Interview Questions to Demonstrate Personality Traits


By:   |   Updated: 2020-07-17   |   Comments   |   Related: More > Professional Development Interviewing


Problem

For many job seekers, asking interview questions is more or less part of a checklist. They ask questions to show they are interested, to clarify or expand on topics from the interview, to learn details on benefits, etc. While many of the job seekers we have worked with over our 30+ years of staffing spend some time developing quality interview questions, many don't invest enough time and thought to this extremely important interview preparation task. They also aren't strategizing their questions to help communicate key traits that Recruiters and Managers are looking for!

Solution

The specific interview questions you pose matter. For many Recruiters/hiring Managers, the type of questions you ask may be a small test around your candidacy. The questions you ask can highly influence their overall perception of you! Asking a question such as "What are the biggest challenge/s you are hoping this individual can come in and help with?" or "What are some of the key skills your team members possess that have contributed to their success in supporting this client?" can indicate whether you are outcome focused, up for challenges, concerned with success, and more.

Therefore, as a job seeker/interviewee, it is helpful to first reflect on what traits you can, and want to, demonstrate about yourself through your interview questions to a potential hiring Manager! Then, you want to strategically outline a few questions that will help you gather quality information about the position and their needs/goals, while also communicating some of those positive traits.

First, think about the types of roles you are pursuing. What skills and traits can you demonstrate through the specific questions you pose during an interview? What skills and traits would a Recruiter or hiring Manager appreciate seeing in the type and level of candidate they are seeking?

Here are some common, positive traits that many Managers are evaluating amongst candidates:

  1. Interest level/seriousness
  2. Initiative
  3. Communication, both verbal and written
  4. Strategic
  5. Care about learning/growth
  6. Team player/oriented
  7. Problem solver
  8. Curious/ask why
  9. Ethical
  10. Assertive and not afraid to speak up
  11. Passionate
  12. Detail-oriented
  13. Candid/honest/transparent
  14. Out-of-the-box thinking
  15. Appreciative, grateful and/or positive outlook
  16. _______ (Fill in the blank!)

Second, based on the specific type of role you are interviewing for, as well as the level of that role (i.e. entry/junior, mid-level, senior, leadership position, etc.), which of the above traits do you feel are the most important to demonstrate during an interview? In other words, what are the top 2-3 traits you want to be associated with?

Side note: If you are partnering with a Recruiter during your job search, and a Recruiter sets up an interview for you, ask the Recruiter what this particular Manager values. First, we suggest understanding the relationship and track record they have supporting this Manager, which you can determine through asking "How long have you supported this particular Manager?" OR "Have you had candidates interview for this Manager before?" and then asking "Are there specific traits that this Manager values in candidates/consultants?"

Third, what are some specific questions to add to your 'Questions to Ask' list which will demonstrate those skills/traits?

Here are some suggested questions you could ask based on the traits you want to be associated with. We recommend outlining about 5-8 questions, with the goal of asking 3-5 questions during the interview. Some of your questions will be answered during the interview at some point naturally, so having 5-8 questions outlined should ensure you have a few questions that have yet to be answered for you to pose during the Q&A that typically happens near the end of the interview.

Many of these questions have multiple traits they're associated with, which we've included examples of below!

  1. What do you want the person in this role to accomplish in the first 30 days, 3 months, 1 year? Beyond?
    • Interest level/seriousness, care about learning/growth
  2. What are some of the immediate projects / concerns that need to be addressed?
    • Interest level/seriousness, initiative, problem solver, curious/ask why, passionate, strategic
  3. When is the first key deliverable due and/or first big milestone?
    • Interest level/seriousness, initiative
  4. What are the performance expectations of this role over the first 6 months? 1 year?
    • Care about learning/growth, interest level/seriousness
  5. What are the key metrics and/or goals that this role will be evaluated against?
    • Care about learning/growth
  6. What are the biggest challenges / obstacles someone in this role might face?
    • Interest level/seriousness, problem solver
  7. Regarding the team, what do you view as their biggest strengths and biggest challenges?
    • Team player/oriented,
  8. What does the training / onboarding look like for this role?
    • Care about learning/growth
  9. What training programs are available?
    • Care about learning/growth
  10. Are there opportunities for professional development?
    • Care about learning/growth
  11. For previous employees that were successful, what was their career path?
    • Interest level/seriousness, care about learning/growth
  12. What are the most common career paths of your team?
    • Interest level/seriousness, care about learning/growth
  13. Are you expecting to hire more resources in the next 6 months / 1 year?
    • Strategic
  14. Where do you see the company in the next few years? What are the plans for growth?
    • Strategic, interest level/seriousness, curious/ask why
  15. What is the main business need this role is attempting to solve or contribute to?
    • Strategic
  16. What are some of the current goals the company is focused, and how does that impact the team I'd be supporting?
    • Strategic, interest level/seriousness, curious/ask why
  17. I noticed on the company's website / social media feed, that X was a big initiative moving into 2021 and beyond. Will that impact this team?
    • Initiative, strategic, interest level/seriousness, curious/ask why
  18. I wasn't able to find the company's core values online. Would you mind sharing those with me? Which one do you feel the team I'd be working alongside most exhibits?
    • Interest level/seriousness, curious/ask why, initiative, team player/oriented, ethical
  19. What excites you the most about the company's future?
    • Strategic, interest level/seriousness, curious/ask why
  20. How would you describe the culture here? Does anyone on the team get together outside of the office?
    • Team player/oriented
  21. In your view, what's the biggest selling point of working here? How is it different from other places you've worked?
    • Interest level/seriousness

Please keep in mind that this is a starter list of questions which we meant as more of a Guide to help you get started thinking this way. There are so many other possibilities to incorporate depending on the role you're interviewing for, any traits you deem important to communicate by understanding the company's mission/core values or what the Recruiter shares about the Manager, and what's important to you to convey! A lot of the 15 traits mentioned in the first part of this Tip can be demonstrated through how you answer and react to the interviewer's questions, the conversation as a whole, and your general attitude throughout.

Next Steps

As you conduct future job searches, take 15+ minutes before any interviews to turn the above into a worksheet. Doing this exercise will help prepare a solid line of questioning for interviews that communicates some of the key positive traits which Managers and Recruiters are evaluating as they consider candidates for their open positions!

  1. Traits/skills I want to communicate:
    1. _________________________
    2. _________________________
    3. _________________________
    4. _________________________
    5. _________________________
  1. Interview questions to ask:
    1. _____________________________________________________________________________________
    2. _____________________________________________________________________________________
    3. _____________________________________________________________________________________
    4. _____________________________________________________________________________________
    5. _____________________________________________________________________________________


Last Updated: 2020-07-17


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About the author
MSSQLTips author Cate Murray Cate Murray is responsible for managing the nationally-based talent acquisition strategies of the Apex Systems PMO and Business Analysis Practice and holds her PMP certification from PMI.

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