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Answers to Interview Questions About Your Work Style

Updated on June 11, 2014

What Makes You Tick?

Your work style and work ethic are of the utmost importance to a hiring manager. Be prepared to answer questions surrounding what makes you tick, what motivates you and how you behave in the work place.

Read below for tips on how to deal with these questions.

Team work makes the dream work, but working solo can be just as effective.
Team work makes the dream work, but working solo can be just as effective.

Are You a Team Player?

  • “Do you prefer working in a team or on your own?”

Think about this question before you answer. This is where knowing the job description and person specification inside out and back to front can provide you with all the clues you need.

Most positions will require you to have flexibility of working styles, so aim to give specific examples of how you prefer to both work on your own and as part of a team depending on the circumstances.

Look at the job description and make a list of the tasks or duties that may require team work, and the ones that may require you to work on your own using your initiative, or in seclusion.

What is the environment like? Is it an open plan office or individual hubs, stations or rooms? Will you be required to work on the shop floor with team members and customers? If so, what team work might this involve?

Once you have made your list, ascertain how you can provide brief examples of how you can adapt to both. If you don’t have a great deal or detail to work with, aim to provide a general answer or take a look at other job descriptions from similar job roles to work out what may be required of you. An answer that encapsulates both working in a team and on your own could be:

“In my experience, working as part of a team can get the job done more efficiently, effectively and with great results and differing opinions, skills and contributions can drive business forwards. I do however have the ability to work on my own initiative with minimal supervision and if a deadline is approaching then working solo can increase my ability to concentrate. It really depends on the task in hand, and my preference is on whether working as part of a team or working solo will provide the best results.”

Tailor your answer to the company needs and the requirement of the role.

Free Apps to Help You With Your Career

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Free career apps | Source

Interview Questions About Your Work Ethic

The hiring manager is sure to ask questions to probe into your work ethic. These may include:

  • “Do you take work home with you?”
  • “Do you manage your time in such a way, that you complete all tasks before leaving?”
  • “If you have multiple assignments that are due at the end of day, but it is not possible to finish them all, what would you do?”

These questions are a bit chicken or egg, so once again, it would be sensible to cover all bases citing different circumstances. The interviewer is really trying to find out if you will be clock watching and running for the exit bang on your contracted finishing time every day.

It is essential here that you show the hiring manager that you work with flexibility depending on the work load of that particular day. If you always take your work home with you or are unable to finish tasks before leaving at the end of the day, it may appear that you are unable to organise and prioritise your time, or have poor communication skills with your boss or team. In your mind you may be super keen and love your work so much that you take it home, but this could ring alarm bells with the interviewer that you are inefficient, and as a result, they may have to pay overtime to a stressed out, shattered employee.

On the flip side of the coin, you don’t want to look like someone who runs for the exit bang on clocking off time.

A simple way to address this is:

“I always ensure that I understand my job role and aim to manage my time effectively so I can complete all tasks on time and with great results. If there are times when additional work or targets and deadlines need to be met, then I am happy to take work home with me in order to complete on time.”

Show you are flexible and willing without showing that you are incompetent or a mug!

Quick Poll

Do you prefer working as part of a team or on your own?

See results

How to Show You Take Pride in Your Work

  • “Do you take pride in your work? How does it show?”

I hope your answer will be “Yes!”

There are many ways in which you can take pride in your work, so watch out you don’t waffle. Carefully construct a few sentences detailing some of the following, which are most relevant to you and the role in which you are being interviewed.

  • Your appearance and how this, in turn, can be a representation of the brand.
  • Do you use the products or service and talk positively about them at all times?
  • You pay attention to detail, so how do you do this? Give a specific example, that directly relates to the job.
  • Think about the place in which you work. Do you have a tidy desk or work space? Even though it may not be your job, do you help keep the work environment clean and free of obstructions?
  • How do you prepare for your working day? Do you have to visit clients or do presentations? If so, then how do you prepare and show how proud you are to work there?

Talk about your organisations skills and work ethic. (There are some more examples in the section below) Keep your answers brief - if the interviewer wants to know more detail, he or she will ask more questions.

Whatever you choose to say, be enthusiastic, positive and naturally animated. The interviewer wants to learn that you can be a great advocate for the brand.

Organising your day in advance increases efficiency in the work place and will save you time in the long run.
Organising your day in advance increases efficiency in the work place and will save you time in the long run.

Your Organisation and Planning Skills

Questions surrounding your organisational skills or ability to plan are typical in job interviews and are designed to discover how autonomous you may work.

Your future boss will be trying to find out whether or not they will have to stand over you and hold your hand while you work.

  • “How organised are you?”
  • “What do you deem as good organisational skills?”
  • “How do you organise your desk?”
  • “Describe to me how being organised in the work place is important”
  • “What makes a good organiser?”

When answering any of the above, it would be wise to include how being organised can make you more effective or productive at work but try to avoid over used clichés such as “A tidy desk is a tidy mind”.

Keep your answer simple. You don’t have to describe how you have invented a new filing system that is going to change the world. All the interviewer wants to hear is that you understand how important it is to be organised so you are not wasting time trying to find hidden items or working in chaos.

  • “How do you plan a typical work day?”
  • “How does planning effectively positively impact your day?”
  • “How do you prioritise and plan your appointments?”

Giving an overview of your planning strategy is recommended rather than a step by step account of every hour of your day.

“I start my planning the previous day by ensuring that I have everything organised, neat and tidy before I leave at the end of my shift. This allows me to start the day knowing exactly what I have to do and where I have to be.”


“I always aim to manage my time in the most effective way so when I am booking appointments I try to arrange them in blocks of postal areas so that I am minimising my travelling time and reducing mileage costs for the company.”


“My day starts with a short team meeting so we are all clear on our agenda and if any cover is required due to staff absences. This allows us to prioritise the most urgent tasks and delegate as required in order to achieve all tasks.”

Your Effectiveness & Work Environment

  • “What environments allow you to be especially effective?”
  • “How do you like your work space to be?”
  • “What atmosphere do you prefer to work in?”

Questions, such as these, are often posed to ascertain your flexibility to adapt to different work place environments or settings, so your answer should address this.

“Over the course of my career, I have worked in a variety of settings and have learned to adapt to differing environments. To be at my most effective depends on the task in hand. For example, if I am working to a deadline where the task requires high concentration, I am more effective in a quiet place where there is minimal interruption however I realise that this is not always possible so I have learned over time to be able to block out excess noise and focus solely on my work.”

This answer allows you to cover several bases without laying out a diva-ish list of requirements.

Another angle is to think about the environment you will actually be working in should you get the job.

If you know you are going to be working in a fast paced, open plan office where noise will be inevitable then avoid stating that you like to work on your own in silence. Ensure your answer, in this instance, takes into account the potential to be interrupted or distracted and how you would go about making sure you deliver a high standard of work at all times.

“I am able to work in a variety of situations, but I am especially effective when there is a fast paced environment with energy from others radiating around the office.”

Similarly, if you will be working alone for most of the day then this needs to be discussed.

The Outcome

If you can display a strong work ethic, adaptable style and flexible attitude to each and every task, you will be a strong contender for the position.

Always talk with enthusiasm and don't forget to smile; it really does help!

Displaying a good, solid and considered work ethic will contribute to interview success.
Displaying a good, solid and considered work ethic will contribute to interview success.


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