How To Describe Yourself in an Interview

You will often be asked to describe yourself in a job interview. What are some of the best ways to approach this question?

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Words To Describe Yourself

You’ve made it through the application process and landed yourself an interview. Now you need to prepare what to say when the interviewer is asking questions during the interview. If you want to get the job, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re ready to answer every question that comes your way, and one of the most popular questions interviewers ask is “How would you describe yourself?”

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What Does It Mean To “Describe Yourself” in an Interview?

First and foremost, why do interviewers ask you to describe yourself in the first place? There are a few main reasons a hiring manager will ask this question.
 
The first reason is potentially the simplest: The interviewer actually wants to know who you are. Interpersonal personality traits and soft skills are things that come out well when you start describing yourself. If you said that you were “extroverted” on your resume, does that come across when you’re talking to someone in real life?
 
Your answer also helps your recruiter determine whether or not you read the job listing. If you don’t bring up skills, experiences and goals that fit the original job description, chances are you weren’t prepared for the question, or are just not a good match with the job.
 
Finally, your answer will tell employers how well you fit in with the company culture you’re potentially joining. While being a team player is an important part of any job, different companies foster different cultures. Fitting into it helps everyone on the team succeed and be productive.

Some Great Words to Describe Yourself in an Interview

What are the best words to use when you get this interview question? Refer to this word list in your answer to impress a potential employer and make a great first impression.

  • Self-aware
  • Collaborative
  • Open-minded
  • Empathetic
  • People person
  • Punctual
  • Self-assured
  • Self-starter
  • Tenacious

Remember, this isn’t a dating profile; you’re looking to showcase that you fit the job description. Instead of going into a history of who you are and all your hobbies and interests, condense your answer down to a couple of sentences, giving some examples from your work background that shows how you use these positive terms.

 
Your interviewer doesn’t need to know that you enjoy watching sci-fi movies, but they do need to know that you know how to manage a team.


Where To Use These Words

­Although it’s a great choice to use these “good” words in an interview setting, you can also use these descriptive words during the application process itself. Consider highlighting these words in your resume:

  • Resume summary
  • Work history section
  • Skills section

For example, your resume summary might benefit from adding that you’re a self-starter. Your work experience may include that you helped with collaborative projects. Your skill set may include that you’re open-minded. The more you use these terms, the more you’ll be able to showcase your soft skills to the hiring manager before you describe yourself during common interview questions.

FAQ: Describing Yourself

Q: What are some ways an interviewer may ask you how to describe yourself?

Here are some typical ways the question will be asked so you can prepare for them:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
  • What are the best words to describe yourself?
  • How would other people describe you?

Q: How many words should I use to describe myself?

You don’t need to have a specific number of words ready to describe yourself. Just be aware that too many words may leave a negative impression on a recruiter because you will come off as a “rambler.” Concentrate on three to five power words to describe yourself, and a few examples from your career that back up those words.

Q: How do I prove that these words actually apply to me?

The best way to prove that you’re not just making up descriptors is to provide examples. Instead of just saying, “I am empathetic, punctual and collaborative,” you could choose to say, “Empathy is a big part of who I am. When I worked as a customer service representative, I learned to understand where people were coming from, to improve my customer service metrics. I’m very big on punctuality and only arrived late once in five years at a prior job. I also value collaboration and I am one of the people who most frequently starts collaborative projects.”

The first answer is something anyone could say, regardless of whether those things actually describe them. The second answer showcases exactly why those three things apply to you and gives the hiring manager a better idea of how you can be an asset to the company.

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