Smoking or drinking isn’t illegal in most parts of the world–unless you drink at work, of course :). What’s more, having a drink or a cigarette break with your colleagues, has become a sort of a social norm. People who don’t drink or smoke are often social outsiders–or at least that’s how others see them, those who won’t refuse a drink when they are offered one.

Considering that team building plays an important role in many corporations around the world, answer to this question isn’t as obvious as it may seem. Because companies want to hire people who’d fit in. And if it is a part of the company culture, that colleagues hit the bars and get wasted each Friday, so they have something to live from during the next boring week at work, being an abstinent can even be a disadvantage in the interviews

Let’ have a look at 7 sample answers to this tricky interview question. Regardless of whether you drink and smoke, or dislike such things, you should find a fitting and sensible answer in our selection. Do not forget to check also my notes below the answers, as they will help you to understand what to do and say in your particular job interview.

 

7 sample answers to “Do you smoke or drink alcohol?” interview question

  1. I do not smoke or drink, but I have nothing against people who do so. While it is definitely not healthy, it perhaps helps them to cope with pressure and with adversity they experience in life. Or perhaps it’s just a bad habit. Anyway, I do not judge people by their habits. I try to not judge them at all. If they smoke or drink, it’s their choice. As long as they do not neglect their duties in work, I have no problem with that.
  2. I enjoy a glass of wine or a beer sometimes. But I know my limits, and I never drink at work, or before work. Just on Friday and Saturday, to relax a bit, or to let off steam when I need it. At the end of the day this is a competitive business, and we work a lot. It’s important to have some balance, and to find some time to relax. A glass of wine can only help with that.
  3. I do smoke, but I definitely want to quit. It’s an addiction, a drug, and every smoker will tell you that it’s not easy to quit. I have the same experience. To be honest, I consider this job an opportunity to help me quit smoking. Stress levels aren’t particularly high at this place, and if I understand the job description correctly, I’ll have to stand next to the assembly line for eight hours, with only one five minute break after four hours. That means I won’t be able to smoke, maybe just one cigarette during the break. Naturally I will limit the number of cigarettes for a day, and maybe, step by step, I will eventually quit.
  4. I am very sociable, and I enjoy being in a company of people who enjoy themselves. It’s one of the reasons why I chose the job of a hostess. I definitely won’t refuse a drink, especially if the client buys me the most expensive one, and the club makes a lot of money. I understand how it works in this field. The place is certainly full of cigarette smoke in the night. But that’s exactly the sort of environment where I thrive and enjoy myself. Of course as I grow older my priorities may change, but for now it’s completely fine for me.
  5. I do not smoke and I actually dislike the smell of cigarettes. I believe that one cannot have a healthy mind without having a healthy body, and therefore I prefer to avoid any toxins, including alcohol and cigarettes. Having said that, I am no bore in a party. I can have fun without drinking a drop of alcohol. Some people need to drink something so they can dance and loosen their tongue, but it’s definitely not my case. You do not have to be afraid that I won’t socialize with colleagues or struggle to build good relationship with them.
  6. I want to be honest with you. I enjoy getting wasted each Friday night. It’s just what we do with friends, our way of relaxing after a difficult week at work. But I want to ensure you that once I am back in my office on Monday, nobody ever notices anything. It’s simply a thing for Friday night, and except of these occasions I rarely drink anything at all, and I do not smoke. My drinking Fridays have no impact on my performance in work. If they ever start to have an impact, I will stop drinking.
  7. I never drink or smoke. In my opinion it is not good for anyone. And I also know that you have a policy in place which forbids smoking or drinking in the workplace. It’s one of the reasons why I applied for a job with you, and not with one of your competitors. I like that you promote healthy lifestyle and diet, and will try to support such efforts with my conduct in work.

 

Show respect and understanding for the choices of your colleagues

You never know who is sitting on the other side of the table. The hiring manager can be a chain smoker, or even, in some extreme cases, a heavy drinker.

That’s why it is important to never condemn people who smoke or drink. You can call the habit unhealthy, but you should not say that you have nothing to tell to people who smoke or drink, or hate to be in their company.

On the contrary, you understand that each of us has a different life story. Some people face a lot of adversity, some had bad role models in life, and some simply stress too much and cannot let go without a bit of nicotine. Ensure the interviewers that you prefer understanding and empathy to judging. Sample answers no. 1 and no. 5 can help you find the right words in this case.

In some jobs, smoking or drinking can actually be a plus

It’s good to know something about your product, to have a first hand experience. If you sell electronic cigarettes, for example, it’s definitely better if you also smoke, and perhaps switched from traditional cigarettes to electronic.

This allows you to share your personal experience with the customers, and help them make a better decision.

Similar analogy applies to certain jobs in clubs and bars. If your main duty is to entertain guests, to help them enjoy their stay, and if the club earns money from drinks they buy for you (of course the most expensive drinks), you shouldn’t be an abstinent…

Think twice what is expected from you in work. In some cases, drinking or smoking can actually be a plus. See sample answer no. 4 as a good example.

 

Honesty is a highly sought quality in the employment market

Interview is a sales talk. We try to showcase our strengths and conceal our weaknesses. At least that’s what most people do. Not many job seekers will admit that they drink heavily each Friday. But when you visit the city on Friday night, you will see that many people drink, and not a little…

What I want to illustrate here is that hiring managers are not stupid. If they interview 10 people for the job and all of them tell them that they do not drink, it’s obvious that at least most of them are lying. But that’s what people will do, and because of that, brutal honesty can make wonders for you in the interviews.

If you enjoy getting wasted each Friday, maybe you can tell them so. Show them that you have nothing to hide, that, in contrary to other job applicants, you try to be authentic in the interviews. Of course it is important to add that this has no impact on your performance in work, and that you do not drink during the week… See sample answer no. 6 as a good illustration of this approach to the question.

 

Conclusion, answers to other tricky interview question

More than one billion of people smoke. And billions drink alcohol. In my circles (which include hundreds of people) I will find it hard to find five people who abstain from alcohol. That’s the reality. Though not a healthy habit, smoking or occasional drinking is a almost a social norm, and it makes no sense to fabricate some stories about your abstinence in the interview.

As long as you manage to convince the interviewers that your drinking and smoking habits do not have a negative impact on your performance in work, and that you respect your colleagues as they are (and do not judge them for their bad habits), they will be satisfied with your answer…

Check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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