Working environment is a broad term which offers more than one interpretation. One thing is clear though: Just as animals and plants can thrive and reproduce only in fitting conditions, human beings can deliver their best, and enjoy their time in work, only in a fitting working environment–regardless of what that means for each of us.

Hence this question makes a perfect sense in almost all job interviews. Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers first. Later I will explain what you should focus on while thinking about your own genuine answer to this tricky interview question.

 

7 sample answers to “What’s your ideal working environment?” interview question

  1. As a programmer, it’s really important for me to have my peace in work, to eliminate almost all distractions. I need to be able to focus on the code only, for long hours in one go. Quality and fast computer is a must as well, and in an ideal case I should have at least two monitors at my table. For this reason I prefer to have my own office, and if I work in an open office I’d like to have at least some privacy at my desk. It is also nice to have a chill zone, a space where you can relax for five or ten minutes after working on a code for several hours. I know you have such space in your company, and it is definitely one of the things that caught my eye on your job offer.
  2. The most important thing for me is to be outdoors. I like to breath fresh air, to move, to be in the nature. I know that it is not the most convenient working environment, and days can be tough when it rains or snows, but when you wear the right clothes it is not a problem. Of course, when working on a farm it’s important that we have proper equipment, that we do not work with blunt tools that slow us down.
  3. To be honest, I have no preference. The most important thing to me is to work on a team of people. But whether I am alone or share an office with others, whether I work inside or outside, and whether I am intellectually challenged each day or the job is rather repetitive, I do not mind. As long as I share the workplace with some interesting colleagues and we interact on a daily basis, I tend to be motivated and happy about my days in work.
  4. I enjoy working in a fast paced working environment. To feel the adrenaline, to hear the phones ringing, to see that people around me try their best motivates me strongly. I do not like when there’s nothing to do, or when it seems that most people are just hanging around the office. I just can’t sit at a computer doing nothing. When I am busy, however, making calls each day–what I know will be the case in your company, the time flies away quickly and before I know it’s 5pm and time to go home. That’s the type of working environment I like.
  5. I am a sort of an artistic soul, and I prefer calm and harmonious places. It is one of the reasons why I really like your cafeteria. It’s a small place, not intended for masses, and people who come to drink their cup of coffee here aren’t in a rush, just like when they come to some junk food restaurant. They enjoy sitting here, listening to music, perhaps having a short conversation with the waiter… I’d love to work in such a place, since it matches my inner pace perfectly.
  6. To be honest, it’s not very important to me. What matters is the nature of the job. I am a designer by heart, and as long as there are interesting designs to work on, I am pretty much fixated on my computer screen. It doesn’t matter if I am alone or surrounded by people, if there is noise in the place–because I do not perceive any of those things when working on my designs. The only important thing is that the place is air conditioned, because I do not like to sweat and definitely prefer to work in cooler conditions. But that shouldn’t be an issue in your company.
  7. My ideal working environment is exactly the one you have in place here. Big open offices, diverse teams, modern equipment, clear goals and targets and processes for each employee. That’s the sort of environment I thrive in, or at least I did well in such in my last job. I did a good research about your place, and read what existing and former employees said about your working environment. What I read resonated with my values immediately, and it’s one of the reasons why I decided to apply for this position, and not for a job with one of your competitors.

 

Before anything else, your answer should make sense

Your picture of an ideal working environment should at least partially match with the things they can offer you in your new job. Let me give you an example: It makes no sense to say that you love to work in a comfy, air-conditioned office, if you apply for a job at a farm, or somewhere in the woods.

To say that you prefer quiet and relaxed places won’t make much sense either, when you are applying for a job of a barista or hostess in a night club where DJ plays music all night long.

Of course there were extreme examples, but I hope you got the point. You should always try to learn something about the working environment in the company, and your answer should at least somehow correspond with the things they can offer you.

You can focus on physical conditions, but also on people and processes

Working environment isn’t only the organization of the offices, temperature, whether you work outside or inside. It is also the interactions you have with people, processes they have in place in the company, the level of pressure and workload, you experience on a daily basis, and many other things.

You should focus on things that matter to you, and, in an ideal case, things that you can find with your new employer. Maybe you’ve been a lonely wolf for a long time, and the thing you are looking for the most is having daily interactions with people. You want to work in a busy office, go to meetings each day, have conversations and perhaps even creative arguments with colleagues.

Or you worked in a place that was totally disorganized, and nobody really knew what they were supposed to do. Now you want to work in a company that has processes and KPIs in place for everything, and that’s exactly the reason why you chose them, and try to secure a job in their offices.

You can definitely refer to such things when describing your idea of an great working environment.

 

You do not necessarily have to give it high importance

For some people it really doesn’t matter much where they work, and who they work with, as long as they enjoy the job they are doing. See sample answer no. 6 as an example of this attitude.

If you can focus on your job, and limit all outside distractions, if your computer screen really is your working environment, you can say that it doesn’t matter to you where you work, or that you do not have any particular preferences.

Most interviewers will be satisfied with such an answer, because it also shows that you enjoy your job, and do not need any extra incentives to work hard, to not waste your time hanging around the office…

 

Conclusion, answers to other tricky interview questions

Working environment is another buzzword you can hear often in the interviews. They may directly  ask you to describe your ideal working environment, or they may inquire about it in an indirect way.

Do some research about your prospective employer, try to find out what you can expect in their place, and relate to it in your answer. You can refer to physical conditions, but also to people, processes, or overall vibe of the place. You can read our 7 sample answers again, if you are not sure what to focus on, what to talk about. I am sure you will find at least one good answer in the list :).

Ready to answer this one? Check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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