Interview Question: Describe your ideal work environment.
I would say the odds of you getting this question are about 50/50. It’s not one of the top ten questions, but it’s certainly not out of the ordinary for an interviewer to ask this type of question. It can take a few different forms but the gist of it is really to see what type of company you see yourself working in and how conducive this job role is to that vision.
This answer to this interview question is really going to be a little different at every interview, and that’s for two reasons:
Everybody has different ideal work conditions.
The general work environment of the job you’re applying to.
Sure that first one seems obvious… moving right along. The second one is one that seems to draw some hot takes. “What does the job I’m applying to have to do with what MY ideal work environment is?” Well, that’s a fair question.
You should have an understanding of your ideal work conditions going into this job interview. If you’ve never thought about it, take some time and really start to think what it is you value in a working environment and what you’d consider your ideal workspace. Do you love a structured work day or is flexibility a priority. Are meetings your thing or should everything be done by email. Knowing what environment you truly work best in is something that everybody should have at least a few idea around.
When you’re going through your interview, there’s going to be plenty of opportunities for you to glean what this companies work culture is like and weight it against your actual preferences. By the end of the interview you should really be able to grasp what your day to day working environment might look like and see if it’s the kind of place you want to spend 40+ hours a week. How does this companies work culture and environment fit what you’re looking for in a job? This should impact whether or not you’d even take the job offer if it was given to you.
But here’s the thing, at the end of the day that’s a personal decision that you’ll only get to make if you’ve gotten the job offer! So let’s talk about how to answer this question properly in the interview so you can actually make that decision.
Sure there are a dozen ways you could go about answering the question “what is your ideal work environment” but the bottom line is whatever the hiring company's working environment is, is what your dream working environment answer should be. That is the CORRECT answer for the interview question. Look, I'm a proponent of being honest in job interviews, I say honesty is the way they’re going to understand if you’ll ACTUALLY be a good fit for the job and for your true personality to come out. This question is one of the exceptions, because nobody care about your actual ideal work environment. IT’S A TRAP!
Okay more like a test, but I couldn’t resist the urge. (-10 points if you didn't read that as Admiral Ackbar.) The interviewers are asking this question for one reason, they’re trying to figure out if their working environment is conducive to the working environment you see yourself in. If you’re the kind of person who would work well at this company based on their current structure.
So Whether or not you truly consider this company's work environment IDEAL, the vibe you want to give off with this answer is that your ideal work environment aligns perfectly with this company's work environment, and that you’d be able to hit the ground running and adapt well.
My overall career advice to you would be to make sure that you ACTUALLY would fit in well with this company, and that you would be comfortable in the working environment of the job you’re applying to. but if you’re just trying to get the job, then convince them that you would fit in well. Convince them That their working environment IS your ideal working environment.
Now this question isn't likely to make or break your job prospects, though it’s just one of many that you’ll face at your next job interview. If you want more breakdowns on all of the most common interview questions, check out more articles under ‘Interview Prep’, or even better! Check out my YouTube Channel where I create video breakdowns of all of the most common interview questions. If you enjoy the content, consider subscribing to my YouTube channel where I’m releasing content weekly that will help you find your dream career, and help you land the job you deserve.