What Type of Work Environment Do You Prefer?

Business man working on computer
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During an interview, you may be asked about what kind of work environment you prefer. Interviewers ask this question to establish how well you will fit in at the company and with the company culture. It also helps them identify your most productive environment. 

Some of the factors making up a work environment are the company's size, the work-life balance, the leadership style and the office structure. The work environment at a 15-person company will likely be very different from the environment at a multinational, for instance. 

As with many interview questions, it's a good idea to have thought about your response in advance of your interview. 

Prepare by Researching the Company's Work Environment 

The best way to prepare for this question is to make sure you do your research.

Company websites contain plenty of information about the company environment, stated and implied. Look for the "About Us" section, which will highlight the work ethic of the company as a whole and sometimes provide information on individual employees.

If you have a contact at the company, talk to them about the company culture. Reach out to your network to find information regarding the reputation of the company you are applying to. It will be very helpful to you to analyze what the work environment will be because it will affect how happy and productive you will be if you get the job.

Sometimes it’s not possible to find out about the work environment at a particular company. In that case, it’s fine to ask the interviewer about the company culture and formulate your answer based on what they say. Once you know how they view their work environment, you can determine if you’ll be a good fit and can offer examples of how your work style matches well with their culture.

Tips for Responding to This Interview Question 

Image by Theresa Chiechi. © The Balance 2019

When you are asked about work environments, your best bet is to try to stay relatively neutral, since at this stage in the interview process you don't know what it would be like to work for the company. It’s a good idea to maintain that you are flexible and adapt happily in any environment. You wouldn’t want to say anything to damage your chances of getting to the next stage in the hiring process.

Avoid being dishonest, though. If there are certain environments that you absolutely cannot work in, do not say that you can handle them.

For instance, if you are an accountant, you can say that you are flexible in terms of work environment, but perform best when you have a relatively quiet space so you can drill into the numbers without distraction. Here are some examples of the best answers.

Show Your Flexibility

"I can be flexible when it comes to my work environment. From your website, it looks like the environment in the engineering department here at RRS, Inc., is fast-paced and structured to expand production. I enjoy working in an area experiencing rapid growth, and I think many times this kind of environment is conducive to new ideas and applications."

When You Don’t Have a Preference

"I have worked in many types of environments and enjoyed learning new things from each. I would say that while I don’t have a preference for a particular environment, I really like working with people who are committed to getting things done and who are passionate about their work."

Dedicated and Productive Employees

"Generally speaking, I like to work in an environment where productivity is high, and the employees have a sense of commitment. In my experience, whether the culture is extremely fast-paced or more laid back, it’s the dedication of the employees at all levels that make the company successful and a great place to work."

Working With a Strong Team

"I enjoy working in an environment where the members of the team have a strong sense of camaraderie and a good work ethic. I like working with competent, kind, funny people who like to get things done. It’s important to me to feel that I can trust my team members to always do their best because I do."

You Can Adapt to Any Work Environment

"Having worked in a variety of work environments, from very casual and laid-back to super fast-paced, I think I adapt well to most. I’m not familiar with what the corporate environment is here; can you tell me about it?"