Culture-fit is an important attribute that interviewers are constantly considering when evaluating candidates. Employers want to hire people who not only have the right skills for the job but can also fit in well with the culture at their organization.
One of the most common questions that come up in job interviews is, “What type of work environment do you prefer?”. This question allows a business to learn more about potential employees and whether or not they will be the right fit.
In this guide, we’re going to discuss why employers ask this question, what features make up a “work environment,” and how you can answer this question effectively.
Why Do Employers Ask About Work Environments?
No matter how skilled of a worker you are, if you are not working under the right conditions, you’ll never be able to reach your full potential.
This is something that hiring managers constantly think about. When recruiting a new candidate for a job, hiring managers want to make sure the person who gets the job will fit in well with the rest of the team. For instance, if you are interviewing for a job that involves working with a hands-off manager, they will want to make sure you are good at taking ownership over your own work.
In addition, employers will also use your response to this question to evaluate how you will fit in with other members of the business. For example, if you like to work independently and are interviewing for a job on a team, this could present a number of conflicts for the business.
By asking about what work environment you thrive in, the employer can get a better sense of what you are expecting, and whether that aligns with what the company can offer.
What Is a “Work Environment”?
The first thing that may be on your mind when you are asked about your ideal work environment is, “What actually is a work environment?”. The term refers to a combination of different factors that together reflect how and where you will work.
Here are a few different factors that make up a work environment:
While benefits are not something that you will be thinking about every day, they do make up an important part of your work environment. Do you want a certain amount of paid holiday time? Do you expect to be given a certain amount of sick leave? Are you looking for your costs of commuting to be covered by your employer?
#2: Company Culture
The culture at the company for which you work is another core component of a work environment.
Suppose you like to dress informally. If this is the case, then you may not thrive working in a business where there are clear expectations set about what you need to wear to work. Or, suppose you believe firmly in remote working. You may want to work for a company that offers such flexibility.
How many hours do you work per week? How is this number determined? The hours you work, and how those hours are set make up two key parts of a work environment.
For example, you may like to have flexibility over when you work. This is often referred to as working under a “flexi-time” policy. Be sure to cover this when discussing the work environment. The same goes if you prefer to work in a nine-to-five job, or if you want to work for a business that offers overtime on a favorable rate.
The people with whom you work are a core part of your work environment.
If you like working with motivated and ambitious people, you will thrive in a team where everyone is forward-thinking and goal-oriented. But if you prefer to work in environments with strict rules, you may prefer to work with people who are “by the book.”
Your career progression is also part of your work environment. What opportunities are there for you to advance in your career? Does your organization offer continuous personal development courses that you can take?
How to Answer “What Type of Work Environment Do You Prefer?”
Now that you’re familiar with the core components that make up a “work environment,” you’re ready to start thinking about how to answer this interview question. Here are a few tips you can use to effectively answer this common question:
Tip #1: Evaluate Your Personal Preferences
To answer this question effectively, you need to know what makes you a successful worker.
Do you thrive in fast-paced environments, or do you like to work at your own pace? Do you enjoy working in an office, or do you prefer remote work? Do you like working for a business where teamwork is front and center, or do you work best independently?
Take some time to think about your personal preferences that make you the best worker you can be. Then, think about factors that can deter your success. For instance, perhaps you thrive under pressure, but cannot function properly without a clear sense of direction.
When you understand how you work best, you can then start to think about which of these factors are crucial to your career. Choose two or three different features that you want to see in a work environment, which you will be able to mention in your response to this question.
Tip #2: Learn about the Workplace
Before you start your interview, make sure that you know about the work environment offered at a particular company. There are a couple of ways you can find out about the work environment at a company with which you are interviewing.
First, you can read over the job description to find out more about the company’s culture. On a job description, you may see terms like “creative thinking” or “fast-paced” being used, which can tell you a bit more about the culture at a company and how they work.
Second, you can use the internet to find out more about a business and their work environment. Often, businesses write about their vision and values on their website, typically on an “about us” or “careers” page. This will give you crucial information about how a business likes to operate.
You can also use sites like Glassdoor to read perspectives on a company’s work environment from those who have actually worked at that company. You may even want to reach out to a few people that have formerly worked at a business and ask them to chat, as they’ll be able to give you more honest insights about their experience.
Tip #3: Prepare Your Answer
Now that you know what you prefer in a work environment and what the company has to offer, you’re ready to prepare an answer.
To formulate an effective answer, you should focus on the positive attributes that you’d like to see in a work environment. Avoid talking about the things that you don’t want to see in a workplace, as doing so may give an interviewer the impression that you are closed-minded or rigid.
In your answer, you should give an example of how a specific type of work environment has helped you thrive. For instance, suppose you are a salesperson and you mentioned that you work well remotely. You could talk about how, when you transitioned to remote work, you were able to exceed your sales objectives for the quarter.
Example Answers to “What Type of Work Environment Do You Prefer?”
To help you answer this, we have compiled two example answers. These should help you identify what to mention when answering this question.
“I work effectively in a highly collaborative environment. I like to work with a team with whom I’m able to share ideas, and get feedback on my work. I believe that this leads to better ideas being generated in the long-term, and helps me stay motivated when I am working on a big project. In my last job, for instance, I was one of the six members of our user interface design team. We all enjoyed working together, and were able to create a work environment focused on sharing ideas openly and scrutinizing them constructively as a team.”
“I prefer to work in remote environments. While I have extensive experience working in offices, in my last job I was allowed to work from home two days a week. Since I started working from home, I was able to get ahead of schedule on a number of crucial projects. This is because I was able to focus without the distractions present in an office. However, I still enjoy working in an office every so often, as I believe that many ideas are best discussed in person, where all contributors can collaborate together in the same room.”
Hiring managers want to recruit people who fit in well with the culture of a business. Even if you are qualified for a position, if you are not going to work well in the existing work environment, you will struggle to reach your potential.
Before your job interview, evaluate the key characteristics that make up a good working environment for you. Then, consider which of those characteristics you think matter most to you as you start a new job.
If you think that a company cannot deliver the work environment that you are looking for, you may want to ask yourself whether the position for which you are applying is really a good fit.
By following the tips in this article, you should have no trouble figuring out how to talk about your desired work environment in a job interview.