'Who Is Your Role Model?' (Interview Question With Answers)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 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.

During a job interview, a hiring manager might ask you a series of general questions to get to know you and learn about your beliefs in life. A common question that tests these skills is, 'Who is your role model?' Understanding how to answer this question can help you explain your professional values and aspirations. In this article, we explain why employers ask the 'Who is your role model?' interview question, teach you how to answer it and share example answers that you can review to get inspired while you are preparing for a job interview.

Why do employers ask the 'Who is your role model?' interview question?

Asking candidates the 'Who is your role model?' interview question is a common practice during interviews, which allows the hiring manager to learn more about you and determine if you would make a good fit for the company culture. Here are a few reasons why interviewers ask this question:

Uncovering your interests

In many instances, interviewers may ask you about your role models to uncover your interests. By talking about the people who inspire and motivate you, you show them if you are truly passionate about the industry in which you want to work. When you present yourself as someone who is truly interested in keeping up with news and innovations in the field, the interviewer may start perceiving you not only as a highly qualified candidate but also one who is ready to go above and beyond to support the organisation.

Related: Answering 'What Are You Passionate About?' In An Interview

Testing your values and beliefs

Asking you this common interview question is also a great way for interviewers to get a general idea of what your values, beliefs and aspirations are as a person. For example, if you tell them that your model is your father, it could signify that you understand the importance of family and want to give back to your community. Thanks to an answer of this type, they can translate your values to the workplace and determine that you can also work well under a more experienced leader because you know that their expertise can benefit your skill set.

Assessing your career plans

When interviewing people, many hiring managers want to know if a prospective candidate would like to stay with the company for a long period of time. Knowing this is important for employers and recruiters, as it allows them to make sure they source and hire candidates who can contribute the most to the organisation. For example, to assure the interviewer that you are interested in staying with the company long-term, it is helpful to mention a role model whose work is directly related to the organisation or operates within the same market.

How to answer 'Who is your role model?'

If you are unsure who your role model is, there are steps you can take to determine that and discuss how they have inspired your journey. Here are some things to do to develop an effective answer to this question:

1. Consider your inspirations

When an interviewer asks you about your role model, it is okay to take a few moments to think about your answer. During this time, make sure to think about your biggest inspirations and motivations in life. It is also critical that you think about the traits that you want to develop and the goals you want to achieve. Doing this helps you create a list of people who possess these skills and who potentially be your role models. These may be famous people, activists or even your family members.

Related: Interview Question: 'What Motivates You?' (With Examples)

2. Determine whose values align with the company culture

Once you have a few people in mind, it is necessary that you select one person to discuss during a job interview. When determining who your role model is, think about the company's values and if anyone on your list aligns with them. For example, if you have applied for a job as a teaching assistant, it may be a good idea to mention a role model who inspires you to approach life with curiosity and help people achieve great things. This way, you show the interviewer that you take the employer's requirements into consideration to deliver a good answer.

Related: What Is Organisational Culture?

3. Discuss how you relate to them

After providing a brief description of your role model, explain how you relate to them. Consider the person's career and life journey and mention the things that you have in common. Doing this allows you to show the interviewer that there is a direct connection between you and your role model. A good way to approach this is to describe one valuable thing you have learned from the person you are describing.

4. Provide a genuine answer

Preparing a well-structured answer to this interview question can help you impress the interviewer, but it is also important that they know your answer is genuine. Remember that hiring managers often ask about your role model to simply get to know you better or understand your aspirations in life. Based on their reaction to your answer, you can also determine if the company culture fits you well.

Example answers for 'Who is your role model?'

Reviewing example answers to the 'Who is your role model?' interview question can be a great exercise that prepares you for a job interview. Here are some examples that you can use as inspiration:

Example 1: A family member

Many people consider particular family members their role models. This happens because, in many cases, family members support them throughout their careers and help them develop their dreams, goals and aspirations. When you choose to discuss a family member's impact on your life, make sure to mention some of the most important values of that person that you also have and that directly translate to the role in which you would like to work.

Example: 'My role model is my grandmother. She was one of the first female veterinarians in the country from which my family comes. I remember that she was the person who taught me to respect everyone, regardless of their background or position in life. My grandmother was a very empathetic, open-minded and supportive person. She encouraged me to start medical school, and I am proud to have become a doctor thanks to her encouragement.'

Related: Core Values: Overview And Examples

Example 2: An industry leader

Sometimes you may find that your true role model is a successful professional in your field whose actions inspire you to grow personally and professionally. If you want to discuss an industry leader's impact on your career, it is important that you formulate a clear and precise answer. You can mention their name, the thing for which they are known and share an example of a thing or two that you do, thanks to them.

Example: 'One of my role models is Shilpa Pandey, the founder of one of the most successful tech startups in the country. She is known to have inspired the industry with her innovative thinking and courage that allows her to tackle challenging topics that no one before her has explored. I admire her philanthropic values and have followed her work since high school. Through her journey, she inspired and motivated me to become a software engineer and start volunteering at a local shelter, which is how I give back to my community.'

Related: Why Personal Development Is Crucial (With Examples And Tips)

Example 3: A celebrity

Another example illustrates a situation in which someone mentions a specific celebrity as their role model. In many instances, celebrities can be great role models because they teach people how to overcome adversities to achieve big goals in life. If you decide to choose this example to formulate your answer, make sure that you know some facts about your role model's life which you can discuss with the interviewer. This way, you can also prepare for any follow-up questions they might have about your role model's journey and what specific things they did that inspired you.

Example: 'One of my role models is the actress and producer Sumana Kapoor. As an aspiring filmmaker, I am constantly inspired by her talent and perseverance. Her dedicated performance in her debut film encouraged me to research the creative process of filmmaking. Sumana's storytelling abilities motivate me to write scripts that deserve to be heard by audiences. I hope to one day inspire the same emotion in my own actors when making films of various genres.'

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