Answering "What Type Of Work Environments Do You Prefer"

Job interviews test candidates in a wide variety of behavioral and physical presence aspects to determine their suitability for the position. That said, there are some common questions that a candidate is bound to face in a meeting. Being asked "What type of work environment do you prefer?" is one of them.

An recruiter, hiring manager or interviewer might ask this question.

“What type of work environments do you prefer?”

Or

“What is an ideal work environment according to you?”

Or

“What kind of work environment do you like and why?”

When facing this question, do not fool yourself into thinking there is a definite answer that the interviewer is looking for. The thing is, the answer to this question varies based on the circumstances; there"s no defined answer that works for all of them.

Interviewers ask this question to assess your preferences and whether or not you"ll be able to fit in the company"s culture. The onus is on you to respond in a way that assures them about your capabilities to work in an environment that is similar to theirs. You have to make them feel that you are well suited for the job and the working environment.

So, what exactly makes for a suitable answer to this question?

What Question Are You Really Answering

As we said earlier, there is no definite answer to this question. What the answer depends on the situation. You have to align your response to their expectations regarding the working atmosphere of the company. Hence, before you think about what to answer with, you need to understand the circumstances, i.e., researching the company and their principles.

Company Research In Advance

There"s some ways to find out what the company culture is like. You can try to search around the corporate Web site and see if they have information on the following:

The key is to know and understand how the company functions inside and outside of working hours. That will help give you some guidance in what the interviewer might be expecting you to say.

Think about it. Would you work in an company that provides a work environment that does not align with your personal values?

Even if the pay and benefits are good, being in a surrounding that does not suit you would have an adverse effect. It will affect you mentally, lowering your work productivity and in turn, negatively impacting the company"s overall performance. Both the company and you lose in such a case.

We know, you won"t join an company if you don"t like the workplace, but that is not the point. The point is, perform some research and gather information about the company before you go for an interview to help you with assuring the interviewer the environment is the type of environment you are looking for.

For example, if you know the company in question has a strict work environment, then you could respond by saying that you prefer working in highly organized or managed environments. Alternatively, if the company gives freedom to its employees, you could respond with an agreeing consent to that aspect.

All that said, knowing what to say and saying it are two different things.

So, let’s focus on the next aspect, how to answer the question.

How To Answer The Question

Knowing how to answer the question regarding work environment preference is crucial to how well you perform. The "what to answer with" is limited to only you. You did some research, found relevant information and made a mental note of the things that align with the company. The latter phase, i.e. "how to answer" deals with how you utilize this acquired information and present yourself as a potential asset to the company.

There are three elements to a great delivery of this answer: confidence, positivity, and reasoning.

Confience means agreeing with the conditions in place. Positivity implies having a positive outlook on the work atmosphere. Reasoning provides proof and supports your statement about a preferred work environment.

Incorporating these three elements in your response makes for a compelling answer that is bound to make the interviewer interested in you and what you have to offer to the company.

The following responses elaborate on the three elements and how they aid in creating a powerful response.

Confidence You Are Giving Off

In this context, confidence suggests agreeing to the culture. To work in an company, you have to conform to their rules and regulations; there's no other way around it. Companies have predefined guidelines that everyone must follow. If you do not agree with these guidelines, the company won't be interested in making or keeping you as a part of them.

The question about preference among the type of work environments relates to a company’s work principles. Hence, showing intent to work and agreeing to the predefined work conditions will logically make the interviewer consider your case.

Agreeing to the pre-existing conditions forms the first part of your response.

The Positivity You Are Presenting

Your response should reflect an optimistic outlook on the company or culture. Answer in a way that provides the prerequisite information while also maintaining a positive attitude towards it.

Here's some good and bad examples:

“I can only work in a collaborative environment" and “I love working in a collaborative environment."

"I hate work that lacks creativity and problem-solving" and "I love an environment that invokes creativity and problem-solving."

Look at the two examples. Though examples talk about the same thing (collaborative environment, creativity and problem-solving), the first examples focuses on the negatives ("can only work" and "hate work") while the second example sheds light on the positives ("love working" and "love an environment").

Which one do you think would heighten your chances of employment, first example or the second example?

It would be the second example. The first example talks about your limitations (only work and hate work) where you should be highlighting the strengths that can help you with the job. The second example does justice by not only supporting your cause but reflecting a positive intent.

For questions that relate to the company, you need to favor your case by going along with their preferences.

Your response to this question about the type of work environments you prefer should express your liking and desire to work in an environment similar to theirs.

But, that's not all. There is more to it which has been explained in the next and final element of "how to answer."

Reasoning Behind Your Answer

When faced with the question of work environment preference, stating that you like the company's atmosphere is all well and good. However, doing only that won't help your case. You need to support your claims with supportive reasoning, i.e., you need to show the company that you can perform well in their work environment.

Companies hire individuals that:

The last point gives you a massive advantage over other candidates. Companies want to take the minimum risk possible in hiring employees. So, when you present yourself as someone who has prior experience working in an atmosphere similar to theirs and performed well, you are providing them a tried and tested option. It's a win-win for both, the company gets an employee that's guaranteed to achieve results (low risk) and you increase your odds of getting an offer of employment.

Therefore, know what work principles the company relies on and focus on how your experience can assist in that.

For example, if a company emphasizes teamwork, collaboration, and leadership. Then you could help your case by talking about your experience as a team leader in a previous project. It could even be about a college assignment or a career assignment that you were a part of.

Experience plays a significant part in getting a job. Focus on that whenever possible to increase your odds of employment.

All that said, incorporating the three elements with the right information and delivery should be enough to make the interviewer consider you for the position.

When You Can't Find Information On Company Culture

Sometimes companies don't share information about their company culture. So how do you get information about what the work environment is like?

Your backup plan is to try and sound balanced and adaptable (or flexible). That means you aren't emphasizing something specific on your work environment preference. Instead, draw attention towards your flexibility concerning the work environment or culture.

It might not be as assuring as when you are prepared to answer against the company culture. But this is the best you can do in this situation.

Here’s a recap to all things covered:

what type of work environments do you prefer

Example Answers To "What Type Of Work Environments Do You Prefer?"

Below are a few example answers to the interview question. Be sure that you are referencing the work environment before choosing one of these example answers.

Example one

I prefer work environments that foster creativity, challenge employees and encourage diversity.

Example two

I prefer work environments that challenge employees to do their best work on a daily basis and value making better products for the world we live in.

Example three

I prefer work environments that allow me to apply my self to the values and ethos the company stands for. That means fostering relationships both inside and outside of the company that help us propel our mission.

What Are The Various Types Of Work Environments?

This question comes up a lot when thinking about answering the interview question. For the most part, there aren't specific types of work environments but there are qualities that the work environment fosters. When thinking about those qualities, these words to describe them will often come up.

Final Thoughts On Answering

What type of work environments do you prefer?

The above question or any question that talks about work environment preference does not have a right or wrong answer. Every situation in which a question like this is asked will vary. And so should your answer. The key to answering such question is acquiring information about the company’s working atmosphere and using that information in a way that favors your case. Your response should show you agreeing with and willing to work in an environment that the company provides. Besides, you can gain an advantage over other candidates if you can prove to the company that you can succeed in a work environment like theirs by telling them about your prior experiences and achievements. That way, they see you as a low-risk option, which paired with your skills can help you land the job.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

Share

Help us by spreading the word