Being able to answer “How would your friends describe you?” is important, because this question gets asked all the time! And even though it sounds pretty straightforward, coming up with a strong response requires a bit of thought.
This guide will help you answer this question and make a great impression.
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The Reason Interviewers Ask This Question
“How would your friends describe you?” is an interview question that often surprises job-seekers. Most expect to hear about relationships with coworkers and former employers. But why ask about friends?
There are a few reasons why this question comes up.
The first is to test your self-awareness. The ability to self-reflect is an important part of your personal and professional development. It doesn’t matter what job you want. Being self-aware can make a substantial difference in how you continue improving.
Interviewers use this question to see how well you understand what others think of you and how you talk about it. It tests how well you know your core strengths and whether you have the awareness to continue pushing your skills further.
Secondly, a unique question like this is another opportunity for interviewers to learn more about who you are. While you may effectively separate your personal life from your professional work, there’s always a blurry middle ground. Employers want good people with similar values to the company.
“How would your friends describe you?” is one of the many questions they’ll use to understand how you align with the existing company culture. It’s a way to learn more about what you’re like to work with and how well you work with others.
Another thing interviewers look for is what you consider to be important when talking about your skills. People tend to outline the traits that matter the most first. Your response provides valuable insights into how you prioritize your qualifications.
How to Answer “How Would Your Friends Describe You?”
Because this question is so multi-layered, delivering a great response is important. This isn’t one you want to think up on the spot.
To ensure you don’t get caught off guard and say the wrong thing, follow these tips when developing your answer.
1. Choose Positive & Professional Descriptions
Everyone has their inside jokes and possibly a habit of self-deprecation amongst friends. But avoid saying anything that could come off as negative. Keep things positive and always put a professional spin on things.
Never forget that you’re in a job interview! It’s easy to momentarily forget and talk about a trait that could be perceived as a red flag.
Think about what your friends genuinely like about you. Then, add a touch of polish to keep the momentum of your established professionalism.
Don’t be afraid to show your personality. You don’t have to be a robot! However, err on the side of caution and focus on what makes you likable.
2. Keep Your Answer Relevant to the Role You Want
Another important tip to remember is that your response should revolve around traits that will benefit you in the job you’re hoping to get.
Let’s be honest, your friends could describe you in many different ways. But does a hiring manager truly need to hear about how you are the life of every party? Not only would something like that paint you in a more negative light, but it doesn’t help the interviewer envision you within the role.
Think about what traits an ideal candidate for the job would exemplify. Then, choose something relevant to talk about.
For example, you can say that your friends would say you’re an amazing communicator and ultra outgoing if you’re interviewing for a customer-facing position. Alternatively, you could say that your friends call you a bookworm and science geek if you’re trying to land a job that involves a ton of science.
Always think of that job-related spin. It’s a great way to cement your qualifications and reassure hiring managers you’re the right person for the job.
3. Provide an Example
Providing examples and telling a short story is always a great idea when answering this interview question. You don’t have to get into the specifics of your relationship or provide lengthy explanations, but providing a little context as to why your friends describe you in such a way can help get the point across.
It also helps to add authenticity to your answer. Interviewers don’t know your friends, so what’s stopping you from making something up? Having an example of those traits in action is a great way to add weight to your response while allowing you to show interviewers more of your personality.
4. Be Concise With Your Answer
“How would your friends describe you?” is an open-ended question that can bait you into giving a lengthy response, but keep your answer short and to the point. Try to make sure it lasts no longer than a minute.
There are many more questions to answer in the interview, and spending too much time on this one can work against you. Remove the fluff and provide a succinct answer. Not only are they easier to remember, but they often have a bigger impact than draw-out responses.
5. Practice Before the Interview
Finally, don’t forget to practice!
Your goal should be to get comfortable providing a confident answer. You don’t have to recite a prewritten script verbatim, but it’s wise to familiarize yourself with what you want to say to avoid scrambling when put on the spot.
Have a few core points you want to hit, and practice saying your response with friends and family. An answer delivered confidently will leave a lasting impression on interviewers and hiring managers.
What You Shouldn’t Include in Your Answer
Your answer to “How would your friends describe you?” can do a lot to change how interviewers see you. The right response could improve your chances of getting a job offer.
On the other hand, saying the wrong thing could have the opposite effect. Here are a few things you want to avoid.
Cliche and Overused Answers
Do a quick Google search of this question, and you’ll see many of the same answers. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can use a prewritten response during your interview. There’s a good chance that the interviewer has already heard them all!
Using samples as inspiration is fine (you can check out ours below), but it would be best to say something unique and personal to yourself.
Cliche answers come off as inauthentic, and it may raise a red flag that makes interviewers think you have something to hide.
Unprofessional and Irrelevant Details
Another huge mistake is saying something unprofessional or not related to the job. Your friends have many different thoughts about you, depending on the day! Remember that you’re interviewing for a job and that anything remotely unprofessional will not cut it.
For example, saying that your friends would describe you as a party animal will only raise concerns that you care more about having fun than doing your job. It is a bad trait to talk about in a professional setting and has nothing to do with the position.
Finally, avoid anything that’s self-deprecating. There’s a time and place to criticize yourself, and your interviewer may even ask about your weaknesses later in the interview. But your answer to this question shouldn’t focus on your faults.
It should be about the strengths you have and the skills you can bring to the table.
Focus on the positive things your friends would say about you and steer clear of anything that could come off as negative. This question is your chance to sell yourself, so leaning on the good will get you far.
We have a few examples to help you create a personal response to this question. Use these examples as inspiration, and keep our tips above in mind.
In our first example, the candidate is applying for an office manager position. They use the answer to cement their ability to succeed in this role. It’s a great illustration of using this question to further convince hiring managers that you’re the right person for the position.
“Many of my friends say that I’m the organizer of the group. Whenever we go out, I’m usually the one coordinating transportation and ensuring that everyone has what they need. The same goes for group vacations, where I like to plan every detail and have all supplies on hand for every scenario.
It’s a description I love, and I can’t help but see it as a badge of honor! I love being the “responsible” one, and organization is my forte. As a result, it’s a role I fit into naturally amongst my friends.”
Next, we have a great response for a job requiring more solo work. Many interviewers understand that working alone is not for everyone, so an answer like this is a great reassurance. It’s an impactful response that can greatly improve the candidate’s chances of getting a job offer.
“I have a few really close friends. however, I prefer spending time reading or having fun with my hobbies!
For that reason, most of my close friends today describe me as introverted. They’d say I can be social when the time arises, but I’d rather spend time in a quiet corner!
That’s one of the reasons why I think I excel so much in IT. It’s a perfect fit for my personality because I can focus more on what I enjoy doing, rather than worrying about being successful in extroverted activities.”
Our final example leans on essential soft skills. The job-seeker is pursuing a role as a nurse and focuses on positive traits that would benefit them in the job. It’s a subtle way to reiterate why they would excel in the role, providing a glimpse of what hiring managers can expect if given the job.
“My dear friends would likely describe me as compassionate and positive. I’m the type of person who’s always checking in on others and doing what I can to create an air of positivity. They like to say that I automatically read the room and try to steer the conversation to a happier place if I sense that others aren’t comfortable.
They’d also say that I’m empathetic. I’m always the go-to when someone in my friend group needs a shoulder to cry on or someone to listen. To this day, I am still moved by human interest stories I hear about!”
As you can see, answering “How would your friends describe you?” requires a bit of tact. However, giving a solid response can leave a great impression on the interviewer.
Follow our steps, review the examples, and you’ll be well on your way.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.