Being asked to describe yourself is a very common interview question, and it’s a question that usually comes at the beginning of an interview.
The hiring manager may ask something like, “How would you describe yourself?”
You might get a question such as, “What three words best describe you?” or, “Tell me five adjectives that describe your personality.”
You get the idea.
The average person will list off a few words and be done with their answer. But you’re not average!
To go above and beyond, knocking your interview out of the park, it’s essential that you use these words of description to tell a story.
In this article, we’ll talk about the best adjectives to describe yourself in an interview, and why these are so important.
We will also show you how to answer this interview question (with lots of examples).
Good Words to Describe Yourself in an Interview
If you just came here looking for some good adjectives to describe yourself in an interview, check out our list below.
But we must remind you that the best answer to this interview question goes beyond the words you choose. It’s all about the story you tell.
Once you have your words chosen, you can focus on finding real-life stories that back up those traits you portray.
So, take a look at the list of descriptive words below and find a few that suit you the best.
Words to describe yourself in an interview:
If you are able to successfully describe yourself in an interview, you will come off as a self-aware, confident, and capable candidate.
Here’s an idea!
If you are at a loss trying to figure out ways to describe yourself, ask the people who know you best.
Simply text, call, or email a few friends and family members and ask them, “What are five words that describe me well?”
From their replies, you will have a great starting place to come up with specific answers for your interview. (Maybe a family member will even remind you of a personal story you can use!)
Top Tip: Avoid generic verbiage and negative words when describing yourself. Also, avoid stories that have negative associations or unhappy endings.
Let’s look at how to really use these words to describe yourself in an interview with the samples below.
How to Describe Yourself in an Interview with Examples
Let’s say you can think of a handful of good adjectives to describe yourself on the spot.
That’s great! You’re halfway there.
Again, you want to avoid simply giving a list of words to describe yourself. Instead, give a short story to support your claim.
Below is a list of example answers to the interview question, “What are 3 words to describe yourself?”
Keep in mind that the same story can be used for different words. It’s more about the positive story you tell than the specific words you choose.
In the examples below, the interviewee gave one of the descriptive words and then added a short (and true) story to back it up.
Diligent / Loyal / Reliable
Here’s how a customer service professional might reply to the question:
I am the first person my friends call because they know I am always there for them. Night or day, I make sure to take care of the people in my life. I put the same effort into making sure my work is done correctly and being available to help my team members.
Creative / Innovative / Visionary
This is an example of how a sales executive could answer this question:
I love trying new things, creating new methods, and introducing new ideas. In one of my previous jobs, I was responsible for selling waterproof phones. One day, I brought in a clear container filled with water to demo the waterproof phones. We made underwater videos and the phone still worked. Once my manager found out, he made this a mandatory practice for all 150 locations.
Motivated / Ambitious / Leader
Here’s a suitable answer for leadership positions:
I tend to be very driven in my approach to life and work. Throughout college, I was active in three clubs, worked full time, and still managed to graduate at the top of my class. As the oldest sibling, I have always been somewhat of a leader. My brothers and sisters look up to me for advice. I try to be someone that others would feel confident following.
Honest / Ethical / Conscientious
This answer can be used for any job where ethics are important:
Ever since I was a little kid, I have tried to practice honesty. I remember one time I found six Disneyland tickets and $200 cash in an envelope. I turned the envelope into the store where I found it. My honesty paid off when no one came to claim it and I was able to keep the envelope.
Friendly / Personable / Extrovert
Here’s a great example answer a sales professional could use:
I’ve always enjoyed meeting new people. It comes naturally to me to pour a lot into my relationships with all kinds of people. I’m your typical extrovert, which has really helped me in my career. My natural networking abilities have enabled me to excel in sales roles such as this one.
As you consider examples to use, it is helpful to think of relevant explanations that also align with the job you are interviewing for.
In other words, be strategic.
There may be 50 applicable words you can use to tell someone about yourself; however, you should pick those that will be valued most for the position you are interviewing for.
Tell them how these words apply to your life and provide a true-life example that backs it up.
Good Words to Describe Yourself on a Resume
Now that you’ve found the best words to describe yourself in an interview, take a look at your resume.
As with an interview, it’s important that your resume describes you with more than adjectives. Tell a story!
Good adjectives to describe yourself on a resume:
Please note that this list is not extensive. There are hundreds of words you can use to describe yourself on a resume.
With the right story, just about any word can be effective.
Next, let’s look at a few resume examples using some of the adjectives from the list above.
Adjectives to Describe Yourself on a Resume Examples
Just like describing yourself in an interview, your resume should tell a story. More often than not, this story will be under your work experience section.
While it is possible to add some of these adjectives to the “Skills” section of your resume, it’s better to list hard skills in this section.
Soft skills such as “analytical, diligent, and strategic” are better shown in a story than listed as keywords.
Below, we provide a few examples from real resumes written by Certified Professional Resume Writers at Find My Profession.
Accomplished leader with demonstrated background applying innovative ideas to drive growth, productivity, and profitability for both Fortune 500 corporations and private equity-backed start-ups.
Versatile change agent and executive leader with strengths in encouraging buy-in amongst all levels of an organization and utilizing communication skills and a well-developed sense of humor to drive collaboration across all business units.
Strategic advisor across all business functions with advanced ability to build and manage partnerships with stakeholders, board members, and fellow executive leaders to support strategic planning and drive continuous improvement.
Such powerful words are sure to make you the favorite candidate of the hiring manager!
There are hundreds of words you could use to describe yourself in an interview, but more important than the adjectives you use is the story you share to drive your point home.
- Pick relevant words for the job you’re applying for. An accountant may not need to say they are an extrovert. A word like “analytical” might be a better choice.
- Tell a story that backs your words up. This can be one story that encompasses all 3-5 words or it can be a unique story for each word.
- Stay positive and brief. Your story should remain positive, avoid sharing too many personal details, and remain under two minutes long.
You can find more interview questions to study in our list of the 50 Top Job Interview Questions and Answers.
Good luck with that interview! You are going to do great. You are ambitious, confident, and resourceful!