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What Is Your Work Style?

James Voytek
June 19, 2021

First of all, what does it actually mean to be asked about your work style? Work style interview questions are commonly seen in behavioral interviews during the job application process. In this article, we’ll break down why this is an important question to pay attention to, some tips on how to approach your answer, and some sample responses to show you how to answer the question briefly and effectively.

Companies usually ask this important question to assess candidates in two main ways. First, the candidate’s specific work style can give interviewers insight into whether the candidate is naturally a good fit for the company’s work atmosphere. Since companies don’t want to spend extra time making changes for a new employee, if your work style is similar to that of the company, or can at least adapt to the company’s style, you are more likely to be a top candidate.

Second, the candidate’s ability to answer concisely and showcase their flexibility is key. In doing both of those things, you are embodying your day-to-day work style behaviors with clear communication. Not only are you able to save time during the interview, but your flexibility is a massive asset to the company.

Some things that your interviewer may want to know about are your collaboration skills, how you keep focus, and your adaptability. They want to see how well you perform on a team, but also if you can efficiently get individual projects done. And, depending on whether they are an established company or a startup, they might be looking for candidates who can acclimate to big company changes smoothly.

3 Things to Remember When Describing Your Work Style

As a candidate when you are asked “What is your work style?” or “How would you describe your work style?” you want to keep a few things in mind. Initially you should start by thinking about your own past and what works for you. Then, you need to also consider the type of company you are applying to, and what you already know about them going into the interview. Coming up with an answer that balances both what you prefer and what the company is looking for gives you an edge. 

Consider Your Background

Think about your past experiences and successful projects and try to pinpoint your best work style throughout. Then, try to rephrase your description to stand out from other candidates.

Here are some ways to rephrase:

  • Instead of thinking “I stayed focused,” think about why you were motivated to stay focused. Maybe your passion or knack for problem-solving played a role; either way, you want to highlight the underlying motivation as a personal characteristic.
  • If the project included a team, define your role in the team. Were you a collaborator or a leader? Are you energized being surrounded by a motivated team?
  • If you worked alone, think about how you asked for feedback or other ways you interacted with people to get your project done. Highlighting your ability to both work alone and work well with others will help you stand out.

Consider How the Position You’re Applying For Might Determine a Certain Work Style

The industry of the position you are applying for, might have a huge impact on whether you should seem better working independently or with a team. While usually flexibility is necessary for any role, a lab-worker in a biotech startup for instance might be better as a strong independent worker than a strict collaborator.

But more than the industry, it is important to consider the position you are applying for in terms of responsibilities. Here are work style examples of varied responses: an entry-level or associate-level candidate will generally have a different approach and therefore a different answer to the work style question than a management-level candidate. The former should position themselves as a teamplayer and collaborator who’s open for feedback, while the latter should orient themselves as a leader and team motivator.

Think About the Company’s Work Style Description

Now that you have your personal response, the last step in forming your response is thoroughly thinking through the description of the position given by the company. The initial description on the online posting of the position will usually have all the details of what work style they are looking for. They might use keywords like “problem-solver,” “teamplayer,” and “effective communicator.” Make sure to align your response accordingly use such keywords during your interview to show you have done your research.

What Is Your Work Style: 2 Sample Answers

Below are two different sample answers to the question “What is your work style?” Use these as a way to brainstorm and practice your own responses.

Sample 1: An Entry or Associate Position

I am adaptable to any environment. I’ve worked on several projects independently as well as worked countless times on a team and personally, I enjoy having a balance. Small independent projects are very useful because I’m able to sincerely focus on and finish the task at hand, but even then, I’m always looking to get feedback during the process to make sure my project is aligned with the rest of the team. For example… [this is where you can insert a specific story or experience where you learned a lot from feedback on an individual project]. Being open to feedback has helped me become driven for precise and accurate results.

Sample 2: A Managerial Position

Over the years, my work style has developed into looking towards quality and consistency. Throughout all my past experiences, I have been consistently bringing quality results to the table to support my team. Being consistent, I’ve never had to play catch-up; I’ve instead invested that time into learning more and getting ahead to better support my peers. For example… [this is where you can insert a specific story or experience where you were able to help your team move forward because of some extra learning and work you accomplished]. Because of this, our team improved in efficiency and had our deliverables ready earlier than the deadline.

Final Tips: Authenticity and Confidence

As you hone your answers to this interview question based on the work style examples above, remember that above all, be certain to remain authentic. At the end of the day, you are looking for a job that suits your work style as are companies looking for employees that suit their work styles. Make sure to not compromise on your honesty as you shape your responses and your confidence will come through.

If you’re wondering how much you should be making for roles in sales, marketing, or customer success, be sure to check out our new compensation guide to learn how much compensation you should be earning in 2021. Also, if you’re looking for a new role, reach out, and we’ll be happy to help.