How to Answer the 'Who Is Your Hero?' Interview Question

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Every interview question provides an opportunity for you to share more about your core values, character traits, personality and purpose. The interview question 'Who is your hero?' is the perfect chance for you to share who inspires you and the strengths and attributes you value. Knowing how to answer this question skilfully and meaningfully can demonstrate to the employer that there is an alignment between your values and the company's culture. In this article, we share the reasons why employers ask this question, and how you can approach answering with our sample responses.

Why employers ask the 'Who is your hero?' interview question

Employers want to optimise the interview time and understand a candidate quickly. They would thus often ask interview questions with specific intentions. Here are some reasons why an employer may ask who your hero is:

Discover your inspiration and values

Employers like to know who you look up to and how this person plays an influential role in your behaviour, career and life decisions. This gives them an insight into the values that are important to you and the type of person you are and aspire to be. Often, knowing the characteristics and attributes that you believe in helps them assess whether you share the company's core values.

Get a sense of your personality

During an interview, employers want to know you beyond your skill sets and job experience. They like to know your authentic personality to gauge if you can fit in with their team's culture. The hero you choose and the reasons you give may reveal a lot about you. You can provide a very serious answer to show your depth of thought and knowledge or give a more lighthearted answer to show your easygoing personality and sense of humour. This is a chance for you to build rapport with the employer and for them to get a holistic sense of your personality.

Assess your job fit

Soft skills are essential to succeed in any job. The hero you mention can help showcase your soft skills such as leadership, problem-solving or interpersonal skills, which can increase your chances of getting the job. For example, if you're interviewing to be a nurse, citing a hero like Mother Teresa, who dedicated her life to caring for the destitute and dying, shows that you admire someone who has great empathy and nurturing nature, which are important soft skills for a nurse.

Related: Skills Employers Look for (And Tips on How to Showcase Them)

Assess your communication skills

How well you articulate your reasons for choosing your hero shows how good your communication skills are. It's important for you to answer in a concise, genuine and insightful way to show your clarity and structure of thoughts. Excellent communication skills are highly valued attributes in many jobs.

Related: How to Improve Communication Skills (With Definition and Examples)

How to answer the 'Who is your hero?' interview question

Here are some suggestions on how to answer the 'Who is your hero?' interview question:

1. Be honest

You can deliver an authentic and sustainable response if you choose someone you genuinely admire and respect to talk about as your hero. The employer needs to sense that you are giving an honest answer as this reflects on your integrity and transparency. It helps to choose a hero that you know well whether in person or based on research for you to have an in-depth discussion about them. The employer might also ask you more questions about the hero you chose, so be mentally prepared.

2. Share reasons for choosing your hero

You can substantiate your answer by explaining why this hero inspires or motivates you in your daily life, and how it impact your belief system or may influence your career path. It's important that you take some time to reflect on why this person is your hero and highlight the key values and attributes that you admire in this person. You can choose any hero like a fictional character, a leader in the industry, a historical figure, a teacher or a close family member and discuss why they influence and inspire you and how you emulate the same qualities in your professional life.

3. Decide what values you want the employer to know about you

Your hero reveals so much about you. It helps to talk about a hero who represents the values and attributes you want to communicate to your employer. You can intentionally choose a hero that has the essential attributes that the job requires and make a meaningful link. This shows thoughtfulness and helps create alignment with the job position. For example, if you're interviewing for an investment banking job, you can name Warren Buffett as your hero and talk about why his investment strategies and principles inspire and motivate you.

4. Choose a well-known hero

It might help create better conversation flow if you select a hero whom the employer is likely to know. They may even exchange opinions with you, especially if your hero is well-known within the industry. This can help you build rapport and facilitate discussion. That said, even a head of company or national hero can be controversial to some, so be mindful and sensitive of this. Always conduct your research thoroughly.

Sample answers to 'Who is your hero?'

Here are some sample answers to help you prepare this interview question for different types of job positions:

Example 1: Fashion editor

'My hero is Dame Anna Wintour who has served as Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue since 1988. I admire her tenacity and powerful leadership style to guide Vogue through the many decades successfully. She has an encyclopedic knowledge about fashion history and styles and has championed and nurtured so many fashion designers, photographers and art directors. I am inspired by her enduring professionalism, sense of aesthetic, her style of editorship and immense influence on the fashion world. I am always in awe of how dedicated, disciplined, knowledgeable and progressive she is. She constantly inspires me to be the best fashion editor.'

Related: How to Improve Leadership Skills: Guideline and Tips

Example 2: Business analyst

'My hero is Magnus Carlsen, a Norwegian chess grandmaster who is the reigning five-time World Chess Champion. I admire his positional mastery and endgame strategies. In business, it is all about strategies. Playing chess helps me develop deep level thinking, analytical skills, efficiency in thought processes and strategies. This translates successfully to my professional work, and I am equipped with the skills to adapt very well in various situations. Magnus Carlsen also influences the way I think about problems. He is passionate and dedicated which really inspires me to work very hard to achieve the best results all the time.'

Related: What Are Analytical Skills and Why Are They Important For Employment?

Example 3: Presenter

'My hero is Stephen Colbert. He is an American comedian, writer and successful television host. I admire his wit, intellect, knowledge and ability to use satire and comedy to discuss deeper topics that can reach a worldwide audience. He is always respectful, dynamic, polite to guests and yet has that easy rapport with them. It's unimaginable that a comedian like him was a survivor of a family tragedy. When he was 10 years old, his father and two brothers died in a plane crash. I really respect his resilience and strength of character.'

Example 4: Non-profit employee

'My hero is my godmother. She is 60 years old, and she has been volunteering all her life. I admire her giving spirit and genuine care for the community. She contributes all her time and energy to various non-profit organisations by helping to cook and distribute meals to the less fortunate, bringing people with special needs out for day trips and going overseas for charity work. My godmother brought me up and watching her has inspired my career decision to work for non-profit organisations to continuously find ways to give back meaningfully to society.'

Example 5: Nurse

'My hero is Ajahn Brahm, and he is a British monk who has served the communities in Western Australia for over 40 years. His spiritual teachings have greatly impacted my interactions with people and my philosophy in life. In nursing, it's common to see patients dying and suffering. Ajahn Brahm is constantly reminding me about nature and the cycle of life and to let go of things that we cannot control. He teaches living in the present moment and being at peace with suffering. I believe these are important concepts that will sustain me a long way in my nursing career.'

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