Often the most dreaded questions in a job interview are those that relate to personality.
Even if you feel you have a wonderful and well-suited personality for the job, you might feel you’re being put on-the-spot or falling into a trap because you don’t know what kind of answer the interviewer would like to hear.
You never know when you’ll be faced with such questions related to personality traits.
Some interviewers use them and some don’t. Industry-wise they are used across the board – so it doesn’t matter if you’re on a healthcare job search or interviewing for a sales position, these questions can come up and they can be downright tricky.
How to Answer Personality Questions for Job Interviews
Here are a few example personality questions that could come up on an interview.
Of course, the number of questions that could be asked is unlimited so there is no way to anticipate every one:
Tell me about your weaknesses
This one is tricky as no one wants to focus on the negative when they are interviewing for a job.
Talking about your flaws can only show the employer why not to hire you. So what do you do? The best thing to do in this situation is to turn your weakness into strength. A possible answer could focus on an area where you have more to learn about a particular skill.
As long as it isn’t an essential qualification for the job (one where you need a high level of proficiency) you can say:
“I haven’t had enough experience with electronic health records and desire to learn more about them. I believe this position will offer me an excellent opportunity to enhance my skills in this area.”
Tell me about a time you tried an innovative approach. What was the result?
Any “tell me about a time” questions can be very disconcerting.
You certainly don’t want to be sitting there with your eyes to the ceiling and your mouth hanging open as you dig through your brain for an old experience to reference. You also don’t want to say, “I can’t think of any.” The best thing you can do with these types of questions is to prepare for the interview by reviewing your work history. Go through your resume and letters of recommendations and any employment history and old communications you have.
Write down particularly interesting projects you worked on and think about positive experiences you can allude to.
There might not be a best answer to this question, but having an answer is the key. Keep your story positive, even if the situation didn’t end in a complete success. You can always say,
“It was the first time I tried that approach and I learned a lot from the process. The result was short of what I was aiming for, but I learned why this was the outcome and was able to adjust for it the next time.”
Of course, having a completely successful tale to tell is also an excellent response.
The more you can quantify your results, the better (e.g. “The company saved $30,000 by implementing my new procedure.”).
“What books have you read lately?”
This is truly a question of a personal nature.
It may seem unrelated to the job, but the good news is you can make it relate to the job. When conducting your job search, it is important to keep up with your industry. What publications should you be reading as a career-driven person of your industry? Are there manuals, magazines, books, online sites, and blogs? If you’re prepared, you have the perfect opportunity to show you’ve been keeping your skills and industry-knowledge up-to-date. This is also a great way to save yourself if you aren’t a pleasure reader. If you do enjoy reading, you should discuss these books, as long as they seem appropriate. Discussing titles that show your appreciation of literature (even popular fiction) or your desire to learn (non-fiction) are fine.
For instance, if you truly are reading a biography about Benjamin Franklin, then be sure to say so. If you aren’t, don’t ever lie to “look good” because you never know what the interviewer may know about the topic.
Maybe he or she is a Ben Franklin enthusiast! Always be honest.
Preparation is the key to having something to say and being honest about it.
Other personality questions that can be asked:
- How do you resolve conflicts in general?
- Who has had the most influence on your life and why?
- What would you want to do if you were not in this field?
- Tell me about some of your strengths as sales person?
- Are you a perfectionist?
- What is your communication style?
- How do you deal with difficult personalities?
- How do you resolve conflicts in the workplace?
- How would you describe your leadership style?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
Surviving Personality Based Interview Questions – It Can Be Done!
As we’ve discussed, a personality interview doesn’t have to be frightening if you prepare well by reviewing your own history and researching your industry, the company, and available position.
Don’t get too nervous about potential questions. Not every interviewer will use them. With those who do, just be calm, confident, and stay on the positive side. Employers know that personality questions and personality tests are difficult for those in the interview seat. Often they want to see if you can keep your composure.
They also use them to weed out anyone who would reveal something bizarre or extremely negative about their history, attitude, or methods. Don’t worry about things you can’t control. Always be ready to bring any topic around to how you can make a positive contribution to the company.
Personality job interview questions give you the opportunity to show how you are the perfect fit for the position!
Lynn Mattoon is a Content Editor & Career Writer for HealthCareJobSite.com, SalesHeads.com and other Beyond.com career communities. You can follow her on Twitter at BeyondCareers.
Interviewers often ask behavioral interview questions in order to assess the personality traits of a candidate.
More Interview questions for evaluating personality can be found reading the following articles:
Sample Behavioral Interview Questions and Examples of Competency Based Questions.