Answering “What Relevant Experience Do You Have For The Position”

When an interviewer asks you what relevant experience you have for the position, they’re looking for you to comprehend what it takes to do the job well and how your prior experience matches up.

Let’s cover exactly what it means to answer this interview question.

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Why The Interviewer Asks This

When an interviewer asks you about your relevant job experience, they want you to bring up prior work experience. Similar to them asking to walk through your resume, they’re looking for to comprehend the needs of the job you’re interviewing for and position yourself in alignment with it.

For example, if the interviewer knows that the job you’re applying for has a heavy customer support requirement, you’ll want to bring up prior work experience that has customer support as part of it.

This does two things for the interviewer. First, it shows them your verbal communication skills, being able to briefly and with impact, describe yourself. Secondarily, it shows that you have a firm understanding regarding the needs of the job.

When Answering, Know Your Strengths

It’s important to know your strengths before you interview. Mostly because you want to answer this interview question with some alignment to those strengths.

If for example, you bring up that you have strong presentation skills, then you might want to use your presentation skills as part of the reason for your relevance to the position.

Knowing your strengths is going to help you stay aligned when interviewing. Mostly because your message will come across more clearly and it won’t sound as though you’ll be answering the question simply to answer it.

How To Answer This Interview Question

If the interviewer has been taking a lot of time asking you questions, you might not have any insight into what the job requires. The only thing you can go off of is the job description. But that won’t tell you enough to be able to answer this question correctly.

The best thing you can do is to ask the interviewer another question. Something along the lines of, “Can you tell me a few important daily work factors that make up the position?”

Ideally, the interviewer responds with some type of indication over what’s required to do the job well. Something like sales, marketing, customer service or any other keen insight.

Once you have that, you’ll be able to better answer. Choose a STAR response if you need (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Use a job that you listed as part of your prior experiences.

When you have that, give an answer that aligns these two things. For example:

When you mention that customer support and strong social skills are an important part of the job, in my last position with Apple I was part of the team that helped train and advocate customer service representatives to have the ability to perform at their best across all locations. We showed them simple techniques to both embrace great customer support habits and show friendly people skills, even when they felt like they didn’t have them.

An answer like this ensures that you are bringing up relevant work experience, which is exactly what the interviewer is looking for.

If you don’t have relevant work experience, try to bring up a situation where you had to exude the type of qualities that the interviewer brought up when you asked them for more information regarding the job requirements.

For example, if you don’t have prior work experience that aligns, try something like:

Well, I’m absolutely looking to get this job to give me a new experience. So while I might not have relevant prior work experience. I do have relevant experience in the workplace. You mentioned that dealing with disgruntled customers was a major part of the job. And I recall working on the product team at Apple, we had a customer call us who was beta testing a product of ours. She was extremely upset because our test just so happened to erase all of her data and information on her phone. The best thing we could do was empathize with her and tell her how sorry we were. We thought on our feet and found a way to reward her for finding this issue. While it wasn’t easy, we learned quickly that everyone has something you can connect with them on. And get over challenging times.

Bad Answers To This Question

A bad answer to this interview question is one that avoids any real relevance. Remember that the interviewer asked you to bring up a relevant prior job experience.

If you bring up a prior job, but it doesn’t connect with what makes it relevant to the job you’re applying and interviewing for, it will lose the impact it could have.

Additionally, the interviewer might feel as though you don’t know anything about the job you’re interviewing for. That you aren’t well equipped for that job. Or that you were not listening to what they had asked you.

Be sure you are recalling the conversation you’ve been having with the interviewer and how your answer might align with those qualities he or she kept bringing up or asking about.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams.

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