Of course, you work hard. It goes without saying. But now you have to say it. You’re in a job interview, on the cusp of landing your dream gig, and your perspective boss just asked “how hard do you work to achieve your goals?”
Suddenly, you’re frozen. The question’s so easy that you blank on a meaningful answer. What should you say?
Job interviews are full of trick questions. Some of these are tricky because they open up touchy subjects. “Why did you leave your last job?” or “What are your biggest weaknesses?” are examples of this.
Other questions are tricky because the answer is so obvious. This category includes all the versions of “how hard do you work?” The answer seems like an obvious “hard yes”…in fact, the response seems so obvious that it can throw you for a loop. What do interviewers want to hear?
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Statement of Purpose
In theory, the answer to this question is fairly obvious. Your employer wants to hear you say that you “definitely work hard, all the time.” No one would be fooled into answering this question with an honest “actually, I’d prefer a job that includes an afternoon nap.”
So why would potential employers ask a question for which there is an obvious “right “answer? Well, don’t see it as a specific question looking for a particular answer. See it more as a statement of purpose and a way of launching a deeper conversation about the subject.
Fundamentally, your interviewer wants to put the subject of hard work on the table. They want to signal that this represents an important component of their corporate culture. Your job then is to confirm that you understand how important it is to the company, and let them know that it’s important to you as well.
Everyone is going to say they work hard. It may even be true for most of the candidates applying. This dynamic makes it difficult to distinguish yourself when you answer this interview question.
So how do you make a mark? By going deeper.
Details matter. Don’t just claim you are a harder worker (like everyone else is going to do also). Prove it by providing concrete examples.
Share times when your supervisors have commended you for your hard work. Reference statistics that show how many hours you put in on a regular basis. Provide details of a time when you committed the extra effort needed to meet a tight deadline. These examples will help you stand out against the competition.
More Than a Hard Worker
Part of the reason this question is hard to answer is that it doesn’t seem to allow for much nuance. It tends to push people towards extreme responses, like “I’m the hardest working person in the world.”
Such a claim might be possible, but it’s also unlikely. In all probability, you’re not the hardest working person in the world. (Have you seen LeBron James’ Instagram feed? Yeah, you’ve got some competition.) More likely, you’re one of a dozen candidates who is a very hard worker.
Like we’ve said before, the question doesn’t provide a lot of room to distinguish yourself.
As a result, you want to go beyond the obvious answer. Don’t just provide a detailed, over-the-top description of how hard you can work. Try to pivot to some of your other complementary skills. Ideally, you’ll want to give some version of the answer “I work very hard, but I also work smart.”
Knowing what to say in an interview poses a significant challenge. It gets easier when you know you’re perfect for the position. Partnering with a strong recruiting firm, like DHR, can put you in a position to land the ideal assignments for you.
Contact DHR today to learn more.