The gauntlet that is otherwise known as the job hunt often involves a good deal of self-reflection. Part of that process is finding a way to answer the question so often asked during interviews: How do you describe your work style? While the hiring managers will be interested in hearing what you have to say about the way you work, they're also going to be interested in how you say it -- whether you remain calm and conversational, or whether you close off like a razor clam. All of that will give the managers an idea of how you work under pressure, and what you'll really be like when you're put under the gun.
Ask former or current co-workers to describe your work style for you. If you have a good relationship with someone you've worked with, or work with currently, ask them to share five words they'd use to describe the way you work. This can help you see how others view you -- which may reveal traits you didn't think of, or help you sort through the positives and negatives of your work style.
Consider the job for which you're applying. Re-read the job description and any other application materials for insight about the traits that are important to the employer. This can give you ideas about which traits you want to highlight during your interview. Think about the things an employer may want to find out about you, such as whether you like to work in groups or alone, how much direction you'll need from your supervisors, and what types of organizational tools you use to stay on task, advises Monster.com.
Stay away from cliche answers, advises the Everyday Interview Tips website. While employers inevitably want to find a "hard worker" or an "enthusiastic" employee, those are both blanket terms that could be used to describe nearly anyone. Instead of resorting to these cliche terms, focus instead on specific examples of things you are good at doing, such as strong interpersonal skills, creative problem solving, or good communication skills, and then give an example of these skills using your former work experience.
Write down your list of qualities, and have the list memorized before your job interview. During the interview you'll probably hear more about the job and get a better feel for the company, so use that information to choose the items from the list that you think will be best received by these particular employers.
- Avoid making any impossible claims about or embellishing your work style. If you get the job, you'll have to demonstrate whatever you've described, and bending the truth could come back to bite you.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.