Answering Common Questions that Appear on Online Job Applications

Here are some common questions that often appear on job applications and some ideas about how to answer the questions.

1.  What are your salary requirements?

  • This is a very difficult question.  Why?  The manager of a company knows the maximum amount that he or she can pay an employee.  If you ask for a salary that is too high, the manager will not call you for a job interview because the manager will think that you will not be interested in the job.  If you ask for a salary that is too low, the manager will hire you, but pay you less than other employees to do the same work.
  • How can I answer this question?  If possible, type “open.”  This means that you are willing to negotiate the salary.
  • If you are required to type an answer, it may be a good idea to do some research.  If you have a friend who works at this location, ask the friend what the salary for this position is.
  • You can also search for a company on to get an estimate of the salary of a given position at a given company.  Use this information only if you have no other options because the information can be outdated or inaccurate.

2.  Why did you leave your previous position?

  • This is another difficult question.  American employers do not like to hire applicants who complain about previous managers.  If you did not like a previous employer, it is not a good idea to talk about it on a job application or during a job interview.
  • It is better to use a personal reason, such as “I moved to the United States,” “I was offered a job with a higher salary,” “I wanted to go back to school,” or “I wanted to explore other career options.”
  • Do not offer too many details.  This answer should be short.

3.  List three references.

  • Your references can not be family members.
  • Your references should be someone who you know would say good things about you.
  • Good reference choices include: former supervisors who were impressed with your work, current or former instructors (teachers), or friends.
  • Remember to always tell your references when you are using their reference to apply for a job.  You want your references to be ready to say good things about you.

4.  Describe your job duties for a previous position.

  • A job duty is a responsibility that you had in a previous position.  Talk about what you were required to do.
  • Always list any responsibilities from a previous job that are similar to your current position first.

5.  Why are you interested in this position?

  • This is an opportunity to show that you have learned a little bit about the company that you are applying to.  You should say something positive that demonstrates understanding of the position.
    • For example, if the job requires serving large numbers of customers quickly, you can say “I prefer to work in an exciting, fast-paced atmosphere.”
  • If you have skills that are related to the position, this is an opportunity to talk about those skills.
    • For example, if you are applying for a cook position in a busy restaurant and you already have three years of cooking experience in a restaurant, you can say, “I would like to apply my extensive cooking skills to an exciting, fast-paced atmosphere.”
  • If you do not have the skills required for this position, now is the time to express interest in developing those skills.
    • For example, if you are applying for a cook position in restaurant, you can say, “I have always been interested in learning how to cook the highest quality food possible.  I think that I could develop excellent cooking skills in the environment that this position has to offer.”

English Exercise:

While applying for jobs, write down questions that are difficult to understand.  Write down questions that are difficult to answer.  Then:

1.  Click Leave a Reply

2.  Type your first name in the first box.

3.  Type your email address or “” in the second box.

4.  Type nothing in the third box.

5.  Type your questions in the fourth box.

I will add any questions that I see in the “Leave a Reply” box to the bottom of this article.  I will write an explanation for each question and some ideas for how to answer the questions.

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