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How to Answer an Interview Question about Your Work Style

by THEA kelley | July 22, 2021

What is your work style? As with questions about your “ideal work environment,” this question is about cultural fit–will you perform well within this team? It’s also about your fit for the job itself.

In both cases, the key is to find the overlap between your style and what works for the company.

First, identify your work style.

How do you prefer to do your work? Do you like to work fast, or in a more slow and careful way? Do you prefer collaboration or working independently? How do you prefer to organize your day? Do you want routine or variety? Multi-tasking or handling one project at a time? And what motivates you most—helping others, collaboration, overcoming big challenges, developing your skills? Do you prefer to focus on results or relationships?

Make a list of your answers to these questions, and any other aspects of your style that come to mind. If you’ve taken a personality test, jot down what you learned from it about your work style. Now, look for clues to what work style will be most effective in the role you’re interviewing for. Research the company. Think about the culture of the team you’d be working with. And first and foremost, study the job posting. Look for descriptive language like this:

  • “strong presence and drive”
  • “collaborative mindset”
  • “client service focus”
  • “motivational leader”
  • “hands-on”
  • “detail oriented”
  • “big picture awareness”
  • “bias for action”
  • “sense of urgency”
  • “sense of humor”

Now plan your answer to the interview question about your work style.

Now that you’ve listed various aspects of your work style, what aspects overlap between (a) your style and (b) the culture of the role and organization? Those are the aspects you want to include in your answer!

To make your answer both more credible and more memorable, include an example. Tell a story of how your style has benefited a past employer. Here’s an example from someone interviewing for a position as a corporate curriculum developer:

“My work style is very relationship-oriented. I love getting to know people, which really helps, because when I need to gather information from subject matter experts throughout the company, I get wonderful cooperation because they know me and like me, and because I’ve learned when and how they prefer to communicate with me. I’m also very service-oriented. For example, last month I discovered on a Friday that the training that was about to start Monday was lacking some information that the trainees could get by without, but that would make their jobs easier. Nobody was going to complain if I left it out, but I stayed until eight putting it together anyway. The trainees so appreciative that I knew I’d made a bunch of new friends!”

Interviewing for a managerial role? Read my post on how to answer the similar question, “What is your management style?”

Vague questions like “What’s your work style?” are an opportunity.

Like “tell me about yourself,” the interview question “what is your work style” is vague. That vagueness is a gift to you, allowing you to answer the question in the way that best conveys your fit for the specific role.

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