We often view a position in terms of the specifics of the role, the location, salary range and company brand. It’s typical. Yet the working environment is what will often determine if we are happy in our role or not.

Factors that characterise a workplace environment include the organisation’s size, the work life balance on offer, the business’ structure and leadership style. These elements influence the company culture and the savvy interviewer will want to know if you will be a great fit. It is the catalyst for the typical probing query of; describe your ideal working environment. So while you may think that you are being screened for your level of knowledge and skill set, you are also being assessed as to your likely cultural fit.

Some interview questions will be straight forward and their purpose clear. Others will be focused on gaining a greater insight into your character. If you’re an introvert and the position demands a lot of time working within a group, maybe you’re not the ideal candidate choice. Communicating your ideal working environment takes some thought. And your response should not be delivered in isolation of what you know is occurring within the company. Needless to say, research the company website, tap into your networks and seek out any press releases featuring your potential employer.  If the organisation interviewing you is active in giving back to the local community, express that your values are aligned.

When you have an insight into the internal workings of the organisation interviewing you, you can prepare responses that demonstrate a commonality between the two of you. An organisation of fifteen staff may expose you to more opportunities more quickly, yet a large conglomerate with an abundance of resources and a structured development program may suit you if you are in the early stages of your career and looking to learn the best processes that you can build your own company upon one day. Do you prefer structure and formal processes, or do you like to drive a fast paced course of action to achieving goals? Do you enjoy operating remote to the main office or do you need the interaction of others? Does absorbing the commitment and motivation of others drive you to work longer and harder to succeed, or intimidate you because you it is important to you to be out the office door at 5pm in search of a healthy work life balance?

If you are unaware of the specific work environment that allows you to consistently produce your best effort, think about your past working experiences. When where you the most happiest and eager to undertake a day’s work? What type of working culture did you feel most comfortable and perform best within? Your past employment positions can allow you to define the most productive and favourable working circumstances for you. Yet while you may be aware of what suits you, your investigations may not have given you enough of a gauge of the culture of the organisation interviewing you. So if you are unclear of the workplace you could potentially find yourself among, you can draw on your past to demonstrate a flexibility and willingness to expose yourself to new experiences. Alternatively, explain that you perform well in collaborative environments that are driven to succeed. These attributes resonate with all types of companies. If on the other hand you want more clarity as to the organisation’s character, ask your interviewer to describe the nature of the company and the factors that epitomise its personality, strength and drive.

When seeking a new job or preparing for an interview, focus on the type of working environment that allows you to excel. Demonstrating a connection between your experiences and attributes will show the interviewer that you can make a positive contribution to the organisation. How you shape your job application and interview responses to demonstrate a common link can enhance your chance of being offered the role. And that is the ultimate goal is it not, successfully finding employment with a company that understands you and shares your values? It certainly is what organisations are looking for.

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