Can you describe your ideal working environment to me?

  | James Innes

Can you describe your ideal working environment to me?

Alternative and related questions:

Which of your previous working environments was the best?

The meaning behind the question:

As with other questions which ask you to describe your 'ideal' of something work-related, the interviewer is attempting to assess how closely your ideal fits with the reality of their organisation.  Unless you see through this aspect of their question, you could easily reveal reasons for them to notch up black marks on your application.  They're testing your compatibility.

Your answer:

How much do you know about the working environment in the organisation to which you're applying?  Shallow as it may seem, this is what you need to be describing.

With a bit of luck, you'll already have been able to glean quite a bit of useful information from the interviewer during the course of your interview – information which you can now feed back to them.

If, on the other hand, you're working completely in the dark then aim for a reasonably generic description which represents a 'best guess' as to the type of working environment you'll be in.


My ideal working environment is one where there's a good sense of team spirit.  A strong work ethic is obviously important but the human side is also important.  I enjoy working with people who have a decent sense of humour and who, while they might take their work very seriously, don't necessarily take themselves overly seriously!  I like people who are down to earth but who have a dynamic and progressive approach to their work.  I really enjoy working as part of a highly committed and professional team.

Word of warning:

Avoid saying anything along the lines of the way they've described their organisation's working environment as sounding like your idea of the ideal working environment.  Don't be seen to be overtly sucking up!  Subtly does it.

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