Then you get hit with a doozy: “How would your friend describe you?”
It feels like a trap. Certainly, they don’t want to know that your friends think you’re the best tipsy brunch buddy in the city or that you can dance all night at the club.
This departure from traditional interview questions might throw you for a loop, but these tips will ensure your answer is ready when this question gets dropped.
Decoding The Popular Interview Question
Asking how your best friend would describe you in an interview allows interviewers a chance to learn about you on multiple levels. Taking a step away from a professional environment also sheds light on your values outside of work.
At its center, this question gives a potential employer a chance to see who you really are outside of work. It offers them deeper insight into your true character.
How To Answer + Useful Tips
Answering this question effectively requires a little forethought.
Luckily, your best friend won’t be called up to confirm their character assessment, so there’s wiggle room here.
Consider these tactics to effectively answer this question and impress the recruiter:
Hit Them With Vocabulary
Figure out three words your best friend would use to describe you. Consider positive words like outgoing, passionate, or reliable.
If you have three words ready to go, this will make it easy to tailor your response to the interview.
Consider the Role You Want
While it might be tempting to say your friends would describe you as fun or humorous or adventurous, choosing a description that transfers or relates to the role you’re after is key.
If you’re applying for a job that requires a lot of responsibility, you might say your friend describes you as reliable or trustworthy. These are the types of traits that would make you a great fit for the role you’re interviewing for.
Share an Anecdote
It’s one thing to tell an interviewer that your friends think you are positive or thoughtful. It’s another to show them.
Having a brief anecdote ready to go will solidify this description. Details will make you stand out from other applicants who simply offer a few words and move on. Of course, you don’t want to go overboard. Select an anecdote that demonstrates the trait in action.
My best friend would describe me as reliable. She’s a student, and I’ve helped her move three apartments during this time. I’m always there with coffee, ready to lug boxes of her stuff to the new apartment.
My group of friends would describe me as thoughtful. I’m often the person they come to when they need advice or just someone who will listen to them without judgment. If someone experiences a breakup, I’m the first person they call.
My best friend would describe me as good in a crisis. We once got lost on a road trip and our phones both died while we were in the middle of nowhere. She was anxious, but I remained calm and got us directions (and a phone charger) at the next rest stop.
Purpose Behind The Question: How Would Your Friend Describe You
The purpose of this question is to get you to lower your guard and reveal something about your character. Since relationships with friends are often more meaningful than relationships with coworkers, this question asks you to be yourself. Be genuine.
This question also allows future employers a chance to see what you value outside of the working environment. Someone who is committed, reliable, and trustworthy in their spare time is more likely to show those same qualities on the job.
It also allows you to maintain humility and brag a little. Because your friend describes you in a such-and-such way, you have an opportunity to explain why and who you are in a situation that removes your ego. Talking about ourselves is uncomfortable. Your interviewer is kind by taking that pressure off of you.
What to Avoid When Answering This Question
For someone unprepared, this question could be a disaster. Because it’s asking you to comment on your life outside of work, you might not have a story ready to go. Whatever you do, try to avoid the following:
- Avoid telling a work-inappropriate story. This one might seem obvious, but the question does open you up to a laid-back response. Remember that you are in an interview and you are trying to show your best self. Avoid stories that involve questionable acts or punchlines.
- Avoid oversharing. This question allows you to share a brief anecdote that highlights an aspect of your character. It can be fun to tell stories where we are the hero, but try not to ramble on and on. Practice is key.
- Don’t be too honest. Our friends see us at our best and our worst. That’s what gives them such insight into who we are. Still, remember that the goal here is to land the job, so finding a story that demonstrates you in a positive light is key. Discussing your role in an infamous party or adventure might turn your interviewer off.
- Don’t be too dull. We know, we know. We’ve told you to play it safe to preserve your professional reputation, but there’s a fine line between engaging and boring. This question offers a chance to be a little bit more vulnerable. Relax and have a little fun with it. See if you can get a few laughs.
Answering the interview question, “How would your friend describe you?” doesn’t have to be a source of discomfort.
By coming prepared with a few brief anecdotes and ensuring your story matches the role you’re after, you’re sure to ace this question and leave your future company scrambling to make an offer.