The reason why interviewers ask this question is to find out what kind of work environment suits you best, get a sense of your character and self-awareness. They’ll evaluate if your answer lines up with the position, work environment and company culture.
Example Answer (With Experience)
“I surely can work independently. In fact, I prefer working alone when necessary because in some kind of work situations I don’t need to be constantly reassured of my work. For example, in my previous job I had projects that required individual efforts where focus and concentration was important to meet deadlines.
However, some of the projects like [Project 1] and [Project 2] you can see in my resume, required group collaboration to facilitate idea generation and creativity. I really enjoy these kinds of group projects and I believe better business results can be accomplished when everyone is pulling together.”
Example Answer (No Experience)
“On most of my group projects at [University XYZ] it was typical for me to write the allocated chapters in isolation. Working independently improved my productivity, moreover, helped to get these projects off the ground. I also like to take full responsibility and credit for my work.
However, the draft document was always peer reviewed by the wider team and myself. It was a great way to challenge assumptions and break complex tasks into parts. At the end of tasks, I individually polished and scrutinized the work for errors.”
Interview Question Tips
- Don’t limit your preference to either independent or group work situations. You’ll disqualify yourself because most jobs require both.
- Do provide an example that proves you can work well in a team atmosphere as well as take on individual responsibility. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.
- Do understand if the position requires you to work alone or not. Thoroughly read the job description and tailor your answer accordingly.