“How would you describe your personality?”
It’s a simple interview question with such wide scope of answers. I mean, how do you even begin to describe your identity in just a few sentences?
That’s what we’ll tackle in this article, including the exact points you need to hit on in your answer.
Variations Of This Question
Before we start, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different variations of this question so you don’t get caught off guard.
Here are the most common:
- How would you describe yourself?
- What are 3 words that describe your personality?
- How would others describe you?
- What is your personality in the workplace like?
- How do you see yourself?
- What’s the best way to describe yourself?
What The Interviewer Really Wants To Know
The job interviewer will ask this question to learn more about you. After all, they’ve only just met you and have no idea the kind of person you are outside of the interview setting.
This also gives them a chance to understand how you see yourself, and provides insight into the type of person they can expect to be joining their team should they hire you.
Also, by describing your personality, you’re giving them the information they can use to make a decision on whether or not you’d get along well with others in the company.
How to Answer: “How Would You Describe Your Personality?”
When it comes to answering this interview question, your reply should have 3 distinct parts to it:
1. Choose A Relevant Character Or Personality Trait
The first step in answering this question is to decide on a trait that will describe your character and is relevant to the position you’re applying for.
For instance, if you’re applying for a retail job working with the public, don’t say you’re an introvert. A relevant trait for that type of position would be something more along the lines of friendly or cheerful.
You also need to be honest about this. The interviewer will see through any attempts to fabricate personality traits that conveniently match the role, and you’ll lose credibility for it.
Take some time to write down a list of your personality traits that are relevant to the position you’re up for. Here are a few to get you started:
2. Justify It With A Real-Life Example
Next, you’ll follow up your personality description by providing an example of it in a real-life situation.
You should keep this relevant to a work environment, rather than using an example from your everyday life.
The interviewer wants to know how your personality comes through during the 9-5, not your kid’s soccer games.
3. Repeat The Steps Above At Least Once
The final part is to come up with a secondary personality trait and provide another example of that in action during work hours.
Your personality is made up of a myriad of traits. You’re not just dependable, you’re dependable and outgoing. You’re not just dependable and outgoing, you’re also inquisitive.
You get the point.
Repeat this process at least one time during your interview. This also provides the employer with a more thorough picture of who you are.
Putting It All Together (Example Answers)
That’s the theory behind a perfect answer, but how do you actually put this all together for the real thing?
Below are some sample answers:
Example #1: Dependable & Resourceful
“I would say I’m a very dependable employee.
A few years back I was working a retail job as a sales associate. The store manager had to run an errand and I was left to mind the store in his absence.
Wouldn’t you know it, a customer came in and wanted to return something. At that point, I’d never done a return and had no training on it, as only managers had the authority.
Rather than turn the customer away, I thought about what resources were currently available to me in this situation.
I first tried calling my boss but he wasn’t answering his phone, so I called one of our other stores in the next town over. The district manager was working there and walked me through the process over the phone.
Not only was the customer happy, but my boss and district manager were as well, and they were also impressed at the initiative I took to resolve the issue.”
Example #2: Organized & Focused
“I’m all about keeping things organized.
I once worked as an assistant manager of a pharmacy. This job meant records and medication had to be well-organized so customers could be served efficiently.
I also have a strong focus when I’m executing a task. In my assistant manager role, focus was an imperative trait, as you needed to be precise when dealing with prescription medications.”
Example #3: Outgoing & Confident
“My outgoing personality has always served me well in sales positions.
From the start of each interaction, being an extrovert makes it easy for me to talk to total strangers and get a feel for what their needs are.
It also helps put them at ease, that I’m not trying to “sell them”, but rather this is just the person I am – someone who genuinely enjoys talking to others.
As this approach to sales helps to produce good numbers every month, it makes me confident in my approach, and more sure of myself that I’m properly serving the customers’ needs.”
How NOT To Answer
We’ve talked about the right things to do, but it’s worth mentioning some of the mistakes people often make so you can avoid them.
Avoid Obvious Qualities
Be careful not to get sucked into the trap of using cliché traits like “hard working”, or “dedicated”. These are not only expected of any employee, but everyone else they’re interviewing will probably be using these typical talking points.
Set yourself apart from the other applicants by simply putting some thought into your answers.
You might be a hard worker, but dig deeper on that. What are the subsidiary traits that make up your hard working personality?
Describing your personality in ways that are unique will be a welcome change for the interviewer, and you’ll score major points for just using your brain to think creatively.
Skip The Negative Traits (Even If True)
As the saying goes, we’re our own worst critics.
While it may seem obvious, you should never describe your personality with any words that could bring about negative connotations.
You may consider yourself as someone who doesn’t take things too seriously. But if you’re interviewing for a job as a 911 dispatcher, you might want to omit that.
Don’t mention any flat-out negative traits either. Saying you’ve been described as “lazy” is probably going to result in a quick end to your interview.
- Learn the different variations of this question
- Familiarize yourself with the most likely lead up questions
- Pick a characteristic (of yours) that would benefit your role at the company
- Give an example of how it has previously benefited you in a workplace
- Do this two or three times (for multiple personality traits)