Personality Interview Questions and Sample Answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published July 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Related: Top 6 Common Interview Questions and Answers

Jenn, an Indeed Career Coach, breaks down the intentions behind employer's questions and shares strategies for crafting strong responses.

While interviewers want to hear about your skills and experience, they may also want to get to know your personality. They might ask you personality interview questions to learn about your interests outside of work. This can help them determine if you're a good fit for the company's culture. In this article, we explore commonly asked personality interview questions and sample answers to help you prepare for upcoming interviews.

Personality interview questions with sample answers

Here are some common personality interview questions employers may ask you with sample answers to help you craft your own:

1. What are you passionate about?

This question helps employers learn more about your professional and personal passions. Employers seek employees who are passionate about their work and strive to do their best. If you mention personal interests, such as gardening, try to tie them back to your professional life. For example, you could discuss how your passion for gardening makes you more patient and attentive at work.

Example: "As I have three children, I'm passionate about raising them and watching them grow into successful teenagers. I love teaching them new things and having fun with them on weekends. Having children has helped me in my professional life as a teacher as well. I always loved working with children, but having my own kids made me a more patient and understanding teacher. It's also helped improve my communication with parents because I understand their worries firsthand now."

Related: Common Behavioural Interview Questions With Example Answers

2. What motivates you in your professional life?

Employers look for candidates who can stay motivated when working towards their daily, monthly, and annual goals. Being self-motivated ensures you can thrive independently in any environment. When answering this question, mention specific elements of the role you're applying for that motivate you, such as effective teamwork or strict deadlines.

Example: "As a digital marketer, my team motivates me. The marketing team in my previous role worked very closely together, so we were always motivating each other and encouraging each other to do our best. Creating a strong following on social media also motivates me. I enjoy seeing the company's social media pages get more traffic and social interactions, motivating me to continue to work hard."

Related: Interview Question: "What Motivates You?" (With Examples)

3. If you could change one thing about your personality, what would it be?

Hiring managers ask this question to determine your level of self-awareness and how open you are to self-improvement. They're looking for candidates that are honest about their shortcomings and willing to change. Think of a personality trait you could improve on to help you perform better in your work. To avoid framing the personality trait in an overly negative way, ensure you mention ways you're working to improve on it.

Example: "I was always quite shy growing up. Thankfully, working in customer service for eight years has greatly improved my social skills. However, I'm still quite shy when it comes to public speaking. I can speak in front of a crowd with no issues but always get really nervous beforehand. I'd like to improve my public speaking skills so I can be more confident in front of large groups of people. So, I took it upon myself to enroll in public speaking classes and I start next week."

4. What is the most stressful situation you've been in at work and how did you handle it?

Regardless of your role, you've likely handled a stressful situation at work. Employers ask you how you overcame that situation to ensure you can remain calm under pressure and remain professional while completing your tasks. They want employees that can manage stress well and work through it. Think of a specific situation that highlights your strong decision-making skills in overcoming a challenge.

Example: "When I was working as a barista, two of my team members called in sick and we couldn't find anyone to replace them. I had to make all orders by myself so I was becoming stressed as more and more customers were coming in. I took a second to breathe and calm down as there was nothing I could do but work quicker. After that, I apologized to customers for the delay and prepared their orders as fast as I could."

5. What hobbies do you enjoy in your free time?

This question allows employers to get to know you better, and your answer can reveal a lot about your social skills, collaboration, teamwork, and leadership. For example, if you enjoy soccer, you're probably a good team player. If you enjoy crocheting, you probably have good attention to detail. If you have multiple hobbies, talk about one that best reflects the skills you need to succeed in the role you are seeking.

Example: "I've been doing Karate for over nine years now and I am a black belt, meaning I'm an expert in the sport. Doing Karate has taught me about perseverance and encouraged me to always reach my goals, both in my professional and personal life. My love for commitment extends not only to Karate, but also to my work. I hope to stay with one company, such as yours, long-term as well."

6. Can you tell me about a time you went above and beyond in your job?

Employers want to see how you measure your success at work, as everyone has their own measurements. Choose a scenario that highlights your ambition and commitment to work.

Example: "In my previous role as a server, I had a customer with cerebral palsy come in with their caretaker. They were frequent customers, so I knew the one with cerebral palsy needed help to eat. When I delivered their food, the caretaker was away on the phone. I didn't want the customer's food to get cold, so I asked if I could assist with eating. She happily agreed, and I continued until the caretaker came back and took over, thanking me for my help."

7. What makes you unique?

As hiring managers are likely interviewing multiple candidates, they want to know what sets you apart from other people. This is your opportunity to highlight skills, experience, or characteristics that you appreciate about yourself. Think of traits you have that you know the employers are looking for and emphasize them.

Example: "As an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, I think my most unique quality is that English is my second language. I grew up speaking Spanish until I was four and then learned English in school. My English is perfect now, but I remember the struggle I went through to learn it. Understanding what my students are going through when I'm teaching them helps me modify my teaching accordingly and be more compassionate."

Related: Interview Question "What Makes You Unique?"

8. Do you prefer working in a team or independently? Why?

Depending on your job, you may work closely with a team or customers, or you may work alone. Employers want to ensure you're a good fit for the role based on your preference, so make sure you research the role and expectations beforehand. If the job requires working in a team, be sure to mention your teamwork skills to persuade the employer to hire you.

Example: "I prefer to work in a team because it's a great opportunity to learn more about the job and expand my own opinions and ideas. I enjoy collaborating and brainstorming with a group of people as I think it's the best way to come up with effective solutions. In addition, I find that working as a team motivates me more than working alone since your team members are relying on your work."

Related: Four Types of Communication (With Examples)

Interview tips

To ensure you succeed in an interview, here are some additional tips to help you prepare:

Rehearse your answers

Once you develop answers to personality interview questions employers may ask, practise saying them out loud. Do so in front of a mirror or with a friend so they can provide feedback. You don't need to memorize your answers word for word. Just try to remember the intention and general story to sound more conversational in the interview.

Related: Interview Preparation Tips

Select specific experiences

Use the STAR method to answer interview questions. STAR stands for situation, task, action, and results. Formulate your answers by describing a specific situation, explaining the task you had to do, outlining the actions you took, and highlighting the results you achieved. This helps you include the necessary details and answer the question clearly.

Related: How to Use the STAR Interview Response Technique

Be aware of your body language

Your non-verbal language is just as important as what you're saying out loud. Ensure you maintain eye contact, have good posture, and relax your body so you aren't fidgeting. This can help you feel and appear more confident and show the interviewer you're engaged in the conversation.

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