Apply for a job with a major company and you’ll have to attend a formal interview. To make things more complicated, you’ll have to deal with the inevitable round of curveballs that come your way. One curveball is the “When were you most satisfied with your job?” question. It’s unexpected and most people don’t prepare it.

How To Answer “When Were You Most Satisfied With Your Job”

That makes it no surprise when places like Apple, Google, and Costco hiring start using it. Here’s how to answer it.

What You Think they Want

The vast majority of applicants mess this up because they give a vague answer. They refer to a time where they were content in their lives. As is often the case, it’s not the job that made the person content. It was their life circumstances in general. It’s an amateur mistake, and it’s exactly why companies tend to ask this question.

Go for the Specific

What they want is a specific answer. They’re using this question to make sure you’re a good fit for the job. An employer has an idea of what will make their employees content and happy. By asking you this question, they’re going to find out whether you’re going to fit into that mold. In essence, this is one of the most important questions of any interview.

An example of a good answer is given below:

I am most satisfied with my job when I’m able to interact with people on a one-to-one basis. Forming a human connection makes my day because I’m able to meet their needs, whilst also seeing the results first-hand. It gives me great pleasure to make someone’s day like that.

As you can see, this example is specific and it points towards customer service. In the case of something like Costco hiring, this would be what they want if you were working in their retail sector.

Brand Specific

Now we’re going to sound incredibly contradictory. We’ve already said your answer should attack the question and hit it with specifics. In this part of the guide, we’re going to tell you that there’s such a thing as giving an answer that’s too specific.

Make sure you never mention brands or specific people. Satisfaction in a job should be general enough that you could enjoy the same position anywhere else. Let’s say you loved working with a manager or for a certain label. You’re saying you loved this other company and your new employer is a second place.

The employer wants to know you can feel satisfied and motivated in this new role.

Overthinking It

Finally, don’t overthink this question, or any other interview question. Answer honestly and avoid vague answers. The worst thing you can do is to think about an answer for too long. Use this as a rough guide to tell you what ballpark the interviewer is operating in.