What a strange question this is. The way we work (or our style of work if you want), depends on many things. First of all, our position in the company, and what we are allowed to do. Secondly it depends on how we feel on any given day, whether we are high in spirits or struggle with motivation.

Last but not least, the best managers have an ability to change their working style, and they do so, depending on the person and project they deal with at any moment. Considering everything, a truly skilled hiring manager won’t ask you this question. But not all interviewers know what they are doing, or even what they want to hear from the best job candidate.

They may ask you about your work style simply because they found the question on a list of tricky interview questions, or on some old interview template. Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers. Below the answers you will find some additional notes explaining how to answer this question in a best possible way, considering the circumstances of your interview.

 

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

  1. The one expression that comes to my mind is passion. I am really passionate about graphic design, and enjoy my work immensely. I can dive into a project and lose a track of time or forget what’s going on around me while working on a new design. Letting my creativity do the work, I often turn off the thinking mind and simply let the higher intelligence within me draw the picture, the cover, new font, whatever. I know that this isn’t an orthodox working style. But as you can see in my portfolio, it works, and it delivers results the clients expect. And for me that’s the most important thing.
  2. I’d describe my work style as organized and extremely focused. I always have a to-do list, and my master document in MS Excel, covering all projects I work on, tasks, milestones, deadlines, and so on. What’s more, I try to eliminate all distractions while working. Being super focused on the task at hand, not letting my mind wander somewhere else, I typically manage to do more than the others, at least those who aren’t focused, or get distracted easily. I would like to stick to this style also in your company.
  3. More than anything else, I pay a lot of attention to details. In my opinion it is the only right way to do the engineering work. When I try to improve effectiveness of some process, or suggest some change that can have a substantial effect on the productivity of certain system, I need to dig deep. I have to understand what exactly cause this or that, how are the various processes interconnected. This style of work yielded great results in my previous roles, and I see no reason why it would be different in my next place of work.
  4. I’ve been always working as a manager, and tried my best to be the servant leader. This buzzword probably describes my work style better than anything else. I try to be attentive to the needs of my subordinates, and receptive to their feedback. I always try to entrust them with important tasks, to show that I have confidence in their abilities. This helps them to grow, and also to feel the importance of their role in the company, which helps a lot with motivation–at least in my experience.
  5. Adaptive is the word I’d use. Look, there’s so much diversity in every company. As a manager you work on many different tasks and deal with all kinds of people. Each of them has some strengths and weaknesses, and a preferred way of communication. Instead of trying to impose my way of working on them, I always try to understand how they enjoy to work and talk, what’s their comfort zone. This helps me to build excellent relationship with all stakeholders, and to get my message over easily. What’s more, plans change quickly in IT, especially when one works on innovations, which was the case for me always. My ability to adapt my work style to changing environment helps me to deal with the changes, and effectively pursue the goals I set in work.
  6. I would call myself a team player. My work is always better when I belong to a team of people. It helps me a lot to hear the feedback of my colleagues, and it is great if we support each other and try to reach some big goal together. You know, I’m not the kind of a person who tries to stand out, to be the one who gets the recognition and accolades for their work. I prefer the entire team to be recognized for the good job, for the results we achieved. And I am always there to support and encourage my colleagues, for example when they experience a crisis of motivation or have a hard time in their private life.
  7. This is my first job application, so it is hard for me to clearly define my work style. Judging by the experiences from the college, I’d say I am results-driven, and hard-working. I never minded studying late to the night, or doing something extra, something other schoolmates would not do. Maybe I did so because I wasn’t that talented, or had to try harder to succeed, but nevertheless I enjoyed the process. Having said that, I am sure you have your expectations. I’ve read something about your company culture and what you try to build here. So I have an idea of the way people work in this company, and think that I will fit it well…

 

Good research can help you with your answer

Almost all companies promote something on their careers website–their working culture, their goals, what sort of atmosphere they try to build in the workplace.

And while the reality in the workplace is often vastly different from what they promote, you can at least refer to it in your interview answer. I mean, if the company places a huge value on team work, or on achieving monthly, quarterly and yearly goals, it’s probably a good idea saying that you are a team player and your work style is results-driven.

And if they claim to be the leaders of innovation, or something similar, it’s not a bad idea calling your work style “creative”.

Each work style is okay, as long as you belong to a team

At the end of the day, each company (and department, and team) needs some balance. You can’t have only 7 results-driven leaders in a team. They would kill themselves in a week… The best teams are diverse teams–diverse in work styles, opinions, and even level of ambition.

It’s important to have someone who focuses on people, someone emotionally intelligent, someone creative. And also perhaps a person who makes a bit of fun from the daily routine, and helps to cheer the office up on a rainy day, or when the results aren’t as expected…

I mean, if the team is big enough there’s place for all kinds of personalities and work styles, and you should not be afraid to express your personality in the interviews. As long as you explain how the team or the company can benefit from your work style, they should be fine with your answer.

 

Specific positions demand specific work style

Situation changes if you apply for some specialty job. Take a process engineer, or mechanical engineer as an example. These guys have to be focused, and detail-oriented in the work, if they want to achieve any decent results.

Another example–a flight attendant, or a hostess. The girls need to give priority to human interactions, and also should do their job with a lot of enthusiasm to make for a pleasant experience of a guest, which is the desired result for their employer.

Think for a while about the job you try to get. What do they expect from you, and what sort of attitude and work style will help you to achieve the expected results? This will help you to find the right answer to their question about your work style…

 

Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Have a look at 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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