Job Interview Question

What were your responsibilities in your last job?

How To Answer Interview Questions Series

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Your answer to this question about your job responsibilities depends entirely on the role you played in your last job.  What were your major responsibilities?  You want to list those out.

A reasonable person might think, “Why would they ask about the responsibilities of my last job?  It says right there on my resume what my last job was.”  The trouble is that job titles and the actual work they entail don’t always match up the way you think they’re going to.  One company’s Customer Support Specialist might have entirely different duties than another’s.  Or maybe you would assume that a Project Manager might do certain things based on that title, but in reality, they don’t in that company.  It’s best never to assume.  So they ask. And they want to see your perception of your job, too.

It’s a good thing that they do ask, because this is a great opportunity for you to point out what a great fit you are for this job.

Start with the biggest responsibility you had, or the one that is most relevant to the job you’re interviewing for.  Because you want to sell yourself, right?  How you present yourself in the interview is all up to you.  Choose wisely the responsibilities you talk about.

Job Interview Question Q78So if this role is an operations role, you want to start talking about your operations responsibilities.

If it’s a finance role, you want to talk about your finance responsibilities.

You want to make that connection to what matters to this manager.  Pick the top 3 or 4 responsibilities, briefly talk about them and say, “I believe that’s one of the reasons why I’m a great fit for this job.  What I’ve done before is very similar to what I’d be doing for you.  I’ve been very successful at it, and I can be successful for you, too.”

If you have done your research and carefully read the job requirements, this should be easy.

What if your previous job wasn’t similar to this one?  Well, then, now is the time for you to show your transferable skills.  Something you did in your old job developed a skill that you can use in this new one.  When you answer, connect those dots for the hiring manager and sell yourself for the job.

One warning:  Do not lie about your previous job responsibilities.  The hiring manager can and most likely will check your references, and when they do, you will be caught.  Besides, the best way to prove that you can do the job even though you haven’t before is not a lie, it’s a 30/60/90-day plan.  That’s very convincing evidence that you’ve got what it takes for the job.


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