Interview question: How would your friends describe you?
Updated 24 May 2023
There are some questions that you can typically expect to hear in any job interview. Whilst it may seem repetitive, these questions are standard practice and reveal certain aspects of any applicant that they come across. This means that you have plenty of time to devise an answer to this question, which not only successfully conveys who you are but why you are suitable for the role. In this article, we discuss the question 'how would your friends describe you?' and how you can give an effective answer that improves your chances.
Why do interviewers want to know how your friends would describe you?
There are several reasons why an interviewer may want to find out how your friends would describe you, all of which offer more of an insight into your personality rather than the way you are in a workplace. For certain jobs, personality is nearly as important as your skill set. Some things that an employer might be looking to learn include:
Levels of professionalism
Your friends offer an up-close and personal insight into who you are outside of work, but your personality traits are going to have an impact even after you've finished work. For example, if you say to your interviewer that your friends would describe you as 'the life of the party', you could be presenting yourself as unprofessional. Your social confidence can be an advantage at work, but phrasing it correctly is important.
Although the question is about how your friends would describe you, in all likelihood, you're not going to have asked around and selected quotes from those close to you. This means that this answer can give your interviewer an insight into your perception of yourself, rather than strictly being a case of your friends acting as character references for the role. Consider how your response reflects your own personality traits that you would display at work.
Many businesses thrive due to a particular workplace culture that they cultivate over time. It may seem difficult to affect the culture in a workplace, but it's a delicate balance. An interviewer may want to make sure that you're going to be able to fit in and work harmoniously with the rest of the organisation.
All the job interview answers that you give are part of your attempt to pitch yourself to the prospective employer. This question is no exception, as you can benefit from presenting the positive aspects of your personality to a potential employer. The personal nature of the question means that presenting yourself could be the difference between an employer believing your answer or a somewhat less favourable impression of you.
Tips for answering 'how would your friends describe you?'
Below are four tips that you can consider when answering 'how would your friends describe you':
1. Plan in advance
This is especially important in the case of this question, as a bad answer could give a poor impression of your character. During your preparation for an interview, it's advisable to get in touch with some of your closest friends to get an accurate idea of how they would describe you. This means that you can keep your answer based on the truth rather than being entirely your own perspective of who you are. Ensure that the friend you choose is reliable, as some people may be less helpful when you're asking them for honest feedback and opinions.
From this point, you can further have a discussion around which aspects are most appropriate for an interview scenario. You could prompt your friend into a conversation around how you've acted responsibly, giving you examples to use in the interview. You might add information about who you are as a professional to offer your employer an idea of what they can expect in the workplace, but make sure that you include out-of-work information. Some hobbies you share with friends and how you act around them can make you seem like a great presence to have in the office.
2. Use the STAR method
The STAR method is a great tool that you can implement in any interview situation, as it lays out a story or example in an easy and understandable way for the interviewer. Although this may not be the perfect question for the STAR method on the face of it, it is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your personality with a situational example. The STAR method includes several steps, which, when followed in order, can set out an example or story in a simple and easily understood manner:
Situation: In which you describe the situation and the wider context around it.
Task: Explain the task or problem at hand and what made a resolution urgent.
Action: Assess what you did and exactly why you undertook the actions that you did.
Result: Finish by talking about the long and short term results of what you did, and establish what you would do if you could do anything differently.
This is an opportunity to describe a day out with your friends when you came across problems, offering you the chance to talk about a specific attribute a friend has mentioned and how you have applied it in a real-world situation. This is an opportunity for interviewers to get an idea of who you are with a tangible example for them to take into account, rather than having to take your word for it.
3. Answer with confidence
It's important to answer confidently in any interview question, but this is especially the case for personal questions such as knowing how your friends would describe you. One of the reasons is that an unconfident answer might seem like it's less than genuine. If you spend too long thinking about how your friends would describe you, an interviewer might think that you are stalling for time whilst trying to think up a more palatable answer than an honest one. Instead, you might try to answer in a measured manner that shows off your best attributes.
In addition to adding to your answer, having confidence can be a powerful asset in the workplace in itself. You can not only give more credence to the answer, but you can present yourself in a much better light for the rest of the interview. This is why thorough preparation can help, as somebody who naturally struggles to come across confidently may have fewer issues after taking plenty of time to get ready for their interview.
4. Be as concise as possible
Whilst an employer does want to get to know you as a person, they want to get to know you more as a prospective employee. If you know that your interview has very specific time constraints, you may look to shorten your responses to answer them all before the end of the interview. This can also demonstrate strong communications skills. Being able to convey as much information as necessary within a tight time limit is a skill that employers look for. By doing so in your interview, you show that you're able to communicate concisely in a professional setting.
Example answer to 'how would your friends describe you?'
Below is an example of an effective answer to this interview question:
'My friends would probably describe me as very personable and helpful, and that I also try to brighten the mood where I can. I always enjoy getting to know new people and doing whatever I can to make someone's day easier, wherever possible. For example, I was in town with my friends a few weeks ago, and somebody came up to us and asked for directions.
My friends and I were in a bit of a hurry, but I let the group go ahead while I assisted the individual with finding out how to get where they were going. They got where they needed to go, and everyone was able to go about their day without any real problems. When I got back to my friends, we had a joke about it and got back to enjoying our afternoon.'
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