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Describe Your Ideal Work Environment

By John Putzier

Have you ever been asked to describe your ideal work environment? What do they want to hear? What if I describe something that they cannot provide? Isn't this a no-win question?

As I have indicated in prior "gut wrenchers" articles, when in doubt, tell the truth. What a concept! Actually, that is what you should do. The reason so many people find questions like these so difficult is because they don't even know what the truth is for them.

Ask for training to do better at work

Here is a way to find out. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. Label on side, "likes" and the other "dislikes" and then start with your most recent job or assignment, and list as many of each as you can. Then go to the job immediately prior to that one, and continue until you have listed as many likes and dislikes as you can.

You should see a trend. For example, perhaps on one job you really liked the people, and on another you really disliked the people. Key word here? People! So, it must be important to you to have great people around you. Who could argue with that answer in an interview? 

Or, let's say you really liked the training opportunities in several different positions. So, you probably like to work where you can develop your skills. Again, who could argue with that? See where we are going with this?

The whole point here is to determine for you what matters to you most in a workplace. You will impress any employer or interviewer if you can answer questions like these with specific, well thought out responses. After all, would you want to hire someone who doesn't know what they want? 

For your own sake, you need to be able to answer these questions. Otherwise you will not be able to gauge prospective positions and employers for your probability of success and job satisfaction. If you know that you enjoy the interaction of colleagues, then you wouldn't want to take a job doing data entry in a cubicle all day.

As I mentioned before, even though there are "technically" no wrong answers, there are three rules of thumb you should always follow. Keep your responses honest, positive and job-related. For example, instead of saying "I really hate to work with jerks," you might say "I really place a lot of value in the camaraderie of my colleagues." 

So, being able to answer the "gut wrenchers" is not about guessing or knowing what someone else wants to hear. It's about knowing yourself well enough to be honest. Now that will impress recruiters!