Work Ethic Interview Questions & Answers

A strong work ethic is one of the most desirable traits of a new employee for many employers. But why is that? There are multiple definitions of work ethic. However, it comes down to your attitude of determination and dedication to your work. People who possess a strong work ethic value professional success and typically feel that working hard creates an opportunity that is important to reach their goals.

Employers look for candidates who are willing to work hard regardless of the industry their in or level of experience they have. Therefore, during your job interview, interviewers try to assess what kind of worker you are. To get these insights, you may be asked to describe your work ethic. Also, interviewers might use different kinds of interview questions to get a sense of what kind of person you are.

Interviewers may use behavioral interview questions, situational questions, or personal questions to uncover your preferred work style and work ethic. These types of strategic interview questions help employers find out what type of employee you are.

Interviewers want to know if you:

  • Are willing to go the extra mile when needed
  • Are Staying until you finished all the important tasks
  • Take responsibility for your actions
  • Can work well with others
  • Take responsibility for your actions
  • Are punctual and dedicated

The rationale behind assessing your work ethic is to predict your future job performance. Furthermore, interviewers want to find out how well you fit into the company culture.

Interview questions about your work ethic might sound challenging, but it’s actually a great opportunity for you to show that you’re a fit for the position. With the right preparation, you can use your answers to your advantage by demonstrating that you possess the required work ethic.

In this article, we discuss why the interviewer asks you interview questions about work ethic and how you should answer them. Also, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here and check our job interview preparation checklist.

What Is Work Ethic?

Work ethic can be defined in different ways. However, it comes down to what kind of worker you are and what your work values are. Demonstrating that you possess a good work ethic can increase your employability. Furthermore, it can help you increase the opportunities you will get by positioning yourself as someone determined to succeed in your work.

For employers, job candidates with the right work experience and relevant skills are not an asset until they also possess a strong work ethic. Hiring managers look for candidates whose moral principles and values align with those of the company. Basically, this means that the right candidates should be intrinsically motivated to perform their best and up to standards set by the company.

Work ethic is a trait of employees who make sure they get the job done, no matter what. For employers, these people are usually also easier to manage. In general, they require less oversight on a daily basis during their regular activities. Furthermore, management can rely on these people to complete important tasks within a given timeframe.

However, a strong work ethic is not only about ‘working hard.’ It’s more than that. There are various areas of competency that are associated with having a strong work ethic, such as:

  1. Taking initiative

Employees with a strong work ethic look actively for creative solutions and other opportunities to solve problems. Therefore, during your interview, when you’re discussing work ethic, it’s important that you demonstrate that you’re able to assess and initiate things independently. To give your answers more weight, you can use examples of times you took the initiative to act before a situation escalated.

Example questions about taking initiative:

Learn more about behavioral interview questions.

  1. Being reliable and honest

The greatest skillset and degrees cannot make up for lack of reliability, honesty, and integrity in the workplace. Professional relationships are built on trust, and of course, trust requires integrity.

For employers, establishing mutual trust with their employees is a great goal. Furthermore, it’s the key to maintaining their company culture in the organization. This is also the reason why interviewers try to assess your transparency and if you’re honest, accurate, reliable, and factual in your work behavior.

Make sure your answers demonstrate that you keep promises, that you communicate clearly, and that you deliver what you agreed on.

Example questions about reliability and honesty:

Learn more about honesty and integrity interview questions.

  1. Determination

Determination is a key workplace skill. Furthermore, it’s needed to ensure that you reach your goals and objectives. Determination can be described as a firmness of purpose, which is the trait of being resolute. You can demonstrate your determination through your daily actions but also in your career goals.

Your answers need to show that your persistent in your actions and that your determination gives you the motivation to keep pushing. Employers look for candidates who do not get easily frustrated and who are able to handle stressful situations. Determined employees spark creativity and push them to gove above and beyond in times when this is needed. Also, determination helps employees to motivate others around them, which makes it a desirable trait for employers.

Example questions about determination:

  1. Teamwork

Teamwork is an important part of a strong work ethic. Questions about teamwork are commonly asked during job interviews. Teamwork is important for the success of companies. This is also why employers want to assess if you work well with others. Businesses thrive on diverse teams of people who are able to contribute to individual ideas.

During your interview, make sure that you have examples ready of times you successfully worked as part of a team. Teamwork is important to employers because it plays a large role in sparking creativity; teamwork can lead to solving problems complex quicker and more efficiently. Furthermore, working together creates a supportive environment, which in turn, boosts morale.

Example questions about teamwork:

Learn more about teamwork interview questions.

The Importance Of Work Ethic To Employers

For employers, creating a workplace with employees who value a similar work ethic is essential. Workplace ethics ensures a positive vibe in the workplace. Furthermore, it leads to happier and more satisfied employees who enjoy their work rather than treating it as a burden.

A specific work ethic incorporated in a company culture comes down to an environment in which there are dependability and self-motivation. These are traits that are highly valued by employers.

Whenever you see a job opening that requires candidates with a strong work ethic, it’s important to realize that you’re required to bring a certain skill set that will help you deliver work according to a set standard. By thoroughly analyzing the job description, you can use this to your advantage during your interview.

For example, if the job ad specifies that a candidate needs to be a team player that is result-driven, you can figure out commonly asked interview questions about these topics. Based on the questions you have identified, you can prepare answers that include examples of times you successfully worked as part of a team to achieve a common goal.

When assessing your work ethic, employers are looking beyond your relevant skills and characteristics required to be successful on the job. They’re looking for specific characteristics in your answers and behaviors that are commonly associated with having a strong work ethic.

Specific characteristics associated with a strong work ethic are:

  • Dedication
  • Punctuality
  • High productivity
  • Reliability
  • Teamwork
  • Responsibility

The characteristics above are all associated with people who are willing to go the extra mile when needed. Furthermore, these are dedicated workers who are efficient with their time and who employers can rely on to get the job done within a respected deadline. In other words, these are intrinsically motivated people to deliver high-quality work on a consistent basis.

What Interviewers Look For In Your Answers To Work Ethic Questions

Due to the specific nature of questions about work ethic, you can be sure that interviewers are looking for specific factors in your answers. Usually, these factors are assessed through the usage of behavioral interview questions.

Behavioral interview questions require you to provide the interviewer with an example situation that you experienced in professional work environments. Behavioral job interview questions focus on work situations that you experienced in the past and how you responded to them. The way you respond to these questions tells the interviewer more about your work methods and ethics.

  1. Professional behavior

Professional behavior is more than showing up to work and doing your job. Professionalism can be described as everything from your appearance to how you conduct yourself in the workplace. In general, professionalism is a very broad term that equates to having a strong work ethic.

In your answers, you should demonstrate that you are able to perform up to the standards of professionalism required for the job.

  1. Organized & Highly productive

People who have a strong work ethic tend to be organized and manage their time efficiently. In turn, this leads to them being highly productive because they’re able to devote the required time to tasks they need to finish their tasks. Most of the time, organized and productive employees break their workdays down into blocks.

Organized people map out their workdays and are able to explain how they approach shifting priorities. Furthermore, they maintain a balance between their workload and their personal lives as well. These people are usually able to stay focused because they are organized. This also leads to them being able to re-evaluate targets and track their progress. When it comes down to it, employees with this specific trait simply get more work done.

In your answers, you should demonstrate that you are able to work efficiently and organized. Also, you need to be able to explain how you map out your workdays to perform your best.

Learn more about time management and prioritization interview questions

  1. Teamwork

A teamwork mindset is an essential part of a strong work ethic. A teamwork mindset means that you understand that you’re part of something bigger and that everyone plays a role in achieving common goals.

Employees who think alike about teamwork and cooperation ensures that everyone is involved and getting the right information required to successfully perform their jobs. Because employees with a strong work ethic tend to be more efficient and productive, they are more likely to be able to free up time to help colleagues to get the work done.

Also, a person with a strong work ethic is not only looking at his or her tasks that need to be done. They focus on what needs to be done in a broader sense. For example, they look at what needs to be done for the company and team in general, to succeed.

In your answers, you should demonstrate how you have successfully worked as part of a team to reach a common goal. Furthermore, interviewers are looking for you to show behavior and a work ethic that matches with their company culture.

Learn more about teamwork interview questions

  1. Determination & Discipline

Employees with a strong work ethic are determined and disciplined to succeed through internal motivation. They are self-motivated and won’t wait for others to deal with the problems they encounter. They solve it themselves – if possible.

Intrinsic motivation and self-determination sparks creativity and encourages people to come up with solutions to (complex) challenges. Furthermore, people who are determined to succeed are willing to go above and beyond to achieve their goals.

In your answers, you should be able to recall a situation in which you went above and beyond to achieve something.

Learn more about career goals and how to achieve them

  1. Consistency & Quality

Strong organization, determination, discipline and a high standard of professionalism leads to a more consistent flow of quality work. All these factors play a role in a strong work ethic. Not only is it more likely that their work is presented professionally, but there’s also a higher chance that their work exceeds expectations of what was initially required.

In your answers, the interviewer is looking for you to demonstrate that you are able to consistently deliver quality work. They are looking, for example, situations in which you made the right problem analysis and successfully dealt with the situation. Furthermore, skills such as judgment, decision making, and attention to detail should come forward in your answers.

Learn more about performance-based interview questions

  1. Trust & Integrity

The greatest skillset and top-notch degrees cannot make up for lack of honesty and integrity in the workplace. Strong professional relationships are built on trust, and of course, trust requires integrity.

Integrity can be described as doing the right thing even when nobody else is around. Employers, for instance, mention this in their mission statements, such as ‘we act with integrity in everything we do‘ or ‘Honesty and integrity are our guiding principles.’

The goal of the interviewer is to find out whether or not you just follow the corporate responsibility and to see if you take responsibility on a personal level as well. For example, when you’re applying for a managerial position, the interviewer expects you to give examples of how you apply and discuss your integrity values within your team.

You could, for instance, explain to the interviewer that you discuss the thinking behind individual decisions. Think, for instance, of basic principles such as if you make a promise you should keep it, or when you make a mistake, own up to it, but also leading by example.

Learn more about honesty & integrity interview questions

Red Flags For Interviewers Assessing Your Work Ethic

When you’re discussing your work ethic during an interviewer, the interviewer is looking for specific factors in your behavior, as mentioned earlier in this article. However, there are also factors that could be considered as warning signs for employers.

Below we discuss the most important red flags that can be identified by interviewers during your interview.

Not providing enough detail

When discussing work ethic, it’s important that you provide examples of times you demonstrated it. If you fail to do so, this can be considered a warning sign by interviewers. For instance, if you claim that you have gone the extra mile to provide a client with exactly what they needed, you better be able to back this up through clear examples.

Furthermore, if you fail to demonstrate that you’re, for example, a team worker who’s determined to succeed and an organized professional, this could lead to the elimination of your candidacy for the job. Therefore, make sure you prepare answers to common interview questions that you expect during your interview.

Not responding effectively

Work ethic within teams and company culture is essential for the success of a company. It’s therefore a commonly discussed topic during job interviews. A strong collaborative environment creates an atmosphere in which people find fulfillment in the success of the whole group. In turn, this motivates and helps others improve their work ethic as well.

When your work ethic is brought up during the interview, and you provide an answer that includes an example of a time you used specific skills, it’s likely that the interviewer will ask follow-up questions.

If you fail to respond effectively to follow-up questions, this can come across weak. When you’re preparing answers to questions you expect, it’s also smart to already think about possible follow-up questions that could follow based on the information you provide them with. Because you already know what information your answer includes, you can make an educated guess about possible follow-up questions. For example, if you’re preparing for the interview question ‘Describe a time when you had to work on a task outside of your job description?’ you can expect the interviewer to follow up with ‘How did you approach this situation?‘ and ‘What was the outcome?

Not taking responsibility

Demonstrating that you have a strong work ethic is all about showing that you take responsibility. Therefore, if your situations do not show that you take responsibility for your actions, for a mistake, or possible project that may have failed, this can be considered a warning sign. A strong work ethic also regards the ability to bounce back from a setback or failure.

Self-awareness and being able to reflect on situations is an important characteristic to possess in the workplace. Interviewers want to hire candidates that can admit errors or who made thoughtful mistakes in the past and tried to fix them.

The interviewers know that the candidates are human and make mistakes, just like everybody else. It’s important that your answers show that you take responsibility for situations. Therefore, make sure you describe the actions you took to repair any problems or challenges. This is an essential part of having a strong work ethic, so make sure you have some examples ready of times you took responsibility.

Too negative

A strong work ethic is all about having a positive attitude towards your work and having a can-do attitude. A positive vibe within the workplace helps boost employee morale and productivity. This is also why too much negativity, in any form, in your answers about situations that you have encountered can also be viewed as a warning sign.

Examples of negativity are talking inappropriately about previous employers or co-workers, but also in a professional situation in general. Negative undertones never impress interviewers the right way. Make sure you convey a positive attitude during your interview and how your positive attitude has helped you spark productivity and creativity in the workplace.

Frequently Asked Interview Questions About Work Ethic

Below we discuss a couple of commonly asked interview questions about work ethic. These questions are divided into behavioral interview questions and personal interview questions.

Behavioral interview questions require you to provide the interviewer with an example situation that you experienced in professional work environments. These strategic interview questions focus on work situations that you experienced in the past and how you responded to them. The way you respond to these questions tells the interviewer more about your work methods and ethics.

Personal interview questions are an essential part of any job interview. Hiring managers want to get more insight into your personality traits and required skills for the position.

Besides being interested in your education and work experience, interviewers want to know more about your motivation, attitude towards work, career goals, and personality traits. The main goal of personal job interview questions is to get an understanding of who you are, what you like, and if all of that fits into the organization and position you’re interviewing for.

Behavioral interview questions about work ethic

  1. Tell me about a time you went above and beyond at work.
  2. Describe a time you successfully completed a challenging task.
  3. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  4. Tell me about a time you had to juggle multiple important projects simultaneously.

Learn more about behavioral questions and how to answer them

Personal interview questions about work ethic

  1. How do you define work ethic? What does it mean to you?
  2. What motivates you? Can you describe a situation and explain what motivated you?

Learn more about personal questions and how to answer them

How To Find Out Which Work Ethic Questions You Can Expect

Everybody knows that an important aspect of a strong interview preparation is to practice answering interview questions that you expect. This is because preparation will help you to be more comfortable answering questions during the interview and allows you to provide strong answers on the spot. These factors play a major role in successful job interviews.

But how do you find out which interview questions you are most likely to get asked during your interview? An interviewer or hiring manager could ask you anything. So, where do you begin and how do you start practicing?

There are a couple of steps that you can take to make an educated guess about which questions you should be able to answer. Below we discuss these steps to help you start your interview preparation. Also, check our job interview checklist here and read more about commonly asked interview questions.

  1. Research the company

Your first step to finding out which interview questions you are most likely to get is researching the company. Make sure you understand the company, its culture, and its values. Based on your research, you can find out what the employer specifically values in an employee’s work ethic. For example, figure out:

  • The company culture and what the company values in their employees in terms of work ethic.
  • What kind of products or services the company sells.
  • Who are the key players in the organization?
  • Who you’re interviewing with and their roles within the team.
  • The latest news about the company. Read blogs or any other media publications to get up to date.
  • What the company’s strengths are and who are their main competitors in the market.
  • If you know anyone in your network who’s working at or worked at the company, who can give you inside information.
  • How you will be evaluated in the company. This information is sometimes available on Glassdoor.com.

Not only will the steps above help you figure out what kind of company you’re dealing with it, but it will also help you prepare questions to ask the interviewer back. If you come across important information that you have questions about, write this down during your interview preparation. Use it in your interview preparation and memorize it so that if the interviewer brings the topic up during the interview, you can play into it and ask smart questions.

Interviews are supposed to be a two-way street, and asking questions back is an essential part of a successful job interview.

Also, look for websites such as Megainterview.com to find out general commonly asked job interview questions.

  1. Thoroughly analyze the job description

After you research the company and found out what the company values and how you will be evaluated, it’s time to focus on the position you’re applying for. Highlight and mark essential information about the position, such as the required skills, abilities, and experience. Furthermore, focus on reviewing job responsibilities. It’s essential for you to understand what daily tasks of the position are and the duties you will have within the team and company.

Based on your analysis, you can think of questions that challenge the required skills, responsibilities, and experience you have highlighted. Here you can find more information about frequently asked interview questions per category. In almost any interview, behavioral questions are used.

For example, expect at least a couple of questions like ‘Tell me about your experience with [insert required skill, ability or experience]‘ or ‘Describe a time when you demonstrated [insert required qualification].’

Think about what the company expects from you if you get hired. Also, think about how they will evaluate your expertise and performance. For instance, if you apply for a software development position, you can be sure that you will get asked some in-depth questions about your coding expertise.

It’s also possible that the interviewer will use situational interview questions. These questions are hypothetical in nature and are used to uncover your thinking process but also your creative thinking skills. For example, if you’re applying for a marketing position, the interviewer could ask you, ‘What is usually your plan of action to identify which marketing strategy fits a client?

As you can see, a bit of research goes a long way if you want to figure out what kinds of questions you can expect during your interview.

  1. Review your resume

During interviews, it’s likely that the hiring manager will at least ask you some questions about the documents you provided, such as your resume or cover letter. Interviewers often ask you questions specifically related to your background, education, and work experience.

Also, if you have a gap in your resume or if you want to change careers, you should focus on questions about why this happened or why you want to change careers. Preparation is key, and making sure you can answer these kinds of questions without hesitating will come across confident.

Also, think about the position that the interviewer is in. What would you ask if you were the interviewer based on your resume and cover letter? Questions such as ‘Tell me about yourself‘ or ‘Could you walk me through your resume?‘ are pretty much asked in every interview. You can add these to your list of questions you should prepare for. Just like anything else that possibly stands out about your previous work experience.

  1. Prepare & Practice tough interview questions

Once you get a better idea of what questions you can expect during your interview, it’s time to prepare and practice answers to those questions. Here you can find more information on answering:

Based on the competencies, skills, and experience required for the position, you can start preparing your answers. A lot of companies are looking for similar skills such as teamwork, leadership, management, problem-solving, adaptability, creative thinking, time-management, etc. Rank the skills on importance in relation to the requirements of the job that you are interviewing for.

For behavioral questions, based on your ranking, you can start thinking about past work experiences in which you successfully demonstrated the required skills. The STAR interview technique is the most efficient way to structure your answers.

Give the interviewer an answer in the form of a ‘story’ and structure this story logically. Use the STAR interview technique to do this. STAR is an acronym that stands for a situation (S), your task (T) in that situation, the actions (A) you took, and what results (R) you got based on your actions. These are the basic steps you take in your walkthrough.

  1. Prepare questions to ask the interviewer

Always prepare questions to ask the interviewer during your job interview. Interviews are supposed to be a two-way street. This means that a hiring manager wants to ask you questions to get to know you and learn about your skills. However, it also means that you should use the opportunity to ask the interviewer questions about the position, management, and the company itself to figure out if this is the right position for you.

Furthermore, if you do not prepare questions to ask the interviewer, there’s a chance that the interviewer might think that you’re not genuinely interested or that you’re not well-prepared.

Learn more about smart questions to ask the interviewer.

Tips To Answer Work Ethic Interview Questions

When an interviewer brings up your work ethic he or she is not out to get you. They are genuinely interested in your work ethic and want to get to know more about your behavior as an employee.

Below we discuss a couple of tips that you can use to your advantage when you’re asked to discuss your work ethic.

  1. Take your time

Don’t take too long, but it’s okay to start your answer with ‘That’s a tough question, let me think for a moment.’ That way, you can catch your breath and think about your answer for a brief moment. No harm is done if you do this once or two times in a job interview.

Therefore, don’t be afraid to think for a second before you answer a tough interview question. This way, you avoid that you start rambling or rushing through your answers.

  1. Walk the interviewer through your thought process

For most specific tough questions, the interviewer wants you to walk them through your thought process. This means that you should be able to explain how you draw conclusions or how you’ve come to a solution.

For example, if the interviewer asks you a tough situational question such as ‘What is usually your strategy if you have to make an important decision?‘ they want to know more about it and how you systematically approach important decisions. It’s not about making a specific decision; it’s about demonstrating that you have a process you follow in order to come to a sound decision.

Learn more about answering questions that require you to explain your thought process.

  1. Know your facts

If the interviewer asks you a tough question about your skills, education, or work experience, it’s essential that you know what you’re talking about. It may sound like a no-brainer, but there are candidates who cannot remember everywhere they worked or for how long when they are put on the spot.

In your interview preparation, ensure that you incorporate some time to go over your resume and cover letter. It’s certain that you will get asked some questions about the documents you have provided, so make sure you can discuss them confidently. Also, bring extra copies to your interview.

  1. Try to stay calm

Interviews, in general, can be nerve-wracking. Try to stay calm during the interview, and don’t rush through your answers. A strong preparation will help you go to the interview more confidently. However, you can still be caught off guard during an interview. When this happens, use the tactic discussed in the first step.

  1. Practice makes perfect!

The most efficient way to prepare is to make a list of common interview questions and specific questions you expect based on your research. Next, answer each question out loud. The first time this might seem a bit awkward, but this is also what the interviewer will hear from you.

You can also write your answers down and finetune them as you practice them out loud. The most important part is that you include the required information in a short and concise answer.

Another option is to record your answers via a webcam or smartphone. This way, you can also analyze your non-verbal communication.

Examples Of Work Ethic Interview Questions And Best Answers

Below we discuss a couple of interview questions about work ethic. However, remember that these work ethic interview questions and their answers are general examples. Make sure that you figure out which questions you are most likely to get and tailor your answers to the specific position and company where you’re applying for a position.

  1. Tell me about a time you faced a challenging situation. How did you overcome it?

The reason why the interviewer asks this work ethic question

Basically, the interviewer wants to get a better insight into your ability to manage projects and complex situations. Furthermore, they want to know more about your approach and decision-making skills in stressful or challenging situations.

Another reason for asking this question is to analyze how the company can benefit from your skills and abilities.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

Your answer should include the situation you were in, the tasks you had in that situation, the actions you took, and the results you got. In short, this is called the STAR method of structuring your answer. The interviewer wants answers to questions such as:

  • What is your approach to dealing with challenges?
  • How do your skills help you successfully finish projects?
  • What is your work ethic like?
  • How do you handle stress?

Example answer to ‘Tell me about a time you faced a challenging situation. How did you overcome it?’

In my previous job at a marketing firm, I have worked on several challenging projects. One time, when I just started at the company, I was asked to work with a small team on a marketing pitch deck for a new client. We got the project because of our reputation and ability to take on the project on short notice.

It was a great opportunity for us to show what we were capable of doing in a short amount of time. Then, two weeks before the pitch deck presentation, the client requested us to change the entire plan. It turned out that they were unhappy with our first concept and stated that it differed too much from the initial idea that they had in mind.

Answer to ‘How did you overcome it?’

We organized a brainstorm meeting with the team to figure out what exactly went wrong, at which point in the development of the pitch deck. After several hours we concluded that some parts of the project were developed based on assumptions without clearly asking the client for approval before moving on. I asked if I could take the lead on redeveloping the pitch deck. For me, this was a challenge, as well as a great opportunity.

It was a challenge because I had never created a pitch deck working at this company, and we had a short amount of time. Still, it was a great opportunity because I had experience with creating these decks in several of my prior jobs, so it was a great chance to demonstrate my skills. I overcame the challenge by getting the goals clear of what the client exactly wanted, analyzing their feedback, and setting up small milestones to track progress in the two weeks we had left.

We kept in touch with the client throughout the redevelopment process of the pitch deck and finished and submitted it one day before the deadline. Ultimately the client was very happy with our work, and we are still working with them today.

Bonus: Include what you learned from dealing with this challenging situation

For me, the most important learning from this project is that it’s important to get the goals clear before a project starts. Furthermore, my experience taught me that the best way to work on challenging projects is to create milestones to track progress. Now, at the start of a new project, I focus on the most difficult parts and challenges of the project so that I know as soon as possible if there are any issues or attention areas. If this is the case, I have more than enough time to work on this before any deadlines. A detailed plan to work on a project is essential to finish it successfully.’

  1. Describe your work ethic

The reason why the interviewer asks this tough question

By asking you to describe your work ethic, interviewers try to get more information about how you fit into the company culture and what you’re like as an employee. In other words, how you will most likely behave on the job if you get hired.

The interviewer wants to get a sense of your personality as well. They want to find if you’re willing to go above and beyond to finish your tasks if you’re a team worker or rather work individually etc.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

Interviewers want to hear you explain, in your words, what you value as an employee. They want to know if your enthusiastic, dedicated, committed, and if you can maintain a positive outlook – even during challenging times.

If you provide the interviewer with an answer that includes an example of a time you demonstrated your work ethic, use the STAR method to structure your answer. STAR is an acronym for situation, task, action, and result.

Example answer to ‘Describe your work ethic’

‘I would describe myself as a pro-active, energetic and positive person. I’m a dedicated professional who’s willing to go the extra mile to complete the required tasks.

For example, last year, my managing director was looking for a volunteer to manage monthly performance reports. Even though I knew it was a time-consuming job on top of my daily tasks, I decided to volunteer and got appointed. In my previous position as an intern, I was also responsible for running these reports as well, and I saw an opportunity to manage the process more efficiently for my team.

I discussed the current process with my manager and the managing director and provided them with feedback on possible improvements that I had in mind. Based on their feedback on my ideas I created a new report that was mostly automated, which saved hours in comparison to the old report.

When I presented the new report to my manager and managing director, they were impressed with the improvements. Not only did the new, mostly automated report save time, but I also created a far clearer overview of the team’s performance. Within three months other departments in the company started using the new model too, which was a great personal accomplishment for me.’

  1. How do you handle stress? Can you give me an example?

The reason why the interviewer asks this work ethic question

The ability to handle stress and stay calm under pressure is essential in a lot of jobs. Furthermore, being able to perform in stressful situations can indicate a strong work ethic. If a job requires this, the interviewers want to make sure that a candidate is able to take on that environment. Hiring managers want to know if you react to stressful situations in a constructive way rather than a destructive one.

Employees who get motivation out of a healthy dose of stress and use those situations to their advantage to be productive and deliver quality work is what employers look for

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

Besides your view on stressful situations, the interviewer actually expects you to provide an example of a time you handled a stressful situation successfully. Make sure you five a relevant but concise and to the point answer.

Learn more about stress management interview questions.

Example answer to ‘How do you handle stress? Can you give me an example?’

‘I think a healthy dose of stress makes me more focused. For example, when I work on multiple projects at the same time, it helps me to stay productive and motivated to keep going. My prioritization and time management skills help me balance work in order to meet deadlines. This is also what keeps me from getting stressed out.

For example, in my previous position, I was asked to run a project team to develop a sales pitch to persuade a client to use our products. This was a high-pressure situation because there was a three year and multi-million dollar contract on the line. However, we only had five days to develop and present our pitch.

For the organization as well as for me personally, this was an important deal. For me, failure was not an option because it was a unique opportunity.

I assembled a team of the most experienced colleagues. Together with the team, the goals and milestones were determined for each day. After that, I delegated tasks based on the knowledge and experience levels of each team member.

I distributed the responsibilities according to experience and knowledge levels, so everyone on the team was aware of his or her responsibilities. Furthermore, everybody was aware of the importance of this deal. Even though the project required the maximum of everybody on the team, we delivered everything on time.

The client told us that he was impressed by our effort within the time constraint. We landed the deal, which was a great achievement for everybody on the team. It was an effort that could not have been made without the people on it.’

  1. What are your short term career goals?

The reason why the interviewer asks this work ethic question

Your career goals are brought up during job interviews because the interviewer wants to find out a couple of things. First, they want to know if you plan on staying at the company. Interviewers want to find out how likely you are to leave if you get another opportunity.

Second, it shows if you have a plan in your career and how you plan on developing yourself. Furthermore, your answer gives them an understanding of if your professional goals and expectations of the position match what they can offer you.

Learn more about career goal interview questions.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

The interviewer wants to know more about your career goals. If the company decides to hire you, they want to create a career path based on what motivates you. Therefore, it’s important that you are able to demonstrate your goals as they will be used as a starting point for learning and development processes.

Example answer to ‘What are your short-term career goals?’

‘My short-term goals are fairly simple. I want to further develop and use my communication and project management skills in this job. I’m focused on gaining as much experience as I can over the next years to eventually grow into a position that will allow me to continue to use these skills while also managing my own team. I want to achieve these goals by working on different projects and different teams.

To be able to manage a team effectively, communication is key, and I look forward to taking on small leadership roles, eventually working my way up. This opportunity is the right one for me since it’s the next step in my career that allows me to continue to grow as a professional. Furthermore, one of my key motivators is the ability to work with different coworkers from different departments, so this is especially exciting about this opportunity for me.’

  1. What is your greatest accomplishment?

The reason why the interviewer asks this work ethic question

Interview questions about accomplishments and achievements are often asked during job interviews. This question is popular among interviewers for several reasons. First and foremost, the interviewer is interested in your character, work ethic, and core values.

The way you respond to such questions and the information you give the interviewer reveals a lot about your skills, abilities, and personality.

Learn more about interview questions about accomplishments

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

These particular interview questions require you to talk about yourself and your career in a very positive way. It’s therefore important that you can provide the interviewer with concrete examples of your accomplishments.

This means that you should be able to provide an answer on the spot when you’re being asked about your career achievements. In other words, this is your time to ‘brag’, not to be humble. However, do not overdo it, but it’s very important that you show confidence when you walk the interviewer through your success story.

Example answer to ‘What is your greatest accomplishment?’

My greatest accomplishment happened in my previous position as sales manager. I often saw team members struggling to locate specific, but essential client details in the system that we were using at the time. As a result, productivity went down, and it became harder to reach sales targets every month.

After noticing this, I took the initiative to implement a new, more up-to-date CRM system that I already had experience with. After implementation, I trained and coached my team members on how to use it and showed them with what ease they could find and file client information.

We reviewed the results after two months of working with the new system, and our time sheets indicated that we spent multiple hours less on collecting client data. As a result, we were able to increase our sales targets, which we already met in the third month of implementing the new system.’

  1. Tell me about a time you worked well as part of a team

The reason why the interviewer asks this work ethic question

If you’re applying for a position and a company that relies on teamwork, you can be sure that teamwork will be discussed during your interview. As discussed earlier on in this article, teamwork orientation is an essential factor of people with a strong work ethic.

Teamwork creates a supportive work environment in which open communication lines are established. Furthermore, teamwork can spark creativity and boosts morale.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

Interview questions about your past teamwork experience are a great opportunity for you to show that you’re a fit for the position. With the right preparation, you can use your answers to your advantage by demonstrating that you’re a true team player.

The most important thing to focus on is providing specific examples of times you successfully performed on or managed a team. You need to remain positive and able to explain why you value teamwork.

Example answer to ‘Tell me about a time you worked well as part of a team’

I tend to do well in team settings because I can relate to others well, approach situations professionally, and through my experience, understand what it takes to get the job done.

For example, in my previous position, I worked as a team leader on a project that involved members from different departments with different backgrounds and skills. This group was put together to finalize the project as a collective and produce a result that we could not have achieved individually. As you can imagine, ongoing and clear communication was very important during this project.

I led the project and broke the project down in weekly sprints to help us reach our targets. Besides weekly meetings, I organized a short 15-minute session at the start of each day, where each team member would answer the following three questions: 1. What did I do since yesterday? 2. What will I do today? And what problems am I running into? These meetings made sure that everybody could continue their work instead of waiting for the weekly meeting to discuss their issues.

For me, this was a great way to stay in constant communication with the team and not only focus on our own goals but also helping team members in reaching theirs. The result of the project is that we provided five distinct deliverables and recorded over $100,000 is cost savings in the last two quarters.