When you go into a job interview, you will be asked questions regarding your knowledge of the industry and the position. For example, the hiring manager may ask you, “What aspects of your background have been the most helpful?”
The interviewer asks this for two reasons: he or she wants to see if you understand the demands of the position and he or she wants to know if you can handle the challenges of the job. Experience is the most valuable teacher in most professions and industries, so the hiring manager wants to know more about your career. Take a moment to gather your thoughts and present a compelling answer.
Points to Emphasize
You want to present yourself as an effective employee. As such, choose an event from your career that aligns your capabilities with what the position requires.
- Focus on your most developed and useful skills.
- Highlight past experiences where you’ve used your abilities to resolve a conflict.
- Mention how the anecdote shows that you are a good candidate.
- Concentrate on the results of your career accomplishments.
Be confident in your response. Hiring managers are drawn to those professionals who combine poise and effectiveness.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Sometimes, mistakes are the most instructive, but you want to focus on experiences where you resolved an important problem or overcame an obstacle. Keep these tips in mind as you form a response:
- Avoid speaking negatively about past supervisors or coworkers.
- Do not emphasize details or events that are irrelevant to the position.
- Avoid talking about your mishaps or oversights.
- Do not fail to show professional growth over your career.
Stay focused on the positive and display your effective qualities. Choose skills and projects that are comparable to what you might encounter in the new position.
Here is an example of a good response to the question of how your background was helpful in your career:
I think the most helpful element of my background was my experience as a writer and editor. In my marketing career, I expected my skills with Photoshop and similar programs to be helpful in my projects as well as my background in studio art. However, communicating with graphic designers and slogan writers has truly drawn upon my days at my university’s newspaper and literary magazine. Managing effective campaigns truly requires a diverse knowledge of writing, art and people.
Remember, this is a chance to show how your abilities align with what the hiring manager needs. Showcase your knowledge of both the industry and the specific job duties.