Personality questions are used in interviews so your potential employer can understand your work ethic and how you approach work. They’re also important because these types of questions reveal how you’ll fit into a team or business culture, how you collaborate and what your key attributes are.
There’s also a personal question at play, since interviewers want to get to know you better in order to determine if you’re a good fit for the available role.
It’s important to remember that personality questions don’t have a right or wrong answer. You must be honest as you answer them, as it’s all about finding a suitable match for the position – and that goes both ways. These types of questions will help you determine whether the role will suit you. Ensuring you prepare for your interview by researching common personality questions will help you land your dream job – and you can start right here!
[Related content: How to answer 11 frequently asked interview questions]
Examples of interview personality questions and suggested answers
Here are some of the most common interview personality questions with sample answers that you can tailor to your situation and the role you’re interviewing for.
1. How do you handle pressure?
Interviewers typically ask this question to gauge how well you perform in stressful situations, such as making important decisions in a short time frame or meeting a set deadline.
What they want to hear is that you can stay calm and think rationally under pressure and still produce results. Answer the question by giving an example of how you successfully handled a stressful situation in a previous role, for example:
“In my previous role, the goalposts changed on a project I and my team were responsible for. The deadline became significantly tighter, and we had to deliver our work despite having much less time than planned. I called a meeting with my team and explained the situation. I gave them suggestions as to how we could still complete the project, and invited their suggestions, too. Together, we doubled down on the work and delivered the most important aspects of the project to the deadline. Without that open communication, I don’t believe we would have been successful.”
2. What motivates you?
The first thing to point out here is that interviewers aren’t looking for “money” as the answer to this question (even though, if we’re all honest, that’s more than partly true for most of us – but it won’t cut the mustard when you’re in an interview).
What interviewers are really looking for is an understanding of what makes you tick and what keeps you going, and your answer tells them a lot about how you’ll fit into their work culture.
To get to your personal answer to this question, firstly think about what your strengths are, since playing on your strengths is normally highly motivating. You could answer the question something like this:
“Even before I became a team leader, I’ve always enjoyed and found inspiration in working alongside others. I find being part of a team pushes me to be my best, just as I want to push others to be theirs. That way, we can also get out of our comfort zones and learn something new from each other.”
3. How would you describe yourself?
This is a tricky question to answer, as you need to strike the right balance between giving a great impression of yourself in your description and not coming off as arrogant. Part of the reason for asking this question is for the interviewer to understand how you perceive yourself and to get a good sense of your attitude – and again, this will tell them how well you’ll fit in with your potential new team.
It’s a good idea to try and tie your answer in with the company’s values, so make sure you do a bit of research on those – this will also help you focus on the positives. If, for example, the company values excellent communication, make that part of your answer. It’s also important to include specific examples when you’re talking about your personality traits, either from the workplace or from your personal life.
This is a good example of how you might answer this question:
“I’m quite an analytical person, and I like to understand all the facts of a situation before I draw conclusions. For example, in my previous role as a customer service representative, I had to handle a complaint from a major customer. Firstly, I went through all the records and talked to the internal stakeholders. Then, I listened to everything the customer had to say. I asked specific questions and heard their answers. I ensured that all communication was open and transparent, and that I did what I told them I would do at the time I said I would do it. They appreciated my detailed analysis of the situation and my communication, and I was able to resolve their complaint. They continued to be one of our most valuable customers.”
4. How would your friends describe you?
One of the starting points you could use to answer the previous question is to ask your friends how they would describe you – and that’s of course particularly useful for this question, too. Poll a few of your friends and see what their answers are. Use the positive answers only, as interviewers probably don’t need to know how much you let your hair down when you’re on a night out. It’s also a good idea to use the answers that specifically tie in with the role you’re applying for. For example:
“My friends always say that I’m the most organised person in our group (and it’s true that I’m always the person who puts together the itinerary when we go away for the weekend). They would also describe me as helpful. They always call me if there’s something they need and want to talk through, or get a fresh perspective on. Finally, I think they’d say I’m reliable, as I’ve been there for them whenever they need me, and they know they can count on me.”
5. What does success look like to you?
The answer to this question will show your interviewers if you share their company’s vision and values, so it’s a good idea to know what those are before you go into an interview. It will also tell them a little about your own goals.
Firstly, think about the achievements that you’re most proud of, and then think about why. Also remember that success isn’t only a measure of attaining big goals, it can be the little things, too. For example, you might answer the question like this:
“I think about success in a couple of different ways. When I’m at work, overall success for me is being able to demonstrate that I’ve contributed to a major company goal. I like to be able to see and understand my part in it, and then if we achieve that goal together, that for me is a joint success. I also think of success on a smaller scale. For example, I completed an educational qualification during a previous role that meant I had new skills to contribute. And I also think success is learning from mistakes, such as the time I and my team tried a new phone script when I was a customer service advisor. Our results went down, but we learned what was working and what wasn’t. Finally, there’s personal success, too. I get a great sense of triumph when I score a six in a cricket match and my team wins!”
If you’d like specific advice on interview techniques, including online or virtual interview coaching, call us on +44 20 7100 6656 or send an email to our interview coaches who are ready to help you get that role.