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Answering Personality Interview Questions

Updated: May 10

What are you like to work with for 260 days a year? That is a long time, and your interviewer will want to know that it will be friendly and productive. They are also meeting lots of other applicants with excellent qualifications and experience, just like you. So, personality interview questions are your opportunity to show who you are as an individual, and to get noticed and remembered.


To help you plan your answers, here are some of the most common questions used to find out about your personality, and some example answers:


"What Can You Tell Me About Yourself?"

Your interviewer is looking for a general overview of your personality, work style, and what makes you you! This question is also often used as small talk to help you relax at the beginning of your interview, but don't be careless with your answer.


This is a great opportunity to show your positive attitude, but it can leave a negative impression if you share too much. Think about how much personal information you want to share with your interviewer, and what supports the good impression you made with your job application.


Focus your answer on your main strengths and give examples of how your personality has helped you succeed. You can then move on to what interests you about this position, and finish off with some simple examples of your hobbies.

Safe to Say

Avoid Saying

  • Personality traits that have helped you in your work.

  • You enjoy working with others.

  • You are comfortable working alone.

  • You are motivated by achievement, teamwork, and building a career.

  • You have a positive outlook on life and work.

  • A small amount of general information about your hobbies.

  • Personality traits that get you into conflict with colleagues.

  • You can only work in groups, or can only work alone.

  • You are motivated by money.

  • You have a negative outlook on life.

  • Large amounts of detailed information about your very specific hobbies (but if your interviewer asks for this information, have fun).

Example Answer

“I am motivated and ambitious in my work. I frequently look for new leads on my own, which is why I was promoted to sales manager within two years of joining the department. This why I was so interested in this position, because I believe my determination and passion can expand the role by introducing new business, and revisiting clients who have left. Maybe that's why in my private life I'm someone who loves to relax in nature, and I do a lot of hiking and fishing; It balances out my high-energy working style!"


"Do You Work Better Alone or With a Team, and Why?"

There are no correct or incorrect answers to interview questions like this. Different jobs and projects need different amounts of independence. Your interviewer is looking for someone who can work effectively independently and as part of a team. If your strengths are more in one area, they want to know so they can find the best working pattern for you, if you get hired.


To answer this question and give a good impression, read the job description and show how well your working style fits with the responsibilities it describes.


Example Answer:

"In the past, I worked on large projects that were divided into smaller projects. I enjoyed collaborating with my co-workers toward a shared goal and making sure that we all understood the big picture. But I also appreciated having the opportunity to concentrate on the task at hand. I would say that I work well in both situations, but what is best for me is a 50/50 mix, it keeps things balanced for me. <Tasks A, B, and C> are best suited to teamwork, and others like <Tasks D and E> benefit from quiet and focus."


"How Would You Manage Having an 'Impossible' Task?"

Your interviewer is looking for someone who can stay calm under the pressure of competing expectations, and the pressure of really difficult interview questions like this one! They aren't expecting an answer where you found a way to make the impossible possible. They are looking for someone who can manage expectations, and deliver the best results possible in that situation.


To make a good impression when answering this question, talk about how you would:

  • Identify the requirements that can be achieved easily, and achieve all of these.

  • Identify the requirements that conflict with each other and prioritize the most important for your company.

  • Talk openly and honestly with your team, manager, and client (if appropriate) to explain why some goals cannot be achieved.

  • Discuss compromises that make the end product the best it can be in the situation you have, and be open to suggestions from others.

If you use a previous experience in your answer, make sure you explain what you have learned from it.


Example answer:

"I was six weeks into a project when my boss told me that the client needed to move the deadline forward by two weeks. I met with the client to see how willing they were to compromise on some of the project goals, or assign more resources to speed up the process. I then decided which activities needed to be prioritized and which could be cut short. I also ensured that any changes were properly implemented to avoid any negative impact. The client was pleased with what we were able to accomplish with the new time constraints. I was pleased with the outcomes as well, but if I had this situation again today I would have asked other project leads if they had advice based on their experiences. They might have suggested better compromises."


"What Would You Change About Your Personality, and Why?"

This is another way of asking you what your flaws are, but don't worry, we all have them. What's important is that your answer shows that you understand where you can improve, and that you are taking action to improve in these areas.


To give the best impression you can, use an example of one personality flaw that isn't a requirement for the position you have applied for. If you can, show how you have challenged yourself at work.


Example answer:

"Because of my administrator role, I don't often get the opportunity to speak publicly, or even present in front of large groups. I realized last year that I was getting nervous speaking in front of the whole team, and I knew that I really needed to change that. So, I would overcome my fear of public speaking. I've already started attending seminars and coaching sessions, and I've recently asked for an opportunity to present something to the team, as a challenge for me."


Wrap Up

Talking about what makes you so fantastic doesn't feel natural to some people, but your interviewer will not know unless you tell them! Be honest about your strengths, and demonstrate your passion without exaggerating what you have achieved.


Remember you are at the interview because you are qualified; these questions are a chance to show the wonderful real you. Share what you care about, show how easy you are to work with, and share a little about what makes you... you!

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