How to Present Your Past
What does it mean to present your past well? After years of spending many of your waking hours working, here's a chance to let your past jobs work for you. Answering questions about your work history gives you the opportunity to highlight things you want to call to a prospective employer's attention. At the same time, you want to downplay things on which you would rather not have her focus. You want to tell your side of the story in your own words and in greater depth than you could ever do on a resume.
When prospective employers ask questions about your work history, they want to know more than where you worked, how long you worked there, and what your job duties were. They can learn that from your resume. They would love to hear about the skills you gained at each of your previous jobs, but that information is probably on your resume as well. Now it's time to get beyond the resume and learn more about you than they ever could from a one- or two-page document. Employers want to know not only what skills you picked up on your prior jobs, but how you used those skills. They want to know what you liked about each job, and what you didn't like. They want to find out if you got along with your boss. Employers want to know why you left each of your jobs, or why you stayed. They want to know what motivates you. They want to know how your career has progressed and how you expect it to progress in the future. Most importantly, employers want to know what you can bring to them as an employee.
As you prepare to answer questions about your work history, use your resume to guide you. Look at each job and try to recall specific details about every one. Write down those facts and commit them to memory. Preparing in advance can help save you from awkward moments of silence as you try to answer a prospective employer's questions.
When you give answers to questions about your work history, make every one count. Each response should tell the interviewer how your experience qualifies you for this particular job. You should give specific examples drawn from your experiences. When an interviewer asks if you've ever performed a particular activity on a past job she generally expects more than a yes or no answer. As with every type of question so far, you must give detailed answers.