You’ve answered all the common interview questions, but then the interviewer gets into more technical questions such as “what do you like most and least about working in this industry?”
Say the wrong thing and you’re quickly crossed off the call-back list! To answer this question, you’re going to need to need to have done thorough preparation and show that you have the industry knowledge that the company is seeking. Besides the technical points, you’ll also need to be able to formulate a convincing answer.
To help you, we’ve prepared an in-depth guide with what to say and what to avoid, along with example answers.
Why hiring managers ask this question
The purpose of this question isn’t to trick you! Hiring managers simply want to see how knowledgeable you are, and if you know the ins and outs of the industry.
In addition, they want to see if you’d be a good match for the role by asking what you like least about the industry or job role. For example, if you are applying for an accounting role but say you don’t like the monotonousness of the job, then you’re not going to be a good fit. Alternatively, by saying something to show that you thoroughly enjoy the industry that you work in, the hiring manager will be more inclined to hire you.
Hiring managers also take note of how you answer this question; they pay attention to whether you stumble upon your words or if you answer confidently and with conviction.
Steps to crafting a response
Now that you know what hiring managers are looking for, let’s look at how you should respond. Here are the steps that you need to follow when answering this question:
Step 1: Do your research
One of the most important steps when preparing for an interview is industry research. You need to know the technicalities of each role and have an overall understanding of the skills and tools that are needed to perform well. While you’re not expected to know everything (especially if you’re applying for an entry-level position), it’s important to have a basic understanding and also show your willingness to learn and grow on the job.
Therefore, make sure you research the latest industry trends, the latest tools on the market and anything else that’s relevant to the position that you’re applying for. Next, you’ll need to memorize a few of the key points that you discovered and use them within you’re answer. For example, if you’re working in marketing, you could say that you admire how the correct SEO techniques can help a business’s website grow and rank highly within search engine results.
Step 2: Understand the role and company culture
Once you’ve nailed the industry research, it’s time to dig deeper into the specific company that you’re interviewing at. You’ll want to know their goals and values, as well as particular methods that they use within their day-to-day practices. Hiring managers will be able to tell which candidates have done their research and those who are just blagging it.
Therefore, make sure you research the company, including its products, their culture, mission and history. You can do this by taking a deep dive into their website, reading any press releases or reviews of the company. In addition, you can check their social media pages and other mentions that you find online.
Next, select a few key details that resonate with you and your values and mention them within your answers. For example, if they deliver a service differently from their competitors, mention this.
Step 3: Reflect on your past experiences
If you’ve worked in the same field across different industries, you can hone in on your past experiences when answering this question. For example, working in the marketing department for a retail brand compared to restaurant chain could differ greatly. So, don’t be afraid to mention the differences within your answer, highlighting the reasons as to why you made the shift.
It also shows that you’re aware of the type of culture and environment that you want to work in, showing that you truly care about values and company ethos. Since you know what type of environment you want to work in, you’ll prove that you’re a good fit compared to a candidate who has only worked in one specific role or industry.
Step 4: Focus more on what you do like
While this is a two-part question, it’s wise to focus more on what you do like about the industry than on what you don’t like. For example, if you work in customer service, you can focus on parts of the job that you really enjoy; connecting with different people on a daily basis, helping them solve an issue that you may have.
When it comes to mentioning an aspect that you don’t like, select something that doesn’t greatly impact the role, or something that you won’t necessarily have to do on a daily basis. It could be an end of year report that you need to complete once a year, or something similar.
Step 5: Be honest (within reason)
The best way to respond to any interview question is to be honest, rather than simply giving a false answer that you think the hiring manager wants to hear. If they hire you on that basis, then they will soon find out once you start working there that you don’t have the skills that you said — something that won’t bode in your favor.
That said, you should also be mindful to not allow your honesty to be perceived as too negative. In the past, I’ve personally mentioned particular situations because I wasn’t well prepared and crumbled under pressure. That one small mistake of being too honest cost me the job. So, learn from my experiences, and make sure you think about what is it that you want to share to make a good first impression.
Step 6: Format your answer in advance
As I mentioned above, when you’re under pressure during an interview, you can blurt out things that are irrelevant or place you in a bad light because you haven’t had enough time to carefully craft an answer. Therefore, it’s so important that you think about what you want to say in advance, so you don’t make this common interview mistake. Do your preparation and write down answers to common and industry interview questions that you may be asked.
While you don’t want to sound scripted, it’s important to jot down bullet points on what you’d say to each question. Something that I like to do when preparing for an interview is to write down my list of questions, and then write an answer. I then look back on it a few days later to see if there’s something else I’d like to add, so I’m as prepared as I can be for the upcoming interview.
To put all the above advice into practice, we’ve prepared some example answers below. Use them as a guide to form your own responses that work for your industry and job role.
Example 1: Job specific
“Working in customer service, I like socializing and interacting with people, but I don’t particularly like the monotonous schedule that comes with the job. That said, I always find ways to make each call personal to ensure that the client really feels taken care of. I’m also open to new challenges that the job may bring.”
Example 2: Growth opportunities
“What I like most about working in marketing is the opportunity for growth; even if you’re in a top tier position, there’s new things to learn and more to add to your skillset thanks to ever-changing trends. That said, the need for constant learning can also be strenuous when you already have a busy schedule, which is why I believe it’s important to work for a company that offers training and development opportunities.”
Example 3: An entry-level answer
“Sales is a great field to be in because of the competition it sparks. As someone who is highly competitive, I thrive in this type of environment. That said, it can often be challenging when coworkers are pitted against each other to see who ranks the highest. So, while I’m competitive, I don’t take a sales environment seriously and always maintain a friendly relationship with all of my colleagues.”
The question “what do you like most/least about working in this industry?” provides a fantastic opportunity for you to demonstrate your abilities and skills for the role. When responding, remember to:
- Research the industry, the company and their culture in advance.
- Develop a solid understanding of the responsibilities of the role and the skills that are required.
- Focus more on the positives, rather than the negatives.
While this question may seem challenging, it’s actually a good opportunity for you to shine in an interview. All you need to ensure is that you have a well-thought-out answer already prepared.
Have you ever been asked this question in an interview? How did you answer? Let us know in the comments below!
Originally published 28 February 2017.