A Human Resources (HR) manager is the person who is responsible for managing the people in a business, from finding new staff to managing current employees and then firing them when needed.
A good HR manager can work with the whole organisation to manage the most important resource to a business - the employees. HR managers need to be able to run a department and complete usual HR activities too. Everything from organisational policy to pay and benefits, exit interviews and succession planning come under the human resources banner.
In this article we will discuss the tasks that an HR manager needs to be able to complete, and what skills and abilities you should look for when you are recruiting a new HR manager. To ensure that the candidates that have applied for a role have the right competencies, this article will look at the various tests that you could use to assess applicants.
What should a HR manager be able to do?
The main tasks of an HR manager revolve around being a link between management and employees, and looking after employees throughout the whole worker lifecycle.
HR managers are responsible for identifying roles that need filling, creating job descriptions and running the recruitment process from testing to interviewing and selecting new recruits and into orientation. HR managers are expected to understand and apply organisational policy matters, including pay and benefits, health and safety, and other contract issues.
An HR manager is in charge of performance management, ensuring that all employees have their work activities planned including training and development, and so that all issues can be solved. They are responsible for the allocation of resources for the entire business, ensuring that the right employees are in the right roles at the right time.
Difficult decisions and conversations have to be had in work-related scenarios, and the HR manager is required to negotiate, make bargains, and help solve disputes between employees as well as between employers and employees. They are also responsible for conducting exit interviews when staff are leaving, whether they are being made redundant or they are being fired.
On top of all these tasks, an HR manager also needs to run and manage other staff in the HR department, delegating tasks and leading their own team too.
Skills to look for in a HR manager
There are a number of skills that a successful HR manager should have, and these include skills in using different technology and software as well as soft skills. The following are examples of skills that you will want to look for when you are hiring a HR manager:
- Communication: a good HR manager needs to be able to communicate across all levels of the business, working with employees, managers, and executives. They must be effective communicators in speaking as well as writing, and be able to demonstrate effective listening.
- Critical Thinking: understanding problems and coming up with innovative solutions means that a good HR manager needs to think outside the box and be able to think critically about a situation.
- Coordination: managing all the people in a team, and putting the right people in the right places at the right time means lots of organisational and coordination skills. HR managers need to coordinate not only their time and the time of their own team, but also allocating the work of other people in the business too.
- Persuasion: a HR manager has to deal with problems in the workplace, which often means that they need to be able to persuade and negotiate to find a solution. Skilful persuasion can make a difference in solving issues and ensuring that everyone is satisfied.
- Microsoft Office software: most businesses use Office or a similar software package during a normal working day, so a HR manager needs to be comfortable using everything from Powerpoint to make slideshows, Excel for spreadsheets to Outlook for emails.
- HR software: there are several different types of software built for use by HR managers and professionals. These include programs for monitoring performance, to software for hiring. Some businesses will have a bespoke system, but knowledge of how software like this works will be useful in the long run for a HR manager.
Useful abilities for a HR manager
Aptitudes and abilities in certain areas are good indicators of future success for a HR manager, so when you are hiring you should look for candidates who can demonstrate the useful abilities listed below:
- Oral comprehension and expression: a HR manager needs to be able to speak to be understood by everyone in the business, from entry-level positions right through to the CEO. They also need to be able to understand the way other people talk, and be comfortable with active listening.
- Written comprehension and expression: similarly, a HR manager will need to be able to read fluently and understand written information. They will also need to be able to write confidently on business related matters, especially when it comes to updating employees on new organisational policies, for example.
- Deductive and inductive reasoning: effective problem solving comes from the logical examination of a situation, and the ability to reason through logic will help the HR manager to be able to make reasoned decisions and help them with their judgement and critical thinking.
- Mathematical understanding: as the HR manager will often be helping with employee pay and benefits as well as negotiating with new hires and promoted staff members, they need to be comfortable with understanding data in numerical format.
- Information ordering: with so many diverse skills and abilities as key facets of the HR manager's role, information ordering and error checking are very important for success. The right HR manager candidate should be able to understand information from different sources and use this knowledge to keep ahead of schedule, work with unfamiliar information and use it to make good decisions.
Which soft skills tests could I use to hire a HR manager?
Soft skills are not easy to assess in traditional stages in the application process, but there are several tests available here at Picked that can help recruitment teams choose the candidates who have an appropriate level of skill.
For HR managers, you might want to consider the following soft skills tests:
- Leadership: HR managers need to effectively lead their own team as well as other people in the company, and the leadership test is designed to assess a candidate on their capability to lead. The test itself is a situational judgement-style test, with questions based on realistic work scenarios with different courses of action that should be taken to solve the problem.
- Communication: this is a very important soft skill for a HR manager, as most of the daily tasks involve talking and listening to different people in the business. The communication test asks questions based on work situations, and the candidate must choose the most appropriate course of action to take to solve the presented problem.
- Interpersonal skills: HR managers need to be able to work effectively with people from all over the business, and this means that interpersonal skills (often known as people skills) are particularly useful soft skills. This test is also scenario-based.
- Time management: organisational skills, especially time management, are essential to the smooth operation of the HR department as well as the wider business in general. HR managers must not only manage their own time, but also the time of their team and other employees too.
- Accountability: as the link between management and employees, HR managers need to take responsibility for their actions and decisions, ensuring that they have well thought-out and reasoned deductions to back up their judgement calls on hiring, firing, and everything in between.
Which technical or aptitude tests could I use to hire a HR manager?
Technical skills and aptitude tests are a great way to assess candidates on their overall suitability for a role in the company as a HR manager.
The so-called hard skills along with certain aptitudes are good predictors of success in the role, so there are some tests that you could use to assess candidates for their suitability, including:
- Verbal reasoning: candidates for a HR manager role need to have the aptitude to read business-related documents and understand them, using written information to help make decisions. The verbal reasoning assessment allows candidates to demonstrate that they have a good grasp of business-level English and can find answers in the text.
- Numerical reasoning: dealing with salaries, creating financial reports, and other tasks that a HR manager needs to complete means they need to have a solid mathematical understanding, mainly of the basic operations but also knowledge of things like percentages, fractions, and ratios.
- Logical reasoning: decision-making is more accurate when logic is applied to a problem, and the types of decisions that a HR manager may need to make will need careful consideration. The logical reasoning test asks candidates to find a pattern in unfamiliar situations, and apply that logic to find an answer.
- Error checking: an eye for detail will help the HR manager avoid mistakes in their work, and ensure that they can spot errors in other people's work, too.
- Microsoft Word: most office-based roles will use a package like Microsoft Office, so a Word test will demonstrate the level of proficiency that a candidate has in using this software.
Our recommended test battery for a HR manager
When hiring a HR manager, the above tests look for useful skills, but using them all might be a bit too much for the candidate, so the below is our recommended battery for the best results.
- Verbal Reasoning: this multiple-choice assessment provides candidates with questions that are based around a passage of text, usually business related. This is then followed by a question related to the content of the text, so the candidate needs to be able to quickly read, understand and analyse the data to choose the right answer.
- Numerical Reasoning: in this assessment, the candidate answers questions based on numerical data, and needs to complete a basic mathematical operation to find the right answer from the multiple-choice options provided.
- Communication: HR managers have to communicate with their own team effectively, but they also need to be able to communicate with candidates, employees, and managers too. The scenarios used in this test assess the communication style and skills that the candidate has.
- Leadership: as an employee with direct reports in the HR department, a HR manager needs to be able to lead their team, but they also need to be able to provide leadership for other employees and people who have applied for roles when needed.
For more information about the best way to hire a HR manager, check out our HR manager assessment page.