6 Work History Interview Questions With Example Answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 May 2022

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.

During a job interview, a hiring manager is likely to ask you to provide details about your work history. Although you never know what specific questions they might ask, there are some common questions for which you can prepare. Developing answers to them as you are preparing for the meeting can help you feel more comfortable during the interview and increase your chances of impressing the interviewer. In this article, we explain why employers ask work history interview questions, list six common questions about work experience and provide answers to them, which you can use as inspiration to craft your own.

Why do employers ask work history interview questions?

Through asking work history interview questions, interviewers can learn more about your background, experience and duties that you had in your previous jobs. These questions also allow them to gain more insight into specific qualifications or responsibilities that you mentioned in your CV. Sometimes they may also want to ask about your supervisors and co-workers, which allows them to see if you can work well with others. Your answers to these questions help them determine whether your work experience makes you a good match for the company and if you left your previous job on good terms.

Related: How To Write Work Experience On Your CV

6 work history interview questions with example answers

Reviewing sample answers to frequently asked interview questions is one of the best methods to prepare for a job interview. It allows you to better understand why interviewers ask about certain things, such as your work history, and what they potentially want to learn about you, thanks to hearing your answer. Here are some work history questions with example answers:

1. Why have you decided to leave your previous job?

Asking you this common question about your work history allows the interviewer to better understand your perspective and career plans. Many people decide to change jobs simply because their position was temporary. Others do it because they are interested in exploring an opportunity that the previous employer could not create for them. Regardless of your reason, it is important that you can provide a clear reason and discuss it in more details. For example, if you are looking for a job that would allow you to expand your skill set, be prepared for discussing which specific skills you want to develop.

Example: 'I had been with that organisation for over five years and wanted to experience a new environment to grow professionally. My previous employer was a rapidly growing, but small company that employed less than 10 people. During my time there, I learned a lot about digital marketing and discovered that I can maximise my potential by working for a larger, international company that wants to invest in large-scale campaigns.'

Related: How To Explain Reason For Job Change (With Examples)

2. What do you dislike about your current job?

By learning about your dislikes, interviewers can get a sense of your personality, character and work style. Your answer to this question, including your tone of voice and attitude, allows them to understand the relationship you had with your previous employer, which is important for assessing if you would make a good fit for their company culture. Regardless of what your dislikes are, make sure to answer honestly and incorporate a positive angle, if that is possible. This way, you can show that you are likely to be satisfied with the new job if you get an offer.

Example: 'I enjoyed my time at the company, especially the people I worked with. I learned a lot about the profession and also myself while working with them. One thing that I disliked about the organisation as a whole was the constant acquisitions, which resulted from the fact that the company operated in a very fast-paced environment.

Although I liked the dynamic work environment because it presented me with many interesting career opportunities, the company kept changing its goals and strategies every few months. As a result, I was not able to fully explore my potential, specialise in any field or advance to a leadership position. I would love to do that in this role.'

3. What is your greatest professional accomplishment?

This is a common behavioural question that interviewers ask to determine what you think makes you stand out. With your answer, you can demonstrate that you have the necessary qualities that make you a great candidate for the role and that you are truly passionate about your profession. While developing your answer, it is important that you mention and then discuss the thing you are most proud of. For example, you can do this by explaining your journey that led to that accomplishment.

Example: 'I think that my greatest professional accomplishment was when I received the title of employee of the year. This happened two years after I started working as a sales representative at my first real estate agency. I consider this my proudest achievement because I truly worked hard to make my clients happy. To get to that point, I had tested several sales and research techniques to better understand customer needs. It made me feel fulfilled and happy that, through my hard work, I could help them find homes for their families to settle in.'

Related: How To Use The STAR Interview Response Technique

4. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your supervisor. What happened?

This question tests your ability to work well with others and allows the interviewer to determine what it is like working with you. It also tests your communication skills. To develop a good answer, think about a situation in which you could easily solve the issue and the solution was beneficial to both you and your supervisor. You can also demonstrate your conflict-resolution skills by admitting that conflicts and disagreements can happen, but you know how to prevent conflict escalation.

Example: 'One time, I disagreed with my supervisor over how to handle a difficult customer who wanted to return something to the store without a receipt. To make sure I do not question his authority in front of the customers, I asked him to speak to me privately. I openly shared my concerns about the way in which he wanted to deal with the situation.

Luckily, it turned out to be a simply misunderstanding. We agreed that we are working towards the same goal of calming down the customer and explaining the store's policy to them. That situation made me realise and appreciate the importance of communication at work.'

Related: 25 Behavioural Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

5. Have you ever dismissed someone? How did you feel about that?

This is a common question you may hear in an interview if you have applied for a role where leadership skills are important. Dismissing employees is a standard process for businesses and interviewers want to make sure you know that and can handle this task. Through asking you this question, they can determine if you can prioritise the business's needs, even when your task is to share bad news with someone.

Example: 'In my previous managerial role as a marketing team lead, I did dismiss a few employees. One time, I welcomed a new marketing specialist to our team and I was responsible for their on-the-job training and onboarding. I noticed almost immediately that they showed strong resistance to training, refusing to learn about the company's processes.

I scheduled a one-on-one meeting with them to discuss their behaviour and explain what the company expects them to do as a part of their job. Despite this, they were not willing to change their attitude, which is why I made the decision to fire them after just a few weeks at the company. Although dismissing team members is hard and always makes me feel disappointed, I know it is necessary to hire people whose values align well with the company's policies and principles.'

Related: Top 20 Manager Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

6. How do you handle working with little or no supervision?

Working with little supervision and knowing how to make decisions that benefit the company is essential in many roles. Your answer to this work history question also tells the interviewer how quickly you can learn new things and if you consider yourself a responsible and reliable person. To assure the interviewer that you can work independently, you can talk about a time when you successfully completed a task without supervision from your manager or more experienced colleague.

Example: 'I consider myself a reliable employee who works equally hard regardless of the level of supervision I receive. I have experience working remotely, which taught me how to set goals for myself and remain productive even when there is no one directly supervising my work. Although I can easily work independently, I also enjoy close supervision on particular areas of projects, but I always make sure to ask my managers about that or contact them directly if I have an important question to ask.'

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