Your physical reaction to this question may reveal more to the interviewer than your words. Don’t wince, even if the question brings to mind the painful fact that not all of your colleagues describe you in positive terms.
Remember Why They Asked How Colleagues Describe You
When I needed to hire professional staff, I usually looked forward to interviewing candidates for the position, but I didn’t need to do that more than twice a year, It was a nice change from organizational politics.
But not many employers schedule interviews because that’s their favorite way to spend a day. So focus your answer on the same thing they are. Provide them with information relevant to the hiring decision.
If you are being interviewed by HR, they want two things. Eliminate candidates from the pile (think American Idol) and avoid making a costly mistake.
So act accordingly. Reassure them (with proof) that hiring you would not bring any unpleasant surprises, and give them reasons to keep you at the top of the pile and eliminate someone else.
Thinking on your feet won’t give you the outcome you want! Prepare this answer long before you need one. While you still have a job-get honest feedback from colleagues and supervisors.
How Colleagues Describe You Signals Whether You’ll Fit in Here!
Everyone in the room, especially if a few of your future colleagues are among the interviewers, is wondering how you will fit into their team.
Here are a few things they are wondering about. Anticipate each one and address it at some point during the interview.
- How do you consistently participate in projects and responsibilities in your department?
- Do you share the credit?
- Prospective colleagues are worried about your work ethic.
- When you come to a new team, it’s best to be more willing to learn than to teach.
- Will you be a positive force on the team? They probably already have more than enough griping.
Believe me, you don’t want to be reconstructing this answer the night before an interview!
A few suggestions as you prepare:
- Nothing better than a direct quote from a former colleague or supervisor. Hopefully you’ll have several quotes to choose from.
- Don’t be content with an easy superficial answer to any question.
- No matter how similar job titles and postings may be, they are not identical.
- Can you explain why they have chosen particular attributes when they describe you?
- A brief story strengthens your description.
- Without being cocky, show confidence that they will describe you the same way once you become part of the team.
Check out the Slideshare presentation designed to help you prepare for the “How Colleagues Describe You” interview question.
This presentation is the eighth in a series of fifty, each one providing valuable guidance on preparing effective responses to popular job interview questions. Subscribe today to receive an alert when new content becomes available.