‘When were you most satisfied in your job?’
When answering interview questions about personal satisfaction at work, find ways to highlight your skills while still talking about what you enjoy at work.
Some job interview questions can sound like trick questions. After all, if you were satisfied in your job, you wouldn’t be looking for a new one, right?
"Hiring managers ask these kinds of questions for one reason only—they have no clue what kind of worker you really are,” says Rick Whitted, who produces the “On Your Way to Work” podcast. “The goal of the question is to set you in the middle of a workplace experience and watch you in action.”
Career coach Steve Langerud of Grinnell, Iowa, says the best way to get a handle on it is to reword the question to, “What does it look like when you are most satisfied at your job?”
“What it ‘looks like’ addresses behaviors, and interviewers can see behaviors,” Langerud says.
With that in mind, here is how you should respond to this common job interview question.
Recount a challenge
You want to find an anecdote that shows your abilities, confidence (but not ego), humanity and determination, says Laura MacLeod of From The Inside Out Project, a program that coaches hourly workers in communication, self-awareness and interpersonal skills in New York City. “So think about something that may have been difficult for you, but you were able to conquer and succeed.”
You say: “Our team was challenged to turn some numbers around before our quarterly earnings report. We pitched in on each other’s tasks to help out wherever we could, while I led some of the senior members in putting in extra hours. ”
Show how you have benefited your employer
It’s one thing to say you enjoy filing because you enjoy the solitude of the file room, but that doesn’t show a direct impact to your company.
If you can tailor your answer to show how you increased the bottom line, retained clients or got some good press, that’s something your interviewer is more likely to appreciate, says Michael Astringer, director of talent at Alliance Life Sciences, a pharmaceutical contracting and consulting firm based in Somerset, New Jersey.
You say: “We improved performance after one quarter and revenue in my division was ultimately up 250% last year...”
Convey your passion
Definitely talk about any awards you earned, but know that employers are more interested in hearing about the passion and pride behind the accolades. They want to know that you’ll take pride in being creative or productive, regardless of praise or acknowledgment. “The best work comes from someone who loves what he does. ” says Brandon Baker, owner and head chef at Loveletter Cake Shop in New York City. “We want to hire people who derive pride from their work and feel their best when their own expectations are being met,”
You say: “I enjoy management and getting my team to rise to the occasion felt really great.”