Near the end of an interview, the hiring manager will often ask, "What is your ideal work environment?"
Consider this question an opportunity!
You might think this is the time to tell them about all the vacation days you deserve and mention your pet peeves.
After all, shouldn't they make sure you’re comfortable?
The last thing you want is to end up at a company where you're going to be miserable.
Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy.
If your current "ideal work environment" spiel involves vacation days and pet peeves, please keep reading or you're likely going to flunk out with your answer.
The reason behind the question
As with pretty much all of the basic interview questions, it helps to understand where the hiring manager is coming from with this one.
Here are the motives behind the question, "What is your ideal work environment?"
- The hiring manager hopes to discover what you need to be successful in the workplace.
- They do not plan to accommodate all of your requests.
- They want to know if you fit in their current environment.
Now, maybe you have dozens of interviews lined up and no shortage of vocational options.
If so, go ahead and be straightforward about what you are looking for.
Mention those vacation days and pet peeves.
For most people, however, this is not the case.
In fact, if you've made it to the point of getting an interview, some statistics say you're among a small percentage.
In many fields, only about two percent of job applicants get approached for an interview.
Let's assume this is a company you are passionate about working at:
- You want to shape your answer in such a way that it fits with their work environment.
- Tailor your ideal work environment, as needed, to match their environment.
- That way, the hiring manager can feel confident that you are going to be happy.
How not to answer
Before we delve further into the ideal response, here are some examples of how you don't want to answer, followed by what you might say instead:
- Don't give a response that is too vague or broad.
"My ideal work environment is having a lot of people around."
- Instead, make your answer personal and unique to you.
"I enjoy working with other people around. I feel that by working in close proximity, we can inspire each other, collaborate better, and communicate effectively to optimize performance."
- Do not make your answer "all about you."
"My ideal work environment involves pure solitude. I need to focus and do my work without distractions."
- Instead, focus on the company itself and its manner of operations.
"I've found that I tend to work better without too much going on around me. I was happy to see that the position offers the option of working evenings and weekends, during which distractions are minimized and I can focus on getting the work done."
- Don't focus on the perks that the job might offer.
"I'm totally jazzed about the paid vacation days that you can rollover for up to two years. I'm definitely going to save those up and take off for a cruise!
- Instead, focus on qualities that you can offer the workplace.
"The ideal work environment for me is one in which I feel my talents are being used to the full. I love helping people improve their quality of life and your values-driven healthcare services offer just that.
- Avoid copying the company's work description in your response.
"My ideal work environment is contributing to an ongoing publication schedule of consumer insight and market intelligence across key markets, categories, and trends."
- Instead, add your personality and talents to your response.
"My ideal work environment is one where I can apply my experience in contributing to market intelligence. I enjoy crunching the numbers and instigating growth in key categories. I research to find trends and discover how to effectively implement them.
Below, you'll find a sample answer to the question, "What is your ideal work environment?"
But first, here are a few more things to think about when preparing your response.
Consider the company size
Are you interviewing with Google or a local small business?
If it is Google, nice work!
Regardless of the size of the company, state why that company fits what you are looking for.
If you are applying to a larger company:
- Emphasize that job security is important to you.
If your prospective job is with a smaller company:
- State that knowing everyone’s name allows you to feel connected.
Make sure your answer involves what you already know about the company.
Otherwise, you'll most likely not receive a callback.
(Check out the 50 Top Job Interview Questions And Answers.)
Think about the day-to-day
Consider the hours involved
Nobody wants to work 60 hours a week.
Unfortunately, if that is what your prospective career entails, you had better be sold on it!
- Whether you're a young adult or a seasoned executive with 10 kids at home, your focus is landing this job.
- Portray that you are willing to work as long as needed to get the job done.
If you really can't work the hours required, look for another position.
Consider the dress code
Not too many people enjoy dressing up for work every day.
However, if the dress attire at a given company is formal, explain how that promotes professionalism.
If the company promotes casual attire, you should have no problem expressing your love for T-shirts and jeans!
Focus on landing the job
Do your research on the company you are applying for, and you should be able to ace this question.
- Many people focus too much on giving an honest answer.
- Not enough prepare to give the best answer.
Now, we are not saying to go to an interview and lie.
However, you should put yourself in the employer’s shoes for a second.
Are you going to hire someone who says that they prefer working in a small office when this job is in a huge 500-person office?
You would actually be doing this person a disservice by offering them a job where they probably would not be happy.
Sample answer to "What is your ideal work environment?"
As promised, here is an example of how to answer the hiring manager when they ask this basic interview question:
Hiring manager: "What is your ideal work environment?"
Employee: "My ideal work environment is a place where employees at every level have good communication with each other and with their supervisors.
I also hope to work in a place that is centered on development and teambuilding, where the unique talents of each employee can be recognized and given the opportunity to grow.
While doing some research on your company, I took note of your positive work culture and commitment to developing talents and skills of every employee.
My ideal work environment is one where empowerment and growth are encouraged at every level, along with a positive work-life balance."
To sum it up, if you really want the job, you will transform your expectations.
In other words, what they offer will become your ideal work environment.
If you need some extra help preparing for your job interview, give us a call today!