What Have You Learned From Your Work Experience So Far?

Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW
By Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: February 27, 2023

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When asked “What skills have you acquired from your work experience?” it’s sometimes hard to find an answer immediately. This question is also oftentimes posed as “What have you learned from your past job?” These very common interview questions are important despite their straightforward nature, letting potential employers tune into how well you learn from your past experiences, mistakes and other situations that arise in your life.

Being able to craft a professional set of skills based on your experiences is a must for anyone who’s looking for an excellent job on today’s market, and inquiring after the knowledge you’ve already obtained is just an interviewer’s way of making sure you’re up to the task.

It may take some time to select an answer that provides enough substantial information to convince possible bosses that you’re the perfect fit for the job in question, but by doing a little preparation beforehand you’ll be sure to formulate a reply that will help you stand out from the rest of the candidates and give you a real shot at the position you’ve been waiting for. And consider using our Resume Builder to keep your resume updated with fresh skills and accomplishments, even after you’ve tackled the interview and won the job.

Pro Tip: Use sample resumes from professionals with your desired job title to see what skills sets are valuable in the industry.

How to Answer the "What Skills Have You Acquired From Your Work Experience?" Interview Question

1. Be Specific

Not only are you identifying your ability to learn from your past jobs and experiences when dealing with these particular interview questions, but you are illuminating your skill sets as well. Be sure to use this opportunity to show your interviewer why you’re the right candidate for the job.

Instead of simply stating that you’ve gained a certain skill during your past jobs, present the highlights of how you came to master this skill and how you expect it to help you in this new position. Talk about how you’ve refined the skills throughout various experiences in the professional sphere and how they’ve benefitted you in becoming a better employee overall.

Be Specific

2. Emphasize Your Usefulness

When your interviewer asks you “What skills have you acquired from your work experience?” this gives you the excellent opportunity to emphasize how you can serve the company with the skill set they’re inquiring after. Rather than simply answering these types of interview questions with a short answer and leaving it at that, take the time to illuminate how these skills will help you fulfill your role in the position you’re interviewing for.

Then concentrate on how you — using your great set of skills and knowledge you’ve built over the years from your various jobs and experiences — can help the company grow, become more efficient, and ultimately thrive in its industry. This will create the impression that you’re a forward-thinking individual with your eyes on the future who also knows how to utilize past experiences in order to make the most of whatever challenges may lie in the road ahead.

Pro Tip: Using a professional resume template is a great way to make a first impression, demonstrating that you are well organized and detail-oriented.


3. Place a Positive Spin on Everything

Needless to say, there are some things that just shouldn’t be said during an interview. Even if one of your top skills has been learning to deal with difficult or inefficient managers or coworkers, saying this outright is likely to cause you to lose favor with your interviewer.

Rather, you may state that you’ve learned to work well in difficult situations and to resolve differences with coworkers and managers in a peaceful and professional manner and that you are flexible when it comes to getting your work done by the rules that others set forth. These are all values that are prized in any workplace, and they are presented in a manner that does not indicate that you may have issues with authority or working well with others.

Positive Spin

Sample “What Skills Have You Acquired From Your Work Experience?” Interview Answers

  1. While working at Walmart I learned a great deal about dealing with customers and how to handle difficult requests from those who might be a bit irritated when approaching me. I learned that keeping a cool head during confrontation is a must, and that arguing back with anyone in a professional setting doesn’t help solve anything. In the end it’s just a matter of keeping a clear mind and professional demeanor and helping your clients and customers to the best of your ability, despite the mood they might be in. This is an excellent skill that I know will be useful in this position and can help me make your customers happy and willing to come back over and over again.

  2. When working for my last company I learned a great deal about prioritizing. Up until that point I’d never had to deal with so much paperwork in my life, and it came as a bit of a shock at first how much had to be done in such a short period of time on top of my other duties. However, I was able to sort through the massive stack of work to be done and select what information was needed right away and what could wait a little longer. In the end, prioritizing my workload became second nature, and is now something I do out of habit.

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