When someone asks this question, there are a few things that they could be trying to find out. For starters, it's likely that they are gauging the kind of opportunities available with your company, because you narrative will highlight any experience that was offered to you leading to your promotion into your current role. This can also give people insight into how much external experience is really expected before getting hired in at various levels of the company. Occasionally, a savvy job-seeker with the right experience might also ask this question to determine the level of experience the company expects from people it puts into important decision-making positions.
Points to Emphasize
Keeping the following points in mind can help to keep your answers on track.
- Focus on the kinds of experiences that the company values, and how they helped you achieve your current role.
- If you were hired directly into your position, remember to discuss what attracted the company's attention and why.
- If you worked your way up, highlight the specific opportunities you gained through the company, because it's likely that those are key pieces of information.
- Remember to highlight the aspects of your journey that are most likely to be really useful, given the company's practices and the interviewee's place in the hiring process.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
These missteps can lead to uncomfortable follow-up questions and confusion if you can't avoid them.
- Avoid personal reflection, because the answer should be oriented toward useful information.
- Similarly, being too jokey can lead to misunderstandings.
- Don't forget to tie in your response to the journey that your interviewee is currently taking, even if it is to contrast differences because of changes at the company.
- Never try to overdramatize or undersell. Just be informative.
Here is one way to approach the question that leads to a useful response while minimizing difficult follow-up questions and encouraging relevant ones.
I started by going to community college, which gave me enough training that by the time I transferred to a four year school I was working in a part-time position in an office. My employer got interested in the fact that I was studying Human Resources, and offered me a job after graduation. I stayed with them through a couple of promotions, and then they were bought by this company, who has encouraged me by helping me attend professional conferences and gain the credentials I need to keep moving forward.
The key is to highlight the various stages of your career and the ways that the right employer can make a difference for workers.