How to Answer Interview Questions About Work Experience

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When you are applying for an entry-level position, you will be asked a variety of interview questions relating to many aspects of your education and experience. One typical job interview question many employers will ask is "Tell me about your work experience. How has it prepared you for a career?”

What Employers Want to Know

Hiring managers and employers ask this question to get a better understanding of how your background and work experience relate to the position they are looking to fill.

Your previous experience serves as an indicator of whether or not you will be a valuable asset and a good fit at the company.

Interviewers want to hear more detail about what you did for past organizations, not just where you worked and the duration of employment, so try to think of anecdotes and examples of contributions you made.

Your ability to describe your former work experience effectively will help you stand out from the rest of the applicant pool. Providing specific, quantifiable proof of your accomplishments, work ethic, and knowledge will show employers that you have directly transferable experience to bring to their workplace.

Tips for Responding

You should tailor your answer to highlight your strengths and how they match the requirements necessary for the position you’re applying for. Different elements of your work experience may be more important for different jobs, depending on the needs of the company.

Make sure you spend some time preparing. Analyze the job posting, and reference times you have used any specified skills, at work or in school, in your answer to the question.

Examples of the Best Answers

Here are a few sample interview answers to questions about your work experience which you can edit to fit your personal experiences and background:

  • I've had a job every summer since I was 16 years old. My primary reason to work was to have some extra spending money, but what I didn't realize was that I was actually sampling careers to see where I fit in. I worked as a kennel assistant at a local animal hospital during the summer before my freshman year of college. It was then that I discovered what I wanted to do for my career. I decided I would to go to college and focus on becoming a small animal veterinarian, and that's what I did. I have been working at the same animal hospital ever since.
  • I have not had much paid work experience as a teacher. I have spent most of my time outside of college and graduate school doing volunteer work at a private elementary school in my town. Because the summers are so short, and I was working to complete my certification, I wanted to gain hands-on experience without worrying about finding a school that would hire me. Now that I am certified, finished with my master's degree program, and have all those volunteer hours under my belt, I feel well prepared to take on a full-time teaching position.
  • My work experience has been nothing but top notch. When I completed my accounting degree, I went right to the best firm in the city and was hired as an intern. I was able to use the internship time towards my MBA, which I just complete this past spring. Working with the best of the best has made me an asset to any company that will hire me.

    Interview Tips for Entry Level Jobs

    You will be more confident going into your interview if you have spent some time preparing. Landing your first job can be intimidating, but knowing how to approach the process can take a lot of the pressure off and allow you to present yourself confidently and professionally. Here are a few things to remember:

    • Spend some time researching the company. You’ll be better prepared to answer interview questions appropriately if you are familiar with the company and its culture. You’ll also find it easier to come up with some questions to ask the interviewer.
    • Dress appropriately. What you wear to an interview has an impact on that all important first impression you make, and can influence whether or not you get the job.
    • Don’t lie or embellish your background (to do so is grounds for dismissal), but emphasize and advocate for the strengths and skills you have acquired through your education, past employment and experience.
    • Employers appreciate confidence and pride in the work experience you have gained, and your ability to transfer your skills to your next position.
    • During your meeting, you’ll probably be asked  typical entry level interview questions, as well as other common job interview questions. When you are a college student or recent graduate, it's important to relate your college education, extracurricular activities, and experiences to the job for which you are applying. 

    Entry Level Interview Questions and Answers
    More entry level interview questions and sample answers.

    College Job Interview Questions
    When you are a college student or recent graduate, it's important to relate your college education, extracurricular activities, and experiences to the job for which you are applying.

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