Sometimes the hardest questions to answer are the ones with no wrong answer. “What are you like as a person?” or “What is something that you enjoy doing?”. While both of these questions seem innocent on the surface level they have a tendency to put us on the spot if we are asked them.
This makes personality interview questions one of the toughest ones to navigate. On one hand, you want to put your best side forward. On the other, you don’t want to appear suspiciously perfect (because none of us is!).
Let’s explore some of the more common personality-based questions, as well as how to answer them.
Why personality-based interview questions are common?
Personality-based interview questions are common because half of the employers evaluate a candidate’s culture and team fit for a role during the interview stage. Most HRs want to create workplace environments, where different personalities augment one another (not clash all the time).
Moreover, most recruiters want to find the best matches for positions demanding strong soft skills such as customer-facing, managerial, and executive roles. Per SHRM, 32% of HRs always use personality and behavioral assessments when filling executive-level roles. Another 28% use them to vet candidates for middle-management openings.
If that’s your case, you should come well-prepared — and we’re here to help you with that.
8 Popular Personality Interview Questions and Answers
Remember, few roles assume no interaction with others. So you’ll need to get along well with others as part of a team. Therefore, most HRs will ask personality-related interview questions to decide on the best place to put you if they do decide to go ahead with the hiring process.
For some roles, personality interview questions can also impact your odds of being hired. For example, if you are shy and soft-spoken you may not be able to do well in a customer-facing role in the hospitality industry (unless you prove the interviewer wrong with your brilliant answers!).
To help you get set up, here are 8 examples of personality questions for interviews with sample answers.
1. Do You Prefer Autonomous or Team Work?
You may be expected to work mostly on your own at some workplaces. In others — teamwork is a given. To determine whether you would be a good fit for the team, the interviewer asks this question.
There is no wrong way to answer this question. But you should select the right emphasis, depending on the role, and tailor your answer accordingly.
“I prefer autonomous work. While I do get along with most people, I prefer to have regular episodes of deep work, where I fully concentrate on the task at hand. Then I schedule “check-in” time with others to report on my progress, exchange ideas, and get aligned on the project vision (if needed).”
“I’m a solid team player as I feel I am better capable of reaching my goals when I have others to bounce off my ideas, delegate tasks to, and extend support when needed to achieve the big project.”
2. Can You Please Describe Yourself in Three Adjectives?
This question is asked to help the interviewer learn how to perceive yourself (and if this assessment matches their image). So don’t try to over-inflate your good qualities, but don’t openly talk about your weaknesses either.
Your answer should provide a balanced response, aligned with your personality. If you enjoy having a neat and organized space you’re not “boring or uptight”, you’re “organized and punctual”.
“I would say that I am optimistic, confident, and approachable. That’s the qualities my friends, past mentors, and colleagues also tend to highlight.”
Need more ideas? Check our big list of words to describe yourself during a job interview!
3. How Do You Usually Deal with Conflicts at Work?
Conflicts at the workplace are inevitable, be it between you and a colleague having a disagreement or between you and an irate customer. So don’t say you’ve never faced one. That would sound odd.
Instead, use the following framework to structure your answer:
- Describe the conflict briefly.
- Mention what your role was in the conflict
- Explain how you approached the problem, as well as the steps you took.
- Share how it ended on a positive note.
“When I worked as a confectionery chef, I heard a guest shouting at the salesperson behind the counter. She was upset because the two ordered cakes were supposed to be decorated, but there were no names on them. When I looked and couldn’t find them I realized that they must have been sold earlier that day as the only thing customized was the design in the frosting (which I did).
At that point I had two undecorated sheet cakes in the flavors she had ordered all ready to go. After talking for a few more minutes she agreed to wait for me to do a very quick swirling decor on the cakes in the colors that she wanted in exchange for a 10% discount. She was a little late getting out but she posted a review the next day and said that she was very impressed with how I handled the situation.”
4. Do You Have a Role Model or a Person You Admire?
We tend to admire people who are similar to us or people we aspire to be like. So who you admire tells a lot about who you are.
For example, saying that your role model is someone like Snoop Dogg basically says that you want to get over your own struggles and become a better person. Saying that you admire one of your old teachers or your grandparents shows that you have respect for elders and their experiences.
Be authentic with your answer, you’ll sound much more genuine if you say the name of someone you actually admire than if you say the name of someone that you think you should admire.
“David Ogilvy was always a strong inspiration for me. While he is definitely a “character” and has some quirks, I do admire his dedication to meticulous target audience research and commitment to the highest service levels for the client. As an Account Executive, I also try to live by his principle of “If you make yourself indispensable to a client, you will never get fired.””
5. How Have You Dealt With Failure in The Past?
Failure is not the opposite of success, but rather a part of it. Talking through all the accomplishments, but not acknowledging less-than-stellar career episodes may sound like a red flag for some employers.
So when asked this personality interview question, be forthcoming and talk through a negative experience. Then mention your takeaways from it.
“I have a tendency to hold back all of my emotions, and sometimes a failure can cause me to lose my ability to control myself. Since my current work environment is a high-paced one, I had to address this issue. Having worked with a therapist, I have learned how to better process my emotions after setbacks without entering episodes of self-doubt. While I may still become emotional from time to time I’ve learned how to more properly control myself and my reactions when I am faced with failure.”
6. Do You Find It Easy to Meet and Interact With New People?
Some roles require constant interactions with new people — clients, colleagues, and superiors. If you are after such a role, the employer wants to understand how comfortable you are with networking.
Highlight your best interpersonal skills — active listening, expectation management, emotional intelligence — in your reply.
“Yes, I’m an extravert and I thrive from making new connections. Usually, I spend a bit of time researching the person to find some grounds for establishing a rapport. Then go for proactive outreach — chat them up online, schedule a quick virtual meetup or an in-person coffee date.”
7. In Your Opinion, What Kind of a First Impression Do You Usually Make?
This is another somewhat tricky personality interview question. The other person wants to check if you have a healthy view of yourself and are capable of projecting the right image. Select one of your strong suites (e.g. confidence or expertise”). Then build your answer around it.
“I aim to make an impression of a knowledgeable, but approachable technology leader. Someone you can easily talk to about best approaches to neural networks training (if you are a domain pro) and a non-condescending person you feel comfortable asking some AI 101 questions.”
8. How Do You Prefer to Communicate With Others on Your Team?
Communication in the workplace is always one of the most important aspects of work. If you prefer to communicate using only non-vocal lines of communication such as email or text you may appear to be shut in or anxious. If you only enjoy face-to-face meetings in a real-life setting you are likely one who may appear to be rigid or old-fashioned. While it may seem best to be in between what works best really depends on the company you are working for.
“I’m a strong proponent of written communication since it allows me to better think over and structure my thoughts in a way others can understand. Likewise, such docs are easier to circulate, so that everyone has a point of reference. However, I’m always in favor of having extra face-to-face time for brainstorming and planning.”
Even More Sample Personality Questions for an Interview You Can Practice
- What types of activities, sports, or hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?
- If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
- How do you usually build rapport with other people on your team?
- What characteristics define your leadership style as a manager?
- How do you typically handle constructive criticisms or negative feedback?
- What makes you feel passionate about [your industry]?
Final Thoughts: How to Answer Personality Interview Questions?
To give the best answer to any personality-related interview question thrown at you, use this quick framework:
- Always be genuine with your answers. Recruiters are good psychologists and will easily figure out when you are overly embellishing your personality or deliberately trying to hide some of your weaker suits.
- Show your passion for the profession. Use your enthusiasm for the role and deep interest in the industry to strengthen some of your personal qualities. For example, say that you chose “financial analysis because you’re naturally organized and meticulous.”
- Appear confident. Few employers want to deal with your low self-esteem issues. So don’t let your inner saboteur take the lead during the job interview.
Ultimately, you shouldn’t get too caught up in rehearsing your personality-based interview questions. Think about your stronger suits, acknowledge your weaknesses — and get prepared to show the employer what an awesome human being you are!