Interview questions at Staples

We analyzed 2,129 interview reviews for Staples from various job sites, social network groups and forums.

Here are the most frequent job interview questions asked by HR managers during initial phone or onsite interviews. This list does not include technical or factual questions.

16 frequent non-technical questions at Staples:

How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?
Tell me about yourself
What is your greatest weakness?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Tell me about a time when you've resolved a problem for a frustrated customer
Why did you leave your last job?
Describe a time you went above and beyond for a customer
Tell me about a stressful situation and how you dealt with it
Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job
Tell me about your work experience. What was the most interesting?
Tell me about a time when you went out of your way to satisfy a customer. What was the outcome?
How would you describe yourself?
Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment
What did you like or dislike about your last job?
What are your strengths? Give an example
What were your responsibilities in your last job?

According to our research, hiring managers at Staples ask soft skills interview questions 78% more than at other companies.

Staples interview question statistics

1. How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?top question

How to answer

People skills are highly valued in every company, and even so much more so in a company that deals with difficult customers occasionally. It is important to show how you can manage difficult personalities.

  1. About Yourself

    Look back on your experience. Have you worked with a difficult or disruptive person? Remember how you diffused the situation and how you turned things around.

    • Do you have certain principles, or methodology, to deal with difficult people?
    • Do you have strong people skills, are you good at conflict resolution?
    • Are you high on emotional intelligence? Can you give an example?
  2. About The Company

    • What have you found about the company and its culture?
    • What have you learned about how the employees value each other?
    • How do they treat their customers?
    • Knowing their line of business or industry, what can be some examples of difficult customers?

    Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    A question like this asked in an interview, may be an indication that difficult customers, or other difficult stakeholders, may indeed be something that you will probably encounter in this company, and it is important for the interviewer to know that you will be able to handle this challenge with good grace.

    If you can give an example of how you handled a difficult person in the past in a situation similar to what this company may require from you, this will strongly increase your chances of showing yourself as a good fit.

Pro Tip

One methodology for diffusing a difficult situation is called “the triple A” approach:

  1. Acknowledge - what the other person is feeling,
  2. Apologize - for the way the other person is feeling,
  3. Admit - that there was an issue that you are working on to get it resolved.

If it is a customer, it would add that extra touch if you added another "A" to your approach by Asking for the customer's contact information so you can update them of any progress on their issue.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.5x more frequently at Staples than at other companies.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Pick the best answer:

AIf the customer is rude and obnoxious, answer in kind and show him that he cannot push you around.

BListen carefully to what the customer is saying to really understand their concerns then repeat back to them what you heard to be sure you have it right, before attempting to help them with the problem.

CTell the customer that he should have known that the sale is final and there is nothing he can do to renegotiate the terms of the deal.

2. Tell me about yourself

How to answer

This question may sound vague, but it actually requires a matter of fact, concise and relevant answer. Here’s how you can approach it.

  1. About Yourself

    What is your current occupation? Define yourself professionally in one statement.

    Pick 3 key skills that make you great at your work (your Key Selling Points). How have you applied these skills?

    Try to give some numbers to support your statement.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company.

    Based on what you know about the company and the job description, why are you interested in the position you are applying for?

  3. About The Fit

    • Based on your Key Selling Points and your knowledge about the company, why do you think you are a good fit for this position?
    • Can you support your statement with relevant examples from your past experiences?

    Try to be concise and stay within 1-2 minutes.

Pro Tip

You can also end with a question like:

Do you know what the current needs in the company/department are, where my skills and experience can help?"

That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

Read our blog post to learn more about how to answer this question.

Statistics

This question is asked 13% less frequently at Staples than at other companies.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Pick the best answer:

AMy name is Andrew Franklin, I am 28 years old, and I am looking for a job that pays well.

BHello, my name is Natalie Price. I have two children and I love playing billiards and travelling. I am 33 years old.

CHi Mr. Simon, my name is Stanley Clark and I am a certified Project Management professional known for completing projects on time and on budget. I am passionate about building agile work culture and delivering results.

DHi Mr. Simon, my name is Dorothy Hanson. I have previously worked as an accountant in retail, but currently I am trying to transition into the field of healthcare.

3. What is your greatest weakness?

How to answer

This question ranks as the most challenging for many people. Fortunately, Mr. Simon is here to help!

Interviewers ask this question to gauge your level of self-awareness, your honesty and openness, and your capability for self-improvement.

  1. About Yourself

    No one is perfect and your interviewer doesn't expect you to be perfect either.

    While it is good to be honest and open, it will not help you to put yourself down.

    What's important is to find a weakness that you have overcome or something that is not related to the position for which you are applying.

    For example, one of our clients admitted that he is not very good at public speaking and that he has recently become a member of Toastmasters International to improve. What a respectful answer and approach, in my view!

  2. About The Company

    Research the company (website, social media, etc) to learn about the company culture.

    What personal and professional qualities do they value?

  3. About The Fit

    It is important that the weakness you decide to talk about is not one that will prevent you from performing the job for which you're applying.

    For example, if you're applying for a front-end developer position, do not talk about how you are struggling to understand HTML code.

Pro Tip

Use this question to sell yourself!

It's important to show how well you've overcome a weakness by motivating yourself and learning a new skill to grow professionally.

Statistics

This question is asked 14% more frequently at Staples than at other companies.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Which of the following would be the best answer:

ASometimes I just work too hard

BI have trouble saying “no” when a colleague asks for help and I have my own work to finish

CI am a perfectionist

DI cannot think of a single thing

Now that you have read some of our recommendations, you may wonder: “Ok, so what’s next? I seem to understand these concepts quite well and they kind of make sense to me, but how do I make sure my answers are actually in accordance with these recommendations, and I will stand out as a strong candidate in my upcoming interview?”

Good question. Assuming you are indeed qualified and fit for the position you are interviewing for, the best thing you can do is make sure the interviewer sees this fit.

There are two ways how you can leverage Mr. Simon’s expertise to help you shine your best:

  1. Go ahead and practice with the Mr. Simon app - it is a completely free, fun and helpful experience!
  2. Request a mock interview with a real human career mentor. During the session we will help you identify your Key Selling Points to emphasize in the interview, and to present them in a way that strongly communicates your value to the company. The 1-hour session costs USD 79.99 and is supplemented by 2 weeks of support via email, free of additional charge.

To request the session, shoot us an email to coaching@mrsimon.ai and attach your resume and job description to expedite the process.

Here’s what our customers are saying.

Amanda, QA Manager:

I searched interview prep via Google and found Mr. Simon. I sent an e-mail requesting help. Natalie was prompt in response. The session was one of the best things to have happened during my job search and interview preparation.
Natalie helped me feel calm and confident. She helped me break down the job description and relate it to my experience. After working with Natalie, I received 2 job offers in the same day.

Anna, Director of Brand and Marketing Strategy:

I had you on the list to reach out since it was your advice that helped me prep differently for my interviews. Thank you for your support and friendship while I was transitioning. It had an impact! I appreciate it and mean it.

Claudia, Project Manager:

I used Mr. Simon to prepare for a job interview, and it helped me re-think my responses and gain confidence. Also, the questions were not very far from real life interview questions. In addition, having the opportunity to hear my own answers and read the recommendations on how to respond concisely was really helpful. I enjoyed using Mr. Simon and would use it again!

4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

How to answer

This question belongs to a family of behavioral, or even more precisely, reflective questions.

The interviewer wants to see whether you are reflective about yourself, whether you are ambitious and strive to grow as a professional, whether you like to learn and develop your skills.

They are also looking for your ambitions to fit the career path opportunities related to the position you are applying for.

  1. About Yourself

    Presumably, you are interested to grow professionally.

    Think about the possibilities that may lie ahead for you: take a personality test (I recommend 16Personalities which is based on Myers-Briggs test), research the internet on what career paths are possible with your skills and current job.

    What challenges do you like overcoming?

    For example, if you are applying for a software tester position, you may find it fascinating to master automated testing in full and eventually become a software engineer, or you may be a natural trainer and love coaching other people which may lead you to become a QA team or department lead, or you may be more interested in understanding business aspects of requirements which may logically lead you into a Business Analyst position.

    However, if you are happy just where you are and want to further your current skills, that is also fine as long as there is a growth path for you that can be imagined and described.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company to learn what career opportunities may be available in the department you are applying to, and what the trends are in the company in general.

    • Is the business expanding, are they opening new locations, or starting new projects?
    • Or are they heavily automating and cutting staff?

    Let’s say you are applying for a UX designer position for a brand-new product.

    In the future, if the product becomes a success - which is what the company hopes for - the company will hire more designers and you may become a lead designer, or you may become a product manager.

    On a side note: If you train your mind to be open to opportunities you will be amazed at how much this world has to offer to you!

  3. About The Fit

    And, of course, try to see where the perfect fit lies between your own potential and aspirations, and the company’s trends and hopes.

    However, beware of the risk of showing too much excitement for future opportunities compared to your attitude towards the current position.

    If you aren’t really excited about the position you are applying for and you demonstrate this lack of enthusiasm, the interviewer may conclude that you are not a good fit for the current position.

    Try to find a source of excitement in the current position as well, otherwise, you may be doing yourself a disservice by applying to a position you will find boring in 2-3 months.

Pro Tip

This question gives you a good opportunity to showcase your Key Selling Points (e.g. “As I am very good at delegating tasks, I can easily see myself leading a team of software testers in the future…”), and end your statement by asking about current initiatives and goals at the company.

It is generally NOT a good idea to say something like:

“Oh, I cannot imagine what happens to me tomorrow, let alone in 5 years”.

This will show you as a person who is unimaginative and not forward-thinking enough to grow with and be a good fit for the company.

Statistics

This question is asked 24% less frequently at Staples than at other companies.

5. Tell me about a time when you've resolved a problem for a frustrated customer

How to answer

Customers are the lifeblood of any business. How you handle a disgruntled customer can make the difference between closing a sale and failing to do so. It takes good people skills to handle such situations, and this question is a good opportunity to demonstrate your people skills.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of a time when, as a customer, you had a problem with a company.

    • How did you feel?
    • How did you want to be treated?
    • How would the situation ideally be resolved?
    • If it were you on the serving side of the table, what would you do differently? Have you had such experiences in the past where you helped a frustrated customer?
    • What was the critical factor in a successful resolution of the situation?

    Try to define your principles or approach.

    For example, I know that people tend to be frustrated when they feel neglected and unimportant.

    Whenever possible, I try to meet in person and establish face-to-face contact with someone who feels disgruntled, so that I can fully focus on the situation. (And believe me, checking your phone while speaking with such a customer is definitely NOT a good idea).

    Of course, this may not always be possible in your line of business or profession, but I guess you see what I mean - showing full attention greatly improves your chances of mitigating the situation.

  2. About The Company

    Every company relies on customers.

    Research the company you are applying to and try to find out what their standards of customer relationship or service are, as well as try to find out some real cases where the customers complained about the company, and what the company did to mitigate the situations (a possible source might be Yelp! or another social media platform).

    Based on your research, how does the company treat customers? How do they resolve customer issues?

  3. About The Fit

    How can you make things better and WOW the customer? Give an example that demonstrates that your approach to resolving customer frustrations is in line with the company policies.

Pro Tip

A disgruntled customer generally just needs someone to listen to them.

The three A’s of customer service can help diffuse the difficult situation:

  1. Acknowledge - what the other person is feeling,
  2. Apologize - for the way the other person is feeling,
  3. Admit - that there was an issue that you are working on to get it resolved.

Add the extra “A” - Ask for the customer's contact information so you can update them on any progress on their issue.

Statistics

This question is asked 44% more frequently at Staples than at other companies.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Customers are often frustrated by what they perceive as poor service especially when they are on the phone. Which one of the following answers do you consider to be good customer service?

APlacing the customer on hold for too long

BPaying close attention to the customer’s complaint in an attempt to solve their problem

CAsking the customer to repeat their complaint many times

DFailing to empathize with their problem

EDirecting the customer to your website instead of resolving the issue yourself

6. Why did you leave your last job?

How to answer

This question may be a little touchy for some people, but it's a question asked by interviewers, to find out why you left, in order to better understand how you may or may not make a good fit with their company.

Remember, never speak ill of your old company (this will not go over well).

  1. About Yourself

    Most likely, there are three possible reasons you left or are leaving your last job:

    • You are looking for a career change
    • You are unhappy with your current employment
    • You were let go.

    Whatever the reason, it's best to always speak in a positive light.

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research about the company and the position, what do you like most about the company?

  3. About The Fit

    If you are looking for career advancement or a career change, you can be very upfront and honest. Be as enthusiastic as you can about the position.

    If you were unhappy with your previous job, focus on the positives. Talk about the ways that you will best fit in with the company, in the role for which you're applying.

    If you were let go, focus on the positive. Share your accomplishments at your previous employment.

Pro Tip

Whatever the reason you are looking for a new opportunity, always turn things around to show how you are the perfect fit for the job for which you are interviewing!

Statistics

This question is asked 47% more frequently at Staples than at other companies.

7. Describe a time you went above and beyond for a customer

How to answer

This question lets the interviewer know how well you think on your feet and how great your customer service skills are.

  1. About Yourself

    Think about the time you were a customer, how were you treated and how could your experience have been made the best?

    Now think about the time you had to help a customer. What did you do to make that experience unforgettable for him?

  2. About The Company

    Think carefully about the company and what they are looking for. Read online reviews and any other available information.

    • What are their standards for treating customers?
    • What complaints have you seen that can give you a hint of some of the challenges associated with customer service?
  3. About The Fit

    Think of the company's ideals and connect those with your skills and qualifications. Now think of how these requirements are met by how you went above and beyond for a customer.

    Frame your story in terms of your STAR method:

    S - What was the Situation?
    T - What was your Task?
    A - What Action did you take?
    R - Talk about the Results.

Pro Tip

Showing you have compassion and empathy for customers is always an excellent way to answer the question. However, always remember to frame your answers in terms of how the company addresses these issues.

Statistics

This question is asked 79% more frequently at Staples than at other companies.

8. Tell me about a stressful situation and how you dealt with it

How to answer

Nowadays, professional life is stressful everywhere and always. However, there are levels of stress that are so common that we consider them normal, and there are times when they really skyrocket.

Your future employer wants to know how you will behave in such times, whether you will be a helping hand or a burden.

  1. About Yourself

    Remember a time when you had to hit a tight timeline and to work long hours, hard and overtime; or when you found yourself in the middle of a conflict with someone, or with a group of people.

    If you had more than one such occasion, choose one that ended positively and successfully, and ideally, that can demonstrate some of your key skills - your Key Selling Points.

    Most likely, the situation was highly emotional.

    • What helped you persevere?
    • Was there an element that you enjoyed?

    For example, in one of our projects, my team and I had to hit a really tough timeline for a customer, which seemed almost impossible in the beginning.

    However, we knew that we owned the results and that a major decision by the customer depended on the outcome. This sense of ownership, meaning, and impact gave us energy and excitement.

    Those were the challenges that we loved and could deal with for a sustained period of time. Also, the pleasure of working with a highly qualified top manager on the customer’s side added to the enjoyment.

    Now, after a few years, we remember those times as some of the most exciting for our team.

  2. About The Company

    • What do you know about the company, where you may encounter a stressful situation?
    • Are they working on a major project which is approaching a due date?
    • Are they going through a difficult time when cost-saving is a top priority, company culture is full of negativity and mistrust, they have gone through massive layoffs, customers are neglected, and everyone wears a long face?

    These are always stressful times, and you should try to know more about expectations in the company, and how realistic they are.

    Or, are they just a dynamic, highly agile company run by smart and creative folks, which may work excellently for some people and be confusing and mind-blowing for others?

    Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    Think of your ideal workplace environment.

    • Does this company feel like it?
    • Do you feel excited and enthusiastic about the kinds of stress you may encounter here?

    If you feel compatible with this company culture and enthusiastic about the challenges you expect here, this is a good chance to mention it and to show your excitement.

    Explain your approach or rationale and give your example from the past.

Pro Tip

If you cannot remember any stressful situation with a positive outcome, you can use one with a negative outcome accompanied by your lessons learned.

However, this option should not be your first choice, as the failure to give an example of a successful outcome may portray you as an emotionally immature person.

Statistics

This question is asked 4% less frequently at Staples than at other companies.

9. Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job

How to answer

This is a tough question because you’re forced to talk about a difficult time with a complete stranger. Fortunately, it’s also a great opportunity to turn a big challenge into a great accomplishment.

This question is designed to help the interviewer discover what type of problem-solver you are.

Why do employers ask this question?

It’s because they want to know that they’re hiring someone who can think on their feet and who is resilient when facing challenges.

  1. About Yourself

    It’s your chance to show that in tough times you turn to your inner strength and possess skills to find the right solutions.

    You probably had to solve many problems daily at work. It’s high time to remember them.

    If you do not prepare examples in advance, this question will get you off guard and you will find it difficult to remember all the details on the move.

    Start with recalling a few examples of real obstacles you coped with. For each of them, think about:

    • What was the project or task you were trying to accomplish?
    • What was the obstacle? This can be a specific problem related to your job or a higher-order issue across the organization.
    • What steps did you take to address the issue?
    • What decisions did you have to make?
    • How did the company benefit from your decisions?
    • How would you describe your approach, or what lessons have you learned?

    Be careful how you respond to this question. Make sure that you select a difficult work situation where you were not the cause.

  2. About The Company

    When you research the company, try and find out what kind of challenges they are facing. Try to find out what they need in terms of problem resolution.

    Search for online reviews, complaints and any other useful resources. What problems and obstacles can the employees face with this position?

  3. About The Fit

    This is your opportunity to showcase your problem-solving skills, resilience, and strength of character. Talk through your problem-solving process and show how you can think on your feet.

    Pick an example relevant to the position you are aiming for.

    Let’s say, you are applying for a blog writing job. The job description mentions that a successful candidate must have experience working “in a dynamic environment.”

    You could mention a situation in which you had to write an article on short notice because your coworker failed at the last moment to complete the assignment. You were short of time but worked extra hours to prepare the article successfully and on time.

    This answer would show your experience in blog writing, your sense of responsibility, ability to achieve results under stress, your willingness to go the extra mile, your problem-solving skills.

Pro Tip

This question is not about your past, it's how you deal with things that will happen in the future, so try to keep your answer short and focused.

After all, the interviewer is really looking for what you took away from the situation and doesn’t need to know the full backstory of what happened.

Use the STAR method to prepare your story and practice it so that you can stay within 1-2 minutes.

Make sure to show that you remained positive when overcoming a hurdle at work. Positive attitudes lead to positive outcomes.

Statistics

This question is asked 46% more frequently at Staples than at other companies.

10. Tell me about your work experience. What was the most interesting?

How to answer

This question lets an interviewer gauge what makes you tick and whether the job you are applying for corresponds with your areas of excitement and enthusiasm. Such a fit will earn you important points for being a viable candidate.

  1. About Yourself

    Review the details that you shared in your resume. Select the three to five best points to highlight and relate to the position to which you're applying.

  2. About The Company

    Carefully research the company and the job description.

    Find out what duties you'll be taking on to determine which of your top skills to emphasize. Try to find out what current challenges they are trying to solve by opening this vacancy.

  3. About The Fit

    Knowing the duties for which you will be responsible will help you identify which prior experiences to highlight.

    How well you connect your previous experiences with the job requirements can tell the interviewer how prepared you are for this role and how enthusiastic you will be about your job.

Pro Tip

Do not start your answer with "as you can see from my resume," even if you have listed those skills and qualities.

Instead, tell a story showing that you can solve problems similar to their current challenges and that you are enthusiastic about this.

You can best do this through constant practice of your STARs.

Statistics

This question is asked 26% more frequently at Staples than at other companies.

11. Tell me about a time when you went out of your way to satisfy a customer. What was the outcome?

How to answer

This question lets the interviewer know how well you think on your feet and how great your customer service skills are.

  1. About Yourself

    Think about the time you were a customer, how were you treated and how could your experience have been made the best?

    Now think about the times you had to help a customer. What did you do to make that experience unforgettable for the customer? How did you exceed expectations?

  2. About The Company

    Think carefully about the company and what they are looking for. Have you found any reviews online that can help you identify what the company's greatest challenge is? What are their standards for treating customers?

    Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    Think of the company's standards and ideals and connect those with your skills and qualifications.

    If you can remember more than one example, choose the one that fits best with the company industry and standards. Make sure you describe the positive outcome both for the customer and the company.

    Use the STAR method to craft your story.

Pro Tip

Showing you have compassion and empathy for customers is always the best way to answer the question. However, always remember to frame your answers in terms of how the company addresses these issues.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.0x more frequently at Staples than at other companies.

12. How would you describe yourself?

How to answer

This question is like the Tell me about yourself question usually asked at the beginning of an interview, but there are some subtle differences. It belongs to the family of reflective questions where the interviewer is assessing your cognitive abilities, as opposed to the more factual and matter-of-fact “Tell Me About Yourself” question.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of how your bosses and peers would describe you.

    Throughout your professional experience, you have probably heard them giving you some labels – try to remember the exact words they used.

    If you have received LinkedIn recommendations from someone, read those and think why people wrote them and what work situations prompted those descriptions. Remember the context of those situations and frame them as stories.

    Make a list of keywords, or short key phrases, that can describe you. Your Key Selling Points should definitely appear on this list, but try to also use some adjectives here, to add a positive emotional touch.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company's values, standards and policies. Make a list of keywords or short key phrases.

  3. About The Fit

    Which of your keywords correspond best with those of the company? Highlight 3-4 matches. Now try to imagine being a peer or a boss of yours and compile statements about yourself, in the 3rd person, mentioning these keywords. Remember to use adjectives, and don’t be afraid to mention real references from real people.

    For example, if you are applying for a position that requires good people skills, and your boss at your previous job called you a “conflict resolution guru,” don’t be shy to mention this reference, and provide a brief context that caused your boss’s praise. Use the STAR method to craft your story.

    Don’t limit yourself with just one keyword. If you are concise and don’t ramble with your answer, your interviewer will probably want to hear more than one. Just be observant and watch the interviewer’s reaction. You want to keep them interested.

Pro Tip

If you haven’t yet received any LinkedIn recommendations, try to obtain them. Also, offer to write your own recommendations for them - both received and given recommendations will be visible in your profile and will tell the interviewer exactly what you want to be known about your values, your attitude towards work and relationships.

Statistics

This question is asked 6% less frequently at Staples than at other companies.

13. Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment

How to answer

Of all your accomplishments (and I am sure you’ve had a great many of them!), you should choose the one most relevant to this job position.

  1. About Yourself

    Write down your Key Selling Points - your top 3-5 skills that make you a strong professional.

    Write down a list of your top 3-5 professional accomplishments that you are most proud of. No need for lengthy descriptions, just 1-2 words for each one to help you recall each situation.

    Make sure you have developed the story behind each accomplishment and have a strong command of the details of what happened so that you can tell the story clearly and distinctly.

    Along with each accomplishment, mark which of your Key Selling Points they showcase. How exactly?

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research of the company, what are their current needs?

    • What are the major projects going on?
    • What are the expectations for the position you are applying for?
  3. About The Fit

    Try to imagine yourself being an employee of the company you are applying to, say, at your 6th month into the job.

    • Which of your Key Selling Points and accomplishments would be most relevant to the company?
    • What “have you accomplished at your new job?”

    Choose the most relevant accomplishment from your list and then practice telling your story.

Pro Tip

Most enterprises are now going through major transformations, often called Digital Transformation.

Do your research on what it means and what is often involved, to get a better idea of the current goals and environments in companies. But one thing that definitely characterizes this transformation is striving for agility.

In particular, for startups (if you are applying to a startup or a small business), agility is their middle name, in order for them to survive among bigger sharks in the market.

So, demonstrating qualities like agility and adaptability should generally be helpful and quite a safe choice in most circumstances today.

Statistics

This question is asked 36% less frequently at Staples than at other companies.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Why do interviewers ask this question?

AThey want to know why you think the accomplishment you chose is your greatest, to give them an idea of what you think is important

BThey want to hear a specific example of your work to see if your problem solving skills fit in with the issues and problems their company might be experiencing

CThey want to know if you are a great multitasker who can get 10 different things done by the end of the day, no matter how long you have to stay at work to complete it all

14. What did you like or dislike about your last job?

How to answer

Your answer to this question will show the interviewer your overall perspective (positive or negative) of your prior role and your approach to what you liked (or didn’t like) about that aspect of your work. While answering such a question remember that diplomacy is the key to corporate success.

The answer you give to this question can say a lot about you, for example:

  • Can you handle situations professionally when you deal with pressure?
  • What strong qualities (your Key Selling Points) can you emphasize answering the question?
  • Are you a positive person, and not someone who complains, holds grudges or badmouths their co-workers or boss?
  • Do you exhibit loyalty, enthusiasm, dedication, and energy?
  • Are you easy to work with?
  1. About Yourself

    Reflect on yourself; stick to the facts and don’t go into emotions.

    List the things you were responsible for in your last job.

    • Which of them did you like most? Why?
    • What were the responsibilities you liked less? Why?
    • Was there anything you consider completely unacceptable?

    If you feel that your answer will not be complete without a nod toward the negative aspects, then keep it focused on tasks, situations, or company structure, and not on people. The overall tone must be positive and friendly.

  2. About The Company

    • What does your research tell you about the company you are applying to?
    • Will there be situations like those in your former job you don't want to get into again?
    • What are the requirements for the position?
    • What challenges will you face there?
    • What responsibilities will you be tasked with?
  3. About The Fit

    Which of the responsibilities you liked will also be part of your future responsibilities in your new role? Don’t forget to show your excitement while telling about these.

    If there were responsibilities you disliked that are not part of the job description, don’t bring them up.

    By asking about your feelings toward a previous job the interviewers often aren’t that interested in the list of actual likes or dislikes you can provide. Rather, they’re trying to judge your character by listening to the tone and attitude with which you respond to a tricky question.

    However, details of your likes and dislikes can also reveal whether you'll be a good fit culturally at the company at hand. Showing excitement about responsibilities that will most likely be included in the role you are applying for can help strengthen your position as a fit.

    Mentioning that you are ready for more challenges and opportunities, that the position you are applying for is a great match for your skillset and that you feel you would be an asset to the company or department is often a safe way to show your excitement.

Pro Tip

Telling your stories, use the “sandwich method”: start off by mentioning a positive, then mention the negative, and try to pivot back around to something positive.

You can do that by talking about how you managed the aspect you disliked, or by making a connection to the job you're interviewing for.

Statistics

This question is asked 37% more frequently at Staples than at other companies.

15. What are your strengths? Give an example

How to answer

Many people think they know their personal strengths and consider this question simple. However, to impress your interviewer you must be ready to turn your response into a meaningful and insightful answer.

It’s an open invitation to talk about your Key Selling Points, your accomplishments and to show how you match the employer’s values and requirements.

You must be ready to stand out and demonstrate your unique value as a candidate.

  1. About Yourself

    Reflect on your best professional qualities. What are they? Are you dependable, flexible, friendly, hardworking, a strong leader, formal, punctual, good team player?

    Pick at least three personal strengths that will help you at your new workplace, and make sure you can give specific examples to demonstrate why you say these are your strengths.

    If no key strengths spring to mind, ask your friends or colleagues what they think your greatest strengths are. What examples can demonstrate your success due to these qualities?

  2. About The Company

    Make sure to research the company and read the job description thoroughly in order to identify the key strengths required for the role.

  3. About The Fit

    Recruiters and hiring managers want to know how your strength relates to the job you’re applying for.

    Match the skills required by the position with your list of strengths. Choose up to 5 top skills. These are your Key Selling Points! Prove your point by providing examples.

    Craft your stories using the STAR method.

Pro Tip

Tip 1: Aim to strike a balance between over-confidence and underselling yourself. If you list too many strengths, you risk sounding arrogant. Listing too few implies a lack of confidence or even a lack of skills.

Tip 2: One of the most in-demand skills nowadays is being adaptive. In order to emphasize your adaptiveness, try to think of an example when you had to quickly learn something new, or quickly become a team member with a completely new group of people, or started contributing quickly in a new environment or project.

Statistics

This question is asked 54% more frequently at Staples than at other companies.

16. What were your responsibilities in your last job?

How to answer

This is a good opportunity to demonstrate that you have experience or knowledge suitable for the job you are applying for.

Even if you have never done exactly this specific kind of job, usually you should be able to name a few “transferable” skills that you used in your previous work assignments that are quite easily applicable to the position you are applying for.

  1. About Yourself

    Remember your last (or current) job and compile a list of things you had to do while working there.

    If you don’t know where to start, picture your typical working day at one of your previous jobs, or college day if you are applying for your first job ever.

    Describe the categories of tasks in bullet points. Then, try to remember the less ordinary tasks you had to do as well, and add them to the list.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company and the job description.

    • What do you expect to be doing in this job?
    • How would your performance be measured?

    List a few items in bullet points.

  3. About The Fit

    Choose a few task categories that seem like a match between your experience and the requirements of the current position. Think of a couple of relevant examples to illustrate your experience.

    Craft your stories using the STAR method.

Pro Tip

Optionally, you can end with a question like “Does this correspond with the expectations for this role? Could you give me an example of what is expected from a successful candidate within the first, say, 3 months?"

That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

Statistics

This question is asked 36% more frequently at Staples than at other companies.

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This page has been updated on February 16, 2021.

You can practice answering this question, as well as over 160 other common job interview questions from Staples by engaging in a mock interview with Mr. Simon. As an artificial being, his undeniable benefits include:

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