6 Interview Questions About Work History (With Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 29, 2022 | Published December 7, 2021

Updated August 29, 2022

Published December 7, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Related: How to Talk About Past Work in an Interview

Jenn shows how to strategically speak about your past in an interview in a way that showcases your transferable skills for the role you're applying for.

Employers use interviews to ask direct, in-depth questions that can provide them with helpful insight regarding the character, experience and motivations of a job seeker. Interviewers often want to know about your previous employment experiences including what you learned from past jobs, the strengths you gained, relationships you built and why you decided to move on to another opportunity. If you're interested in applying for new jobs, practicing common questions about work history can be helpful for exhibiting confidence and poise during your interview.

In this article, we discuss six interview questions about work history and provide sample answers to guide you when crafting your own responses for your future interviews.

Related: What Is Employment History?

Work history interview questions with sample answers

It's important for interviewers to ask about your work history because it gives them helpful insight about the type of employee you are. For instance, an employer can ask several questions about your relationships with past supervisors and coworkers to understand what your workplace dynamic might be like if you took the position. Questions about work history also provide interviewees with the ability to go in-depth about their past experiences and accomplishments, which can help you stand out to your potential employer.

Here are some common questions employers may ask regarding your past work history when interviewing for an open position:

1. Describe your work history.

This question is purposefully vague to give you the opportunity to elaborate on your past work experience. You can use this question as a way to go in-depth about your work history beyond whatever's written on your resume. When answering a question like this, try to include specific names, dates and anecdotes that best encompass your past jobs.

Example: "I got my first job at a department store selling perfume when I was in high school at the age of 17. I was a seasonal employee for the holidays, but the intense hustle of shoppers day-in and day-out made me realize that I loved customer service. After that, I worked as a customer service representative for Vida Wireless during my time as a college student from 2015 to 2018. I received a promotion to junior supervisor six months into the position and eventually became assistant regional manager after two years. I loved encouraging my colleagues to meet their quotas and rewarding them for their hard work.

After graduating and moving away from my college town, I found a new job as the lead customer service manager at Boom, a growing cosmetics company. Over the past three years, I was able to lead my team to victory by having the highest customer satisfaction rate in the entire Southwest region of the country, which to this day is one of my proudest work accomplishments."

Related: Preparing for an Interview: Interview Questions Psychology

2. What's an achievement in your career that you are most proud of?

An employer may ask you to recount an experience or accomplishment that you are most proud of to understand your standards for success. When answering this question, you may want to explain why this specific achievement meant so much to you. For example, if you solved a persistent problem, impressed your manager or met a personal goal, you can share your reasons for being proud to the interviewer.

Example: "I've been lucky to have such great experiences at all of my past jobs, but the one that sticks out to me the most is definitely when a campaign modeled after my proposal ended up earning record-breaking profits for our client. During my time at Frontend Advertising, I worked on multiple ad campaigns for clients ranging from the cosmetic industry, to sports equipment, to animal welfare organizations, but the one that succeeded the most was our campaign for Simple Water.

I pitched a proposal that involved hanging up billboards and posters of the recognizable Simple Water bottle with a sole line of text reading "Keep it Simple." After just one month, the release of the campaign directly correlated with an increase in profits for the client by nearly 30%. Corporate rewarded my team and I with a bonus and recognition from our CEO, which was so special."

3. Out of all your past jobs, which one did you learn the most from and why?

An interviewer may choose to ask a question like this to learn more about your previous experiences and also to understand what you value in a work environment. When answering this question, focus on the specific elements of your previous job that contributed to you becoming a stronger employee. Explain the how these experienced directly impacted your skill set and how they can help you in future jobs.

Example: "I would say that I've learned valuable lessons from every job experience I've had, but the one that allowed me to grow the most was when I worked as a production assistant for TGS cable news. During my time at the network, I had all sorts of odd jobs and projects. I once had to find a replacement guest after our original one came down with the flu with only one hour until we went live. Another time, I had to dash across the city to find the right props for a holiday shopping segment that was added to the show itinerary the morning of the broadcast.

My time at TGS taught me a lot about what it means to work on-call in the entertainment industry. I learned to always expect the unexpected and the importance of time management and communicating effectively with your colleagues. I also learned a lot about interacting with high-profile celebrities and public officials, which I think can be valuable for this position as a producer for the Hello USA morning show."

Related: Smart Answers to Interview Questions

4. What's something about your previous job that you hope to find here?

During your job interview, there's a chance that your interviewer may ask you about what you enjoyed about your past job and what you're looking for in their open position. Your answer to this question not only gives the employer an idea of your expectations, but also demonstrates the components of your previous jobs that you valued and are looking to find in this new role.

Example: "During my three years as a art director for Lavish magazine, I was able to make valuable connections with my colleagues that I'm confident can last a lifetime. The company culture at Lavish was very strong and focused a lot on team building and developing trusting relationships among coworkers. We would have weekly group meetings where everyone was able to share their thoughts, questions, concerns and praise for their fellow coworkers.

Our manager also organized a monthly outing where the entire creative department would play a team sport, like kickball or dodge ball. I made some of my closest friends and strong work connections during my years at Lavish, and while I know it's time to move on to something new and challenging, I hope to find some of those same qualities in all of my future jobs."

5. Why did you leave your previous job?

This is another common work history question an employer may ask you during an interview. Interviewers ask this question to learn about what your motivations are for finding a new position, and also to find out if you are leaving your past job for reasons that may be of interest to them. When answering this question, make sure to be honest while maintaining a positive attitude.

Example: "My five years at Trust Banking taught me a lot about the world of finance and the art of financial consulting, but I could sense that there was currently little room for growth in the company. I was lucky enough to receive a promotion two years after being hired as a junior financial advisor, where I worked on the senior consulting team with top clients. I genuinely loved my time working on the financial consulting team at Trust, where I learned so much about investment banking, communicating with clients and following market trends.

Despite all of this, I knew that my opportunities for growth were somewhat limited, as there was no higher position for me to move to besides a corporate role, which is not something I necessarily see myself doing. I decided to explore my options, which led me here today to Hibiscus Investment Corp."

Related: Interview Question: "Tell Me About Your Work Experience" (With Example Answers)

6. How can your past work experiences help you succeed here?

An employer may ask you to apply what you learned from your past work experiences to the position you're applying for. They do this to understand how you see yourself contributing to their company or organization, and also to see the ways they can utilize your unique skills and experience to their benefit.

Example: "My past experiences as a teacher have certainly prepared me for all of my future endeavors, especially working as a Spanish teacher here at Kings Hill Elementary. While working as a Spanish teacher's aide at Faulkner Elementary, I worked one-on-one with the students who struggled with language acquisition and tutored them specifically on material they found difficult.

One student, Brittany, was exceptionally shy and embarrassed to practice her Spanish in front of other students. I assigned Brittany to work with myself and one of my strongest, most empathetic students, Winston, to practice her conversational Spanish for 15 minutes every class period. By the end of the school year, Brittany and Winston had become great friends, and her Spanish had improved significantly. This experience and others like it have prepared me to work with students of all skill and confidence levels, which I look forward to doing here at Kings Hill."

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