How To Describe Your Personality in a Job Interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 21 November 2022 | Published 30 August 2021

Updated 21 November 2022

Published 30 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Personality influences every aspect of your personal and professional life. Your individual characteristics make you unique and can play an important part in the recruitment process. Knowing how to present and describe your personality in a job interview may help you make yourself memorable and stand out in the interviewer's eyes. In this article, we propose five simple steps that can help you discuss your personality with the recruiter and provide sample answers to the personality question to prepare for it.

Related: How To Answer the Interview Question 'How Would You Describe Yourself?'

How to describe your personality in an interview

Here are 5 steps that can help you prepare for the 'describe your personality' question during a job interview:

1. Know yourself

Although this may seem like an obvious thing, many applicants forget to engage in self-assessment practices when preparing for a job interview. On top of researching the company and listing your important skills, be sure to make a list of some unique characteristics that make up your personality. Think about your strengths and weaknesses and consider what parts of your personality have the biggest impact on your thoughts, feelings, behaviours and actions.

2. Research the role

Make sure to carefully read the job description and research the primary duties of the role you're applying for. You can confront your research with your personality traits. Analysing a job like this allows you to understand what interviewers are looking for in an ideal candidate and find the best way to show off these traits during the interview.

Related: How To Prepare for an Interview

3. Prepare to professionally describe your personality traits

After completing your self-assessment and understanding your personality traits, consider learning how to best describe them. You can focus on keywords such as adaptable, approachable or determined. Using them gives your answer an interesting dynamic that can position you as a self-aware candidate. Consider reviewing the big five personality traits, which can help you understand how to best formulate your answer and what to include in your response. The five traits, which often have the biggest impact on a person's personality, are:

  • Agreeableness: Employees with this trait often pursue careers that allow them to help others. They care about people's feelings, are empathetic and are typically more cooperative.

  • Conscientiousness: Conscious people like coming up with strategies and spend time preparing themselves. They have great attention to detail, and their actions are often very goal-oriented.

  • Extraversion: Extraverts are typically social, assertive and talkative individuals who feel great when meeting and interacting with people. They can easily handle being the centre of attention and feel energised around others, which is why they often make great team members and managers.

  • Neuroticism: This trait often signifies sadness or moodiness. Although it's a strong trait that can heavily impact someone's personality, it's often best not to mention it during a job interview.

  • Openness: People with this trait are creative and typically have many interests. They like new challenges and can easily think about abstract concepts at work.

Read more: Conscientiousness: Signs You Have the Big 5 Personality Trait

4. Consider the question

Although the personality question may come in more forms, interviewers are typically straightforward about it and just ask you to describe yourself to them. To formulate your question, think about what they'd expect to hear. Based on the role you're applying for, they may, for example, expect your personality to show that you'd feel good working with people or that you're an independent employee who thrives working from home.

5. Show that your personality can help you succeed in the role

Interviewers may expect you to show them how your personality can help you succeed in the role you're applying for. In your answer, consider linking your individual traits with particular job responsibilities. Be sure to focus on the primary duties. You can also explain to them how pursuing a career in your field makes you feel, as this can help you position yourself as an ambitious and passionate candidate.

Related: The best careers for ENTP personality types

Example answers to the 'describe your personality' interview question

Here are sample answers for different career fields that you can use as inspiration when preparing to answer questions about your personality in a job interview:

Personality in customer service

If you're interviewing for a customer service role, you may expect that a potential employer asks about your personality. They do this because they want to know how a candidate would react in difficult situations or deal with difficult customers. To answer this question, you can focus on your emotional intelligence and attentiveness and explain how these characteristics would help you maintain the company's great customer service.

Example: 'I believe that the words extroverted, approachable and cheerful best describe my personality. My co-workers would probably also describe me as optimistic and funny. It's because I find it natural to find positives even in difficult situations and often handle them with humour.'

Personality in the medical field

Interviewers ask about personality in medical job interviews to understand how candidates handle working with patients and other medical staff. Professionals who work in the medical field are typically both focused and empathetic. If you can show these characteristics in your answer, you may succeed in making a good impression on the interviewers.

Example: 'I'd say that my leading personality traits are consciousness and openness. I am an ambivert, which means that I enjoy researching problems individually but can easily switch to working with people for longer periods of time. I can also say that I'm easily approachable and charismatic.'

Personality in office jobs

Many office jobs require you to work with other people and a busy setting but still remain focused on completing your tasks. If you're applying for an office job, an interviewer may ask about what personality traits make you qualified for such a work environment. To answer this question, you can focus on your adaptability and openness.

Example: 'I feel like my attention to detail, and the ability to easily focus in a busy work environment are what makes my personality unique. I'm an organised person and like to have my tasks under control, but I can also easily understand that not everyone feels the same way. This makes me get along well with others, regardless of their personality types. I find myself most creative when I help others organise their time because it makes me feel like I can contribute to their success too.'

Additional personality interview questions to prepare for

Here are some other questions about personality that interviewers may ask you during a job interview:

  • What hobbies or passions do you pursue outside of work?

  • How do your interests help you advance your skills and succeed at work?

  • If you could change one thing about your personality, what would it be?

  • What motivates you to succeed in your professional life?

  • Do you prefer working within a team or on your own?

  • How do you react to sudden changes at work?

  • How would you approach and calm down a stressed customer?

  • How do you feel when someone interrupts you during a task?

Related: 8 Common Personality Interview Questions With Sample Answers

What is personality?

Personality is a unique combination of your behaviours, cognitions and emotional patterns. Your personality is the main thing that influences how you think, feel and act in various situations. It's the essence of who you are and what makes you different from any other person. The most important elements that influence your personality are hereditary, situational and environmental factors. This means that even identical twins who were raised in different environments may have significantly different personalities.

Why do interviewers ask you to describe your personality?

Getting to know you can allow the interviewer to decide if you'd make a good fit for the team and if the work environment would be right for you. They do this through learning about your individual characteristics because it gives them a chance to predict some of your behaviours. For example, your personality may impact how you react in different settings of how well you can handle stressful situations.

Interviewers may also ask you about your personality to understand how you see yourself and how you perceive your unique talents. They typically want to hear you talk about all components of your personality, which include your feelings, thought patterns and behaviours. Some interviewers choose to ask this question if they've got two or more candidates with very similar qualifications and backgrounds. Therefore, getting to know the applicants' personalities allows the interviewer to understand the differences between them.

Related: What is the ISTJ personality

Explore more articles