5 Common Experience Interview Questions and Sample Answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 December 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.

If you're looking for job opportunities or if you have an interview set up with a potential employer, you may wish to practise answering interview questions. The hiring manager may ask a few questions about your past experience in the interview. Learning more about what those questions might be can help you prepare better answers that can impress the hiring manager. In this article, we provide five common experience interview questions and sample answers and tips on how to best answer them.

Related: Seven Common HR Interview Questions and Answers

5 common experience interview questions

Hiring managers may ask experience interview questions to learn more about your technical skills and to gauge whether your experience fits the job description of the role. Here are five examples of interview questions and sample answers:

1. Tell me about yourself.

This is an open-ended question that employers usually use at the start of an interview. Although it's a bit vague, you can take this as an opportunity to describe your educational and professional background that's the most related to the position you're applying for. Make sure you keep your answer concise and brief. For instance, instead of mentioning all the duties in your previous work, you can pick the ones that are relevant to the position and highlight your achievements instead.

Example: "I obtained my bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education from Hong Kong Teaching University with first-class honours in 2018. After that, I worked as an Early Childhood English teacher at Happy Kids Kindergarten for four years. During my time at the kindergarten, I taught and monitored the progress of 25 K1 students in my regular class five days a week.

On top of that, I organised and conducted playgroup sessions twice per week for all K1 students in the kindergarten. I also produced mini-plays every 6 months across the span of four years. Because of my proven work performance and initiative, I was promoted to Head K1 Teacher after just a year and a half and I managed and trained all other K1 teachers."

Read more: Interview Question: ‘Tell Me About Yourself'

2. What experience do you have that's related to this role?

This is a more specific experience interview question. An employer may ask this question to understand how your past experience can help you perform the duties in the position you're interviewing for. In your answer, make sure to link your past experience with the job description of the role.

You can mention a full-time position you've had or an internship or freelance role. If you're having an online interview, you can take a quick look at the job description to remind yourself of the requirements. If you're having an in-person interview, it may be a good idea to bring a copy of your CV and the job listing so you can refer back to them.

Example: "I started off as a freelance copywriter three years ago and later on joined a marketing agency as a marketing content specialist. I have been working in that position for over two years now. In my previous experience, I have written and edited different types of marketing materials, such as press releases, eDMs, newsletters, brochures, social media posts and website copy for both international and local brands.

In your job description, I note that you're looking for a content specialist who has at least three years of experience and who can write flexibly for all types of materials for different brands. I have that experience and I believe that I can use the skills I've developed to add value to your company."

3. Do you think your past experience can help you succeed in this position? Why?

Hiring managers may ask this question to understand what specific skills you gained from your experiences that you can transfer to the position you're interviewing for. In your answer, highlight concrete technical and soft skills that you have developed in your previous workplaces. It's also important to relate them back to the job description.

Example: "I definitely believe that my three years of experience as a freelance web developer can help me succeed in the position in your firm. Throughout my career, I've helped multiple small and medium-sized businesses in Hong Kong set up their corporate websites. I've worked with people of different positions in the companies, from an assistant administrator to a CEO, and have developed the necessary communication and interpersonal skills through the interactions. I'm also a very flexible worker and I'll make necessary adjustments to ensure that I can provide a quality website in the timeframe that you requested.

I'll also communicate with you promptly at every step so that you can get the result that you want. I**n the job description, you're looking for a flexible website developer with great communication skills, at least two years of experience and a great track record of working with small businesses. I believe my past experience has proven that I meet those requirements and I'm confident that I can thrive in the position."

4. What are your biggest achievements in your previous position?

A hiring manager may ask this interview question for experienced candidates and more senior roles. They're looking for actual statistics or scenarios for your achievements in your previous role. In your answer, first, list out the problem or situation that the company needed help with and then explain how you solved the problem or improved a business procedure.

Example: "When I first joined APN Limited as a human resources manager, the company had five open positions across different departments that they needed to fill but couldn't for about 3 months. I looked at the root of the problem and I found that it was because the company's current job listings were unclear and unattractive. To fix this problem, I drew up five job listings with detailed job descriptions, benefits schemes and the company's mission and core values that would resonate well with job seekers.

Within two weeks of putting up the listings on various platforms, we had a total of 50 prospective employees responding to our job postings and the company could fill 80% of the positions in six weeks. I impressed the CEO with my achievement and he said that it was the fastest they could fill the positions in two years.**"

Related: Common Job Interview Questions and Answers for Freshers and Experienced Professionals

5. Tell us about a negative experience you had in your past positions and what you learnt from it.

This question aims to understand your emotional intelligence and whether you can learn from past experiences and improve yourself. When answering this question, give a brief context of the negative experience and follow it up with lessons that you learnt. Show that you can apply this in future situations. When structuring your response, try to be diplomatic and objective.

Example: "When I was working as a customer service representative at a tech company, I had a negative experience with a customer on a live chatbox. They gave me the details of a problem they were facing with their headphones and I was fairly new at the time, so it took some time to look up solutions to the problem. While I was doing that, I made the mistake of not responding to them in the chatbox for about 15 minutes.

In customer service, that was a long period of time. So the customer complained to the upper management about the interaction. From this experience, I learnt I should be thoroughly familiar with the company's products instead of having to refer to the manual all the time. I also learnt that I should let the customer know that I'm working on the issue and thank them for their patience during intervals. In my later interactions with customers, I followed these practices and never had a major negative encounter ever since."

Related: 15 Common Difficult Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

Tips for answering experience interview questions

Follow these tips to answer interview questions about experience:

  • Be honest: During interviews, it's important that you provide honest details about your past experience as much as possible. Try to restate the facts and the actual steps you actually took to remedy a situation or skills that you learnt from the experience, instead of exaggerating the situation.

  • Be clear and succinct: When recounting your past experience, structure your response in chronological order instead of jumping from one experience to the other. Try not to spend too much time on the small details, but try to highlight the key points and accomplishments.

  • Be specific: When providing details about your experience, try to be as specific as possible about your previous job responsibilities, weaknesses and achievements. Then, relate the specific details back to the requirements in the job listing of the position you're applying for.

  • Don't memorise answers: Preparing for the interview by predicting the questions an interviewer may ask and memorising answers to them may lead to stiff responses in the actual interview. Instead, familiarise yourself with your CV and the job description and make a list of brief points that you want to include in your answers.

Explore more articles