How to Describe Past Work Experience in Your Next Interview

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

1. Tell me about your soft skills

Soft skills are those indefinable qualities that you can’t learn in school: communication, problem-solving ability, empathy, organization and so on. Effectively, this question is “tell me about yourself.” It’s a chance to focus on what’s unique about you. What do you bring to the table that nobody else can? If you can give examples of how you have used this attributes in a professional setting, make sure you talk about this in your answer.

2. Have you ever used [a particular skill] to deliver a project?

Your interviewer is interested in particular skills that are listed on your resume, especially technical skills for which you have qualifications. However, just because you’re qualified doesn’t mean you know how to deliver results in a business environment. Do you have any practical examples to show that you do know how to deliver? If not, you can talk about times that you have used your skills in the past, such as academic projects or hobbies.

3. What do you like most about working in this kind of environment?

This question is a chance to show how engaged you are, and to demonstrate how you might fit into the existing team. Good things to focus on include the chance to work with a great team, interacting with customers, the chance to innovate, hitting targets and learning about the industry. If you don’t have experience in a similar environment, talk about what you’ve enjoyed in previous jobs. What are the circumstances under which you excel?

4. You’ve never worked for a company like this before. How will you adapt?

Even if you’re making a huge career leap, you still have transferable skills that can be used anywhere. Your ability to communicate, your problem-solving abilities, your teamwork, your sense of ethics, even your punctuality — all of these things can help you succeed in any environment. Tell stories that demonstrate these qualities and how you’ve applied them in other environments. If you have experience of adapting to a new environment, talk about that and share details of how you succeeded.

5. How would your professional qualifications help in this job?

Part of this is a test of the strength of your professional qualifications. You should be able to talk about what you learned while studying and how it applies to a practical setting. If you have an experience of using your qualifications at work, talk about this. Share details of how it helped you to create value for your employer. If you know you need further qualifications to succeed, talk about these and your plans to attain them. It shows that you are ambitious and engaged with the industry.

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