Tough Interview Questions - What are your responsibilities in your job?

Following is a tough interview question:

What are/were your responsibilities in your job?

Similar interview questions:
What is the job description of your job? How would you describe your job to someone who is not familiar with your industry?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is seeking to better define what you do in your job. It is a scope question, what is in, what is out, to define what you are or were responsible for in your role. It can also be a branching question for the interviewer to drill into your responsibilities vs. the responsibilities of others on your team. Note that the interviewer is usually only asking about responsibilities, but may also ask about what results you are responsible for on your team.

The best approach to answering this question:
Focus on both your responsibilities and your results for your role. Responsibilities are usually the rather bland bullet points in a typical job description: "Responsibilities include..." If you are at all unclear about the responsibilities for your role, now would be a good time to review the original job posting for your role and/or the internal job description that is used in your annual performance review. Yet go beyond the responsibilities to look at your specific results achieved. You are not paid for taking responsibilities, you are paid for achieving results. Results achhieved are your value to your current employer and any future employer. Show how your responsibilities translated into results. It is usually best to summarize the key responsibilities, then go into detail about the results achieved in the role.

An example of how to best answer this question:
"My primary responsibilities involve consumer engagement, market research and reporting for the digital media group. When I took on the role, most of the work had been accomplished through traditional market research channels, which was both time consuming and produced a significant time gap in reporting. I moved a much larger portion of our market research to online, real-time surveying of both our customers and the general consumer audience. I also integrated the use of social media feedback on beta releases. The net effect has been faster, more accurate results for our developers. Instead of being given historical market data which is of little use to them, they are able to make ongoing changes and updates to reflect real-time consumer needs. Would you like to hear more about our most recent beta launch of our cloud-based video player?"

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"Well, let's see. My job description includes being responsible for a lot of different things, but I mainly spend my time fighting fires most days. My boss gives me something that isn't working in the morning and I spend most of the rest of the day fixing it. If I can't fix it that day, it rolls over to the next day. Sometimes I have as many as 5-10 things on my plate before I finally ask someone else to take a look at it. But usually I try to do it all myself. This isn't really what I was hired to do, but my boss isn't very competent, so I usually need to do things in response to questions he gets from his boss. So I guess my job is to cover for my boss, although that's not really what the job is supposed to be doing. But fighting fires is part of most jobs, so you do what you have to do, then go home. I guess just fighting to live another day, that's what it's all about, right?"

Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!