Man is a creature of habits. And we do not change easily, especially after we reach certain age, and have been following our routines for years. But each new job is a chance to change something in our life. A chance to grow (or to decline), an opportunity to learn something new, and perhaps even form new work habits. And since our habits have an impact on our productivity, as well as on our relationships with colleagues at work, hiring managers like to ask about them in the interviews. It isn’t an easy question, because many people cannot even tell what their work habits are. And what about you?

As a rule of a thumb, you should focus on good habits, routines that should help you be more productive and achieve your goals in the job. A bit of honesty doesn’t harm as well though. Mentioning a bad habit (such as always arriving five minutes late to meetings, or not really listening when colleagues are talking to you), can win you the favor of many interviewers. Especially when you elaborate on it, explaining that you try your best to get rid of a bad habit, and perhaps replace it with a good one.

Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this intriguing question. I tried to include in my selection answers for both experienced employees and fresh graduates (people applying for their very first job), some unconventional answers, and all in all you should be able to come up with your own fitting answer after going through the list. Enjoy!


7 sample answers to “How would you describe your work habits?” interview question

  1. I have a few habits all my former colleagues know and can confirm. One of them is always replying to emails immediately, as soon as I open them. I find it much more effective than waiting and prioritizing messages and then ending up with a big pile of unanswered emails. Because in my last job communication was very important. And so as soon as I got an email I opened it, and either deleted it or answered it immediately. My second habit is taking initiative in the meetings. I am the one to raise unpleasant questions, and also the one to answer such questions from other managers. Certainly I have also other work habits, but these two stand out in my view, and I hope they will help me to achieve great results in my new job.
  2. To be honest, I am just forming my work habits, because I’ve been employed for two years only. One thing that stand out, however, at least in my view, is an excellent focus on the task at hand. I never listen to music or work on several tasks simultaneously, or daydream while in the job. On the contrary, I give 100% of my attention to the task I am working on at the moment. In my experience, it helps me to complete the work faster than my colleagues, and it is perhaps a good habit. But as I’ve said, I am still young and forming my other habits. Perhaps I can learn some great work habits from the managers in your company.
  3. I would call out two things. One–and that’s definitely a habit I want to change, is being five minutes late to every meeting. I just must improve my time management, because while five minutes isn’t a long time, and perhaps my colleagues accept that, the really successful people are punctual, and also those minutes add up in a long run, and we are losing time. Second habit–and that’s perhaps a good one, is being honestly interested in the needs and feelings of my colleagues. I find it natural to talk to people, to perceive how they feel, to ask questions, to offer words of encouragement, and so on. In my experience, it helps a lot with relationship building in the workplace.
  4. My most obvious work habit is an obsession with planning. I like to have an in-detail plan for every day in work, including even minor tasks. Sometimes at the start of the day I know what I will do every minute at work. And while this helps me to stay productive and waste minimum of time, it can sometimes backfire, especially when things change suddenly. Because I have a tendency to stick to the plan and then I sometimes lack flexibility, and ability to adapt quickly to changes. As you can see, I am still trying to find the right balance here, and perhaps a job with you can be a great opportunity to do so.
  5. This is my first job application, and so I haven’t had a chance to develop any work habits yet. Of course, I have some experience from college, for example when I was preparing for exams. We can also call that period “work”, in a sense it is a job of a student to prepare for the exams… In the exam period, my habit was to always start early, and do the majority of studying in the morning, when my mind was fresh and I found it easier to concentrate and learn something. And I think I’d like to do the same at work, because my mind really works the best in the morning. Other than that I cannot specify any work habits, but hope to form good habits in my new job, because I want to be successful, and that would be tough without fostering the right habits.
  6. My main work habit is to always keep learning. Working in IT, I am aware of the scary pace the technology evolves at. Unless I adapt, I will become a second-class programmer, and I cannot afford it. That’s why I keep learning the code, watching tutorials, experimenting in my free time, and basically do all I can to stay on the top of the things. I have one bad habit as well though. It happens to me sometimes that I get extremely absorbed in my work. Colleagues talk to me and I am not listening, or a manager tells me to do something and I immediately forget. Well, there is always room for improvement I guess. I am aware of this bad habit, and hopefully I can get rid of it in my new job.
  7. Speaking honestly, I try to keep things simple when it comes to work habits. I always arrive on time, take care of my duties, stay courteous to the customers, regardless of how I feel, or how they treat me. Sticking to these simple rules helps me to deliver the expected results month after month. I definitely want to do the same in my new job, hopefully with your corporation.

Speak in a “normal language”, elaborate on your habits

You may have a tendency to use many “power words” in your interview answers, just because a lot of interview coaches and self-proclaimed gurus suggest you to do so. In my opinion, this is an outdated advice, and most hiring managers are tired of such answers. What’s more, they sound completely unnatural…

I suggest you to speak in a normal language, describing your habits and how they impact you in your daily work (just like you can learn on my list of sample answers), because at the end of the day, that’s what matters for the interviewers. You can also elaborate on each habit. If it is a bad one, ensure them that you try your best to get rid of it, or to replace it with a good habit. And if it is a good habit, one which helps you to achieve better results at work, tell them that you want to keep it in your new job as well.

Ready to answer this tricky interview question? I hope so! Do not forget to check also sample answers to other tough interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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