During a job interview, you will be expected to provide details about your work history.
Come prepared with a full resume that includes details of each job you have had. Your resume should list the start and end dates of your employment, compensation, positions held, names and addresses of companies you've worked for, supervisor names, and other pertinent details.
You may be asked for reasons for any employment gaps, so think about the best way to respond in this scenario.
Before heading to a job interview, you should be ready to talk about your work history (ideally without needing to refer to your resume as you speak).
How to Prepare to Answer Interview Questions About Your Work History
You'd be surprised how many job applicants fumble when asked about prior employment. Don't be one of them! Refresh your memory before the interview by reviewing your resume so you can speak about your previous work history in detail and accurately.
Here are other strategies to keep in mind:
- Match your resume to your job application. For many jobs, you'll need to fill out a job application, even if you are providing a resume. The information on these two documents should match. Plus, what you say to the interviewer should match the information on your resume and application. Inconsistencies will make the interviewer wonder whether you're being dishonest.
- Take a few minutes to think through your responsibilities. Beyond the bare facts and figures, you should look through your list for answers to common work history interview questions. Think about your day-to-day responsibilities in each role. Also, take some time to consider any big accomplishments or things you learned while in the role.
Really think about your time in each role—this will help you have examples at the ready when you're asked questions like, "Tell us about a major challenge you've experienced" or "What are you looking for in a job?"
- Review common interview questions. Planning ahead will likely mean your answers will be This can make a difference in how you will rate among the other candidates going for the same position. It will show the skills you developed in your previous job roles, how you interacted with co-workers and customers, and how you faced challenges.
- Take a look at the job description. In any job, people tend to juggle many different types of tasks. So you have options for what to highlight in your responses. Your best bet is to highlight skills, talents, abilities, and experience that are relevant to the job at hand. Reviewing the job description can help you get a sense—in advance—of what the company is looking for. Keep this in mind as you prepare your
If you don't have a resume, the best way to prepare is to download a sample job application ahead of time. Complete the sample application and refer to it when you are applying for a position. That way, you will be able to copy the information rather than having to remember dates and other employment information.
Common Work History Interview Questions
Take a look at these common interview questions about your work history to get a sense of the information you will be expected to provide during a job interview:
- Name of Company, Position Title, Description, and Dates of Employment: Sometimes, employers will request addresses, supervisor names, and more, so bring these details along if you have them. A lot of this information will be included in your resume, but not all of it.
- What Experience Do You Have? Besides hard skills and credentials, also think of the soft skills and experience you gained that might not be obvious from a job title. When considering experiences, you don't have to limit yourself only to work either. Valuable skills can also be learned in volunteer positions or as a student.
- What Major Challenges and Problems Did You Face? How Did You Handle Them? This question is often one you'll dread. If you can come prepared with an example from one or more of your previous jobs that show problem-solving and resilience, this can be a big plus.
- What Did You Like or Dislike About Your Previous Job? This can be another potential minefield, so be prepared with a good answer, trying to focus on the positive, and avoid saying you disliked something that's likely to be an aspect of the new job. Address how you handle that part of your job you don't like with a positive attitude and an open mind.
- Which Was Most/Least Rewarding? Think of the job that gave you the greatest sense of accomplishment, which often goes beyond how much you were paid. Avoid any
- What Was Your Biggest Accomplishment/Failure in This Position? If possible, show how you helped your employer meet an important goal or deadline. Also, be ready to speak about a minor failure and how you worked to overcome the challenge. Be sure to also include any lessons you learned from that failure and how you have applied those lessons in the time since.
- Questions About Your Supervisors and Co-Workers: These questions often ask you to explain a difficult time with co-workers and your supervisor, to show how you would perform within a team. Try to come up with some examples that show how you resolved a conflict or promoted team cooperation.
- What Are You Looking for in Your Next Job? What Is Important to You? Make this about skills you'd like to learn, and opportunities you'd like to tackle.
READ THROUGH YOUR RESUME. Take some time to get familiar all over again with your work history, so you're ready to answer common questions.
LOOK FOR EXAMPLES. You need to know more than what jobs you held—think about what responsibilities you took on, and what you liked (and didn't like) in each role.
FOCUS ON RELEVANT INFORMATION. Interviewers will ask a lot of questions about your past experience, but their overarching goal is to get a sense of how you'd fit in with their company. Do your best to share relevant experience and abilities.