Interview Question: What Will You Miss Most About Your Last Job?

Job interview
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In order to determine how well your interests and experience match the position you're applying for, an interviewer may ask a question like "What will you miss most about your last job?" or something similar.

What Will You Miss Most About Your Last Job?

Why do employers want to know? Asking you to reflect on the best aspects of your past job is one way for employers to figure out what type of responsibilities you are suited for. It can highlight which of your job responsibilities you like the best, and what part of the job was the best fit for your interests and skills.

Fortunately, this shouldn't be a difficult question to answer. To start, you should be honest. If you get the job, your interviewer will likely take your response into account when assigning and prioritizing your tasks, so it is important to be genuine and forthright in your answer.

Of course, you want to express your enthusiasm too, so make sure you focus only on the positive elements of your previous job.

Connect Your Old Job to the New Job

Along with being honest and positive, your answer should also look ahead to the job for which you are applying. Find a way to connect what you liked about your previous job with some of the key elements of your prospective job.

Start by breaking your past job into its component parts. Rate each responsibility on a scale of 10, and generate a ranked list of your work preferences. Then examine the requirements of the position for which you are interviewing. Make a list of the apparent priorities for the job. If you are unsure, speak with contacts in the field, look on the employer's website for a more detailed job description, and scan major job sites to gain a sense of what employers are generally expecting from applicants.

Circle the parts of your past job on your list that match the key qualifications set by the employer for your target job. Pick two to four of these that you found most fulfilling in your previous job. You can use these to craft your answer.

Tips for Answering

When answering this question, focus on one or two of the qualifications from your list. Very briefly explain how they related to your previous job, and then quickly transition to explaining why that makes you a good fit for this prospective job.

For example, you might say something like, "I enjoyed writing press releases, coordinating publicity events, courting the media, and evaluating the process for planning events to enhance quality and efficiency. I love that this position would also involve coordinating publicity events and maintaining a relationship with the media."

Your answer might also focus on an aspect of both jobs that is related to the company culture. For example, you could say, “I loved the collaborative nature of my previous job. Our employer emphasized the value of teamwork and group projects, which allowed me to develop my communication and collaboration skills. I know that your company also encourages camaraderie among colleagues and that the position would involve group projects. I would love the opportunity to be part of such a collaborative work environment.”

Prepare for Follow-Up Questions

Be ready for follow-up questions like, "You mentioned that you enjoyed analyzing processes and modifying them, can you give me an example of how you did that?" In this case, your response should include a brief description of the situation and action you took and any positive outcomes that came as a result. 

For example, you might say: "We hold an annual fundraiser for major donors. Two years ago, I surveyed participants afterward and noticed that individuals who had the opportunity to interact with key researchers provided more favorable reviews of the event and made larger contributions. The following year, I contacted donors in advance of the fundraiser to assess their greatest interests in our research and recruited relevant researchers to network with them as part of the event. Feedback after last year's event was more uniformly favorable, and donations were up by fifteen percent."

More Job Interview Questions and Answers

Review the most frequently asked job interview questions and examples of the best answers. Also, be prepared with a list of your own questions ready to ask the interviewer.