How to answer: What type of work environment do you prefer?

Welcome back to ‘How to Answer’. This has organically become a bit of a series for Peoplebank as we aim to guide you through answering common interview questions in the best way.

‘What type of work environment do you prefer?’ is a tricky question for a couple of reasons. Mostly, interviewers are trying to determine whether you will be able to work successfully in the environment they are familiar with and work in every day. On top of that, they are trying to gauge your abilities and if you are adaptable.

Here are our best tips for answering questions about work environments.

As always, be honest

You may have had a lot of experience working in different ways and environments and maybe you powered through them all, but for some, there is definitely a preference. Be honest, you could say something like: “I have worked in many environments and find I can be efficient and produce the same level of work whether I am in a team, autonomous, at home or in the office, but my preference would be autonomous working for the technical parts of my job and team work for the creative parts. As for physical environment, I enjoy working remotely but do like to interact with my colleagues regularly if I can.”

If you absolutely struggle or cannot stand a certain work environment, do not say that you can work through it. Don’t incorporate it into your answer at all if possible. If they ask about it specifically, let them know it is not the best environment for you.

Trust us; you don’t want to work in an environment you hate!

Have a good idea of the typical work environment in that role and workplace

It can help vastly if you are well researched and aware of the company culture as well as the archetypal environment of work for the job you have applied for. When you know these things you will be able to focus on your strengths that are in line with their culture and environment. This can help you be more particular with your answer which will appeal to their sense of familiarity and see you as someone who could easily adapt within their business.

If you are flexible and adaptable, share that

If you really can adapt to any environment, that is a great strength and it’s worth sharing. Though, not everyone will take this answer as the whole truth. It’s important to add in your preference. So, saying something like this could work: “I am quite flexible with how I work; as long as I have a computer and the internet I can do my job. In saying that, I definitely prefer an office environment where I can have face-to-face interactions, alternatively, video calls are quite good too!”

Be succinct

Don’t try to oversell it. Just let them know your preferences in a few sentences. If you ramble on you may appear dishonest!

If you need more help with interviewing, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help!

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