Job Interview Question: Describe a Typical Work Week

How to answer interview questions about what you do at work

A job interview
•••   Eric Audras / Getty Images 

What do you do all day at work? An interviewer may ask you to discuss in detail what you do during a typical day or week at work. Interviewers ask this question to make sure that your experience matches the job requirements.

This question also helps the interviewer assess whether you have the personal qualities the company looks for in an employee, such as organization, the ability to work well with others, and an aptitude for meeting challenges head-on.

How to Prepare a Response

When preparing for this question, consider the position you are applying for and how your current or past positions relate to it. Make a list of some of the key tasks you work on during an average work week. Then, look back at the job listing, and circle the tasks on your list that match the requirements of the position. Be sure to focus on those tasks when answering this question.

Look at the job listing again, and make a list of 2 - 3 qualities the employer seems to be looking for in an applicant. Do they want someone who is organized? Who gets along well with others? Make sure that your answer to this question emphasizes how you demonstrate some of those key qualities on a regular basis at work.

The more you can connect your past experience with the job opening, the more successful you will be at answering questions about your work week.

Tips for Answering

Rather than going hour by hour through every day, focus on a few main tasks, and describe how you go through those tasks in a typical week.

Be sure to focus on duties that are relevant to the position for which you are applying. For example, if the new job requires someone who is extremely organized, emphasize tasks that demonstrate your organizational skills (for example, “My final task of each week is prioritizing my duties for the following week”).

Make your answers as specific as possible by providing a real-life example of each task. For instance, if you say that most weeks you work with the sales team to address any pressing customer service issues, explain one particular issue, and how you addressed it.

If you have a job where every day is very similar, you might provide a more detailed look at one day, and explain that most days follow a similar pattern. However, still be sure to emphasize tasks that relate to the job listing.

What Not to Say

It should be obvious that it's not a good idea to talk about non-work related activities that you do on company time, but I've had applicants tell me how they are often late because they have to drive a child to school or like to take a long lunch break to work out at the gym.

Avoid any details about arriving to work late (or leaving early) for personal reasons, doing personal work in the office, or chitchatting with colleagues during work hours.

Sample Answers

  • During a typical work week, one of my biggest tasks is checking in on my staff and assessing their progress on various projects. I like to meet first thing on Monday to discuss our priorities for the week, then meet again in the middle of the week to check progress, and meet once at the end of the week to discuss goal setting for the next week. I meet with smaller groups of my staff during the middle of the week to troubleshoot any issues. For example, during a recent mid-week meeting, I noticed one team was a few days behind on a long-term project. I met with the team and, together, we came up with a strategy for increasing efficiency among the team. Along with constant interaction with my team, I also attend a weekly board meeting where I present my department’s progress to the executive board. On Fridays, once all these tasks are completed, I make sure I have completed all necessary communication for the week via email and in person, and create a list of priorities for next week.
  • As an in-school social worker, my schedule varies widely every day. I spend the majority of my week in session with my clients. Typically these are one-on-one counseling sessions, but I also run multiple group sessions. I also spend a few hours everyday training, observing, and providing feedback for my social work interns. So about 50% of my time is spent working directly with clients, and 25% of my time is spent working with my interns. Another 25% is spent working directly with the school administration, attending and helping run meetings related to student progress and curriculum development. The rest of my time is spent completing paperwork on my clients, meeting with teachers to check in on particular students’ needs, and setting goals for the following week. You will see this adds up to more than 100% of my time: I always strive to go above and beyond for my clients.
  • I begin most days by coming into the office early to make sure everything is ready for our first patients: this includes walking the doctor through his schedule and looking through our office scheduling system to check for any changes. I do a similar task at the end of the day: I respond to any messages in our scheduling system and walk the doctor through the plan for next day. The the majority of my duties include assisting patients, both in person and on the phone – I schedule their appointments and help address any issues. For example, when a patient calls with a last-minute concern, I work with the patient to find a time for them to come to the office as soon as possible. This pattern is similar most days of the week; however, one day a week, I lead a staff training seminar on a variety of topics, ranging from effective communication with patients to new health protocols. This is a new duty I actively sought out as a way to improve my leadership and presentation skills.