‘How Would Your Coworkers Describe You?’

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If you ever wanted a good example of why it’s important to get along with colleagues and bosses, look no further than one of the tougher questions that interviewers sometimes like to fire off at candidates: “How would your coworkers describe you?”

As with other interview questions, honesty is the best policy. If you try to sugarcoat things, or paint a fictional version of yourself, it might not jibe with the information the interviewer pulls from other sources—especially if they call your references.

Before heading into the interview, call your references—as well as former coworkers with whom you maintain a speaking relationship—and do a little research. Ask them to provide a list of your positive and negative qualities, and to recall stories of when you accomplished a particular task in a notable way. If done properly, this will provide you with ample material should your interviewer ask.

As for your actual answer, make sure to mention both the positive and the negative—as well as the concrete steps you’ve taken to improve on the latter. (There’s nothing wrong with trying to put an upbeat spin on areas where you need improvement.) The important thing here isn’t to present a flawless version of yourself; it’s to ensure that the version of yourself that you present aligns with everything else the interviewer digs up.