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I know most people like to work in quiet environments and employers may boast about how quiet their work environment is. I'm not like that and I actually prefer some noise, I mean not random noise (e.g. construction work, traffic) but the sound of people working. I'm not sure how to best phrase this in an interview because I don't want it to sound like "I enjoy horsing around with my colleagues". Any suggestions?

I thought I could state it as "I enjoy an open communication environment and work well with teams". I was at an interview today. In the interview we talked about how the workplace had a very team oriented atmosphere and people would collaborate all the time. As I exited the interview room and turned the corner (note the door to the room was never even closed) I was startled when I saw 4 or 5 people working around the corner. They were so quiet I didn't even notice they were there (they were women too, and I would've guest if anything women are more talkative than men). I felt a very strong incongruencey from what the interviewer just said about "working as a team" and "strong communication" and seeing these people so quiet (not even hearing the click on their keyboards) I must have not expressed myself well in the interview.

I've worked in call centres and that kind of work environment is more comfortable to me. As an aside, it goes the same for roommates (you don't talk at work, you don't talk at home, where do you talk?)

  • Just an observation - could it be that the women you happened to see were just in a quiet mood etc. E.g. seeing a few random employees from the office for 30 seconds out of a normal eight hour work day isn't necessarily a better sample than asking directly how is the atmosphere – Brandin Mar 5 '15 at 13:06
  • @Brandin that's a good point that I've thought of before. I think when going into an interview you have to take all the information you can, after all it's not like you can come back in 10 minutes and stand around for half and hour just to collect more data. You kind of have to assume the sample you got is representative. What's the alternative, not to use the information at all? I guess it could be by chance they were being more quiet than usual, but if it's something unusual, statistically speaking I shouldn't have seen it. – Jimmy Bauther Mar 6 '15 at 6:09
  • @Brandin tl;dr what's the alternative? Not to give any thought to the observations at all? 10 seconds is better than 0 seconds. – Jimmy Bauther Mar 6 '15 at 6:10
  • True; the fact you're observing is probably the most important. As suggested by mjulmer If you speak up in interviews about your wishes its probably the best. Supposing they want to give an offer, why not ask to spend a little time in the working environment "so you can get a good feel for it" or something like that. Not sure the best way to phrase it but I think you could communicate this. – Brandin Mar 6 '15 at 9:34
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How about: I enjoy being around people and appreciate opportunities for direct interaction, collaboration on work projects, and the synergies that come from people being in the same space at the same time.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of that. Don't be shy about making your desires clear.

Perhaps the group working at the company you interviewed with is open to the idea of more vocal interaction within the team, but just doesn't have anyone there to be the spark, so to speak.

It's also possible the people you observed WERE interacting with each other, just via IM or e-mail. Doesn't sound like that is what you are looking for, so you may want to explore that further before accepting an offer.

Great question, and definitely something worth taking into account as you evaluate job opportunities.

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