Have you ever been asked the question, "How would your friends describe you?" in an interview?
Chances are that even if you haven’t yet, you will someday.
We'll discuss why employers ask this interview question and the best way to answer it.
The Reason Behind the Question
If an employer asks how your friends would describe you, what does he or she really want to know?
It seems like a personal question, but it's a great question to get to know you.
Here are a few things the hiring manager can discover by asking, "What would your friends say about you?"
1. It Shows Your Level of Self-Awareness
First of all, do you even know how your friends perceive you?
If not, you might not have high levels of self-awareness.
Having a good idea of how your friends would describe you shows that you care what your friends think.
That's a positive point for your character and personality.
2. It Demonstrates How Others Think of You
But think about this a little more deeply before you answer.
- Would your friends describe you as a gossip?
- Would they say you don't really take time for them?
- Or that social media supersedes in-person contact?
Having an accurate picture of how others would describe you can give a hiring manager plenty of insight about your personality.
3. It Reveals How Well You Work With Others
Friends do stuff together, right?
When you go bowling with your friends, for instance...
- Are you the highly-competitive one in the group?
- Or maybe you are the friend who watches from the sidelines, cheering everyone on.
- Perhaps you are the one who gets all the others together in the first place.
Each small thing you say can show the recruiter something about your work style and the way you relate to others.
How to Answer This Interview Question
Now, this may seem like a really obvious approach, but here's the best thing to actually do before encountering this question in an interview:
Ask your friends how they would describe you.
(You might save yourself from some self-pity by asking them to only share the nice things they think about you!)
Jokes aside, asking your friend how they would describe you will enable you to have an honest answer in the interview.
It also might make you feel good and bring you closer to your friends.
Here are a few specific tips on how to answer this question:
1. Be Positive
Hopefully, you have taken the advice from above, and you are asking your friends to tell you some positive things that describe you.
You absolutely do not want to tell a recruiter bad things about yourself!
If your friends would describe you as a selfish jerk, do not offer that piece of information in your interview.
This seems pretty obvious, right?
Sadly, I have heard people joke around in an interview and say something negative and self-incriminating about their personality.
Recruiter: "How would your friends describe you?"
Applicant: “All my friends describe me as the best beer chugger. Some might also call me a lady's man."
Remember, this is an interview for a professional job, not a casual dating app.
The above answer would be totally inappropriate for an interview.
2. Stay Relevant to The Job
If you have read other interview articles, you've likely seen this advice:
Relevance plays a huge factor.
You can have the most awesome feedback from your friends, but if it is not relevant to the job, it’s wasted breath.
Tailor how your friends describe you to the job you are applying for.
For example, let's say you are applying for a customer service job.
Then your answer to this question should thread in something related to how well you work with others.
Recruiter: "How would others describe you?"
Applicant: “People describe me as extremely helpful.
They know that I am always eager to assist others so they come to me anytime they need problem solving.
They would also say that I am a great communicator (perhaps a little too talkative sometimes) and kind towards others even when they are not kind back.”
3. Tell a Story
Let's say you are applying for a job as a salesperson.
Recruiter: "How would your friends describe you?"
Applicant: “My friends know that I am outgoing and energetic. They'd also say I am determined and never give up.
One time, we were all rock climbing. About halfway up everybody wanted to turn around and go back down the mountain.
I turned our climb into a competition and proposed a $100 prize for whoever was first to climb the mountain. That quickly changed their minds and we decided to keep climbing.
Side note, I won the $100!”
You probably noticed a difference between the two "good" responses above.
Both of them could be considered great answers to the question of how would your friends describe you.
Both answers will work just fine.
But the second one is better.
It tells a story.
Anytime you can support your answer to an interview question with a story, you are going to set yourself apart from the crowd.
You will give the interviewer something unique to remember you by.
Bonus Tip: Stay Focused
When answering this interview question, you do not need to go all the way back to grade school.
The recruiter doesn't want to hear you narrate every friendship story from your childhood and teen years.
Choose a single story that...
- Showcases relevant qualities
- Demonstrates positive aspects of your character
Use this opportunity to show the recruiter that you would make a great member of the team because you would make a great friend and coworker.
When an interviewer asks you what others would say about you, they are trying to determine some key characteristics about you.
Include positive and relevant traits in your answer and tell a short story to back them up.
If you need more help with interview prep, we have you covered:
Words to Describe Yourself in an Interview (50+ Examples) has some great (and not-so-great) words to use to describe yourself in an interview if you need more ideas.
Check out 50 Top Job Interview Questions and Answers for more interview questions to study.
If you'd like to work with a career coach to fully prepare for your interview, we offer Interview Coaching services.
Our Reverse Recruiters can also manage your job search for you with Career Finder. They'll find the interviews for you, and then get you ready for them as well.