Tough Interview Question - How would you describe your personal work style?

How would you describe your personal work style?

Similar interview questions:
What is your typical work routine?
Walk me through a normal work day for you.
Tell me about how you organize your work.
Do you spend more time planning or more time doing your work?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
This is an “approach to how you structure your work” question. Most candidates don’t think about their work style or even if they have one at all. So it usually catches candidates off guard and the answer is often rather raw, especially when the interviewer drills into the specifics of a typical work day. The elements the interviewer is looking for is how much time is spent planning vs. doing and how much time is spent working with others vs. working on your own.

The best approach to answering this question:
Be balanced in your approach to this question. Talk about both planning your work as well as delivering on those plans. Also talk about working with others, while also working on your own to complete your deliverables. The key is being balanced on both sides of each equation.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
"My personal work style involves both taking the time to properly plan my work as well as then focusing on delivery. I collaborate with others on my team to make sure we are each being the most productive in the use of our time. As an example, on my recent project we had an unexpected issue come up which none of us had anticipated. I called for a quick scrum session to get each of us realigned to tackle the problem, then we each had takeaways to work on before we met again the next day to explore follow-up steps…"

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
"I prefer to work collaboratively with others to make sure everyone on the team is doing the most productive work possible. An example is my recent internship where our team had quick 10-minute stand up meetings to start each day to check status with others on the team and to explore whether anyone needed help or assistance in moving forward. I had a tough problem at one point in the project where I was able to get assistance from a senior member on the team and solve it quickly, so it removed what might have been a roadblock for me in my work…"

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"When I come to work, I put in my ear buds so that I’m not interrupted by others, just keeping my head down and trying to get work done. That also gives me an excuse to avoid eye contact when people pass by my cube. In fact, just to show how important that is to me, one day last week I forgot to charge my phone and didn’t have my charging cord, so I didn’t have any music after lunch. But I still put in my ear buds so that people wouldn’t bug me. I even acted like I was singing along to my tunes so that I could ignore my coworkers when they walked by my cube. It works pretty well for me…"

Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!

Further review: know the answers to these Common Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

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