Job Interview Question: How to Answer Who Is Your Best Friend?

The “Who is your best friend” interview question is used often as part of the behavioral assessment portion of a job interview. The answer you give to this question provides the hiring manager with a sense as to how introspective you are in terms of how other people view you, and well you map your personality characteristics into a work environment. Answering this question or a related question like this well will be important to your chances of getting that new job!

There is no perfect answer in the interview to this question, but there are answers that cast you in a positive light as a leading job candidate, and responses that will result in a strike against you – too many strikes across too many questions equals no job offer.

The interview question is often asked in the form of “Who is your best friend”. When a name is given, the interviewer will then ask “If he/she was in the room with me right now, how would he/she describe you – both the positive and the negative”. I have often received responses of my spouse, my sister or brother, and my mom or dad, all of which are acceptable as well as peer friends.

Good Interview Answers to the Positive Attributes Question

A good answer typically shows that you have a sense as to how other people view you, and you know how to position this view in a way relevant to a work environment. Some examples include the following for the positive character trait portion of the question:

  • I’m outgoing and get along well with others.
  • I’m focused and driven to succeed on whatever task I take on.
  • I like to be challenged – whether a new game, a new environment, or physically pushing myself in sports.

Good Interview Answers to the Negative Attributes Question

I often don’t see really bad answers to the positive piece, but it gets interesting when asked about any negatives a best friend may articulate. These are some generally good answers that managers look for in response to a friend’s description of your negative traits:

  • Sometimes I can be a perfectionist at things and won’t stop until I master a task.
  • I can be a workaholic, and sometimes have to remind myself to balance my personal life with work.
  • I occasionally overextend myself with too many activities both at work and in my community work

Bad Interview Answers to the Positive Attributes Question

Believe it or not, I have received these answers in real interviews, and in addition to not being impressed with how the candidate is thinking, these often start tilting the interview more towards “do not hire”:

  • I like to party and people always want to be around me.
  • I am a shoe fanatic and the person to take shoe shopping.
  • I’m a social butterfly, and often have stuff going on every night of the week in my personal life.

Basically you want to be honest about how your friend would describe you, but use something that translates into a character attribute that a manager would see applying in a work environment.

Shopping, driving cars, etc. don’t fit this purpose, and some of the above answers indicate perhaps a lack of responsibility, especially if the impression is that you are too fun loving and your primary focus is on an active social life. A manager will interpret this as a weak work ethic, which will not be in your favor.

Bad Interview Answers to the Negative Attributes Question

Often responding with a negative is hard for most people [there are other interview questions along these lines as well], and the trick is to not portray a character trait as a true negative, and certainly never give an answer that casts you in a bad light in terms of lack of responsibility, maturity, work ethic, or teamwork.

Here are some real answers I’ve received in interviews that are not a good response to “what would your best friend say in terms of negative characteristics or behaviors”:

  • I party too much and often have trouble getting going in the morning
  • I don’t pay attention to time and often am late for our social appointments / movies / etc.
  • I’m always out of money and asking to borrow some until my next paycheck

Can you see why these would not be received well during an interview, and why you may not come across as someone I’d be excited at having on my team?

Not all interviewers use this question, but similar questions are used during most interviews – we want to learn more about your personality, and how you perceive yourself both in your eyes and in the eyes of others. Often people that are more introspective tend to be more focused on their behavior, contributions to a team, and receive and act on career coaching very well.