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 concerned position. That said, there are some common questions that a candidate is bound to face in a meeting. Being asked about work environment preference is one among 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 to this question. The thing is, the answer to this question varies based on the circumstances; there's no defined answer that works for all cases.

Interviewers ask this question to assess your preferences and whether, if not, will you be able to fit in the company's working style. So, the onus is on you to respond in a way that assures them about your capabilities to work in an environment that's similar to theirs. You have to make them feel that you are very much suited for the job and the working environment of the company to have a chance at getting hired.

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

What question are you really answering

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

Company research in advance

It might be that there’s a company that piques your interest. Whatever be the cause of your interest in that organization, you need to know about the type of work environment in the company if you are serious about working there.

Thus, do some research and answer questions like:

Does the company have a strict dressing code?

Does the company allow its employees freedom in making decisions or does it heavily influence every decision made?

Do the employees regularly enjoy their time together after work?

The key is to know and understand how the company functions inside and outside of working hours. For working in an organization, you need to first understand and acknowledge the environment it provides.

Think about it. Would you work in an organization that provides a work environment that does not agree with your preference?

Even if the pay and added 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 output. Both the company and you lose in such a case.

We know, you won't join an organization 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 this aspect of work environment preference. Getting acquainted about the work atmosphere will let you know what elements to incorporate in your response when asked about your work environment preference.

If you know the organization in question has a strict work environment, then you could respond by saying that you prefer working in organized 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.

How to answer the question

Knowing how to answer the question about the preference among the type of work environments is crucial to how you perform in this regard. The 'what to answer' is limited to only you. You did some research, found relevant information and made a mental note of things that agree with the particular organization. The latter phase, i.e. 'how to answer' deals with how you utilize this acquired information and present yourself as a potential valuable working asset to the company.

Concerning the ‘how to answer' aspect, there are three associated elements – affirmation, positivity, and reasoning.

Affirmation means agreeing with the conditions in place while Positivity implies having a positive outlook on things concerning 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 your case and what you have to offer to the organization.

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

Affirmation you are giving off

In this context, affirmation suggests agreeing to the circumstances. To work in an organization, you have to conform to their rules and regulations; there's no other way around. Companies have predefined guidelines that everyone, who is a part or wants to be, needs to comply with. 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 work scenario forms the first part of your response.

Positivity you are presenting

Your response should reflect an optimistic outlook on things. Answer in a way provides the requisite information while also maintaining a positive view to it.

Consider these 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 both sentences in the two cases talk about the same thing (collaborative environment, and creativity and problem-solving), the first samples focus on the negatives (‘can only work' and ‘hate work') while the second samples shed light on the positives (‘love working' and ‘love an environment').

Which one do you think would heighten your chances, first samples or second samples?

It would be the second samples. The first samples talk about your limitations (only work and hate work) where you should be highlighting the strengths that can help you with the job. The second samples do 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 and not making them have second thoughts about you.

Thus, 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 the end. There's 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 apt reasons, i.e., you need to show the company that you can perform well in their work environment.

Organizations hire individuals that:
a) Have the required skills and experience
b) Show their intention to work for the company
c) Provide evidence of them succeeding to work in an environment similar to theirs

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 (hence, low risk) and you get the job.

Therefore, know what work principles the organization relies on and focus on how your experience can assist your case in getting a job.

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

Experience plays a significant role in getting a job; thus, acquire some and use it to strengthen your job application profile.

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

An exceptional case of lacking information you have about the company

But then again, it might happen that you could not acquire sufficient information from research or somehow couldn't do any research due to some unavoidable circumstance or emergency. What could you do in such a case?

Since you do not precisely know what the work environment of the company is like, the best you can do is to sound balanced and adaptable in your response. That is, do not emphasize too much on your preference of the work environment. Instead, draw attention towards your adaptability concerning the work surroundings.

It might not be as assuring as when you are prepared for the interview, but this is the best you can do in this situation. It is vital that you always prepare yourself appropriately for any position you apply before going for interviews. Avoid going blind to interviews; be as prepared as possible.

Here’s a recap to all things covered:
• There are two aspects to questions concerning preference of work environments – what to answer and how to answer.
• The ‘what to answer’ aspect covers the elements that need to be incorporated in the response.
• The ‘how to answer’ aspect tells how you should respond to the question. Further, the ‘how to answer' aspect has three elements – affirmation, positivity, and reasoning.
• Affirmation talks about agreeing to pre-existing conditions associated with the position and work.
• Positivity emphasizes on portraying an optimistic side when you talk about things.
• Reasoning speaks about providing evidence to support your case concerning the position. It is about talking about your experiences that can help you in performing well in the job in question.
• For cases where you lack the necessary information about the company, you need to sound balanced but versatile to be in contention.

what type of work environments do you prefer

Final words

What type of work environments do you prefer?

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

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