When you prepare for an interview, you have a checklist. What should I wear? What should I say?
A solid foundation for preparation starts by practicing with 20 common interview questions and the best answers
One common question you’re likely to come face-to-face with is, “what motivates you?” or “what is your work style?”
What the Interviewer Wants to Know
What is the interviewer asking when they say, “how would you describe your work style?”
The interviewer wants to know if you’re the best candidate for their workplace culture. You could be ticking the right boxes for hard skills. But if you’re an independent worker with no experience collaborating with a team, there might be friction.
Employers know the importance of soft skills. If they want a collaborative worker, they might be listening for keywords that emphasize communication, emotional awareness, or teamwork. If they desire an independent worker, the interviewer listens for initiative, problem-solving, or organization.
You can usually find the desired qualities in a job posting. The business’s social media or website can also emphasize core values.
Being familiar with the company or position you’re applying for is an asset. The interviewer wants to know if you understand the industry, the company, and yourself. Understanding your skills can help you practice answers that will impress interviewers.
Good / Bad Answers to “What is Your Work Style?”
Let’s examine the finer points of both good and bad “what is your work style” answers.
The best answers are honest and concise.
What are examples of your work styles? Consider projects or situations where you demonstrated your skills.
Before your interview, research the company’s values and discover the work style they promote.
Be prepared to describe how you plan your workday. Are speed and accuracy strengths? Do you multitask or complete one task at a time?
Remember that the interviewer can read a summary on your resume. Therefore, you should express your individuality and showcase how your employment will positively impact the business.
When describing your work style, don’t ramble. Avoid speaking negatively or discussing values that don’t line up with the company. For example, if the company is all about digitizing, don’t sing the praises of print.
You can be honest about your style while still emphasizing your skills. How do you handle feedback? How much direction do you need? Can you adapt to another work style?
Don’t use cliches, such as “I’m a hard worker.” Be careful that your word choices reflect specific skills, not generic phrases. You want the interview to remember you.
Example “What Is Your Work Style” Answers
Check out these three examples.
Answer #1: Bad
“I prefer to work alone. I go above and beyond, and I always hand in my projects on time. However, too much supervision slows me down. I need to stick to a precise schedule. My work-life balance is better when I can clock out on time. I think better work requires a better work-life balance.”
The answer is negative, uses cliches, and offers no details about the candidate’s skills.
Answer #2: Okay
“I enjoy working with a team and meeting new people. In my last position, a client asked for a change close to the project deadline. By delegating tasks and keeping my team members updated, we were able to deliver before the deadline. Working with a team is great for bouncing ideas off of, and it helps maintain standards.”
This answer is concise, directly answers the question, and gives an example. But there’s room to highlight more relevant skills.
Answer #3: Great
“I can work independently or with a team. It depends on the project’s needs. When I need to meet a deadline, working alone in a quiet space lets me focus on my to-do list. I can work late or start early to get it done.
With my last client, being available for alternative hours made it easier to respond to additional requests. It gave me the freedom to make quicker decisions to meet the project deadline. However, if I need feedback or I’m assigned a section of a larger project, I can brainstorm with colleagues to find better solutions.”
The third answer explains the candidate’s work style, gives an example, and demonstrates work style flexibility. The interviewer learns more about the candidate. The candidate prefers quiet but is responsive to feedback. The candidate is a decision-maker who favors flexible work hours.
The key to being prepared is understanding the answer yourself. So, how would you describe your work style?
See more of our interview prep posts:
What are your strengths & weaknesses?
What Motivates You?
Tell me a little bit about yourself