“How would your colleagues describe you?” can be a surprisingly difficult question to answer without some training. Although it may seem innocent, a lot depends on your answer!
Read this guide to learn how to answer this question effectively.
Why do interviewers ask “How would your peers describe you?”
“How would your colleagues describe you?” is an interview question that often catches job seekers off guard. At face value, this doesn’t seem to make much sense. You have already provided your reference list, described himself, and it is not difficult for them to talk to your previous employer. So what gives?
Like many personal issues, this one is multi-layered. It serves several different purposes.
The main goal is to find out if you are aware of yourself. Self-awareness is critical in the workplace. You need to be aware of how you come across and how your actions affect others.
Coming up with an answer to the question “How would your colleagues describe you?” forces you to step into the shoes of your former colleagues. It forces you to look at your experience from a different perspective and analyze your impact on your colleagues.
Why is this important?
Well, a self-confident person is usually self-confident, but modest. At the very least, it shows that you’re perceptive and able to understand how you’re getting on. This is a good sign that you can grow and improve at something you normally don’t excel at.
Another reason interviewers ask this question is because it helps highlight communication skills. You can talk about your qualifications and education all day. But communication skills are also of great value.
Many jobs require close cooperation with colleagues. How you respond can reveal whether or not you’re a team player, how you handle conflict, and more. This is a valuable, multifaceted question that can shed light on what kind of employee you would be.
How to answer this question
“How would your colleagues describe you?” this is an interview question that can be difficult to answer. It requires self-reflection and a lot of preparation. It’s also a good idea to research the company, its work culture, and what the position you’re applying for entails.
With all that information in mind, here are some tips to help you craft a response that knocks it out of the park.
1. Always be honest
The most important thing to remember is that honesty is always the best policy. This applies to any personal matter, but here it is vitally important.
Many job seekers make the mistake of exposing the truth (especially when it comes to how others describe them). It’s easy to be less than honest when you think you understand what the interviewer wants to hear. But a fake answer or an outright lie can backfire.
And if you can’t think of anything, think about the emails you’ve received from colleagues or even clients mentioning something you’ve done or praising you for your efforts. We often forget about positive feedback, so it’s worth studying and thinking about it.
Hiring managers can easily find the truth. They will probably talk to a lot of people about your time at previous employers. Although they may not speak to your colleagues directly, they can determine whether what you say matches what others are saying about you.
Also, lies often come across as rehearsed during interviews. Avoid this problem altogether and be honest from the start.
2. Select a pair of characteristics to highlight
If you are planning to answer the question “How would your colleagues describe you?” we recommend choosing one or two personality traits to highlight. With a question like this, it’s surprisingly easy to go off the rails and talk about things that don’t necessarily matter. It’s open and going off on tangents is easier than you think.
Hiring managers don’t want to hear your life story, and talking for more than a few minutes will make you slurred or silent. Keep your answer short and easy to remember.
Reflect on your past experiences and write down the traits you think your old colleagues would mention if they were asked about you. Then choose the most relevant ones and focus your answers on them. Quality is more important than quantity, so prefer to give an effective answer rather than listing many traits that you think are positive.
Of course, the main thing is to focus on your strengths. Find the traits that show why you are a great employee and what you can bring to the table.
3. Connect them to your ability to do the job
Here you can take an ordinary answer and make it memorable. The best way to give an impressive answer is to relate it to the job you are trying to get. At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing here.
This interview is designed to find out if you are a good candidate for the job. Your goal is to convince the hiring manager of exactly that. Shaping our response to the job opening paints a compelling story that the interviewer can’t ignore.
Let’s say, for example, that you are trying to get a management position. So, by thinking about how your colleagues describe you, you can highlight times when you took responsibility and led the group to success. Maybe you assembled a team to complete a big project or were the go-to person for people to ask for help.
Either way, your answer will tell the hiring manager how well these traits will benefit you in this open position. It’s all settled and shows exactly why you’re a perfect fit.
4. Give some examples
Our final tip is to give examples. “How would your colleagues describe you?” this is an interview question that is best answered with a real-life example.
Examples lend more legitimacy to your answer. It makes it more authentic.
Also, giving examples helps to better illustrate your skills. You can talk about a specific situation that shows why your colleagues feel the way they do about you. Tell the story and give as much insight as possible without going off on a tangent.
Examples will help you understand and make your answer more memorable.
What to avoid saying
Figuring out how others describe you should be an organic process full of self-reflection and reflection. While there is no universally “wrong” answer, you can say things that give the wrong impression that will ultimately hurt your chances of getting a job offer.
Here are a few things to avoid in your response.
There is a time and a place to talk. It’s always good to be confident and put yourself in the best light. But bragging and excessive bragging is not the best approach.
No one likes to work with people who are constantly tooting their own horns. You obviously want to highlight your accomplishments, but you do your best to avoid boasting. Otherwise, you will seem out of place and unattractive.
We’ve talked about the importance of staying honest before, but it bears repeating. Never lie during an interview. It’s tempting to do this, and “How would your colleagues describe you?” it’s a question that easily obscures the truth.
But, as we said before, it is not worth taking risks. Who would want to hire someone who is willing to lie during an interview? It doesn’t make you look good and can hurt your chances.
Inappropriate character traits
While this may seem important to you, the hiring manager is not interested in hearing about irrelevant character traits. Avoid anything that doesn’t relate to your strengths or the job you’re trying to get. For example, the interviewer doesn’t care if your old colleagues thought you were a great joker or an amazing joker.
None of this has anything to do with work, so it’s best not to mention it at all.
Coming up with a great response that shows what your peers will say about you isn’t easy. Your experience is different from everyone else’s, so there is no such thing as a universal answer.
To make things easier, you can use our sample questions to see what works and what doesn’t.
In your first example, the applicant wants to emphasize his creative thinking. To do this, they talk about how they helped former colleagues and employers find solutions to seemingly impossible obstacles. They provide a visual example that illustrates their strengths, making it easy for the hiring manager to connect the dots and see how useful they would be in the role.
“Colleagues would describe me as a creative thinker and an optimist. I enjoy looking for solutions and finding innovative ways to solve problems in the workplace. I remember one year dealing with budget cuts.
My whole team was trying to figure out how to cut costs in our department. I found several ways to do this and we successfully implemented my ideas. We cut some of the resources while maintaining a tight budget that made everyone happy.”
In our next example answer, a job seeker is trying to get a management position. Thus, they talk about their leadership qualities and how they directly helped former colleagues. The answer is a great example of how you can shape your answer to appeal to the job you’re trying to get.
“My old colleagues often told me that they appreciated my leadership skills. I had the pleasure of managing several projects at my former company. In all of these situations, I worked hard to keep my partners on the same page while maintaining a tight budget and tight schedule.
We always met our deadlines and often delivered early. I became one of the leads on time-related projects, and many colleagues turned to me for advice. I really want to pass on some of these skills [COMPANY.]»
In the last example, the applicant wants to emphasize his organizational and time management skills. They are trying to get a job as an administrative assistant, so they decided to focus on how they helped maintain the previous office environment.
“I believe my former colleagues would describe me as someone who is organized and calm even under pressure. My previous job was fast-paced. The office environment was often chaotic, requiring fast work and careful organization of resources.
I enjoyed the environment and took pride in anticipating the needs of my colleagues. Many of my colleagues turned to me in difficult times, because they knew they could count on me to solve problems and complete tasks.”
“How would your colleagues describe you?” it shouldn’t be a question that confuses you. In fact, once you prepare a little, we’re sure your answer will be the highlight of the interview!
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job hunting and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to teach professionals how to navigate today’s job search process. Hannah has been nominated as LinkedIn’s top voice for job and career search and is a regular contributor US News and World Report. She was quoted by the media, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also an author Infographic Summary and co-author Social networks for business success.