Interview questions: Describe your work style

When a hiring manager asks about your work style, you'll want to focus your answer on these five key points.

Interview questions: Describe your work style

Your work style will determine whether or not you're a good fit.

During the course of any job interview it’s likely you’ll be asked to describe your work style. How you answer this interview question will help the interviewer determine how well you’ll fit into the company.

When the interviewer asks this question, here are five key points he is looking to find out about you.

1. Do you like to work autonomously or collaboratively?

During the job interview, detailing how you work with others is important. The vast majority of companies value a collaborative work style. If you prefer working independently, the best way to answer this interview question is to say, “While I do my best work alone, I like input and feedback along the way.” This will communicate to the interviewer that you value the opinions of others, but prefer executing primarily on your own.

If you enjoy working collaboratively, let the interviewer know that. Elaborate on the process and rewards (synergy, fun, superior results, etc.) that come from working closely with others.

2. How do you like to work with your boss?

This is one of the most common interview questions. The interviewer wants to see if you and the boss would work well together. Some people prefer a boss who simply states the goal and then lets them run with it.

If that’s you, say, “I like a manager who sets the main objective and then lets me figure out the best way to reach it.” Others may prefer having the boss give more specific direction up front. If that’s more your style, in the interview, emphasize that, in return, you like to provide regular updates to your boss so he’s informed about the status of the project.

3. What is your communication style?

How you communicate is part of your work style. The interviewer may ask if you like to communicate through email, phone or in-person meetings. Some cultures place a premium on written communication, while others are less formal. Email is generally more efficient; however, it’s important to balance email with a personal touch—whether it’s a phone call or meeting.

During the job interview, discuss the framework in which you typically communicate. For example, some people like to give an overview while others get deep into the details. Both can work depending on the situation and audience. A more balanced approach to this question would be, “I tend to give the overview and then a few supporting details.”

4. What hours do you work?

Let the interviewer know how many hours you work in the course of a day. Some people like to get in early and leave before rush hour, while others conform to whatever the work hours are.

What the interviewer wants to hear is that you are committed to doing whatever is necessary to be successful, so you might want to say something like, “I’ll work as late as needed to get the job done."

5. Do you plan your day?

During the interview, talk about how you approach your day. People who plan their days typically get more done. Let the interviewer know that you focus on getting the most important things done first. This will let her know that one of your strengths is prioritization.

Being asked to describe your work style is an open-ended question—and your opportunity to focus on the things that will portray you in the most positive light.

For example, if you say, “I start at 7 a.m., like to work collaboratively, plan my days and always make sure I get the most important things done early,” that helps the interviewer picture you successfully doing the job. You can’t ask for a better result in a job interview than that.

Looking to go on more job interviews, but aren't sure where to begin? Step one: Join Monster today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume and cover letter. Recruiters search Monster every day to find qualified candidates for top jobs. Get those interviews—and those job offers.