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How to Answer the Interview Question "How Would You Describe Yourself?" (With Examples)

How to Answer the Interview Question "How Would You Describe Yourself?" (With Examples)

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“How would you describe yourself?” generally features in strengths-based job interviews and is an extremely common interview question.

The question is designed to show the interviewer how you perceive yourself and reveal the key attributes that you think make you a good match for the role.

It is similar to:

  • “Tell me about yourself”
  • How would others describe you?
  • “What are you like to work with?”
  • “List three adjectives that best describe you”
  • “What is your greatest weakness?”
  • “Why should we hire you?”

Describing yourself succinctly to potential employers is also known as an elevator pitch, and it is well worth practicing this skill even if you haven’t got an interview to go to. It is a great tool for networking.

How to Prepare in Advance

One of the most important things to keep in mind when preparing your answer is that this question is not about your character in general, it’s about your understanding of yourself in relation to the job you’re interviewing for.

It’s therefore important that you do your research as part of your job search and have a solid knowledge of the company and the role before preparing your answer, to ensure you can tailor it effectively.

Make sure you carefully read the job posting and job description as they will often list the desirable attributes of the candidate, or give important clues.

One of the best ways to start preparing is to make a list of positive adjectives that best describe you and that you feel make you a good fit for the role, based on the job description and your knowledge of the position and the company.

For example, if the position is a sales role and you enjoy negotiating and meeting new people you should include that in your answer, as negotiation and communication skills are key requirements.

42 Top Adjectives to Describe Yourself: A List

These are the top adjectives that hiring managers or recruiters want to hear when they ask you to describe yourself.

When thinking about which ones best apply to you, make sure you think about what you have excelled at in your previous jobs and what you need to (and can) demonstrate in your new role.

Ensure you check the job description to make sure the adjectives you focus on match the job you are applying for:

  1. Accountable
  2. Adaptable
  3. Ambitious
  4. Articulate
  5. Attentive
  6. Collaborative
  7. Committed
  8. Confident
  9. Conscientious
  10. Courageous
  11. Creative
  12. Curious
  13. Dedicated
  14. Dependable
  15. Detail-oriented
  16. Disciplined
  17. Driven
  18. Eager
  19. Experienced
  20. Flexible
  21. Focused
  22. Gracious
  23. Hardworking
  24. Insightful
  25. Leader
  26. Methodical
  27. Meticulous
  28. Motivated
  29. Organised
  30. Passionate
  31. People-person
  32. Perceptive
  33. Personable
  34. Persuasive
  35. Reliable
  36. Responsible
  37. Results-oriented
  38. Self-aware
  39. Self-starter
  40. Subject-matterexpert
  41. Tenacious
  42. Thorough

Once you’ve completed your list, it’s a good idea to pick three adjectives that you feel are the best match for the role and focus your answer around them.

What if I Am Asked to Describe Myself in Three Words?

Generally, an interviewer will not want you to respond with just a list of words, nor will they want your life story, consisting of long-winded examples of your past experiences.

Instead, they’ll want you to expand on the adjectives and explain what these attributes and characteristics mean about you, which will in turn show why you’re the best fit for the position.

If an interviewer does want you to limit your answer to just three words, this still provides valuable insights into your priorities, how well you understand the position and how you react when put on the spot.

There are several key reasons why interviewers may ask you to describe yourself in three words. The first is to gain an understanding of what values and qualities you consider most important for the position you're applying to and as an employee in general.

The words you choose will help an interviewer determine whether you would fit well into the company culture and whether you have a firm grasp of what the role and company requires in an employee.

They will also give an interviewer an understanding of what you consider to be your best qualities or characteristics.

It's important to be honest with the words you choose, as it will not benefit yourself or the employer if you do not have the qualities you claim to have.

The words you choose to describe yourself should demonstrate to interviewers that you are a well-rounded and professional individual who will be a valuable addition to the company. They should provide a sense of your personality, preferred working style and your key values, while remaining relevant to the position.

Why Is This Question So Tricky?

“How would you describe yourself?” is a tricky question for two main reasons. Firstly, it requires you to strike the right balance of pride and belief in your strengths with modesty.

As you generally won’t be required to back up your answer with examples from previous roles, it can also be difficult to create an effective answer that doesn’t feel vague.

How Would You Describe Yourself

This question is not about your general character; it’s about your role suitability.

To find out which jobs fit your personality best, visit our partner CareerFitter and take the Career Test for FREE.

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Effective Sample Answers

The following all make for good example answers, based on the type of personality that best applies to you.

Ensure you always tailor your answer to the job and employer you are applying for.

1. The Creative Thinker

I’m a creative thinker. I think it’s important to approach tasks and issues from different angles, rather than just doing what has always been done. By having an open mind and taking a different approach, I believe you can find new and improved ways of doing things.

As a manager, I like to foster this approach in my team too. It means they feel comfortable suggesting and discussing new ideas, often generating unusual and effective solutions as a result, which is great for team morale and for the business.

Why is this a good answer?

Employers like it when their employees are able to think outside of the box. This means that they are able to consider a problem from a variety of angles in order to find a solution which works.

Having the ability to think creatively can help to bring new ideas and solutions to a workplace. It is especially useful for those looking for managerial roles as creative thinkers will often inspire those they work with to also think creatively.

2. The Strategist

I’m detail-orientated and results-driven. I like to look at all the variables of a project in order to set realistic goals and determine the actions required to achieve them.

I get real satisfaction from ensuring a plan runs smoothly in order to achieve the optimum projected results to deadline.

Why is this a good answer?

No matter what company you work for, there will always be goals and targets which need to be reached. Employers want to know that their employees are determined to reach their targets and are motivated to do their best.

Ensure you can back your claims up with quantifiable results, just incase of follow up questions.

3. The Constant Learner

I love learning new things and am always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow within my role, whether that’s learning new skills, taking on a new project or collaborating with other departments.

I’m a positive person who likes to excel at what I do, and I think the best way to do that is to constantly challenge myself to learn as much as I can and to perform to the best of my abilities every day.

Why is this a good answer?

For an employer, an employee who wants to learn is one who is likely to consistently try to better themselves. They will be looking for new ways to do their job more effectively, aspire towards promotions and are motivated towards continual improvement.

4. The Problem Solver

I’m a good communicator with strong analytical skills. I think I’m at my best when working with a team to solve complex issues, troubleshooting and analysing a problem from different angles to find a solution that benefits everyone.

I love a challenge and find working together to solve critical business issues really rewarding.

Why is this a good answer?

No matter what industry you work in, or what your role is, there will be occasions when issues occur which need to be solved. Potential employers will want to know that the individuals they hire are going to have the ability to analyse an issue in order to find a solution.

5. The People Person

I would describe myself as a real people person. I’m at my happiest meeting new people and using my communication skills to form and maintain effective working relationships.

In particular, it gives me a real sense of pride to be able to repair and improve relationships between different departments through listening, discussion and clear communication.

Why is this a good answer?

Good working relationships are a vital part of ensuring a positive and encouraging working environment. The relationships that others have within the workplace can affect staff morale, productivity and many other areas of a company. For this reason, employers will look to hire individuals who are able to work well alongside each other and desire to create a harmonious working environment.

6. The Passionate Worker

I would say that I am passionate. I truly love what I do and I feel that this makes me a better worker as a result. I am dedicated to providing my very best work every time. I believe that my passion for this industry is what leads me to keep striving to achieve more.

Why is this a good answer?

People who are passionate are more likely to also be reliable when it comes to their performance and the standard of their work. Employers are passionate about the company that they run and they always appreciate it if their employees love their company just as much as they do.

7. The Organised Worker

I pride myself on my strong organisational skills. I try to be organised in every area of my life, both at work and at home. I find that this helps me to stay ahead of deadlines as well as ensuring that I am aware of any changes which may affect the requirements of my work. Other people have told me that because I am organised, it helps them to stay organised too.

Why is this a good answer?

Organisational skills are useful in every area of working life as they can be applied to different circumstances. For this reason, employers like to hire workers who have good organisational skills. They are likely to be more reliable and their positive attitude can help to motivate their co-workers.

8. The Natural Leader

I would consider myself to be a natural leader. By this, I don’t mean that I like to boss people around, more that I am able to identify where direction is needed and find ways of ensuring that a team is able to work together to achieve a shared goal. Whenever a project leader is required, I will happily put myself forward for the task. I work to identify the strengths of each team member in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Why is this a good answer?

Employers like to hire staff who are able to work well with others. When you are applying for a role that has the potential to have team leader or managerial responsibilities, it is especially important to show you are a good team player and have the qualities required to lead effectively. When employees have natural leadership skills, this will often mean that they are able to do their job well and have the ability to adapt to situations easily.

9. The Good Communicator

Communication is key to everything in business. This is why I have worked hard to make sure that I am a good communicator. I find that by making sure that I am communicating clearly and effectively, it helps to keep things running smoothly as everyone knows what they need to be doing and when each task needs to be completed. At times, this has also involved helping others to find solutions when they are having issues communicating concerns to one another.

Why is this a good answer?

Employers are keen to ensure that the people who work for them are happy in what they do and are working in a harmonious environment. One of the key factors to this is ensuring that communication is clear, effective and consistent. By hiring individuals that have good communication skills, employers are taking steps to maintain open communication throughout the business. This has a positive impact on other areas and is considered to be a desirable trait.

10. The Initiator

I would like to think that I am an initiator. If I see that improvements can be made, then I will try to find a way of achieving this. This can be in relation to any area of my work, whether it is customer satisfaction, working methods, relationships with other staff members or goal accomplishment. If I can find a way to make things better, then I will initiate whatever needs to be done to accomplish this.

Why is this a good answer?

Not everybody is suited to be a team leader, just as not everybody is suited to follow others. But when an employer is looking to fill a role that might require a certain level of independence or working with others, they will want to know that they have chosen the right person for the job.

An individual who is able to initiate changes and action when required is well-suited to this type of role. Their ability to think for themselves and work to accomplish goals will mean that employers are able to relax in the knowledge that teams will be working well and efficiently.

Frequently Asked Questions

Forming an answer to this question depends on what the interviewer is looking at in a potential employee.

Use the keywords in the job description to craft a few sentences that cover the basic skills and competencies that the employer is looking for. You might want to include that you are ambitious and driven for a sales role, or that you love a challenge if you are looking to be employed in an analytical role.

Make sure you are being honest throughout though, as you want to show the recruitment team that you are the right fit for the advertised role.

In an interview, you might be asked to describe yourself in different ways, so it is a good idea to be ready to answer the question even if it is posed slightly strangely.

You might get it phrased like this:

  • "How would your family describe you?"
  • "What would a friend tell us about you and your personality?"
  • "How would your current or last employer describe you?"
  • "What would your worst enemy say about you?"

These are all questions designed to see how well you know yourself and the way you come across to other people.

When you are describing yourself in an interview, it is important to be honest.

However, it is always worth using the job description and information from your research so that you know what kind of person they are looking for – you can use this knowledge to highlight your traits, work behaviour and personality that matches what they need in a new employee.

Everyone will have a slightly different answer to the question “What is your best trait,” but in most cases, they will either choose to focus on values or beliefs, like honesty or integrity.

When thinking of your best trait, remember what type of person the recruitment team is looking for so you can highlight that as your best trait (if it is true, of course). If in doubt, remember to be positive.

When you are thinking of ways to describe yourself to a potential employer, make sure that you know what they want from their employees before you get started.

In your research for the role throughout the recruitment process, you will have gathered lots of information about the daily duties, the values of the organisation, and the traits and work behaviours that they value, so this should be a big part of the way you answer.

Think of a way to describe yourself that is unflinchingly honest, positive, and really demonstrates that you have what it takes to be successful in the role you have applied for.

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