During a job interview, you will be expected to provide details about your work history, so you should come prepared with a full resume that includes details of each job you have had. Include the starting and ending dates of employment, compensation, positions held, names and addresses of companies you worked for, supervisor names, and other pertinent details. You may be asked for reasons for any breaks in employment.
Beyond the bare facts and figures, you should look through your list for answers to common work history interview questions. Set aside some time to anticipate questions that pertain to your work history and think through each of your answers. Having a good answer to a question can make a difference in how you will rate among the other candidates for a position. It will show the skills you developed at your previous jobs, how you interacted with co-workers and customers, and how you faced challenges.
How to Prepare to Answer
You'd be surprised how many job applicants fumble when asked about prior employment. Don't be one of them! Refresh your memory prior to the interview by reviewing your resume so you can speak about your prior work history in detail and accurately. If you don't have a resume, make sure what you tell the interviewer matches what you filled out on your job application.
The best way to prepare is to download a sample job application ahead of time. Complete the sample application and bring it with you when you are applying for employment. This way you will be able to copy the information rather than having to remember dates and other employment information.
Work History Interview Questions
Review these common interview questions about your work history and 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 them if you have them.
- What Were Your Starting and Final Levels of Compensation? This is self-explanatory. Simply list what you were being paid when you were hired and what you currently are being paid or were being paid when you left.
- What Experience Do You Have? Besides hard skills and credentials, think also of the soft skills and experience you gained that might not be obvious from a job title. When considering experiences, it's necessary to limit yourself only to work. Valuable skills also can 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, it 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 is likely to be part of the new job. Address how you handle the 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 best sense of accomplishment, which often goes beyond how much you were paid. Avoid negatives.
- What Was the Biggest Accomplishment/Failure in This Position? If possible, show how you helped your employer meet an important goal or deadline. Also, be ready with 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 on a team. You will be happy if you can come up with 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, opportunities you'd like to tackle.