One of the most common types of interview questions is, “What three character traits would your friends use to describe you” or, “What three adjectives best describe you”
The hiring manager asks this question to get a sense of your personality. He is looking for answers that demonstrate a strong work ethic and overall character. This standard question is also frequently used to make sure you’ve prepared for the interview ahead of time instead of just planning to “wing it.”
Points to Emphasize
When you answer this question, you’ll want to provide character traits that demonstrate your ability to perform the job well.
- List adjectives related to industry, such as punctual, innovative or ambitious.
- Mention qualities that show how well you can perform duties, such as detail oriented, able to multi-task and self-motivated.
- State adjectives relating to working with others, like friendly, compassionate or easygoing.
- Mix and match from the above lists to suit the particular job for which you’re applying.
Hiring managers want to know what qualities set you apart from other applicants. Use this opportunity to highlight your true personality in a positive way.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
If you’re not prepared to answer this question, the character traits you list could not be well suited to the job. In order to increase your chances of getting hired, avoid these common mistakes and pitfalls:
- Don’t list adjectives that are too bland or colloquial, like great, superb and “off the chain.”
- Avoid character traits that don’t relate to a work environment, like fun, life of the party or shy.
- Be careful not to list qualities that are unreachable, such as perfect or flawless.
- Avoid traits that work against you or are negative, like overqualified, moody or never satisfied.
The hiring manager is looking for someone who presents him- or herself well, so it’s best not to walk into an interview without having this list prepared.
A great answer to a question about character traits is as follows:
My friends would say I’m committed to what I believe in, respectful of others and a self-starter. I think this job would be perfect for me, because I’m really passionate about the company and what it stands for. I feel like I would get to be myself here, which is so special to find in a workplace.
Choose a response that shows both your positive characteristics and how those characteristics will help in the particular job setting. This will demonstrate to the hiring manager that you’re an appropriate candidate.