Tough Interview Questions - What did you like about your last job?

Following is a tough interview question:

What did you like about your last job?

Similar interview questions:
What do you like about your current job? What do you like about your current role? What is the most fun aspect of your job? What gets you really excited about your job? What are you passionate about in your job?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is asking a core competency probing question, even though it sounds like a question asking about your interests. The interviewer doesn't really want to know what interested you about your last job. The interviewer wants to know your core competencies. Specifically, which competencies are you most passionate about. Those are the competencies that you will typically gravitate to in your job and will think about when asked what you "liked" about your job. The interviewer is seeking to establish your fit for the role.

The best approach to answering this question:
Focus on the core competencies in your current role which relate to the position for which you are interviewing. If what you like about your current or past roles aligns with the role for which you are interviewing, answering this question will be easier for you. However, if you have little from your past roles to reference directly, this can be more difficult. How do you know what competencies the interviewer will be seeking? Read and fully understand the job description for the role. If you don't have one, ask for one from the Recruiter. Note that job descriptions may only refer to responsibilities, so you may need to interpret what competencies are needed to accomplish the responsibilities and achieve results. If you love something, talk about it. If you're passionate about it, be passionate when you answer. Your passion will come through in how you answer as much as in what you say.

An example of how to best answer this question:
"I love my involvement with the monthly reconciliations. While I enjoy the daily responsibilities of my role, it is the monthly reconciliations that provide the greatest challenges for me and my team. This is where we need to dig deep into the details and understand and differences between our reported results and actual results. It is also where I get more involved with our global team. It was this involvement with the global team and global reconciliations where my boss noted my accomplishments and then asked me to lead the global standards project. This was a project which earned the Global Excellence Award for both me as the global lead and each of the four global team members. Would you like me to tell you more about it?"

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"The best part of my job is the part of my day when I'm not being interrupted. My manager is constantly interrupting my day and it makes it pretty difficult to get my work done. So when I get an hour or two of peace and quiet, that's what I like best. Sometimes I will even pick up the phone when I see my manager walking toward my desk so that he won't interrupt me. Did you see the movie Office Space? It's a lot like that."

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!