Career Coach, Professional Resume Writer, Freelance Writer
Imagine you’re in an elevator with the CEO of your dream company and you get to talking. The conversation is going well and you start to imagine yourself working for their company when the CEO turns around and asks you “tell me a bit about yourself.” Would this catch you off guard or would you be able to give a clear and succinct description of who you are?
A job interview might be a more realistic scenario for such a question, but we can be just as surprised by it. Talking about ourselves can be daunting, as we can often feel unsure where to start from or simply feel shy or afraid we might come across as arrogant.
That said, knowing what you bring to the table is crucial in any professional interaction. Regardless of the type of job you’re applying for, you need to be able to “sell” yourself before you can “sell” the organization you’d be working for. Understanding your own personality and being able to articulate it well to others is key not only for getting a job, but also for building a fulfilling career.
Here we discuss how to describe your personality in a professional setting and offer some example questions and answers to get your creative juices flowing.
Why Describing your Personality is an Important Life Skill?
Describing your personality might sound like an easy thing to do until you actually have to do it. How do you sum up who you are in a few sentences in a highly stressful situation like a job interview?
Still, being able to answer these questions clearly can help you build rapport and make a positive first impression during the interview. Not only that, but being aware of your own good qualities can also serve as a confidence boost, as it will make you think about all the good work you’ve done in the past.
How to Describe Your Personality Questions on Interview
When it comes to talking about your personality in an interview, you need to provide authentic answers that demonstrate your cultural fit within the business. Here’s some strategies you can use you can make sure your answers are clear and targeted:
1. Brainstorming and Identifying Personal Qualities
You’d be doing yourself a massive favor if you brainstorm and identify your personal qualities ahead of time. This will boost your confidence as you won’t have to stumble for an answer on the spot. It will also help you remember instances in which you’ve demonstrated these qualities, further preparing you for the interview.
2. Study Job Description Carefully
Employers often drop subtle and not-so-subtle hints in their job descriptions about the type of person they’re looking for. Things like “go-getter”, “takes initiative” or “technically minded” can all serve as clues to help you prepare your answers.
3. Research the Company in Detail
When describing your personality, look beyond the qualities that are needed for the job and see how the employer talks about themselves. Their ‘About Us’ page and social media presence can tell you a lot about their culture. Do they care about any specific causes? Are they hip and trendy or more formal and professional? Decide how your personality fits into that.
4. Always be Authentic
If you do get the job, you’d have to work and thrive in that work environment for the months and years to come. It serves both you and your employer well if you’re authentic from the start. Being honest in your answers will also make it easier to provide real-life examples where you exhibited these qualities.
5. Third-Party Feedback for Your Advantage
Has your former manager told you that they’d won that bid only because you were persistent in your communications with the client? Or, has a colleague ever thanked you for taking on that extra project when they struggled under pressure? These are excellent examples that speak volumes about your personality.
Take it a step forward. Every time you receive awesome feedback, ask people to leave a LinkedIn recommendation? Not only are these visible to any potential employer, but they can also help you come up with great examples in very little time.
Choose the Right Words to Describe Yourself Better
Humans are complex creatures. There are probably hundreds of words that can describe who you are as a person, but you’ll have a very limited time to talk about yourself so you might as well narrow this down.
Select your top ten qualities and think carefully about the best word to describe each one. Say you’re the type of person who likes to observe and analyze people rather than engage in conversations. Would you describe yourself as “shy” and “calculating” or “observant” and “tactful”? While the former can come across as somewhat negative description, the latter paint you in a positive light. Other positive words you can use when deciding how to describe your personality are:
What to Include in Personality Question Answers
Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of how to answer personality questions. Here’s what to include in your answer:
- How you fit within the business – research online reviews of current and former employees and see how they talk about the corporate culture. Focus on qualities and examples that fit well within that culture.
- Your best qualities – this is not the time to be shy. Depending on the job and the company, match your top qualities with what the business wants. For example, if you’re interviewing at a startup where they’re looking for young, driven people you can highlight that you’re energetic, ambitious and a risk-taker. In contrast, if you’re applying at a bigger corporation where they value hierarchy and formality you can say that you’re analytical and organized.
What You Should Avoid When Answering Personality Questions
You know yourself best, so it can be easy to go into a long narrative about who you are. Still, don’t forget that this is a job interview and your employer is only looking to get a feel for who you are as a person and not your full biography.
When answering these questions, avoid:
- Irrelevant personal information – not only is this unprofessional, but it can backfire as that information can paint you in a certain light in the eyes of the interviewer.
- Lengthy answers – being succinct is a skill in itself. The longer you talk about yourself, the less time you have to talk about your past experience and skill set that can get you the job.
- Negative traits – we all have flaws we’re not proud of, but job interviews aren’t really the place to talk about them. Even if they’re a big part of your personality and can impact your work, be careful about how you frame them. For example, say you’re a loud person who likes to gossip around the office. You can say you’re sociable or talkative, but that you can really buckle up and focus when it’s time to work.
Examples of Personality Describing Questions
There’s many interview questions for practicing how you can describe your personality. All of them try to gauge your personality, aspirations and how you respond in specific situations. Here are a few commonly used ones you can come across.
- Tell me a bit about yourself – use this space to highlight your past experience and your career trajectory.
- How do you work best? – here an employer wants to understand your workstyle and whether you prefer to work alone or as a part of a team. Are you good at multitasking or do you prefer working on one thing at a time?
- How would your former colleagues describe you? – this question probes for specific qualities when it comes to teamwork.
Make sure you have examples to back up your answers.
Frequently Asked Questions on How to Describe Your Personality
How can I describe myself in three words?
This is another great interview question to practice for deciding how to describe your personality. To answer, you should think about some of your best qualities and how they relate to the job. Are you someone who always takes an initiative? Are you good at motivating others? Do you value risk-taking over security? Choose the top three that overlap between who you are and what the job entails.
How to respond if an employer asks you to email to schedule an interview?
You received the coveted email where an employer is inviting you to an interview. Don’t forget that you’re assessed at every stage of the hiring process, so the way you respond to this invitation is also important. It’s best that you keep your answer short and professional while also showing your enthusiasm for the opportunity. Something like the text below would work great:
“Thank you very much for the invitation, I’m available between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm next Monday and Thursday. I really look forward to talking to you. Kind regards.”
How would you describe yourself as an engineer or for an engineering job?
Engineering can cover a variety of jobs and skills, however, most engineers are required to have good analytical skills. If you’re applying for a job as an engineer or another technical role, you can use words like methodical, detail-oriented and precise. Make sure you have examples which demonstrate how you’ve exhibited these qualities in the past.
How do you manage the stress of this job?
Stress is a normal part of any job and being able to deal with it is a crucial skill. Here focus on some positive activities/techniques you use to cope. You can say something like:
“Customer success can be very stressful especially when clients are unhappy. When I feel super stressed, I usually leave the desk and take a five minute break to compose myself. I also love to meditate and do that every day for fifteen minutes after work. It really helps me calm my energy and see the bigger picture.”
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Many people find this question difficult to answer. Some because they don’t really know where they’d like to be in five years. Others because they don’t want to be misunderstood. It can be hard to say you want to be the director of marketing if that person is currently interviewing you.
However, use this question as an opportunity to showcase your personality and aspirations. You can say something like:
“I was lucky that my first manager turned out to be my trusted mentor as well and I learned a lot from them. I thrive on working with people and I hope that down the line I can take an executive role where I can serve as a mentor to someone else.”
Job interviews are an unavoidable part of any career path. They’re also super competitive. So, being able to decipher how to describe your personality and present yourself in the best light can really make a difference. If you’re actively hunting for a job or are just browsing potential opportunities, make sure you have these personality questions nailed. Who knows, maybe it will be your sense of humor that wins you your next opportunity!