The interviewee is trying to find out if they are a good match for the position, and the question, “How would you assess the experience I've had so far in terms of entering this field” helps them make an assessment of your professional opinion about their qualifications. It’s a good question in terms of being open-ended, which creates dialogue. You can lead the applicant to discuss their shortfalls in terms of education and experience and how they plan to make adjustments to fit into your company.
Points to Emphasize
How you answer this question depends largely on the person, but you should always be honest. If you need to make a negative point, sandwich it between positives.
- Keep the answer focused on the job for which they are applying.
- Continue to lead the interview to get more information out of the applicant.
- Be as neutral as possible.
- Emphasize the positive experience.
- Get more information about their experience and what they bring to the table.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Answering questions about the experience of a candidate can be a minefield. Your response, however general it is, may make them think they weren’t hired out of discrimination.
- You need to be cautious about making comments about the age of applicant in terms of experience. For example, don’t say “most candidates your age…” instead, ask about prior experience in another industry and how that helps them in their current field.
- Another pitfall that you need to avoid is responding in terms of gender.
- Don’t get too personal with the applicant.
- Avoid comparing someone with another specific applicant.
You don’t want to lose control of the interview or give away too much information. Here is a sample answer that puts the burden back on the interviewee:
“I see that you’ve graduated from ABC University and you had two internships while you were there. That is a very good starting point. I am concerned with your overall job history because none of the positions you’ve held prior to this have been longer than six months to a year. Would you discuss your long term career goals”
Alternatively, if a candidate is over-qualified:
“With so much experience, you may not find the position challenging enough. How will you stay engaged with a position that is so obviously above your skill set”
Keep in mind that you have to maintain control of the interview. Don’t give up your power to the interviewee or give them false hope. Keep the interview professional and focused on the job.