How to Describe Your Personality in an Interview

How to Describe Your Personality in an Interview

Skills aside, your attitude and outlook on work and life are of much interest to hiring managers. Knowing how to describe your personality is one the most important factors when it comes to making a great first impression during a job interview. Your character and behavior are strong indicators of how well you’ll get along with the rest of the company, so it should come as no surprise when they ask you to describe your personality early on during a job interview.

Sounds easy enough—after all, if there’s one subject you’re an expert in, it’s you—but it’s very common to get tripped up when you have to put into words what you’re like as a human being. (And no, "I’m great! What more can I say?" won’t fly.)

According to consulting firm Deloitte, there are four types of workplace personalities: pioneer, driver, integrator, and guardian—and each style has its own positive and negative attributes. You can take Monster’s short workplace personality quiz to see what yours is, and then mine the information for talking points to use during job interviews. And read on for more tips to learn how to describe your personality during an interview.

Study the Job Posting

In addition to outlining what hard skills are required for the position, job descriptions typically list what attributes or personality traits employers are looking for candidates to possess. Thus, your best approach is to select three core soft skills and share short stories that illustrate how these characteristics have served you well at past jobs.

For example, to show you take initiative you might say, "I'm a manager, but I’m also a people person at heart. At my last job I took over a department that had high turnover. I was able to improve retention by offering flexible work schedules, providing a comfortable work environment, and praising employees for their achievements."

Leverage Feedback from a Third Party

Saying that you're a leader is one thing—validating it by citing feedback from a former boss or coworker is compelling. Hence, share someone else’s opinion of you as a way to compliment yourself.

One way to interpret this interview question is to respond as if you're being asked, "How would your colleagues describe your personality?" For example: "My boss consistently tells me I'm a team player. When we fell behind on a big project last year, I offered to stay late and helped us meet our deadline."

Choose the Right Buzzwords

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, employers sometimes care more about soft skills than they do technical abilities like reading comprehension and mathematics. Weaving a few of these skills into your answer can make you a more attractive candidate. Some soft skills employers commonly look for include:

  • Integrity
  • Dependability
  • Adaptability
  • Professionalism
  • Teamwork
  • Respect

Be Honest

When answering any job interview question, you need to be authentic and honest with the hiring manager. Mention the qualities you feel best represent you and of which you are proudest.

Obviously, you want to identify any personality traits that might make a candidate naturally adept at doing the job and joining the company and seeing if your own traits align. But if the hiring manager doesn't think you'd be a good fit for the position, it's better off looking for another job at a company that is more in line with your values and priorities.

"Describe Your Personality": Sample Answers

Although your answer will depend on the position you’re applying for and, of course, your individual personality, here are some examples of good responses.

Good Answers

  • For a financial analyst job: "A central fixture of my personality is my analytical mind. In my last job, I applied that to a number of tasks..."
  • For a customer service job: "I'm a problem-solver by nature. My immediate goal when I speak to a customer is to get their issue resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible."
  • For an administrative assistant job: "I've always been an extremely organized person. That served me well in my last job, where my attention to detail helped save the company money on a major account…"
  • For a data analyst job: "I'm a whiz at interpreting data and transforming it into useful information."

Meanwhile, here’s what you shouldn’t say:

Bad Answers

  • "I'm a hard worker." Duh! Tell the hiring manager something that’s unique about you—not something she’s heard over and over again.
  • "I'm a social butterfly. I make friends very easily and am very good at influencing others in social situations." This answer is more me-focused. Keep the focus on how your personality would benefit the employer.
  • "I'm a perfectionist." Perfectionism can lead to time management issues, which is a major concern for employers.
  • "I pride myself on being a reliable employee. I always show up to work on time." Rather than saying you can meet the basic job requirements (e.g., get to work on time every day), highlight a personality trait that would make you significantly more valuable in the eyes of a hiring manager than other candidates.

Make Your Job search as Awesome as Your Personality

You’re a great worker. You’re responsible and driven. You never use the office microwave to reheat fish. People like you! Knowing how to describe your personality is the first steps to proving you're a good fit at a company. Unfortunately, the job search will demand skills that go beyond simply being awesome. Could you use some help standing out from the crowd? Create a free profile on Monster today. We can send you career advice and job search tips—from updating your resume to negotiating your salary to asking for a raise, Monster’s expert insight can help take you far.