When preparing for an interview, it is important to study for technical questions as well as questions about your personality and workplace relationships. The way you relate to your coworkers can determine your ability to work as part of a team, fit in with the company culture and develop a professional network. Interviewers often ask about how your coworkers would describe you to learn if you would fit well into their company's group dynamic, so it's important to spend time reflecting on how your coworkers perceive you and finding ways to relate your personality traits to the job.
In this article, we review the reasons employers ask about how your colleagues would describe you and provide example answers to help you prepare for this question in an interview.
Related: How to Prepare for an Interview
Why employers ask how your coworkers describe you
Employers ask questions about how your coworkers describe you to get a general sense of your personality and self-awareness. Some employers might compare your answer to how your references described you as a way to test the accuracy of your self-assessment. They look for detailed answers that show how your various personality traits could help you adjust to a position at their company and provide examples of times when those characteristics contributed to your success in the workplace.
Because this question is open-ended and requires you to think about yourself from another person's perspective, a thorough and thoughtful answer shows strong interpersonal skills and perceptiveness. Use detailed, relevant anecdotes and thoughtful word choice when sharing how others describe you to show the employer exactly how those traits would benefit their business.
How to answer "How would your coworkers describe you?"
When preparing for an interview, spend time researching and rehearsing answers about how you and others would describe your key characteristics. Thinking about your best qualities ahead of time and deciding on how to relate them to the job can give you confidence when similar questions come up in an interview. Before going to your interview, develop a strong response to questions about how your coworkers would describe you by following these steps:
1. Brainstorm your strengths
Make a list of your strongest qualities and consider how you express them in the workplace. Your answer to questions about how others would describe you should only focus on the positive traits you have to offer at work. Choose adjectives that relate to your disposition and work ethic, emphasizing soft skills that make you unique.
2. Match actions with descriptions
Think about all the tasks you perform and the skills you use every day at your job, and identify which of your characteristics help you complete your work. Matching each descriptive word with an action can help you explain to an interviewer exactly how your personality facilitates your success in the workplace. Brainstorm anecdotes and stories that you can use as evidence for the descriptions you chose.
3. Reference performance reviews
One of the best ways to understand how others would describe you is to look at past feedback and performance reviews. Peer reviews from coworkers and manager feedback can both give you ideas of how your colleagues would describe you. Look for themes in your performance reviews that represent a well-rounded description of you in the workplace.
4. Consider past conversations
Look through work emails, search your instant messages and spend time reflecting on past conversations with your closest coworkers to understand how you stand out in the workplace. Pay attention to compliments and praise, thinking about how to concisely summarize the feedback from your coworkers into a strong interview response.
5. Talk with your coworkers
If you have trouble brainstorming answers to this question, ask your coworkers directly how they would describe you to another professional in your industry. Asking a few different people about their perspective can help you gain insights into your work relationships and provide reliable content for your answers in interviews.
6. Review the job posting
Look at the job description and highlight any detail of their ideal candidate. Think about how you meet those requirements and take note of keywords that you can use in your answer. Indirectly referencing the job posting by using similar language shows employers that you have spent time researching the position and know why you are the best fit for the job.
7. Write down and rehearse possible answers
Write out some possible responses to this question and read them over to help you gain confidence in your interview answer. Practicing reading different answers in front of a mirror can prepare you to recall the topics and stories you plan to discuss to support your answers.
Part of preparing for your interview involves researching how others have responded to similar interview questions and possible ways to organize your response. Sample responses can help you understand how to thoughtfully answer questions about how your coworkers would describe you. Here are a few example answers you can use as a guide when preparing for an interview.
Example 1: Administrative Assistant
“My coworkers would describe me as an organized, thoughtful person who works well under pressure. So much of what I enjoy about doing administrative work is creating a well-organized environment and anticipating the needs of my coworkers to make office life run as smoothly as possible. My colleagues regularly comment on my positive attitude and problem-solving abilities when we get a difficult client on the phone, and I never forget to organize surprises when someone in the office has a birthday."
Example 2: Project Manager
“My team knows me best for being a team-oriented leader. One of my proudest moments was when one of my coworkers offered to write me a letter of recommendation because she admired my empathy and leadership during challenging projects. She said that she could tell I had a personal investment in each person's success and appreciated the way I asked for feedback and celebrated everyone's successes.”
Example 3: Accountant
“My colleagues have told me that they value my reliability, punctuality and analytical mindset. I always work to manage my time effectively so that I can help others with last-minute projects and spend extra time reviewing my work for accuracy. I once collaborated with another accountant to handle one client's complex tax returns and used a meticulous schedule to ensure that we were meeting all of our goals. I regularly adjusted our strategy for dividing responsibilities based on each of our individual strengths."