Job Interview Question

What type of work environment do you prefer?

How To Answer Interview Questions Series

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The best answer to this job interview question of what work environment do you prefer is the same answer you’d give to “What’s your ideal job?”  The correct answer is:  “This one.”

Of course, you need to respond with the type of work environment that they have, or at least close to it, or you’re not going to get the job.

But, you don’t just want to get the offer, you want to get a job that fits you as well.

Since you don’t know exactly what their work environment is like, it’s best to answer by talking about how flexible you are, and then following that up with “What would you say the environment is here?”  Or, “How would you describe the environment here?”

Here’s a good, positive example:

“I have preferred X-type of environment in the past, but I love new experiences and what I can learn from them.  I see a different type of environment as a new way to develop additional skills.  What would you say the work environment is like here?”

The work environment could be fast-paced, technology-based, customer-focused, high-tech, internet-based, retail-based…it could be anything.  Maybe they’ll say that they are very creative and loose, or highly-structured, or like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

When they tell you, you’ll get either (a) a really good idea that you’re going to hate this job and it’s a good thing you found out now; or (b) certain words or phrases from them that will make you say, “I thrive in that type of environment.” 

With a better idea of the type of work environment they have, you can elaborate on your answer to talk about how you are so enthusiastic about being able to be a part of that, or how you have done well in other environments like theirs, and therefore expect to do well in theirs, too.

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The job interview really isn’t just a hurdle for you to cross in order for you to get the job.  It’s really supposed to be a way for both parties to get to know one another.  They want to know if you’re going to fit in, be happy and do well there. 

Hiring you is an expensive proposition for them, and a risk.  Can you do the job?  Are you going to be happy in their company culture?  And you need to know if this is a place you’ll be happy to spend a large portion of your waking time, and if it will be good for your long-term career.  This question is a way to have that necessary conversation.

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