Describe Your Work Ethic is a question that could well be asked at any type or level of job interview. In most cases, it won’t be a trick question, and you shouldn’t view it as such. Neither is it a trite question lacking originality. When you are asked it, the interviewer will be looking for an ideal response.
If you don’t give them an answer that is convincing and realistic, it could well affect how they view you. Interviews can be short enough as it is. Casting doubt on your ability to be able to communicate relevant answers in a positive way is not ideal, and you might not get the time to change any negative opinions they create.
A Bit of Practice Might Help
Nothing creates success like preparation, and that also applies to interviews. Presumably, you want to be successful, so some practice in answering potential questions can help. That way, if any of them come up, you will have answered it a dozen times in your mind already.
You will feel at ease. All you have to do is make sure the answer is first, what they are looking for from you. And secondly, that you deliver it in a confident but unpretentious way.
Let’s now move on and consider…
Why Will A Potential Employer Ask You To Describe Your Work Ethic?
There is a simple answer to this. They are going to be paying you, so they want to make sure it is money well-spent. Some people view the question with skepticism. I can understand that. No one is going to answer with a deliberate set of negative comments.
The interviewer will pay as much attention to how you answer the questions as what you might say. They will want to make sure that your work ethic is as you describe it.
Please remember there is no way they can ever be totally convinced at the interview stage. The only way they will determine that is if you go to work at the company. Therefore, how you address the answer is vital.
Let’s Cut to The Chase – What Do You Say?
I have interviewed dozens and dozens of people over the years. I found that I had usually half made my mind up within the first ten minutes, if not less. And if I were to ask them about their work ethic, it would always be towards the end of the interview, especially if I was still unsure.
What is the Employer Looking for?
Most employers do not want to see flamboyance and over-statement at interviews. They want a steady approach. This is because it means they will be able to rely on you. Keeping that in mind, the employer will need to feel like you will be reliable and consistent in your attitude.
You need to demonstrate motivation. Are you able to motivate yourself? There was always something I looked for in a potential employee that demonstrated that. I’ll come back to it later.
So, bear in mind the employer will be looking for someone they can rely on. Someone who isn’t going to be brilliant one day and not turn up the next. You need to give the employer the feeling that if they set you a task that you will complete it.
So What Do You Say When Asked about Your Work Ethic?
Be positive without being aggressive with the answer, and use the sort of terminology that the interviewer will be looking for:
- Talk about being reliable.
- Talk positively about being consistent in your attitude.
- Do you enjoy work? Why? Because it is a personal challenge on a daily basis.
- Your motivation is your desire to leave the workplace satisfied that you have had a productive day.
- You like to feel that you have contributed to the ‘team effort.’
Now, of course, it may be that the employer has heard all this before. In fact, it is almost certain they have. They will be half-expecting it. They may well have heard it at interviews and have offered a position to a candidate. But only then to realize very quickly it was just words spoken by the interviewee.
So what else can you do to enforce your statements and your position? You could have a personal experience ready to use if necessary. This needs to be handled carefully so that you don’t sound condescending.
Experiences could be situations you have faced yourself or seen in others and might include:
- The value to an employer of always being on time.
- Meeting people’s expectations of you.
- Taking responsibility.
- Understanding that most of the time, work is a team effort.
- You could talk about challenges you faced in your education and how you overcame them.
By bringing the subject to a personal level, you are opening another door into yourself. The employer can see through and judge whether they think you are right for the job. In my experience, it was always impressive when a candidate did that, providing it was relevant.
Those are just a couple of ideas to promote your thoughts. There cannot be a right or a wrong way to answer the question. If there was, it would be worthless to ask it. Remember, the employee is trying to get to know you.
The important issues the employer will hope to see are:
Two Types of Interview
And by that, I mean is it your first ever interview, or maybe an interview for a change of company or position.
Your First Interview
We’ve all had one, and it can be terrifying. The employer will have been there too, so they will understand. But when asked the question about work ethic, it will be difficult to answer.
You haven’t worked for a company before and had the chance to develop one. So how do you answer it? There are two strategies.
Firstly, talk about your work ethic while you were a student. Many of the same things apply that we have mentioned.
- Being in classes on time.
- Handing in written assignments on time.
- Getting some help to understand certain principles if needed.
- Taking pride in the presentation of your work.
Relevant experiences from student days, at whatever level of study, that are applicable to the workplace.
A Second Interview for a change of Company or Position
This can be a tricky one. You might be asked all sorts of questions. If it is a rival in the same business, you could get asked questions that could be uncomfortable to answer. If so, don’t. That immediately gets you an ‘integrity rating.’ You can just very politely decline to disclose too much information, using, ”I’m sure you understand.”
And finally, never, ever disparage your previous or present employer. You can just say you are looking for new challenges in an alternative environment.
The Inevitable ‘Buzzwords’
Some may advise you to use those words that might be called ‘buzzwords.’ Meaningless statements usually that are supposed to show you in a good light. They can actually have the reverse effect.
Some words are helpful like, Responsible, Accountable, Committed, Dependable, Honest, or Reliable. These are all descriptions of your personality and are relevant to your work ethic. But always make sure they fit your personality as the interviewer sees you.
But don’t trot them out in a monologue of descriptors. It sounds false, and an interviewer will see through it immediately. Work them into the conversation, don’t start making lists.
Some Things Not To Do at The Interview
You might not consider a question about work ethics to be directly related to your ability to do the job. The potential employer may see it differently, though, so it is vital you treat the question seriously.
It is not a throwaway question asked because it’s trendy to do so, as some have described it. It may well have an effect on the outcome of the interview. The employer is in charge of the interview, not you.
And whilst you shouldn’t feel intimidated by that, respect all the questions asked.
Don’t Rush Into The Money
Refrain from asking about salaries and any bonus scheme until the employer mentions it. They will get around to it when the time is right. Forcing the discussion into that area might make you look like that is what is important to you.
It is relevant, of course. But it is not why you are there. You are there to impress the employer. Having a good answer about work ethics is one way you can do that.
You May Be Asked to Describe More than Just Your Work Ethic!
If that’s the case, take a look at our guide to answering How Would You Describe Yourself?
It’s an excellent approach to completely familiarize yourself with the common interview questions depending on the job. Interviewing to be a hostess? Then head to these Hostess Interview Questions! Cook position? Take a look at the Cook Interview Questions you need to know in 2022.
US Company Chains
The site also features the most common interview questions for particular companies, such as Disney Store Interview Questions, Dollar General Interview Questions, plus these Walgreens Customer Service Associate Interview Questions, and so much more! Simply enter your prospective employer in our site search to check!
Or are you unsure if or how to quit your job? Then I highly recommend these resources for some excellent support: How to Quit Your Job Gracefully, Resignation Letter Sample, Good Luck Finding Awesome Coworkers Like Us Again, or the superb Work Sucks!: A Funny View of a Serious Problem.
Back to today’s discussion…
A Return to your ability to Motivate yourself
I mentioned earlier there was something about motivation. I was always impressed when people I was interviewing took the time to find out about the business we were in.
They came prepared, knowing what we did, and to a certain extent, how we did it. Some of them even had ideas of how they could contribute already prepared.
I saw that as personal motivation. They had taken the time to do a bit of research. It showed me two things. Firstly that they could actually think for themselves; secondly, that they were genuinely interested in what we were about.
The impression you give says a lot. Here are some ideas that might give help you create a good impression.
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Good luck with the interview and on your employment journey.