How Do You Identify A Candidate’s Work Ethic During An Interview?

09.11.19 | Looking to Hire

A strong work ethic is one of the most important things to look for when hiring a new employee. Of course, you want an employee with the right knowledge and skills, but that will only get you so far. At the end of the day, a hard-working employee who consistently gets the job done will be more valuable than an employee who isn’t motivated

Work ethic is usually defined as a set of principles and values that guide an employee’s work performance. An employee with a strong work ethic is motivated to do their best no matter the job or situation. They’re proactive about their responsibilities and dedicated to delivering their best. Unfortunately, hiring hard-working employees is more difficult than it sounds. How can you get a good idea of a candidate’s work ethic with only a few interview questions?

Find Out More About Work Ethic With Behavioral Interview Questions

Sometimes you have to look past the candidate’s skills in order to get a good idea of their work ethic. Behavioral questions often reveal a lot about a candidate’s work ethic. Here are some questions to ask and what to listen for in their responses.

“What do you do when things are slow at work?”

What employees do when “there’s nothing to do” is a great way to learn more about their work ethic. Hard-working employees always find something productive to do. 

What to listen for: employees who look for things to do. Pay attention if they mention using spare time to clean, asking supervisors or managers for more assignments, or helping coworkers finish tasks. 

What you don’t want to hear: finding ways to “pass the time.” This might include checking social media, watching YouTube videos, or hanging out with co-workers. 

“Describe a situation where you were able to work your hardest. What motivated you?”

This question not only gives insight into what motivates a candidate, but also what kind of work environment they prefer. Do they work harder on a team or on a solo assignment? Were they motivated by a deadline, not wanting to let the team down, or something else?

What to listen for: clues about what kind of work environment the candidate prefers. For example, do they like fast-paced environments or are they intimidated by them?

What you don’t want to hear: a candidate who doesn’t have an answer or can’t remember a time they worked hard. This isn’t a good sign. 

“Tell me about a difficult work situation. How did you deal with it?”

No job is going to be 100% stress-free. You need to know how a candidate will react under pressure and what they’ll do when things get difficult.

What to listen for: a positive attitude. Did the candidate describe how they made the best of a bad situation? Did they try to help or have ideas on how to solve the problem?  

What you don’t want to hear: a candidate who is overly negative and blames everyone else for a bad situation. You don’t want that kind of negativity in your workplace

Defining Work Ethic and Learning Styles 

Often, the best way to get a clear answer is just to ask! Also, asking about learning styles is a great way to find out how your candidate feels about learning in general.  

“How do you define work ethic? What does it mean to you?”

Of course, a serious applicant won’t say that they’re lazy, but this question is a good way to get to know your candidate a little better.

What to listen for: a candidate who finds satisfaction in a job well-done and who takes pride in their abilities. This is the kind of person who will be a great contribution to your team.  

What you don’t want to hear: someone who doesn’t sound excited about working in general. 

“How do you prefer to learn new things?” 

There are a few different learning styles. Some people are auditory learners (sound), visual learners, social learners, or solitary learners. 

What to listen for: a candidate who is willing to learn. Even if someone doesn’t know the academic terms for different learning styles, they should have an idea if they learn better by reading instructions or watching a demonstration. 

What you don’t want to hear: a candidate who dismisses learning or who says they already know everything about a certain subject. It’s good for a candidate to have confidence in their abilities, but saying they know everything is a definite red flag.

Hire With Workbox Staffing! 

Here at Workbox Staffing, we know that there’s more to a good employee than just filling an empty seat. That’s why every one of our candidates goes through an extensive evaluation process that’s tailored to your needs. Whether you need temporary, seasonal, or highly skilled workers, we do our homework and bring you the candidates that you need most.