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4 minute read

Acing the Interview: 5 Work Ethics to Communicate to Employers

Skills and qualifications aside, employers look for strong work ethics in a candidate. Here’s how to convince them you’ve got what it takes.

Your role in an interview is to convince the prospective employer that you are fit for the job.

On top of your body language, which provides non-verbal cues of your attitude towards the questions asked and what you have shared, the interviewer looks for anecdotal evidence from your interview responses, to infer the kind of employee you will be.

Will you show initiative? Are you dependable? Can you work with people from different backgrounds?

These point to your work ethics.

What is a good work ethic? 

Work ethics refer to a set of moral principles that govern how an employee performs his/her job.

What employers are looking for is a good work ethic, one that shows an employee’s attitude and determination in delivering the best for the company.

You can describe your work ethic using past job experiences.

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To understand your work ethics better, employers pose behavioural interview questions like:

  • Tell me about a time when you made a mistake.
  • Give us an example of how you tried to solve a conflict between a client and yourself.

Your responses, and body language, allow the interviewer to predict how you will perform in the role vis-a-vis the demands of the job, the people you will work with and the stakeholders you will manage.

Any negative sentiments towards work or language, that indicate the lack of drive to perform gives an impression that you have bad work ethics.

While the application of a strong work ethic differs across jobs, the traits that employers look out for are largely similar.

The key to answering interview questions that effectively illustrate your work ethics, is by scrutinising the job description to understand the demands and expectations of the role.

interview tips work ethic body language 2000x1333

What are some desirable work ethics that employers look out for when interviewing candidates?

1. Reliability

Being reliable means you can be trusted to deliver high-quality work by stipulated deadlines.

This is regardless of whether the task is small or large and complex. Being punctual also sets a case for reliability.

Interview tips

Think about a time you:

  • Worked on a complicated task assigned with no guidance
  • Rectified or addressed issues in the absence of the person-in-charge
  • Prioritised multiple deadlines and meetings

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2. Cooperation

A good work ethic also manifests in teamwork. Employers are looking for candidates who can work with people easily to get the job done, even when differences persist.

Interview tips

Think about a time you:

  • Were assigned to a new team to work with
  • Set aside personal differences with a colleague to complete a project together
  • Worked with colleagues of all age groups and seniority levels to address issues

Read Also: Winning at Interviews: Here’s How You Do it

3. Professionalism

Every job function demands a level of professionalism, be they in the way one speaks to internal and external stakeholders, dresses to work, behaves in the work setting, or executes tasks.

So to speak, being professional means displaying proper workplace etiquette in all communication and task delivery.

Interview tips

Think about a time you:

  • Addressed a difficult client during a meeting without losing your temper
  • Guided new hires on work responsibilities and expectations
  • Navigated a complex work issue with management

4. Discipline

Discipline underpins one’s resilience, commitment, and dedication to perform.

Those with a high level of discipline focus on executing jobs well, meeting and exceeding expectations, and taking the initiative to improve work performance – all these while maintaining a good work-life balance.

Interview tips

Think about a time you:

  • Managed work assignments against the demands of family
  • Took initiative to develop new skills at work
  • Set weekly goals and met them

5. Respect

A respectful candidate is one that completes the package. Being respectful to people means you treat them fairly, not succumb to negative emotions under stress, listen to opposing views and shy away from gossip.

These pave the way for effective cooperation and professionalism. Respectfulness also applies to one’s personal time or that of a colleague.

Being a reliable coworker or relentlessly disciplined to strive for progress, at the cost of self-care means you do not respect personal time and those with loved ones.

Interview tips

Think about a time you:

  • Welcomed diverse perspectives from junior workers in a team project
  • Clarified misunderstandings with colleagues on job tasks
  • Organised work schedules to allow team members a good work-life balance

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