When referring to philosophy, one imagines talks about the most serious matters of our existence. The origin of the world, whether life after death exists, what will happen with the world economy once people realize that governments aren’t able to pay their debts with more money printing, and similar questions. However, philosophy does also mean attitude, in a slightly broader sense, and hence in this case the hiring managers simply want to understand your attitude towards work, what does it mean to you, what role it plays in your life.
Needless to say, most people go to work because they have to. We live in a society with certain rules, and unless we have money to pay our bills and cover our daily expenses, we will find ourselves quickly on the fringe of human society, sleeping in a car or on a park bench. We primarily work to avoid it happening, and obviously also to have money to enjoy some pleasures of our earthly existence. As you can likely imagine though, saying that you work only because you have to isn’t the best of ideas in a job interview.
Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this interesting question. You will find also a couple of unconventional answers on my list, and hopefully you can pick one that reflects your attitude, or at least the message you try to convey in the interviews, in order to get the job. Do not forget to read also my notes at the end of this article. They explain some crucial points you should keep on your mind when talking about your philosophy towards work.
7 sample answers to “What is your philosophy towards work?” interview question
- Work is the most important thing in my life at the moment. I enjoy being part of something bigger, working on things that can change something in this world. Now when I am still young and do not have my own family yet, this feeling helps me to see meaningful purpose in my existence. To sum it up, works means a lot to me, and if I get this excellent job with you, you can be sure I will try my best in work day in day out.
- My philosophy is simple: to try my best each and every day. Not only that I feel better that way–if I am somewhere–be it in an office, in a store, or any other workplace, I am not the kind of person who’d hang around doing nothing. I like to be active, and the time flies quickly when you really work. On the top of that, I realize that results we achieve are always in direct proportion to the effort we put in. It has worked that way for me so far, and I see no reason why it should change in the new job, the one I try to get with you.
- Up to this point, my job was something I have merely tolerated. And that is exactly why I am here with you today. I need a career change. I’ve worked in finance for years, and got really fed up with the industry practices. I cannot be a part of that huge Ponzi scheme anymore. Of course, I have bills, a debt, and everything, so I could not just stay at home doing nothing. And that’s why I am trying my luck with you, trying to move to healthcare. I hope I will find new motivation, and work will again become something I enjoy and look forward to, and not something I merely tolerate to pay my bills.
- My philosophy is to try to become the best teacher I can be. I think that each of us has some limitations, but we should aspire to become the best within those limits. And what does it mean in reality? It means that I continue with my education, trying to learn new teaching methods, collecting feedback from my students, trying to understand what I can do better. You can perhaps characterize my attitude towards work as a pursuit of an ideal, and I must say that I enjoy this journey immensely.
- To be honest with you, my philosophy towards work is that it is something we cannot really avoid. Of course, people will say lot of nice words in the interviews. But the reality is that very few–if any, would go to work if they did not get paid for doing so. And that’s how I see it right now. But look, it doesn’t mean that I won’t be motivated in my job of a kitchen aide with you. Negative motivation, when we are motivated by fear, is often stronger than the positive motivation. I do not want to end up on the street, or see my child struggle. Hence I am motivated to try hard, regardless of whether I enjoy the job or not. That’s my philosophy towards work.
- Working as a process engineer, my philosophy is to always look for ways of improving the final results of the business. Nothing should be considered perfect. We can always improve a process–be it by a fraction only. But if we improve ten processes in production by a fraction, we will notice the cumulative effect on the results of the business. And that’s why I always try to improve things, and will continue to do so, as long as I stay working in the field.
- My philosophy is the way of least resistance. Let me explain. In my opinion, it makes no sense having conflicts with colleagues, or trying to play some games in the workplace. The easiest way to get the job done, and to feel good, is simply having a good cooperation with your colleagues. I try to be attentive to their needs, and hear them our always. The same is true with my duties. If I neglect this or that, or hesitate, or postpone something because I do not feel like doing it at the moment, the only result will be falling behind with my schedule, and having a difficult time in the office. It makes no sense trying to escape your duties. That’s why I follow the philosophy of least resistance, and try to make decisions accordingly, getting my daily job done.
Honesty can pay off big time in the interviews
You should be positive about your future (in their company), but the same isn’t true about your past. Maybe you hate your present job, and that’s exactly why you want to leave it. As long as you can explain your reasoning properly (check my answer no. 3), you may win some extra points in your interviews. Life isn’t always easy. Admitting that you struggled or struggle at the moment, but see better future waiting for you in their company, is a great interview answer.
You can take things even one step further, especially if you apply for a tough manual job–think laundry, construction works, working in the fields, and so on. In such a case, you can be brutally honest and say that you work, because you cannot afford any otherwise. Just like everyone else, you are a part of the system, and cannot afford being without a job and without money. See sample answer no. 5 on the list as a good example of explaining this attitude properly.
* Special Tip: This isn’t the only difficult question you will face while interviewing for any decent job. You will face questions about prioritization, dealing with pressure, dealing with ambiguity, and other tricky scenarios that happen in the workplace. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your answers and outclass your competitors, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 31 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will make your life much easier in the interviews. Thank you for checking it out!
Trying your best every day is a great answer for any situation
Regardless of whether you try to get a job of an engineer, a teacher, or a gardener, you can always say that your philosophy towards work is simply always trying your best. Of course, you can elaborate on it, explaining what it means in your profession. For example, for a teacher it means preparing for each lesson, choosing the most fitting teaching method, trying to lead engaging lessons, paying attention to the reactions of the students, and so on.
When they ask you a follow-up questions, inquiring why you try your best, you can say that you simply have a better feeling from work. When you have to spend 8 hours a day at someplace, you prefer to spend it in a meaningful way, creating some value with your work. Check sample answer no. 2 on the list as a good example of this attitude…
Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:
- What makes you feel uncomfortable at work?
- What is the most difficult feedback you have received?
- What is your work ethic?