3 Skills Every Human Resource Professional Needs

What makes for a skilled HR professional? In this article I explore 3 skills that are absolutely essential for every HR professional. I also provide a list of  Top 5 resources curated from the Internet that can help you build proficiency in these skills.

Skill 1: Ability to Conduct Structured Interviews

In my career as an HR professional I have interviewed hundreds of people and I think there is still room for practice. Your ability to conduct a structured interview will not only help you select the right talent, it will also help you identify learning needs, participate in change management activities and counsel people for performance and attitudinal issues.

Here are some resources that can help you improve your interviewing skills:

Katie Couric on how to conduct a good interview

My Top 5 Resources:

  1. Laddering: A Research Interview Technique for Uncovering Core Values
  2. Conducting Exit Interviews
  3. Conducting Structured Interviews
  4. How to Interview a Subject Matter Expert
  5. Anatomy of a Subject Matter Expert Interview For Task Analysis

Skill 2: Statistics and Data Analysis using Excel

So you have conducted your latest employee engagement survey and got the results, but, are the results statistically significant? Are the results reliable? Were the survey questions valid? As an HR professional you will often find yourself asking these questions. This is where a basic understanding of statistics comes handy. Even if you do not do the math yourself, it will help you select the right HR instruments and tools and decipher the results better. In addition, this skill will  help you in many other core HR activities like attrition analysis, measuring ROI for learning initiatives, and compensation and benefits studies.
Here are some resources to help you understand why exactly statistics is critical to an HR professional’s skill set and also to develop some basic statistical understanding.

But, before that, here is a video from TED.com (Arthur Benjamin: Teach statistics before calculus!)

My Top 5 Resources:

  1. HR 101-Statistics
  2. Statistics for HR…Correlation, Regression, OH MY!
  3. Khan Academy
  4. Excel 2010 Statistics 01: Introduction To Excel 2010 For Statistics
  5. Statistics 110: Probability by Harvard University

Skill 3: Understanding Human Behavior

You see, but do you observe? What you see is not what you get when it comes to humans. Human behavior is complex and what you see is a result of a complex interplay of needs, values, beliefs, culture and drive among other things.

To the trained mind, an observed behavior is only a sample out of the millions of possibilities and surely not ‘statistically significant’ to base any judgment on. A good HR professional knows how to overlook the immediately observable behavior and look for stable patterns and traits. This comes through practice and improving one’s listening and observation skills.

Here are some resources that can help you become better at understanding human behavior. We begin with this whiteboard explanation by Edward Muzio from Group Harmonics – Smart Managers Read Behavior

My Top 5 Resources:

  1. Transactional Analysis
  2. More on Transactional Analysis
  3. Active Listening
  4. Smart Managers Read Behavior
  5. Daniel Goleman Explains Emotional Intelligence

These are my 3 must have skills for HR professionals. I am in no way indicating that these are the only skills or the most important, however, focusing on building these skills can spell professional success in the field of HR.

Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment.

Ajay Dasgupta

Ajay Dasgupta is the co-founder and VP, Global Sales at Epiphany Learning. In a career spanning over 18 years he has worked with several large organisations and implemented learning strategy and learning programs. While he focuses on learning strategy, technology and marketing, he his still an instructional designer at heart. He can be reached at - ajay.gupta@epiphanylearning.co.in

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  1. Thanks. This was a very interesting article.

  2. Well compiled information. Practical and very useful> thanks

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