Do you work well on your own initiative?

  | James Innes

Classic Interview Questions and Answers

Do you work well on your own initiative?

Alternative and related questions:

Are you able to manage your own workload?

The meaning behind the question:

Given the choice between someone who can be left to get on with a job and someone who needs constant supervision, who would you hire?

Employees who work well on their own initiative are highly prized.

With this question, the interviewer is purely seeking evidence that you are such an employee.

Your answer:

Of course you work well on your own initiative. But how can you prove that to the interviewer? This is a ‘closed’ question but it certainly requires more than a one word answer. It’s a great chance for you to roll out a pre-prepared example which ticks all the interviewer’s boxes and shows you in a positive light.

If the interviewer is asking you this question, the chances are that in the role you’re applying for you will be expected to be able to work on your own initiative. If you’ve carefully studied the job description you should be able to identify under what circumstances this will be required. Choosing an example from a past (or present) job which closely matches these circumstances is naturally going to have a much stronger impact.


I enjoy working with others but I’m equally able to work on my own initiative. I’m not afraid to ask for guidance if necessary but I’m quick to learn and, once I’ve understood what’s required of me, I am more than capable of getting on with the job under my own steam. In my current role I work as part of a close-knit team but that’s not to say that there aren’t certain tasks and projects I have to handle on my own. For example, I have sole responsibility for reconciling credits and debits on our bank statements to our sales and purchase ledgers. It’s not a task that can be shared with anyone; it’s not a two-man job. I set aside one day a week to concentrate on this – because it does require a lot of concentration – reconciling entries which match and taking steps to resolve any discrepancies.

Word of warning:

Even if you do prefer to work on your own, it’s best not to mention this. You don’t want to risk being labelled ‘not a team player’. This question doesn’t ask whether you prefer to work on your own; it simply asks how capable you are of doing so.

The Interview Question & Answer Book

The Interview Question and Answer Book

Take the fear out of your interview and never be stuck for the right answer to even the toughest questions with The Interview Question & Answer Book.

The job market is fierce, competition has never been greater and it's important that you can grab every opportunity for competitive advantage and stay one step ahead. Written by one of the world's leading careers experts and bestselling author of The Interview Book, this definitive guide to questions and answers encourages every job-hunter to think on your feet and express your individuality while supplying ideal responses to interview questions so that you’re seen as the ideal candidate for the job.


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