You’re likely to hear the interview question “What does quality mean to you?” when interviewing for a variety of roles.
As a former recruiter, I’m going to show you how to define quality and give a great interview answer to help you win the job.
I’ll also share multiple word-for-word sample answers for everything from customer service roles to software development positions, so you can make sure your response sounds right.
Let’s get started…
To start, let’s define quality.
In business, quality means the standard of a product or service when compared to other products or services of a similar kind.
You can think of quality as being a measure of the degree of excellence of something.
Employers ask interview questions about what quality means to you to ensure that you’ll keep their company’s and client’s best interests in mind if hired.
The interviewer wants to ensure that you believe in delivering high-quality work and also that you know what high-quality work entails.
They also want to ensure that you define quality in the same way that they do, more or less, to ensure you’re a fit for their company culture.
For example, imagine you’re interviewing for a customer service role and the prospective employer believes that excellent customer service means always making the customers feel like they’re the top priority.
Now, if you say in the interview that the customer’s purpose is just to support the company, and they’re not a top priority, then that could be a red flag to the hiring manager.
Depending on your role and industry, quality will refer to different things. Here are examples of what excellent quality may look like in various industries:
The definition of quality in each organization will vary.
Some companies produce goods, others offer services, and still others offer a combination.
And there isn’t one single way that every business goes about achieving or measuring quality standards.
So before you answer an interview question about what quality means, or how you define quality, make sure you understand how quality relates to the job you are interviewing for.
Coming up, we’ll look at some sample interview answers that you can adapt to your industry/job.
As a customer support representative, I believe quality means going above and beyond what the customer expects to ensure that they’re satisfied.
I also believe that quality means delivering a consistent experience to customers. Customers should be able to predict the quality of help they’re going to get every time they interact with a business and be able to count on that. It’s better to have a consistent and reliable process so that customers don’t experience variability. To me, consistency is a part of quality.
Since I design products for a living, I think of quality in terms of how I design and create any given product.
To me, quality means delivering a product that exceeds expectations both in terms of functionality and reliability. Those two factors are essential in a product’s success and can be the difference between failure and success in a business, so they’re a couple of the first factors that come to mind when I hear someone mention quality.
And in terms of my individual work, I think there are many different ways quality comes into play. I think quality work involves high effort and focus, consistency, being open to feedback, having strong communication with management, and being an upfront and accountable employee.
As a software developer, I think quality means delivering products with great usability and features, and creating tools that efficiently solve problems for the users.
It also means having a thorough quality assurance and software testing process and weighing user feedback throughout the product’s life cycle to continuously improve. The best digital products improve over time.
In my work, I think that quality means bringing my best effort, always looking for ways to improve and grow, and delivering consistent, productive work that management can count on.
And in terms of a business’s products, I think quality means delivering value beyond what customers expect.
This includes great product design, reliability, service excellence, and even pricing.
As a manufacturing manager, I work across my current organization to improve the quality and reliability of our products and also streamline our manufacturing processes to save the company money on each manufacturing run.
This allowed us to lower some product prices last year to be more competitive and offer more value to customers.
The result was a boost in sales resulting in 32% higher revenue.
Note in the last sample answer above, you’re concluding by sharing specific metrics of what you achieved recently. It’s always a great idea to include this type of info in your job interview, if possible.
When you talk about past performance, it gives the hiring manager a clear picture of what you could likely achieve for them if they hire you.
Quality refers to different things in different industries.
The sample answers above are a good guideline and general starting point for how to define quality and deliver a good interview answer, but in certain industries, you’ll want to be more specific.
Look up industry guidelines, quality certifications, and general standards to help you sound more knowledgeable and prepared when you define quality in your interview.
For example, in the manufacturing of food and pharmaceuticals, there are specific certifications of cleanliness and sterile environments for product quality.
You may see pharmaceutical companies mention GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices).
Some service-based businesses will utilize quality frameworks like Service Process Design.
And in a customer support role, quality will be measured in terms of customer satisfaction and delivering a great customer experience.
So the way you measure quality will depend on your role, and ideally, you want to give an interview answer that’s tailored to the type of job you’re applying for.
Keep this in mind as you describe quality in your job interview, and you’ll make a far better impression on any hiring manager.
In today’s world, with the rise of online reviews and social media, one bad customer experience can lead to hundreds of people hearing negative comments about your organization.
Therefore, quality is more important than ever to a business.
A company’s management is going to care about quality in all aspects of the business and be more likely to ask what it means to you in the job interview.
If you’ve read the info above, you know how to define quality in your interview and how to relate it to a specific company’s product or service.
As a final step, practice your answer at home — both the definition and any follow-up points you want to talk about (such as an example of how you approached quality in your current/last position and what result you were able to achieve for the company).
The bottom line is: You’re going to be make a better impression when answering “What does quality mean to you?” if you prepare ahead of time instead of making up a response in the moment.
Related interview questions:
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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