Learn how to complete a job application in this free lesson so you'll be ready when the time comes to apply for jobs.
Difficult job application questions
Some questions are more difficult than others to answer. There are many reasons this might be the case—maybe you don't know what to say, or perhaps you're afraid the answer will hurt your chances of getting hired.
For help completing the more difficult parts of a job application, review the questions and answers below.
Sample questions and answers
- Have you ever been convicted of a violation of law other than minor traffic violations? If yes, explain.
Here, indicate whether you've been convicted of a crime other than minor traffic violations in civil or military court. If you have not been convicted, enter no. If you have a conviction on your record, enter yes, and supply a typed explanation. Include the nature of the offense, the date of conviction, location where convicted, and disposition (sentence, probation, etc.). Depending on the nature of your offense, how long ago it took place, and what state you live in, you may have the option to expunge your record or recieve a Certificate of Good Conduct. It's a good idea to research these options before applying for a job.
- Why are you interested in working for us?
To stand out from the rest of the applicant pool, do a little research before you start filling out the application. Find out more about the position, the company, its philosophy, and its work environment, then explain why you think you'd be a good fit for the team. Avoid answers that may sound self-involved, such as, "I heard the company pays well".
Here's a much better example:
- "As a Humane Society volunteer since the age of 16, I strongly believe in your organization's mission to provide low-cost vet care, vaccinations, spay/neuter, and other services to pet owners. I'm hard-working and experienced, and think I'd be a great asset."
- What skills and abilities qualify you for the position?
If you're responding to a job posting or advertisement, take a closer look at the job description it contains. What skills can you list that would demonstrate you can not only do the job, but do it well? This is the key to answering this question effectively.
For example, qualifications for an administrative assistant may include greeting customers and guests, managing an administrator's schedule, and proficiency in Microsoft Word and Excel. If you have these skills, list them by name, and highlight them on your application. Don't forget to include other relevant skills, such as words per minute (WPM) typing, foreign languages, software, and office management experience.
- Reason for leaving your last position?
Avoid terms that may reflect poorly on you or make you seem unreliable, such as illness, quit, personal reasons, fired, or didn't like my supervisor. Never criticize a former employer. Instead, use positive terms to explain your reason for leaving, such as:
- "Pursuing degree"
- "Seeking advancement"
- "Career change"
- If you were terminated from your last job, you may want to contact your former employer before you begin filling out applications. Politely explain the situation, and ask what they'll say in response to reference checks. Often, they'll agree to use the term resigned instead to save themselves the trouble (and even a potential lawsuit). If they don't agree, it's best to tell the truth on your application. Use the expression involuntary termination, and look for an opportunity to explain the circumstances to potential employers, especially if you were terminated without cause.
- What are your salary requirements?
Employers often use this question to screen applicants. Even if you know how much you'd like to make, leave your answer open-ended. List a salary range instead rather than a specific amount, or say negotiable. This will give you more room to negotiate if you're offered the job.
To learn more about this topic, visit our Salary Basics lesson.
For more help filling out job applications, visit the resources below.