As an open-ended question, “What is your work style?” can be challenging to navigate and answer. Interviewers often use this question to determine whether you’re a good fit for the company culture and the role. In turn, this means that preparing a good answer can significantly boost your chances of landing the job. In this article, we will look at some of the best tips that will allow you to prepare a concise and compelling answer to “What is your work style?”
Table of Contents:
- Why do employers ask, “What is your work style?”
- What are the different types of work styles?
- 5 Tips on how to answer “What is your work style?”
- 1. Research the company and position
- 2. Tell a story to demonstrate your work style
- 3. Be honest
- 4. Be concise
- 5. Don’t overthink it
- Example answers to “What is your work style?”
- Mistakes to avoid when answering “What is your work style?”
Why do employers ask, “What is your work style?”
At its core, this question serves to help the interviewer gauge if you’ll be a good fit for the organization. Your response can reveal how you perform in a team and whether you can be successful in the position. For example, suppose you’re applying for a job that hinges on collaboration but say that you prefer working alone. In that case, this might be a red flag.
The question also shows your level of maturity and self-awareness. The interviewers want to see that you understand the role’s requirements and can objectively determine if you fulfill them. This is why it’s vital to tailor your answer to the position. Check the company’s social media, past job listings, and website. This will help you understand the company culture, general requirements, and the type of candidates they are likely to hire. Based on these aspects, you can then prepare an answer that will cement your position as the ideal candidate. Additionally, even if you don’t fit entirely into the company culture, show that you’re willing to adapt.
What are the different types of work styles?
- Independent – Independent workers perform best when they get to work solo. As such, they often struggle with collaboration as well as supervision. Typically, they like to create their own path and see where it leads them. Visionaries, creatives, and entrepreneurs are often the proponents of the independent working style. Overall, they are productive, efficient, and highly disciplined.
- Co-operative – As the opposite of the independent worker, the cooperative employee works best as part of a team. Mainly, they enjoy sharing responsibility and thrive on feedback from their colleagues. In a group setting, they are organized, collaborative, and strategic in their approach to tasks. Moreover, they have excellent communication skills and diplomacy that make them a perfect fit for any relationship-focused role.
- Logical – Employees with this work style are typically quick and efficient in problem-solving and overcoming challenges. Moreover, their linear thinking allows them to thrive in data-oriented positions and achieve personal or company goals promptly. However, logical employees sometimes forget about communication and planning. Instead, they spend most of their time deeply concentrated on their thought processes.
- Detail-Oriented – The detail-oriented employee is organized, strategic, and steady in their work. They make a great addition to any team by bringing a sense of stability. In risky situations, they prefer to be thoughtful, slow, and methodical in their solutions, thus thriving in research-oriented positions. As team leaders, they can be slightly perfectionists and tend to micromanage. However, if paired with proactive colleagues, they are a great driving force of success.
- Supportive – Having a more emotionally driven work style, supportive individuals are often expressive and great team players. In and outside of work, they thrive in collaboration and building new relationships. Subsequently, they perform well as part of a team, to which they often bring harmony and resolve conflicts. Their emotional intelligence and active listening skills allow them to facilitate effective communication and account for the feelings and opinions of those around them.
- Visionary – The vision of the bigger picture drives the visionary. They are natural leaders who inspire others to work towards common goals and vision. Thriving in taking chances and risks, they are energetic and actionable. Additionally, they have a talent for turning risks or challenges into new opportunities and pursuing them tirelessly. However, they can sometimes overlook the rest of their team’s opinions or pay little attention to the details of their vision.
How to Answer “What is your work style?”
- Research the company and position
The fact that the question is very open-ended allows you to choose what you want to emphasize. Ideally, you should find those aspects of your work style that overlap with what the job calls for to focus on. So, the first step in preparing your answer should be to analyze the job description. Ensure that you understand what the company is looking for and which of the requirements you can fulfill. Next, research the company as a whole. This can tell you more about their company culture, values, and goals.
- Tell a story to demonstrate your work style
When you’re asked, “What is your work style?” you may feel tempted to give a vague, generic answer. However, the best way to leave a lasting impression on the interviewer is to tell a story. So, add some proof to your response. If you’re an idealist, explain how you set your team goals and led people to achieve them. Give specific examples of what you did that reflect your work style.
- Be honest
While making a good impression is essential, it shouldn’t stand in the way of authenticity. So, avoid simply saying what you think the interviewer wants to hear. Of course, describing an ideal work style for the position might help you get the job. But in the end, both you and your employer will be unhappy down the line if you’re not truly a good fit for the company. While preparing your answer, think about whether the job truly aligns with your qualities and work style. And if you’re not entirely sure, don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions during the interview.
- Be concise
When answering “What is your work style?”, keep your reply brief and relevant. Although it might seem tempting, avoid trying to talk about every aspect of your work style. Instead, focus only on the elements that make you the ideal candidate for the job. For instance, one of the critical requirements of the job might be leadership. In your answer, you should demonstrate that you thrive in leadership positions and the accomplishments you have achieved in previous leadership roles.
- Don’t overthink it
There’s no need to stress over and overthink your answer. You might feel like you don’t have a clear answer because you haven’t named your work style yet. In that case, think about how you approach your tasks. How is it different from how your colleagues approach theirs? Which soft skills do you use most often at work? Are they relevant to the position you’re applying to? All of these questions can give you valuable insight into your work style and how to phrase your answer.
3+ Sample Answers to “What is your work style?”
Sample Answer #1 – What is your work style?
Independent: In my previous role, I spent a lot of time figuring things out on my own. Whether it was finding new opportunities or solving problems, I discovered that this working style suits me well. I would consider myself a great problem-solver. When diving into an issue, I can find effective solutions quickly and determine which one is the best. However, I'm also very adaptable and have no problem collaborating with others. In the past, I would often go through the planning and organizing stages of a project alone and then discuss it with others to get valuable input and implement the solution.
Sample Answer #2 – What is your work style?
Co-operative: I thrive in collaborative settings where the team can come together and brainstorm unique ideas and solutions. In fact, that is the reason I first gained interest in this position. I believe that combining creative and analytical input from all team members leads to great results. Additionally, working and communicating with others daily keeps me motivated and passionate about the work I do.
Sample Answer #3 – What is your work style?
Supportive: One of the things I value the most in any job is a supportive environment. I believe that a team must have each other's back and support everyone's career. At my previous job, I spent most of my time listening to our employees' input and implementing it to make the workplace more enjoyable for everyone. I would love to be able to do the same for your company and employees. And, judging by your website, I believe that employee wellbeing and camaraderie are important to you, too.
Mistakes to avoid when answering “What is your work style?”
- Overly specific responses -Unless you are entirely sure about what the company is looking for, stay away from rigid replies. Instead, focus on the areas you know are important to the interviewer and highlight your flexibility.
- Clichés – The chances are that the interviewer has already heard the phrases “hard worker” and “team player” from many other applicants. So, if you want to use them, make sure to add examples. These will back up your claims and help you stand out.
- Lying or not answering – While being overly specific can lower your chances, giving an answer that’s too vague can also lead to problems. Suppose you are dishonest or avoidant in your response. In that case, the interviewer might not get a good enough understanding of who you are. Plus, if you genuinely dislike some aspect of a workplace, it’s worth mentioning it in your response. That way, you can avoid uncomfortable situations or conflicts arising later on.
Overall, this question requires a significant amount of self-reflection. Your strengths, weaknesses, skills, and personality traits will all determine your work style. Once you understand your working style, focus on creating an answer highlighting how it aligns with the position. By doing this, you’re not only increasing your chances of landing the job but also of finding a job that matches your work style.