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How Has Your Experience Prepared You For This Role?

Your career is like a ladder, with each rung being an experience that positions you to climb higher. To determine whether you’re capable of succeeding in a job, an interviewer will be very interested in what that prior experience looks like. We’ll explain how to give an answer to ‘How has your experience prepared you for this role’ that encapsulates your pertinent work history, showing the interviewer that you’re qualified and poised to succeed.

Variations of this interview question

  • How has your experience prepared you for this role?
  • Describe your relevant experience,
  • Do you think you’re prepared for this job?

Why do interviewers ask about your past experience?

Prior performance is one of the best predictors of future success. It makes sense, then, that an interviewer would want to understand the type of work and experiences you’ve been involved with in the past. This is a good thing because it gives you a chance to present yourself as the type of candidate the interviewer is looking for.

For example, let’s say the job listing states that a master’s degree is preferred. Maybe you don’t have a master’s, but you do have five years of experience volunteering in a related setting. Expanding upon this real-world experience can help the interviewer see that you’re qualified even without the formal educational credentials.

The key is tying your actual experience to the requirements of the job.

What interviewers are looking for when they ask about your preparedness for the job

When interviewers ask about your background experience, they look for specific examples. It’s not enough to merely say that you’ve spent three years as a staff accountant; they want to hear the details–how you gathered the information for audits, prepared the company’s taxes, and advised on financial strategy. 

Ensure the answers you give are relevant to the job, and be prepared to address multiple aspects of the role. For a customer service job, for example, you’d want to create examples demonstrating your communication skills, teamwork, and product knowledge–all important qualities a hiring manager will be looking for.

How to answer the interview question ‘How has your experience prepared you for this role?’

Cite the required skills

Use the job description as ammunition to craft the perfect answer. The skills that are listed most prominently should be the ones you speak to with the example you give.

Share parallel experiences

If you don’t have direct experience with the duties of the job, find other experiences you can talk about that use similar skills. If you’re interviewing for an office administrator role, you might cite a time when you helped a friend digitize her files or your volunteer work answering phones at the hospital.

Quantify your experience

Your experience will sound even stronger if you can quantify it positively. Cite numbers, statistics, awards and achievements when possible to show how you made an impact.  

How not to answer

Stretching the truth

This interview topic will very likely come with follow-up questions, so don’t cite any experience you don’t actually have. Aside from making it tricky to answer further questions, it’s always a bad idea to tell a lie–even a minor one–in an interview. 

Sample answers to ‘How has your experience prepared you for this role?’

Example #1

“In my current job in tech support, I deal with many frustrated and upset customers. I use my strong communication skills to show them that I empathize with their situation, then use critical thinking to help solve their problem. I consistently maintain a customer success score of 90% or higher. Since you’re looking for someone to help manage demanding clients, I think I’d be a perfect fit for the position.”

Example #2

“You mentioned that this job involves a lot of teamwork. I spent three years working in a restaurant kitchen, which required collaboration between servers, food runners, prep cooks, line cooks, and managers, all in a fast-paced environment. I think it was great preparation for a job like this where you have to work together to please the customer.”

By keeping the job requirements at the forefront and citing specific examples from your prior work experience, you’ll help the interviewer see how your background has adequately prepared you to succeed in the job.