Career Advice

How to Answer the Question "What Is Your Work Style" in a Job Interview?

min read
Vera Chan

Finding a new job can be about discovering a new career opportunity, but it is also about happiness. A job interview can help you figure out if you will be happy working at a potential company. There are many contributing factors, but one of them is compatibility. Compatibility with the role and what the hiring manager is looking for. In this instance, a hiring manager may ask you "What Is Your Work Style?"


Why is this important? Because your work style will tell them if you are what they are looking for. For instance, the organisation may be looking for an independent worker. Or the company wants a team player. In any case, there is no straight answer. There is also no right or wrong answer.


The key is to gauge what you think the hiring manager is looking for in the role you applied for. Take your time to look at the job description and think about your answers beforehand. Why? Because the question is harder than it looks. So what do you say when you answer this tricky question?


Below we have put together some pointers on how you can navigate this, so you will not get caught off guard. We also cover how to reflect this on a job application form, resume, or cover letter so that you are best prepared.


What Does "Work Style" Mean?


Let us start from the beginning. Workstyle means showing how you handle your responsibilities on a daily basis. This is with regards to a professional environment. A company wants to know how you achieve efficacy in the workplace. Often, this is a combination of your natural personality and personal preferences.


There are existing tests that can give you an idea on how you like to work. But these are not official working styles. These are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Disc Profile, and Type A & B Personalities to name a few. You are not required to answer "What is your work style? with the above unless specified. If you have taken it, you can mention it, but otherwise — no sweat. So why is this question important?


Because the hiring manager wants to make sure you're a good match. Doing so helps them understand you better as a person, future employee, and colleague. For instance, they may be looking for an independent worker or a team player. This is one of the most common examples of how to describe a work style.


3 Types of Common Work Styles


Below are three ways in which you can start to understand yourself better. These are categories that lie on either end of a sliding scale. As a candidate, you can sit anywhere between. You can be more one style than another, but there is not always definite black-and-white. The job interviewer will be able to relate to these styles because they are applicable to work.


1. Autonomous vs. Team Player

Autonomous workers are independent and tend to be self-disciplined. They are independent in their own way, calling upon themselves to solve problems. They may tackle challenges on their own when they hit a road bump.


Team players are part of a group and pick each other's brains. They brainstorm together and gather feedback that contributes to a final outcome.


2. Logical vs. Creative

A logical worker is a strategic thinker. They look at details or numbers and like to plan. They have a process that gets them from A to B in a straight line.


A creative worker thinks outside of the box. They may have a unique way to solve a problem. They can meander in and out of milestones in an unconventional way.


3. Agile vs. Fixed

Agile workers are flexible and often multi-taskers. They can hit deadlines and make decisions fast. They can work in small increments in the lead-up to something bigger.


Fixed workers often have a process. They like to stick to what they know that works to solve a problem or get to success.


3 Working Style Foundations


What do you need to know? Remember the job description because you can see what the hiring manager is looking for. This does not mean saying you are one style but are actually the other. It pays to be honest, but it is all about phrasing. Balance the scales and ensure that you place more emphasis on the style that the role calls for. Give examples to demonstrate your abilities.


1. Autonomous

Make sure you do not sound too independent. Every role requires a certain degree of collaboration. You want to show that you can stand on your own two feet if a problem arises, but are also willing to go to others for help. Showing independence can mean taking initiative and ownership of projects. You can talk about prioritising while listening to the input of others.


2. Team Player

Make sure that you do not sound too dependent on your teammates or manager. You do not want to sound like a crutch. Show that you can ur responsibilities.


3. Mixed Style

Most people are a bit of both. Show that you are adaptable. You can talk about taking lead in a project while taking input from others. You can show that you took initiative on a task while setting in motion a focus group.



2 Ways to Write About Your Work Style on Your Cover Letter, Resume, Job Application


You may come across this question in a physical or online form. Or you may be writing up a cover letter or updating your resume. How do you show your workstyle on paper — so to speak.


1. Talk about key accomplishments

Give the hiring manager insights into your workstyle by giving case studies. Examples are the best way to show how you work as you can break down the scenario for them. They will be able to see the process you took and how you got from start to finish. Walk them through the chosen accomplishment. An example of team effort shows your collaboration. An example of solo work shows independence.


2. Talk about your strengths

Bring to the fore what you are best at doing. For instance, talk about your analytical skills in solving a problem. You can apply the same to logic and creativity. Mention a scenario that highlights innovative thinking for the latter.



The Conclusion


Now that you know what common work styles there are, you should not get caught off guard. You should be able to talk about your work style in a clearer manner. To nail the job interview further, focus on your value to the company and team. Show how you can bring more productivity to the role so that you increase the odds of getting a job offer.


Want to know more? Learn how other interview questions can help set yourself apart from other candidates.

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