How to describe your job duties
During the application process or in an interview, you may be asked to describe your current or past job responsibilities.
This question helps recruiters and hiring managers get an idea of your skills and lets you expand on your resume. It’s also a way for them to determine how authentic your experience is.
By answering this icebreaker question well, you’ll set the stage for a successful interview.
Let’s look at why you could be asked this question and how to answer it before showing you some exemplary examples.
What are job duties?
Job duties are what an organization uses to describe what tasks and functions employees will perform in their job.
When you’re browsing jobs on Jobcase for example, you can click any job posting to see a list of job duties for that specific role.
What you’ll see depends on who wrote the job description. Some companies have comprehensive lists with every task you could ever do, while others only list the main duties.
It’s a good idea to keep a copy of the job description for any job you get. You can use that information to write your resume rather than working from memory.
Why an employer might ask you to describe your current job duties
Picture this: you’re filling out a job application and are asked to describe your current job title and key responsibilities. Do you copy and paste your resume into the field or write up a new entry?
Hopefully, you’re writing something new. This space is an opportunity for you to expand on your job duties beyond what’s included in your resume or cover letter.
There are a couple of reasons you’d be asked this on a job application:
They want to make sure you aren’t lying on your resume.
They want you to expand on what’s listed on your resume.
They want to see if your current duties overlap with the new role.
You could be the most qualified candidate that applied, but many people exaggerate on their resumes. A hiring manager has to do their due diligence to try and weed out the frauds. By asking you to describe your job responsibilities, particularly in an interview, they can use your answer to get a better idea of you as a candidate.
They’re likely familiar with your resume experience section and what’s on your cover letter, so that won’t cut it. Instead, it’s best to touch on some of the points you’ve listed on your resume, expand on them, and then move onto duties that didn’t fit.
The goal isn’t to outline your achievements. It’s to paint a clear picture of what it is you do at your current job.
Keep in mind that this question can come in many different forms. However, they can all be answered similarly.
Be on the lookout for questions like:
What do you do at your current job?
How would you describe your current employer?
What did you do at X company?
7 tips to describe your job duties
With these seven tips, you’ll be ready to answer this question and impress the hiring manager.
1. Remember what you listed on your resume
The first and most important tip is to remember what you listed on your resume. You want to know what information the recruiter has on hand. Whenever you are interviewing (over the phone, virtually, or in person), be sure to have a copy of your latest resume on hand so you can reference it if needed.
Practice elaborating on the points on your resume. You’ve likely used action verbs to help your resume stand out. Carry that same confident language over to your interview.
But don’t stop there! When having the dialogue, expand beyond what’s listed on your resume and explain some other duties that didn’t fit on the page.
Your ability to expand on your past jobs with confidence helps convince recruiters that you’re being truthful.
2. Connect your past job duties those listed in the job description
When you’re customizing your resume for this new job, take a look at the job description.
That job description is invaluable to you as a candidate, as it’s full of keywords and tasks the recruiter is looking for!
If your current job has you doing the things in the job description, including that in your application tells recruiters that you have the skills they’re looking for.
3. Don’t be too granular in detail
Depending on the company, your first few interactions might be with human resources. They likely aren’t aware of the jargon and specific details of what you do.
HR likely has limited knowledge of the job itself, and going into detail can distract from what they want to hear.
Don’t get bogged down in the details. Practice explaining your job duties as if you were talking with a friend who knew nothing about your industry.
For example, if you’re interviewing for a web developer position, only reference coding languages that are on the job description.
4. Pinpoint the skills you have that you’ll use in your new role
Many of the skills you’ve developed in your current or previous job can be applied to the one you’re applying for. Identify those skills and include them in your resume and interview.
This not only applies to hard skills, like specific software applications you’re familiar with.
Recruiters want to see that you’ve developed soft skills that will help you succeed. Some soft skills to think about are communication skills, leadership, and time management.
If your job involves customer service, a recruiter will be looking for soft skills like interpersonal and communication skills. If it’s a management role, make sure to highlight any leadership experience you have.
5. Be conversational
In an interview, be conversational. An interviewer doesn’t want you to read off a list of bullet points. That’s what your resume is for.
Instead, elaborate on the bullet points from your resume, explaining things in more detail. List off some challenges your company faced and highlight how you used your skillset to overcome them.
6. Use “I” instead of “we”
It can be tempting to give credit to your team when referencing responsibilities and achievements. After all, it’s often a team effort.
However, when speaking about your responsibilities, use “I” instead of “we.”
A recruiter wants to know that you performed these tasks. They want to know how your actions led to improved results.
So, while it may have been a team effort, this is the time to let your abilities shine.
7. Be specific about your accomplishments
When you’re highlighting your current duties, think about not only what you do, but what you’ve achieved.
Showing a recruiter that your actions led to quantifiable results is sure to impress.
For example, if you work at a call center and you’re responsible for taking customer orders over the phone, don’t just say “Received customer calls.” Instead, say something like, “Increased customer retention rate by 30% through impeccable customer service over phone and email.”
Examples of how to best describe your job duties
Here are a couple of examples of how you could answer this question on an application.
Marketing coordinator example
Here’s a sample job description:
Conducts target market research
Development in managing customer accounts
Supports various marketing campaigns, including social media, content marketing, and SEO
Markets products by developing and implementing marketing and advertising campaigns.
Plans meetings and trade shows
You want to incorporate the language and duties used in the job description when answering a question.
Here’s an example:
“My current position is as a marketing coordinator at a marketing agency. We’re a full-service agency handling everything from digital marketing to planning in-person events, like trade shows. I’ve worked on several social media marketing campaigns for our clients.
Some of the duties I perform daily include scheduling social media posts and coordinating with writers to keep content marketing campaigns running smoothly. I help out wherever I’m needed.”
This brief answer touches on a couple of the points laid out in the job description. The key is to show how your years of experience relate to what the recruiter is looking for.
Warehouse assistant example
Move materials from one place to another by hand
Pick, pack, and wrap products by hand
Clean the warehouse, equipment, and machinery
Must be comfortable lifting up to 50 lbs by hand
Here’s an example of how you could explain your job duties:
“At my current company, I’m a warehouse assistant. We’re a wholesaler of gourmet foods and restaurant supplies.
My day-to-day involves picking up orders that are up to 50 lbs and packing them in boxes or loading them onto skids to be wrapped. I’m also responsible for the overall cleanliness of the warehouse.”
Retail associate example
Here’s a sample job description for a retail associate:
Provide a positive shopping experience for customers
Learn about products to answer customer questions
Be aware of customer cues
Receive and process product shipments
Prepare product displays
Upsell products, including loyalty programs
Cash customers out using a cash register
Promote cleanliness in the store
Here’s an example of how you could explain your duties in a retail job interview:
“I’m currently a retail associate for a women’s clothing store. We sell a variety of products at a low price point. I’m responsible for ensuring customers have a positive shopping experience in our store.
To do this, I’ve expanded my knowledge of our products so that I can answer any questions customers have. This lets me provide better product recommendations and leads to more sales. I also design product displays. I created a display for our new fall line, which resulted in a 14% increase in sales over our last fall collection.”
This candidate touched on several job duties from the description and ended with an example of how their actions resulted in increased sales.
Be prepared and land your dream job
Knowing exactly what to put on your application can be a challenge. But if you follow these tips, you’re sure to impress any hiring manager.
Conversationally highlighting your duties and accomplishments is how you assure a recruiter that you’re the real deal.
To see more tips for job seekers, you can visit our Getting Hired Resource Center!