There are three reasons why recruiters or hiring managers ask this question. First reason: oftentimes they don’t have the time to read, in greater detail, through all the resumes. Second reason: they want to hear which experiences in your employment history matches the job description. Third reason: they’d like to know if you are an effective communicator.
“During my time at [University XYZ], I started my career working as a door-to-door salesman selling [Product] for a company called [Company XYZ]. There are two key lessons that I learned from this experience.
The first thing that I learned was that direct sales as a career path requires an extremely extraverted personality and sales mentality, which does not suit my profile.
The second thing however, is that I learned how I could trigger emotional value and emotional connection to a product instead of just seeing [Product] as purely functional.
With selling [Product] I could weave in the experience of barbequing, and the barbequing memories that were involved which really made an impact on the buying behavior of consumers.
These experiences actually led me to a marketing internship at [XYZ Company] later in my college career. I knew I didn’t want to be directly in the sales side, but that I was, and still am, really interested in the emotional connection and how that drives purchasing decisions.
At [XYZ Company], I collaborated with 2 webmasters, 3 content managers and an SEO copywriter to create digital marketing campaigns. Our well-versed target advertisements increased user engagement across [XYZ Company]’s social media channels by 20% in [Year]
I find that both of these experiences, direct sales and marketing, prepared me for performing [Task 1] and [Task 2] in the job description.“
Example Answer (No Experience)
“I grew up in [City] where I attended [High School]. As you can see, I joined school clubs, summer programs and participated in sports events. I was always quite willing to talk and engage in activities with other people.
In [Year], I graduated with a degree in Human Resources. I chose that field of study because, at some point in high school, I got interested in influencing, persuading and helping others.
However, one thing that I learned in college was that HR as a career path requires a lot of administrative work such as forming and maintaining employee records, contracts and recruitment guides, which does not really suit my profile.
As for my career path, I’d like to trigger emotional value and connection to a product or service. The ability to create a need or appeal to social needs is a great motivator and gives me a sense of personal fulfillment.
That’s also the reason why I attended [Online Course] six months ago. I’m convinced that I could weave in the experience of [Service] and that’s why I applied for this position as a [Job role] at [Company XYZ].”
Interview Question Tips
- Don’t read what’s actually on the resume
- Don’t list your experiences: “first I did this, then I did this, then I did that…“
- Don’t spend time talking about activities that are not relevant to the job you are applying for
- Do bring a copy of your resume to the job interview
- Do fuse or connect experiences together to build a narrative
- Do give a little summary of each experience (share key points)
- Do start at the beginning towards the present day (unless instructed otherwise)
- Do focus on transferable skills, qualities and relevant experiences
- Do give a closing statement that is positive