How to answer the interview question “What is your work style?”

In an interview, answering open-ended questions can seem daunting. Knowing how to answer the question “What is your work style?” in an interview can help quell any uncertainty you might have about how to best address the subject. This way, you won’t be caught off-guard and can have a plan in place for how to impress your interviewer and increase your chances of landing the job

The best way to prepare to answer this common interview question is to figure out ahead of time what exactly your work style is and practice succinctly summarizing the key points while highlighting what your work style can bring to this specific role. 

Knowing ahead of your interview how you will address the topic of your work style can help you more easily integrate specific examples into your answer and give the interviewer a good sense of how you will fit into the role you’re interviewing for

What is your work style?

First and foremost, you’ll need to know what your work style is before you can answer the question in an interview. If you don’t already know what your work style is, you will want to examine the following areas to better understand how it is that you best work.

Collaboration: Do you work best in a team or independently?

Accuracy: Can you meet deadlines and goals with ease?

Structure: Do you multitask well or do you prefer to tackle one project at a time?

Communication: How comfortable are you receiving feedback, responding to criticism, and speaking up when you need help?

Answering these questions can help you address the topic in an interview with ease while also giving the interviewer some insight into who you are at work.

Do your homework

If you know ahead of time a bit about the company you are interviewing with, you will be better equipped to answer a question about your work style while also highlighting how your work style will mesh well with the company culture

You can scour the company’s website, take a peek at the team members’ social networking platforms, and even do a quick Google search to see what their core values are. Once you know more about the company, you can tailor your answer to this interview question so that you focus on what it is about your specific work style that makes you a great fit for their company.

Be specific

Using cliched replies to answer a question about your work style might seem like the way to go, but you don’t want to over-generalize your work style when you’re asked about it directly. Just saying that you’re “extremely efficient” or “a hard worker” isn’t going to impress the interviewer as much as a well thought out answer with a response unique to you will. 

In an interview, your interviewer is trying to get a sense of who you are and how you’ll fit into the role you’re interviewing for. To best answer the question, you should be specific in your reply and give the interviewer enough information so that they get a sense of how you might tackle the day-to-day in their workplace

Give examples

If you have an achievement to highlight in your answer, be specific about the steps you took to accomplish that goal. Along the same lines, if you say that you work best in a group, you can give an example of something you helped your team achieve. 

When you give an interviewer specific examples of how your skills related to communication, accuracy, structure and collaboration have yielded success in the past, it gives them a bit of insight about your level of productivity in the workplace. This is an important aspect of your work style that hiring managers might want to dive deeper into with a follow-up question, but if you go ahead and give them an example within your answer about your work style, they’ll already have a window into what your productivity looks like. 

Another tip to keep in mind when selecting your example is to pick something that showcases what you can bring to the table for the role you are interviewing for. For example, if you are interviewing for a role that you know requires a lot of project management skills, give an example of a time when delegating your work load helped lead your team to success.

Practice your answer

This will help you seamlessly explain how your work style will be of benefit to your potential employer should they hire you. In addition, practicing your answer can give you some insight into whether or not you have included all of the elements necessary to thoroughly answer the question. Plus, the more you practice your answer, the less likely you are to stumble over your words when asked in an interview setting. 

Have someone ask you a few mock-interview questions with an open-ended question about your work style thrown into the mix. This way you can practice giving your answer and potentially get some feedback from another person about the way your answer sounds when you say it. 

How to structure your answer

While you want your answer to remain brief, what you say when answering the question “What is your work style?” should hit all of the high points about how you collaborate, your accuracy on the job, preferred daily structure, and communication style. You’ll also want to highlight your unique skill set as it relates to the job that you’re interviewing for. 

Be careful not to be too rigid in your answers. You’ll want to give the impression that you’re flexible and ready to integrate your own work style seamlessly within the bounds of how their office already works. 

The following example addresses each topic as it relates to an individual’s work style while also embracing flexibility and showcasing achievements. 

“While I’m happy to work independently, I really enjoy working with a team where I can bounce ideas off of my co-workers.”  (Collaboration) The encouragement and help of others recently allowed me to meet a tight deadline with ease.” (Accuracy) “I typically prefer to focus on one project at a time in order to give it my full attention, but I am able to multitask when necessary to get the task at hand completed.” (Structure) “When a customer needed their website re-launch completed sooner than expected recently, I was able to delegate specific design tasks to my team in order to meet the customer’s needs ahead of schedule.” (Communication)

While it may seem like a lot of information to include in one brief answer, with a bit of forethought and practice, you can craft a response that will successfully answer the interviewer’s question, impress them, and increase your odds of landing the job.