This question is fairly straightforward, although that doesn’t mean that there aren’t common missteps associated with it. It’s a question you’re almost certain to be asked, so by being prepared, you can avoid the pitfalls and present yourself in the best possible light.
While it’s clear that interviewers want to know about your most recent experience, they may also wish to gauge your fit for the job you’re seeking, view of yourself as a professional, ability to work with others, and potential for future growth.
Points to Emphasize
This question helps you “sell” your skills, work habits, and value as an employee.
- Project an air of confidence.
- Show, don’t tell, and focus on demonstrable results. Be specific about your actions and their outcomes, using strong, clear verbs: managed, organized, mediated, tracked, analyzed, reported, etc.
- Focus on the positive.
- Draw attention to your most important traits. For example, discuss the intersection of your work with others’ to show your ability to collaborate on a team.
Spend quality time planning this response. Think through the important aspects of your duties. You didn’t “work the front desk;” you fielded calls and directed current and potential clients to the appropriate departments, upheld the company’s image as one of the first contact points with customers, and so on.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
While this is a standard, predictable question, there are also predictable ways interviewees tend to flub it.
- Don’t overuse phrases such as “valuable contributions” or “important duties.” Your descriptions of your work should demonstrate its value.
- Don’t downplay your accomplishments or make any self-deprecating remarks. At the same time, never exaggerate or use language that could make you appear arrogant.
- Never disparage past coworkers or supervisors.
- Stay away from vague verbiage such as “worked” or “helped.”
A good way to ensure a solid answer is to rehearse with a friend or on video, noting instances of these missteps and replacing them with stronger responses.
Once you’ve planned and rehearsed your reply to this question, it may sound something like this:
In my last job, I managed a team of trainers responsible for developing the capabilities of employees in multiple departments. I coordinated training schedules and ensured that they were posted in a timely manner. I observed trainers’ work and offered constructive, evidence-based feedback they could use to improve. To measure trainers’ effectiveness and foster their growth, I collected and analyzed data on each department’s monthly production and tracked employees’ feedback, compiling reports of the results for both the trainers and my superiors.
With the right preparation you can confidently assure the hiring manager of your ability to play a pivotal role in the company’s success.