Microsoft Excel has been around for decades. And though many other, more robust spreadsheets entered the market over the years, it is still the most widely used spreadsheet across the corporate world in both US and Europe. Featuring calculation, graphing tools, pivot tables, and a macro programming language called Visual Basic, it really offers everything an analyst may need in their daily work. To sum it up, more likely than not you will work with Excel in your new job, and they may ask you about your skills with the program in your interview.
Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to the question, for different levels of experience with MS Excel, and different interview scenarios. Do not forget to read also my notes below the answers, to learn what exactly you should focus on, and what mistakes you should avoid, while describing your experience with this widespread software from Microsoft.
7 sample answers to “Describe your experience using Microsoft Excel” interview question
- I’ve been working with it daily in my last job of a market research analyst. I had my master spreadsheet, with over 50 sheets inside, everything well organized, and basically on the beginning of each day I opened the spreadsheet and didn’t close it until I leave the work. I used mostly basic mathematical and statistical functionality, and I sometimes created graphs for weekly team meetings. Feeling confident with the software, I have no doubt it will help me a lot in my new job as well.
- It’s been some time since I worked with MS Excel regularly. Sure enough, I used it often at school, for basic calculations and for the purpose of making illustrated charts for school presentations. I think it is a great software, really intuitive, and easy to use, because it has similar user interface as other programs from Microsoft, such as MS Word, which I am using more frequently. To sum it up, I may need a day or two to polish my skills with MS Excel, to recall this or that functionality. But I won’t struggle working with it in the job, that’s for sure.
- Well, I’ve been working mostly with Open Office, which is a free alternative to MS Office. I do not know if you have some experience with Calc from Open Office, but the user interface and functionality is almost identical to MS Excel. That’s why I am fairly confident to handle the same things in MS Excel, including mathematical and statistical calculations, and even creating macros, to simplify my work.
- I would describe my experience as basic. Speaking honestly, I did not have a need to work with MS Excel since leaving high school. It just wasn’t required in the jobs I had. Having said that, I am quite tech savvy, and can typically find my way around any computer software in no time. What’s more, nowadays you can find tutorials on YouTube for everything. When I do not know how to proceed with any task on a computer, I just go to YouTube, type in the right keywords, watch the tutorial, and follow the steps. It’s been working like a charm up to this point, and I see no reason why it should not work with MS Excel.
* May also interest you: Answers to 15 most common interview questions.
- Instead of describing it, let’s have a look at my portfolio. Here you can see my outputs from MS Excel, this chart for example, illustrating the distribution of sales of XZY car model among different demographic groups. As you can see, I can work with the software, I’ve been using it almost daily in my former job, and I should not struggle with any task you assign me to do in the software.
- It’s been a love affair from day one. I really enjoy the intuitive user interface, the automated suggestions the software gives you when you try to write some formula, the variety of statistical functions it offers, and how even an average mathematician, someone without an advanced degree in the field, can perform some advanced statistical calculations with the help of the software. When you ask about MS Excel in the interview, I really hope it means you use it in your company. Because I cannot imagine working with any other spreadsheet really, considering the advantages of Microsoft Excel.
- There’s nothing to describe really, because I have never worked with Microsoft Excel. I know about the program, and how widespread it is, but being an Apple user all my life, I have worked with iWork Suite instead. However, I believe that I can adapt to new conditions in the workplace. If you use MS Excel here, I am definitely willing do dig deep and try my best to learn to work with it in shortest possible time. At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be much different from iWork Suite…
* Do not forget to check also: Why should we hire you? Sample answers to the dreaded interview question.
Practical test of your skills with MS Excel
Talking about your experience with a software program is one thing, demonstrating the experience in a practical test another. If you will spend most of your days in work glued to a computer screen, with MS Excel open on your desktop, there is a decent chance they will test your skills with a short practical test.
Needless to say, you typically do not have to achieve a perfect score in the test. They will set some threshold, let’s say 75%, and everyone who scores 75% or more in the test will be considered as a candidate for the job (will progress to other rounds of the interviews).
Bearing this in mind, I suggest you to be modest when it comes to your skills with Microsoft Excel. It isn’t a bad idea admitting that you may need a week or two to polish your skills, and watch a couple of tutorials on YouTube, to really get into the grove and work efficiently with the software.
Because the worst thing that can happen to you is when your test results do not correspond with your words in the interview. For example, if you claimed to be an expert user of MS Excel, and then struggled to score 70% in the test, the hiring managers might easily start doubting the authenticity of all your interview answers. And that would mark an end to your chances in the interview…
* Special Tip: You will face many more difficult questions in your interview than the one about your experiences with MS Excel. They may ask you questions about prioritization, dealing with pressure, solving problems, and other tricky scenarios that happen in the workplace. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your answers and outclass your competitors, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 31 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will make your life much easier in the interviews. Thank you for checking it out!
To see something once is better than to hear about it a thousand times
You may have some interesting exports from Microsoft Excel in your laptop, either from your last job, or even from school. Perhaps you exported some graphs, or even still have in your laptop sheets with analyzed data from your last corporate position.
In such a case, it isn’t bad idea opening your laptop (if you took it to the interview with you, which is always a good idea), and showing the sheets and charts to the hiring managers. Describe them what exactly you did, what functions in Microsoft Excel you used to come to this and that conclusion, and how it helped you in your work.
Once they see on your screen what you have already done with MS Excel, they won’t have any reason to doubt your skills with the software. What’s more, they may even decide to skip the practical test with you, which will be a nice bonus of a great interview answer…
Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:
- What makes you uncomfortable?
- Tell me about a time when you worked on a team.
- What makes you unique?
- In what areas do you believe you have most potential to grow professionally?