How To Answer Interview Question:What Would Your Colleagues Say About You?

The success of job interviews is sometimes based on what you say about yourself; how you sell your skills, how do you describe your work ethic, why do you want this job, etc. Apart from contacting your former boss and coworkers, which usually comes during the reference check stage of the hiring process, the only other way the interviewer can obtain an idea of what other people say about you is to ask you.

One of the most common but difficult job interview questions is “what would your colleagues say about you?

(variations: “how would your coworkers describe you?” “what would your former boss say about you?”)

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Why this question is asked

The question “what would your coworkers say about you?” is asked in other to assess your relationships with coworkers and your role within a functional team. Whereas other questions evaluate your fit with the required job duties, this job interview question targets your fit within the team structure. It centers on your personality and human qualities instead of your behaviors. It also throws light on your perception about your coworkers or boss.

If you are asked this job interview question by a manager.

If you are asked this question by a manager, the manager wants to know how you will play well with others, handle conflicts (but not cause them), and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the team. He wants to know you are someone who will mesh well with the existing team dynamics, someone who can solve minor conflicts and problems without running to his office every ten minutes, and someone who will work and will even pick up other people’s slack when they are not working. The manager secretly wants you to be the answer to his problems, even if it’s not part of your job description.

If you are asked this job interview question by future coworkers.

On the other hand, if you are asked, “what would your coworkers say about you?” by your future coworkers, they have different objectives. They want to know about your day-to-day attitude and work ethic, your ability to get along and be a work friend, and whether you are going to leave them stuck with all the work you don’t do. They want someone who can lighten the mood with an occasional joke or chat a bit to make the day go by faster. Under most circumstances they absolutely do not want someone who is going to come in and pretend he knows it all, even if you do. The teams that are functioning as a cohesive unit now will likely be wary that you will disrupt their solidarity. The teams that are dysfunctional now will worry that you will add to the drama. Consequently your goal is to reduce their apprehension by proving how you will fit in.

Giving the Best Job Interview Answer

Due to varying goals, the answer you give to “what would your coworkers say about you?” ultimately depends on who is in the room. Here are two situations and the best job interview answers for each:

The best answer when your future coworkers are in the room…

Here are some of the qualities your future coworkers might expect to see:

  • Dependable
  • Trustworthy
  • Hard-working
  • Sense of humor
  • Easy-going
  • Considerate
  • Positive

To answer, “What would your coworkers say about you?” you might say that…

  • You are willing to help out whenever needed—and that you frequently offer assistance before it’s requested
  • You like to build strong relationships with your teammates because you’ll be spending eight hours a day with them for many years to come.
  • You like to have fun when it’s appropriate, and you know how to laugh to keep morale high and tension low.

Note that you don’t want to sound like ‘miss-two-goody-shoes’ when you answer this question

The best answer when you are alone with the manager…

Whereas your future coworkers are judging you by how well you will fit into their team, your future manager is assessing how well you will fit into the organizational unit. Here are some of the qualities your future manager might expect to see:

  • Dependable
  • Efficient
  • Hard-working
  • Great energy
  • Dedicated
  • Organized
  • Positive
  • Punctual
  • Reliable

To answer, “What would your coworkers say about you?” you might say that…

  • You are a team player who isn’t afraid to help out to get the job done, whether it is part of your job description or not.
  • You act as a situational leader for the team when there is a conflict or a non-critical decision to be made.
  • You like to have fun and build up team morale because you know that positive-minded employees tend to be more productive.

 

Bonus answer: Instead of just mentioning impressive characteristics off the top of your head, wouldn’t it be more impressive (and easier) if you already knew? This job interview question provides a great opportunity to pull out a testimonial.

“My former teammate at XYZ Co, Jane Doe, always said that I could make even a room full of lawyers smile.”

 “My colleague John Doe always said he was impressed with how organized and professional I am. In fact, he even volunteered to write a letter of recommendation in which he shares a few more insights about me.”

[At this point you’ll pull out the letter of recommendation]

Sweet-thank-you-note-poem-for-colleagues-and-co-workers

Testimonials lend extra weight and authority to your answer. You are not just making up what other people would say about you; you are using real people and their own words. Requesting referrals beforehand can save you some stress (you know how people feel about you) and save you some time (you don’t have to prepare extensive explanations when you have someone vouching for you).

Success in your upcoming interview!

How To Answer Interview Question:What Would Your Colleagues Say About You? by

About Stellamaris Obomanu

Loves to read, loves to write, loves to laugh, loves life and yeah, she's as real as they come.

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