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10 good Personality interview questions
- If your manager asked you to complete a task you thought impossible at first, how would you go about it?
- Tell me about a time you had to fill in for someone. Were you successful? How did the experience make you feel?
- Tell me about a time you missed (or almost missed) a deadline. How did you react when you realized you were falling behind? What did that experience teach you?
- Do you prefer working in a team or on your own? Why?
- If you could change one thing about your personality at the snap of your fingers what would it be and why?
- Tell me about a time your manager wasn’t satisfied with the results of your work. How did you discuss the issues and what did you do differently the next time?
- What are you passionate about?
- What types of activities or hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?
- How do you handle criticism?
- How do you demonstrate flexibility in your work?
1. If your manager asked you to complete a task you thought impossible at first, how would you go about it?
This question helps evaluate a candidate’s problem-solving skills and their ability to handle challenging tasks.
“I would first analyze the task to understand its requirements and identify the challenges. Then, I would brainstorm potential strategies and solutions, possibly seeking advice from colleagues or superiors. I believe in maintaining a positive attitude and being persistent in finding a solution.”
2. Tell me about a time you had to fill in for someone. Were you successful? How did the experience make you feel?
This question assesses a candidate’s adaptability and their ability to take on responsibilities outside their usual role.
“I had to fill in for a colleague who fell ill unexpectedly. Despite the sudden change, I managed to complete their tasks successfully by quickly familiarizing myself with their responsibilities and managing my time effectively. The experience was challenging but rewarding, as it allowed me to learn new skills and gain a broader perspective on our work.”
3. Tell me about a time you missed (or almost missed) a deadline. How did you react? What did that experience teach you?
This question explores a candidate’s ability to handle pressure and learn from their mistakes.
“I once underestimated the time required for a project and was falling behind. I immediately communicated the situation to my manager and worked extra hours to meet the deadline. This experience taught me the importance of realistic planning and regular progress checks.”
4. Do you prefer working in a team or on your own? Why?
This question examines a candidate’s preference for teamwork or independent work, providing insight into their work style and how they might fit into the team.
“I appreciate both dynamics as they offer different benefits. Teamwork allows for diverse perspectives and collaborative problem-solving, while working independently enables me to focus deeply and take ownership of my work. I believe a balance of both is essential for a productive work environment.”
5. If you could change one thing about your personality at the snap of your fingers what would it be and why?
This question assesses a candidate’s self-awareness and their willingness to improve.
“If I could change one thing about my personality, I would like to be more patient. While my drive to get things done quickly can be an asset, I realize that patience is important for thoughtful decision-making and building strong relationships.”
6. Tell me about a time your manager wasn’t satisfied with the results of your work. How did you discuss the issues?
This question evaluates a candidate’s ability to accept feedback and learn from their mistakes.
“My manager once pointed out errors in a report I prepared. We discussed the issues and I took responsibility for the mistakes. I appreciated the feedback, which helped me improve my attention to detail and quality of work in future projects.”
7. What are you passionate about?
This question can provide insight into a candidate’s motivations and what drives them.
“I am passionate about continuous learning and personal growth. I enjoy taking on new challenges and learning new skills, both in my professional and personal life. This passion drives my curiosity and dedication in my work.”
8. What types of activities or hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?
This question can reveal a candidate’s interests outside of work, which can contribute to their overall well-being and work-life balance.
“I enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and cycling, which help me stay active and provide a great counterbalance to my work. I also enjoy reading and attending local cultural events, which broaden my perspectives and inspire creativity.”
9. How do you handle criticism?
This question assesses a candidate’s ability to accept feedback, learn from it, and improve their performance.
“I view criticism as an opportunity to learn and improve. I appreciate constructive feedback as it helps me identify areas for improvement and develop better strategies for my work. I believe in maintaining a positive attitude and focusing on solutions rather than dwelling on mistakes.”
10. How do you demonstrate flexibility in your work?
This question evaluates a candidate’s adaptability and their ability to adjust to changes and unexpected situations at work.
“I demonstrate flexibility by being open to changes and willing to adjust my strategies or plans as needed. I understand that changes are often necessary for growth and improvement. I also try to maintain a positive attitude and stay solution-focused when faced with unexpected challenges or changes in direction.”
Why is it important to ask personality interview questions
Soft skills are not obvious on paper. Knowledge and experience are important in the hiring process, but screening for the right personality traits helps you ensure potential hires perform well under stressful circumstances and collaborate with their coworkers.
Personality interview questions reveal:
- Openness to criticism
- Team spirit
- Work ethics
Ask personality questions during your interviews to compare candidates with similar hard skills and select the ones who better fit your culture. You can also use these questions to identify creative potential hires.
Keep in mind that there are some personality tests designed to categorize people, but using these kinds of tests in your recruitment process could actually mislead your hiring decisions. They usually include generic questions that result in equally generic answers (e.g. “On a scale of 1 to 5, how well do you perform under stress?”) Candidates don’t get the chance to justify their choices, thus recruiters can’t evaluate their honesty or ask further clarifications. Ask candidates for real-life examples to understand if and how they use these qualities on the job
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How to assess candidates’ answers in personality interview questions
- Candidates with memorable answers will stand out. Especially if you’re hiring for roles that include interaction with clients, (e.g. sales positions) it’s best to focus on potential hires who pique your interest during your discussions.
- There’s a difference between personality and personal interview questions. Questions about candidates’ age, origin, religion, arrest record, their plans to (or not to) have children are off limits. Keep your questions job-related and, if necessary, ask someone from the HR and/or Legal departments to check them to ensure you’re not asking illegal or inappropriate interview questions.
- Random questions like “What’s your favorite movie?” are only good as icebreakers. Ask questions that reveal how candidates’ personalities may impact their work. Focus on how they apply their knowledge and how they collaborate with coworkers.
- Test candidates for their creativity skills and for their abilities to come up with answers to non-traditional questions. But, keep in mind that interviews can be stressful for many people, so give candidates enough time to respond.
- Personality interview questions are not about finding your next beer buddy. Don’t reject candidates who at first sight don’t fit with your company culture. Keep an open mind to talented people who can bring something new to the table.
- Inappropriate answers. As you’re obliged to respect the law, candidates should keep their answers professional, as well. Too many jokes, for example, are an indicator they don’t take the interview (and possibly your job) very seriously.
- Lack of passion. People with low energy levels mightn’t be engaged in their work. If you don’t see sparks of enthusiasm when candidates talk about their job, try to understand what motivates them.
- Extremely low or high self-esteem. Certain personality interview questions require candidates to describe their biggest professional successes. If they struggle finding one, either they lack experience or they have low self-esteem, which are both red flags, particularly for senior-level roles. If they exaggerate their achievements, they are either dishonest or may not be team players.
- Too much focus on work. Hard-workers aren’t always the best performers. Workaholics who have no other interests besides their jobs and prefer to consistently work long hours (instead of discussing deadline-setting with their managers) are prone to toxic behaviors at the workplace.
- “Canned” answers. Candidates want to impress you during interviews, so it’s likely they’ll come prepared for these types of questions. If they provide generic answers and can’t specifically explain how they use a desired quality on the job (or in their personal lives), they might lack this certain quality.
Frequently asked questions
- What are the top interview questions to test soft skills?
- Top interview questions to test soft skills could include asking candidates how they handle criticism, how they demonstrate flexibility in their work, or what they are passionate about. These questions can reveal a candidate's openness to feedback, adaptability, and motivation.
- What is the best way for HR professionals to prepare for conducting a personality interview?
- HR professionals can prepare for a personality interview by first understanding the key personality traits required for the role. They should then develop or select relevant real-life scenarios or examples, prepare probing questions to understand the candidate's personality traits, and establish clear criteria for evaluating the candidate's responses.
- What are 3 qualities of a candidate who excels in soft skills?
- Three qualities of a candidate who excels in soft skills are the ability to handle criticism constructively, flexibility in adapting to changes or unexpected situations, and a strong passion or motivation that drives their work.
- How can interviewers assess a candidate's soft skills during an interview?
- Interviewers can assess a candidate's soft skills by asking about real-life examples that demonstrate these skills, observing the candidate's communication style and behavior during the interview, and asking questions that reveal the candidate's motivations and work ethics.
- What are some red flags to watch out for when evaluating a candidate's soft skills?
- Red flags include candidates who provide inappropriate or overly generic answers, lack passion or enthusiasm, exhibit extremely low or high self-esteem, focus excessively on work to the detriment of work-life balance, or struggle to provide specific examples of how they've demonstrated the desired qualities.