This question gives you a free pass to spell out your best qualities without seeming to boast – after all, it’s what your friends or colleagues would say!
If you are describing what your work colleagues would say, this gives you an opportunity to tell your interviewer about your professional qualities and demonstrate what a great asset you are to any working environment. You could say that you are generally perceived as a highly efficient person with a great eye for detail (no need to mention that you have sometimes been described as ‘anal’). Or perhaps you have come to be renowned for your cool head under pressure, or your ability to retain a sense of humour and motivate others when things get tough. Just make sure you can illustrate these with concrete examples from the past.
Discussing how your friends would describe you gives you the chance to delve into your more personal qualities. Maybe your mates love you because you are such a great listener who always shows caring and support for your friends, or they see you as one of the most positive, can-do people they know.
One of the best ways to prepare for this question is to actually ask your friends or colleagues for their feedback. This can be really useful as they may come up with things you weren’t even aware of. You may not realise that you are highly valued by those around you for your warmth, infectious laugh or willingness to lend a helping hand, because you demonstrate these qualities without even trying. You may be pleasantly surprised by what they tell you about yourself.
In choosing referees from amongst friends or colleagues, be sure to choose people who will speak glowingly of you and reinforce what you have said.