So you’ve got a job interview coming up — congratulations! Chances are, you’ll get asked: “How would you describe your work style?”or similar questions.
The good news is, you can use the same answer for all questions related to working style with this guide. Just because they’re tricky job interview questions doesn’t mean you can’t handle ’em. Let’s do this.
In this article:
- Interviewers ask you about your working style to see if you are a good fit for the team and company culture, so research the company before your job interview! Almost every business has a “Team” page on its website — read it.
- Come prepared with at least three work-style adjectives and a short explanation for why you chose them.
- Don’t pick adjectives that are meaningless or obvious — like “hard worker.” Instead, get more specific.
- Use real examples from your past work to back yourself up.
- Be prepared for them to ask you for a “negative” adjective for your work style, and turn the negative into a positive. This is similar to the job interview question: What are your professional strengths and weaknesses?
Why Do Job Interviewers Ask About Your Work Style?
Having to describe your work style in a job interview can be a nerve-wracking experience. Your recruiter wants to know how you will fit the job and organization; obviously, your answer can make or break your chances of getting hired.
It’s also a good way to gauge whether you’ve researched the company to get an idea of its company culture — which is a must!
Ultimately, the question uncovers your level of self-awareness and ability to communicate your selling points.
How to Answer Interview Questions About Your Work Style
This question is NOT about your experiences in your last job. It’s about your skills, the ways you like to work, and what you know about the industry, company, and role you’re applying for.
If your interviewer asks you “How would you describe your work style?” use the four areas below to craft a well-rounded answer. If your interviewer asks you to “Describe your working style in three adjectives or three words,” use the adjectives under each of the four areas or pick from even more adjectives in our work style dictionary below. Make sure you can explain why you’ve chosen them!
What to Include
- 3-5 unique adjectives or “words” that sum up your working style
- Real examples from past work
- Proof that you’ve researched their company and culture
- A mention that you work well in a team, with managers, and solo
What Not to Include When Answering Questions About Your Work Style
- Don’t use obvious adjectives. No “I am a hard worker” or “I am a good worker”
- Don’t skip examples!
- Don’t focus on negative aspects of your current or previous job
4 Ways to Answer Work Style Interview Questions
Below you’ll find four angles you can use to describe your working style: quality/speed-related answers, organization-related answers, team-related answers, and management-related answers. You can focus on one area or, even better, give an answer that covers multiple areas.
Pro Tip: You’ll still want to include real examples from past work as you answer this question, e.g. “I would describe myself as detail-oriented — at my last job, I was known for being the person who you should ask to review an email before sending because I always catch the little things” or “I’m extremely organized but also flexible. At my current job, I lead a team of three, so I’ve learned to both keep people on track and respond to the unexpected — like someone needing a sick day during the busy season.”
1. Quality and Speed
Deadlines matter. If you can work quickly without compromising the quality of work, that’s part of your work style! Mention it in your answer. And talk about what strategies you use to avoid mistakes – recruiters want people who have their own system of checks and balances when working.
Work style adjectives to consider: detail-oriented, accurate, energetic, speedy, thorough, fast-paced, agile, deadline-oriented
2. Organization and Time Management
Talk about how you organize your days. These questions should help you figure out how to easily explain it to your job interview or recruiter:
- Do you have a structure or flow to your tasks?
- Do you start the day with something challenging?
- Do you like multitasking? If you do, does it affect your performance and quality of output?
You might also want to mention the number of hours you’re willing to work, and if you’re someone who routinely stays late to complete tasks.
Work style adjectives to consider: organized, reliable, precise, clock-like, timely, detail-oriented, methodical, thoughtful
3. Team Dynamics and Solo Work
The interviewer definitely wants to know whether you’ll mesh well with the team, so interpersonal skills are an important part of answering this job interview question about work style. Talk about:
- Your experiences with working in a team
- The kind of roles you held
- What you did to support your teammates
You can also talk about how you work alone, particularly your workflow and quality assurance setup.
Working style adjectives to consider: team player, collaborative, easygoing, team-oriented, problem-solver, group-minded, big picture thinker
4. Relationship with the Boss
Use this job interview question to prove you know how to take direction from supervisors and also explain what type of relationship you prefer. Do you constant feedback and direction, or do you prefer a more hands-off style of management and be alone to your own devices? (By the way, here are some thoughtful compliments to give your current boss, while you’re at it.)
Work style adjectives to consider: team player, receptive [to feedback], growth-minded, respectful [of authority], manager-friendly
A-to-Z Work Style Adjectives
Interviewers just love to ask candidates to “Describe your work style in three adjectives.” Here are some adjectives to help inspire you. Try to select a mix of three words that covers a few different types of the skill categories we highlighted in the section “What to Include in Your Answer” above, i.e. quality and speed, team dynamics and solo work, organization and time management, and relationship with management.
- Accurate, adaptable, action-oriented, articulate
- Bold, balanced
- Communicative, collaborative, career-oriented, creative thinker, “cool, calm, and collected”
- Data-driven, dependable, detail-oriented
- Empathic, energetic, effective
- Flexible, focused, fiscally-responsible, financially savvy, friendly
- Honest, helpful
- Intelligent, intrepid, independent worker
- Knowledgeable, kind-hearted, killer instinct
- Loyal, leader, level-headed
- Mindful, meticulous, mellow, motivated
- Natural learner
- Open-minded, open to feedback, organized
- Personable, punctual, patient, passionate
- Quick, quality-focused
- Receptive, reliable, resourceful
- Sincere, sharp
- Transparent, thoughtful, team player, tenacious
- Unique, unafraid of change
- Wise, “willing and able”
- X – Okay, so we couldn’t find anything for X.
- Y – A “yes and” worker
- Zen under pressure
“Describe Your Work Style” Example Answers, Based on Industry and Job Type
1. You’re Project Driven (Example jobs: project managers, marketing assistants, etc.)
I’d say I’m deadline-driven but flexible enough to handle the unexpected [adjectives!]. I tend to do my best work on deadline because it allows me to hyper-focus. [#1 Accuracy and speed] Typically, I structure my days by starting with the most pressing to-dos, then moving on to the less pressing ones. [#2 time management] In terms of working with a team, I’m happy working independently but also love to work in smaller groups, especially when our boss each allows us to own certain aspects of a project and take it as far as we can. I love working with bosses that want their team to improve and grow. [#3 & 4 working with teams and boss]
2. You’re People Driven (Example jobs: customer service representatives, receptionists, front desk assistants, etc.)
I’d say I’m personable, outgoing, and good at solving conflicts when they happen. [adjectives!]. I love multi-tasking and work quickly that way, but I do like to set aside some time either at the beginning or end of the day to work on more complicated tasks to avoid making mistakes. [#1 Accuracy and speed] I’m pretty good at managing my own time but also thrive when working according to a set schedule. It’s really whatever works best for the team. [#2 & 3 time management and team] In terms of management, I’m a self-starter so I don’t typically need much supervision, but I do love to have regular feedback from my boss to make sure I’m continually improving my work. [#4 working with boss]
3. You’re Task Driven (Example jobs: warehouse picker packer, personal assistants, event planners, etc.)
I’m punctual, dedicated, and accurate. [adjectives!] I’m good at getting things fast, but not so fast that I make unnecessary mistakes. [accuracy and speed!] I take responsibility for my own work and am good about organizing my time when working alone, but I also love being part of a team and stepping up to help teammates when they need it. [#2 and #3 team] In terms of supervision, I’m receptive to feedback and always happy to chat through difficult tasks with my supervisor to make sure we’re on the same page.
Want more? Read our blog on the top 10 classic interview questions and advice on how to answer them.