In my personal opinion, relevant working experience doesn’t matter as much as most people think. Each corporation has a training program for new hires and processes in place for almost everything. Regardless of whether you worked on similar tasks and projects before or not, you will learn how to handle the job. Within days, weeks, or a couple of months, depending on the difficulty and software applications you will work with, but you will learn it, even if you’ve never done anything similar before. Before you can learn to do the job, however, you firstly have to get it. And in each and every interview they will inquire about your experience, in one way or another. Now we will look at the questions about your experience with “similar projects”.
Let me start directly with 7 sample answers to the question. I tried to include on my list answers for people with no working experience whatsoever, for people with experience from another, seemingly unrelated field, and also for experienced people. You will also find a couple of unconventional answers on the list. I hope at least one of them will resonate with you, and with the message you hope to convey in your interview, or on your job application. Enjoy!
7 sample answers to “Describe your recent experience with similar projects” interview question
- I have no experience with similar projects, since I am applying for my first job ever with you. However, I am a quick learner, and I’ve heard great things about your training program for new hires. My communication skills stand out and I typically enjoy learning new things, and believe that within a couple of weeks I’ll be ready to handle the projects as well as an experienced person would. I hope you will give me a chance to prove my words in the job.
- I’ve never worked anywhere before, but in order to prepare for the job, and to improve my chances of succeeding in this interview, I’ve studies the projects in your field in theory, watching interviews with successful engineers, reading books and tutorials, trying to understand better the core of the work on these projects, as well as the most common mistakes people make while trying to complete such projects. I believe it will help me to deal with the work better from the get-go, though I understand no book and theory can prepare you for the reality of the job, the deadlines, pressure, and everything that belongs to the corporate workplace of the 21st century. I am ready to give it my best shot though, and I am sure I will adapt quickly to the challenges you face here with your projects.
- I’ve worked on similar web development project before. Our goal was to [you describe the goal of the project], and my main role was the back-end development. I cooperated with four other people in the team, and believe the structure of work and the agile project management we applied was pretty similar to what you do here. At least my personal research suggests so. Anyway, I understand the biggest threats of similar projects, as well as the level of commitment one needs to have to be able to complete them within the given time-frame. I believe to be ready to do so, and cannot wait to work on similar projects in your company.
- My most recent experience with a similar project was actually a failure. Working as a fundraising manager for a local NGO, I tried to raise funds for a local athletic team for underprivileged children. But I over-estimated the power of social media, and relied completely on them. We managed to raise just 30% of the desired funds, despite working a lot. Now I know that I should spend more time outside, campaigning in the streets, at schools in the area, talking to people, involving other organizations, etc. I know why I failed, and you can be sure I won’t make the same mistake again while working on fundraising projects in your organization.
- My only experience so far is from retail, which seemingly has nothing to do with your field, the agriculture. However, in my opinion each job prepares you for any other, since in every job you have some goals you have to reach, some rules you have to abide, some deadlines. Regardless of the project you work on you face some conflicts with other parties involved, some challenges you have to overcome, some successes and failures. What I try to say here is that while I may not be ready for the theory of the job–something you can always learn nevertheless, I am ready mentally for the challenges projects in this field involve. In my opinion it is the most important thing, and I honestly hope you will give me a chance to demonstrate my words in the job.
- I have no experience and I honestly think it is better for you. Just think about it for a moment. You have excellent processes in place for everything, you know how to achieve desired results. Employee like me is like a clean sheet, unspoiled by experience from previous jobs. I am not going to try to do things my way, or to reinvent the wheel. On the contrary, I am ready to listen and learn and eventually do things your way, the one you know works, and brings the desired results. Isn’t that better than hiring somebody experienced who would argue with the managers, and disagree with everything every day? The decision is yours…
- I think my portfolio does this job better than I do. Just have a look at this and this project [you show them your portfolio, either online or in print]. As you can see, I’ve worked on similar applications and projects to what you do in your company. I led the entire team, and was responsible for delivering the project on time, and meeting every objective we had. As you can see on [this and this example], we worked on [this and this thing] and reached [this and that result]. Do you have any questions about the projects, or do you want me to elaborate on my role any further?
The most important thing is to show confidence
Regardless of whether you worked on similar projects before or not, and whether you can prove it, the most important thing is to show confidence that you can do it. Of course, everyone can say that they can do this or that, that’s why your reasoning matters to the hiring managers. The easiest situation is when you worked on similar projects recently, and can describe what exactly you did, what goals you followed, what challenged you faced, what you learned along the way, etc. Or you can show them your portfolio.
When you lack experience, however, you still have several options, several ways of showing the confidence. One of them is referring to your strong learning skills and ability to adapt. Maybe you’ve never done similar things, but your past experience shows you that you can learn to do new things quickly, and you have no doubt it will be the same in this job.
Another option is referring to their excellent training program, or to the eventual simplicity of the job (fueled by amazing processes they have in place). Every manager loves words of praise, and praising their company for this or that thing (which will help you to handle the projects, despite your lack of experience) is always a good idea. Maybe it isn’t the best interview answer, but it will work when you have no other options left…
Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:
- What types of projects would you like to work on?
- When you worked on multiple projects, how did you prioritize?
- What’s the best project you’ve ever worked on?