You might have gotten questions like “What is your management style?” or “What kind of work environment do you prefer?” This one belongs to the same family, but leaves things a little more up to interpretation. You might talk about your management style. And you may very well talk about what kind of environment allows you to do your best work. But there are many ways you could approach your answer.
When interviewers ask about your work style, it’s usually an effort to assess whether you’ll be successful in this role, on this team, and within this company. They want to know “how well you’re going to fit into the way that they work and to the requirements of the job and how well you work with others,” says Muse career coach Lynn Berger. Do the qualities, skills, and preferences you describe set you up to meet the goals of this job and be a good addition to the existing team?
For example, if you’re interviewing for a role that requires cross-functional collaboration and teamwork, but you talk about how you’re a lone wolf who likes to work quietly and independently, that would be a red flag for the interviewer. On the other hand, if you talk about how you thrive on the energy of a group and learn from partnering with colleagues in other departments, it’ll signal that you’re a strong candidate for this role.
And here’s the thing: “It is vague on purpose,” says Muse career coach Jena Viviano. Interviewers are looking to understand your thought process and what’s most important to you. Are you going to talk about communication? Are you going to focus on your work-from-home setup? Will you tell them about how you juggle different tasks and projects? Whatever you choose to talk about will help the interviewer get to know you a little better—and potentially make it easier for them to picture you in this job!
How to Answer What is Your Work Style – Interview Question and Answers
Words You Can Use to Describe Your Work Style
There are far more words you can use to describe your work style in the job interview, but these all sound professional and impressive and should give you a great starting point as you plan and practice your answer.
I recommend mentioning two of these words, not just one, in your answer. However, it’s okay to choose a single word if you’re able to back it up with examples and strong evidence of how you’ve used that trait to deliver great results throughout your career.
Now let’s look at some sample interview answers so you can see how a great response will sound.
3. But Be Honest
Yes, alignment is important. But that doesn’t mean you should just tell the interviewer what you think they want to hear. “Be authentic,” Owens says, and be honest about the things you want and need in order to do your best work. “I always tell clients, ‘If you can tell them that and they can fall in love, flaws and all, you’re off to a good start. If not, you dodged a bullet,’” Owens says. If you describe a work style you think this interviewer is looking for but doesn’t actually reflect who you are, you might get the job, but “you’re going to start off a work relationship on false pretenses.” And ultimately, neither side is likely to be happy down the line.
In that sense, preparing to answer this question can also help clarify how you feel about the job. “If you’re reading about the job and there’s no alignment, maybe it’s not the job for you,” Berger says. Or maybe it’s an indication that you need to ask some follow-up questions of your own to figure out whether or not it’s a good match.
2. Consider your relationship with management
Another point to consider is your work relationship with your manager. The interviewer will want to know whether you like to take direction from your manager or team lead in every aspect of your responsibilities. Conversely, you may be more comfortable working with little or no supervision except for regular progress reports. In your answer, emphasize the importance of teamwork and feedback from your manager. This will ensure you deliver results according to the requirements and specifications of the job.