How to Answer Interview Questions about your Personality

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Some of the toughest interview questions to answer are the ones about you, and the role that your personality plays in your work experience. Personality is not a quantifiable thing, and it is valued highly by some workplaces and employers, while discounted by others. Much of this tends to be about the nature of the job and the personality of your new supervisor. No matter the situation, however, personality can do a lot to make your workplace be either great or terrible. Because of this, personality questions will inevitably show up in your interview in some form or another. Here are some tips on how to handle them:

Personality Traits have Two Sides
Any personality trait you mention has a negative and a positive attribute to it. Natural leaders can be seen as authoritative or bossy. Stubborn people are dogged and determined. Nitpicky people are detail-oriented and thorough. Nosy people are inquisitive and curious. Scatterbrained people are multifaceted. Shy people are work focused. If you know what your most negative traits are, then own up to them by sharing the positive contributions that they can bring to a workplace, and be ready to give examples of why this is a positive thing.

Typical Personality Questions and Possible Answers
Many of the interview questions you might get are pretty standard. Here is a list of a few, and one way to answer these:

What was the worst thing about your last job? My last workplace was great, and I enjoyed my time there. However, this position brings me much closer to my ultimate career goal of xxx, and I think that you would find that I would be a diligent and excited employee if given the opportunity to work here.

Can You Tell Me About a Problem You Had in a Past Job, and How You Resolved it? My last workplace had an employee who was known to be rude to many of his/her coworkers. It was my job to supervise this employee, and when I reached out to him/her, it turned out they were going through a terrible divorce and were struggling financially. I asked this employee if they needed help, and if I could seek this from his/her coworker community. We were able to help find him/her an affordable place to live, and an invitation to a divorce support group nearby. The problems stopped and the working environment became closer for everyone.

What is your best trait, and what is your worst trait?: This is a good opportunity to use the double sided traits, as seen here: I think my best trait is that when I want to solve a problem, I am dogged in trying to find a way through any obstacle. This can make me incredibly stubborn when it comes to backing down, but if you are my employer, this means that you get to benefit from that stubbornness by having many of your company's roadblocks to progress melt away.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "How to Answer Interview Questions about your Personality," in, January 25, 2016, (accessed August 11, 2022).