Your work environment can determine whether or not you enjoy your job. Companies and their hiring managers are looking for two important parts of any candidate they hire: first the ability to be able to do the work and well, and the ability to thrive in the company-specific culture. This is why you’re being asked this question.
Hiring managers are looking for someone who will stick around and will mesh well with the company’s environment, be happier, and stay longer and contribute more.
Most people think that this question should just be answered by what you found out online about the company culture, but in fact, that’s only part of the big picture. You also need to provide an honest one, since you’re going to be spending so much of your time.
Define Your Work Environment
More than just the physical environment or the layout, consider if you prefer a quiet or noisy environment. Also consider the other parts that most people don’t mention: company culture and how do you get your best work done? Do you need a strict structure of your workday or do you prefer a place more laid back that’s about the amount of work you get done? How much interaction do you have with your coworkers? Your management? Do you enjoy having a pet-friendly office or do you have allergies? Does your job description need to be strictly enforced or are you interested in pursuing projects that interest you with other departments?
Don’t just consider where your desk is in relation to the coffeemaker – consider the other parts of this conversation.
Be Clear About Your Workplace Priorities
As any recruiter can tell you, being upfront immediately will save you a headache later on. If you’re an introvert and only recharge by being by yourself, don’t pretend you’re an extrovert or you will regret it afterward. Consider your past jobs and make a list of what actually helped you succeed. Do you like having the same routine every day or do you prefer to have a buffet of projects to work on? Be sure to plan this out ahead of time, as most people cave to saying whatever they think the hiring manager is looking for once they’re in the interview.
Research the Company’s Culture
Check the job description for anything listing “team player” or a collaboration? Then you’ll be spending a lot of time working with other people. Or “available to work overtime” or “can work the occasional night and weekend”, you’re going to be working some long hours.
Look for the company’s values on their website. Not every company lives up to its state’s values, but if you know what they’re working towards, you’ll know what to expect. Also check out their social media pages, reviews on the Better Business Bureau or Glassdoor. Look for patterns and recurring themes to help you get a better picture.
(Have you seen NESC Staffing’s reviews? We stand by our own advice.)
Plan Your Response
Once you know what you’re looking for and what this company is like, compare them. Does this workplace align enough with your list of wants?
When framing your answer in the interview, focus on aspects of past environments that you did like and want in the future. You could take the opposite approach to what you didn’t want, but wording things in a positive slant makes you seem more enthusiastic. This tactic also keeps hiring managers from thinking you might end up saying anything negative about this company in the future.
Pay Attention To Your Own Needs
If you’re interviewing for a position that you feel pressured to get, you may end up ignoring one of your top three needs for your future workplace just to get the job. Remember that you’ll be the one at that position and there is no point in making yourself miserable. You’ll have to leave the new position in order to find what you’re looking for, so consider if you’d rather withdraw instead of looking for another job when your patience runs out. You might be tempted to avoid red flags if you’ve been job searching for a while or are convinced that you can “make it work”, but be cautious and you’ll be much happier in an environment that matches your work style.
Other Interview Questions: