR management.
1. Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) – Along with the latest news on human resources, it offers training programs to fast track your career.
2. Certified courses – Edtechs like Coursera, Udemy, and Skillshare provide various online courses such as finding and hiring the right people, beginner’s guide to managing human resources, human resource administration, and fundamentals of talent acquisition to develop strategies and skills for human resource management.
3. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development – This is the hub for all news and resources related to HR field.
4. People Matters and HR Katha – These are news portals that provide insights and opinions on HR related issues.
For further insights on getting started with an HR internship, the key takeaways, and job responsibilities, you can go through Manasi’s enriching internship at Colgate and Palak’s HR internship at LG.
Now that you know all about starting a career in the field of HR, apply to these human resource internships and kickstart your career.
Pic courtesy – Google images