[Thanks to Carri for sharing her informational interview report on being a human resource manager.]
When I took the Strong Interest Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessments, one of the options that matched my interests and personality was human resources. I never thought of being in the human resource field. But as I thought about it more and looked online into the field, I became more interested in it. I decided to interview my own human resource manager at my job in sales at a high end department store. She is a very busy lady, so when she walked by one day I asked her if she had a moment to speak with me. I explained to her how this interview with her would help me learn more about her career and help me see if I am interested in this field as well. She agreed and scheduled me into her planner for a 30-minute interview.
Question (Q): What is your job title and name of company?
Answer (A): Human Resource Manager for [high end department store].
Q: How long have you been doing this job?
A: About 4 years.
Q: How did you get into this career?
A: I started off as a salesperson for this store and then got promoted to being department manager for many different departments in different stores in the region. I had a couple HR issues at one point with a couple co-workers, but got them all worked out by HR. The HR manager at the time in the local store took me under her wing and taught me all the responsibilities of HR. Then I got promoted to being an assistant for Human Resources. The positions at that store are HR assistant, HR assistant manager and HR manager. I also got promoted to be HR assistant manager at a different store for 2 years, and then made my way to being here at this store as HR manager.
Q: What do you do on a typical work day?
A: It varies everyday. Everyday is a busy work load. I do recruiting, hiring, training, firing, employee relations, benefits, payroll, United Way campaign, administrative, following through with employees, and their paper work. We have to make sure we have all the right documents and all the right employees. I have to make sure we have qualified applicants. Sometimes I assist the department managers in their 45-day review with new employees and yearly reviews with each employee also.
Q: What skills are required for your job?
A: Most of all patience, prioritized and organized.
Q: What activities do you enjoy doing the most?
A: Employee relations. I am a people person. I like to get to know employees. I like to go around and help managers and their sales people work and teach them how to get promoted in a higher position.
Q: What is the greatest challenge in your job?
A: The biggest challenge is being able to balance the work load. There is a lot of work to do, but you have to be able to prioritize what needs to be done and what else also needs to get done. When someone calls in sick in a department or when we are short of salespeople on the sales floor, it is my job to find coverage for that department. Sometimes it gets hard because there may be not enough employees in the store and we have to call people in who are willing to come in on a day off. Hiring is also a challenge, because you have to find quality applicants. When we have sales and holidays are here, we must have enough employees on the floor to sell. Once I have enough employees, I am able to move on to other priorities that need attention also.
Q: What do you like least about your job?
A: I am a people person. I’d rather be walking the floor working with employees than doing paperwork and follow ups for new hires. I also don’t like making phone calls to do follow-up with applicants.
Q: What majors/minors would you recommend for your career?
A: I recommend doing Human Resource as a major. I personally did sociology as a major. I didn’t really know at the time of college what I really wanted to do either. But getting into this field is very competitive, and experience is necessary. If you graduate with an HR major, make sure you take the test right after. Do an internship in HR, so it helps with experience.
Q: What is the growth and promotion potential in this field?
A: It all depends on where you go, what company you work for. But as long as you have HR experience, you can have work in any type of field. For example, coming from this store as HR manager, you can be promoted to bigger stores. If you want to go outside of this store, you can be HR in retail but also make it into HR in a hospital setting, construction, small business, big business. HR is the same everywhere if you have experience.
Q: What is the typical starting salary in this field?
A: Around $70,000.
The interview was very interesting to me. I learned a lot about the typical work load for a human resource manager. There are a lot of tasks to be done as a manager. All the things she mentioned seemed easier said than done. It also seems like it all takes a lot of time and organization. I knew some of her responsibilities of hiring and firing. But some of the things where she needs to do all the paperwork and follow ups with all the new applicants everyday is new to me. I also didn’t know she helps the department managers with reviews on new employees. I think the interview made me more interested in this career. It seems like something I would be interested in, but I’m afraid there would be so much to do in a work day, and I would start to get disorganized. I do like the fact that in this field I am able to work in any environment, which means more opportunities everywhere once I get the experience.
This interview made me realize that it is important in choosing a major and not just choosing a broad major to find a job in many different fields. If you know what you want to do, it’s better to choose a major which your career looks for. Experience is very important also. To make it into a high position in a career takes time and effort. This interview gave me more information of being a human resource manager. I enjoyed the interview and learned a lot from it. I liked getting her opinion of what she likes and dislikes about her job. This career could be an option for me. I just need to look up all the schools that have that major, what they require as prerequisites and also what they do to help you in school and after school, like internships.
Thank You Note
Thank you for taking the time to speak to me about your career. Your answers to my questions were very helpful to me. I will take your advice and go talk to my career counselors and the career center at school to find out more about how to gain this career in the future. I will follow up in the near future to let you know my progress. Thank you again for your assistance.