When interviewers ask you about your personality or personal preferences, it can be hard to know what the “right” answer is. Below are three very common interview questions about your personality along with suggestions for how to think about them, and examples for how to answer them.
“Describe Yourself In One Word.”
Hopefully, their hiring decision won’t hinge on a one-word answer, but when you’re asked this question, it sure feels like it might. What’s the right answer? It depends on the job. Before you answer, think about not just what you are, but what you are in relation to the job. What would be a good personality trait or quality for someone in this role? Which one of those qualities applies to you? That’s your answer. This is a strategic approach to interviewing that makes you much stronger and more effective as a candidate. This approach is the difference between saying “happy” or “creative.” Being happy is great, but being creative is essential for a lot of jobs.
What are some other words that may work for you? How about: motivated, strategic, reliable, focused, dynamic, organized, or accurate? Just be aware—a natural follow-up question to this is, “Can you give me an example of how you embody that quality at work?” It’s a good idea to have a story that illustrates your answer.
“Would You Rather Work On A Team Or Alone?”
Even if you have definite preferences about working with others, it’s probably not a good idea to say so. Most jobs require both. As a result, many people stick with the “safe” answer of, “I work well either way.” However, that’s a little too generic and unimpressive, and you can easily do better. Look at the job you’re interviewing for. If you know that most of the time you’ll be working on a team, say something like, “I like the give-and-take of working in a group, but I appreciate sometimes having my own piece of a project.” If you’ll be working alone a majority of the time, you could say, “I enjoy the responsibility of working alone, but I find that occasionally brainstorming with a team and working together is refreshing.” You will seem authentic because you’re stating a preference, but positive and able to adapt as needed (which is a very desirable trait).
“Describe Your Work Style.”
This question is actually a little deceptive for job seekers. It sounds like they want to know about your personality or your likes and dislikes on the job. So, some job seekers respond with a personality trait, such as “I’m a Type A go-getter,” or a preference such as, “I dislike conflict, so I like to maintain peaceful relationships at work.” Neither of these approaches will snag you any interview points.
When they ask you to describe your work style, this is a prime opportunity to show them how your particular blend of qualities is perfect for that job. Maybe you are especially organized, or a talented multi-tasker. Maybe you are a hands-on leader, or a data-driven strategic thinker. Think about the needs of the job and consider how you meet those needs.
In answering all interview questions, really stop to think about what a successful person in that role would do or have, and focus on how you bring those qualities—which means that you will be successful.
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This post was originally published at an earlier date.
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