How To Answer the Question: 'What Is Your Work Style?'
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 31 August 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
It's important to know what your preferred work style is before going to an interview. Recruiters use questions about work style to determine if you're a good fit for their organisation, so a thorough answer can help you increase your chances of getting the job. Knowing how to respond can position you as the ideal candidate for the role. In this article, we outline the importance of work style, how to explain to an interviewer what your work style is and provide sample answers for specific jobs.
Why do interviewers ask, 'What is your work style?'
Interviewers ask 'What is your work style?' to predict how you might fit into their company culture. Your response helps the recruiter determine whether you have the qualities to deliver results and thrive in the position. Employers can also use your answer to gauge how you can perform in a team. For example, if you're a person who excels at working in a team, but the job you're applying for requires a lot of solo work and isolation, you might not be the best fit for this position.
This question requires you to know your strengths and weaknesses while understanding the job requirements and overall company culture. The interviewer expects your answer to highlight your skills, self-awareness, industry knowledge and the responsibilities of the position. Even if your work style differs from the employer's, make sure your answer shows a willingness to adapt to new environments to deliver results for the organisation.
Related: Important Workplace Social Skills
How to answer 'What is your work style?'
To answer this question, read the job description carefully and research the company before the interview. Go to the company's website and study their previous job advertisements and recruitment materials. Then think about yourself and your ideal work style. Here are some steps you can follow to help you better answer the question:
1. Think about your ideal work environment
Consider what makes you the most productive when thinking about your ideal work environment. A big component of this answer is whether you prefer working as part of a team or independently. While many companies want a candidate that can work well with others, there's nothing wrong with stating your preference for independent work. If you love working as part of a team, discuss your experience collaborating with other people and how that helped you achieve better results. If you prefer working alone, emphasise the value of collaboration and getting feedback from colleagues.
2. Think about your skills
This question is another chance to bring up your skills within the interview, especially regarding speed and accuracy. If your skills include the ability to work quickly and under the pressure of deadlines, this shows the interviewer that you can work in a fast-paced environment. If your skills include incredible accuracy and attention to detail, this may prove to the interviewer that you are a thorough and detail-oriented employee. Understanding your best skills gives the recruiter a good idea of how you'll integrate with other employees in the company.
3. Consider your relationship with superiors
Another point to consider is your desired relationship with superiors. The interviewer wants to know whether you like to be guided by a manager or if you prefer a more hands-off approach. In your answer, emphasise the importance of teamwork and feedback from your manager and explain whether you need constant feedback or prefer occasional corrections. Think about your overall communication style and the ideal relationship you'd like to have with your supervisor.
4. Be honest
Be honest about your work style when answering this question. If you prefer working alone in a quiet environment, let the interviewer know. Try not to be overly negative when discussing what you don't like. Avoid making statements that sound like demands about what working environment you need. It's also beneficial to discuss your flexibility and how you can adapt to different work environments.
5. Be concise
Keep your answer brief and relevant to the job requirements. Instead of listing all the aspects of your work style, talk about the qualities that make you the perfect candidate for the position and explain why you can excel in the company's working environment. For example, discuss how your proven skills as a communicator make you an excellent team player.
Example answer to this question
Here are five sample answers for specific job titles that can help you create convincing responses to this interview question:
'I value reliability in the workplace. Being dependable requires collaborating with colleagues to deliver projects to specifications and on schedule. That's why I do everything I can to help my team achieve objectives. For example, my employer once hired a brilliant engineer. The engineer had exceptional qualities but was not familiar with the Agile method. I dedicated two weekends to explaining how our team uses Agile and Scrum to improve collaboration. This reduced his learning curve and improved the team's efficiency by about 30% in five months.'
This answer shows the interviewer that the job candidate thrives when working in a team environment. The example also highlights the candidate's hands-on approach and their ability to communicate well with fellow employees in technical and difficult situations.
'I've found that my creativity and ability to succeed in projects really benefit from working individually and setting my schedule. I enjoy working on multiple projects at once and keeping track of my tasks. However, I understand the importance of checking in with my manager and coworkers periodically so we remain coordinated on large projects. At my previous job, I helped introduce the use of communication software at our company. The encrypted online communication app was great for file sharing and direct communication and really increased office efficiency and productivity.'
This answer shows the candidate's preference for individual work while also showing that they recognise the importance of communication. The candidate is highlighting their preference for individual work as an overall strength that can benefit the entire company.
'I can adapt to any workplace. While working alone, I try to work at a fast pace to complete tasks on schedule. However, I also enjoy and understand the benefits of working in a team. In my last position, one of our clients placed a large last-minute order. Normally, I would've been able to handle the project on my own, but it would've taken more time. Teamwork allowed us to delegate the task to different people, so we were able to deliver the project before the deadline.'
This is an effective answer because it shows that the candidate is well-versed in individual and group work. The candidate shows a slight preference for working alone, but the example shows they understand why working as a team is not only necessary but sometimes the most efficient course of action.
'As someone who has worked in secondary education for over seven years, I understand that, for me, the best work style is one that focuses on efficiency and flexibility. In the classroom, you need to work under time constraints, adjust your lessons to your students and impart as much knowledge as you can. I've learned that I can really improve my lessons and overall techniques by relying on my coworkers for inspiration and advice. I'd love to work in a school that gives teachers the ability to create their own classroom structure but also encourages communication and collaboration between teachers.'
This answer shows the candidate has good experience and knows what to expect when teaching students between the ages of 11 and 16. It also shows the candidate's ability to work in a fast-paced classroom where they set their own rules and requirements while also understanding the benefits of sharing and talking with fellow educators.
'For me, my preferred work style focuses on dependability and teamwork. I am an extremely dependable employee and understand the importance of staying late or coming in early for a shift if my coworkers need it. I enjoy working in an environment where I can totally trust my colleagues and feel comfortable asking them for help whenever I need it. I desire mutual respect and understanding from all my colleagues and superiors as we work to help people overcome illnesses.'
Nursing is a very team-oriented career, and this answer shows the candidate's understanding of this industry. This answer highlights the candidate's readiness to help employees in any way possible and also shows that they expect mutual respect to play a large role in how they get along with their fellow employees.
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