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How to Answer Experience-Related Questions at Job Interviews

Employers want to hire experienced workers who will continue to learn and grow to the benefit of their company. Experience-related questions in job interviews may include: What are your qualifications? Based on your experience, what problems do team-focused companies face?

When answering experience-related questions, focus not only on your experience, but also on how your efforts served the changing needs of your previous employer.

What are your qualifications?

  • Connect your close fit between the job’s requirements and your qualifications.

  • Ask what specific projects or problems you may be expected to deal with and which have the highest priority.

  • Identify the projects you’ve accomplished in the past that qualify you to work successfully on the projects the interviewer mentioned.

How did you resolve a tense situation with a coworker? Have you ever had to fire someone?

  • Give a specific example of a difficulty that you’ve dealt with (conflict resolution or discipline), focusing on how you used your analytical skills to effectively solve the problem.

  • Illustrate how you go about collecting information, stating the steps you took to help the fired person improve and save his or her job before making a termination decision.

  • Emphasize that you follow company policy and that you’re fair and tactful in dealing with employee problems.

Based on your experience, what problems do team-focused companies face?

  • Document, with storytelling, that your experience includes being a successful leader or member of teams.

  • Discuss teams as an overall positive factor in the work world of the 21st century.

  • Discuss a minor negative aspect of teams and show how that negative aspect can be overcome.

Describe a time that you had to work without direct supervision. Have you ever had to make department decisions when your supervisor was not available?

  • Discuss your decision-making process. You don’t rattle easily.

  • Show that you’re self-directed and self-motivated, but still willing to follow others’ directions or to ask for assistance when needed.

  • Storytell: Discuss a specific example of a time you had to make a decision without supervision. Preferably, discuss a time that you anticipated company needs and finished a project ahead of time or made a beneficial decision.

Have you ever misjudged something? How could you have prevented the mistake?

  • Briefly discuss a specific — but minor — example.

  • Briefly discuss what the mistake taught you and how it led you to improve your system for making decisions or solving problems.

  • After talking about your example and what you learned from it, refocus the discussion on your accomplishments.

Has a supervisor ever challenged one of your decisions? How did you respond?

  • Discuss an example of being challenged where you listened politely but supported your decision with research or analytical data and you prevailed.

  • Add that even though you supported your decision, you were open to suggestions or comments. You’re confident in your abilities but not closed-minded or foolishly stubborn.

Your experience doesn’t exactly match our needs right now, does it?

  • Don’t agree. Instead, say that you see your fit with the job through a rosier lens. Your skills are cross-functional. Speak the language of transferable skills and focus on how you can easily transfer your experience in other areas to learning this new job.

  • Stress that you’re dedicated to learning the new job quickly. Give two true examples of how you learned a job skill much faster than usual.

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