Being asked to describe yourself is a very common interview question.
The hiring manager may ask something like, “How Would You Describe Yourself” or, “Tell Me Five Adjectives That Describe You”.
The average person will list a few adjectives and be done with their answer. Then they’ll wonder why they never got the job offer.
Saying you are smart, loyal, organized, and creative holds little weight. Anyone can say these things.
If you want the job, it’s essential that you use these words to tell a story.
In this article, we’ll share some of the best words to describe yourself in an interview, but more importantly, we’ll show you how to turn these words into a compelling story.
We’ve also broken down these words into professions to help you better choose the adjectives that are fitting for your line of work.
List of 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 remember, 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.
If you are struggling to figure out words 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? And do you have any stories that support them?”
Job-Specific Words to Describe Yourself (+Stories)
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.
We’ve included samples for most professions including: administrative, sales & marketing, customer service, healthcare, finance & accounting, operations, managers & leaders, IT & software, educators, human resources, and design/creative.
Here’s how administrative professionals might reply to the question focusing on the words cool-headed, organized, resourceful:
I always try to maintain my cool when I deal with heated situations. Recently, my apartment complex towed my car because I was not given notice to move it for asphalt repairs. Communication to residents had been an on-going problem. I had been carefully documenting my multiple attempts to request information from the community directors. After calmly presenting my proof, the complex was happy to refund the towing fees.
Here’s how sales & marketing professionals might reply to the question focusing on the words friendly, personable, and extrovert:
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.
Here’s how customer service professionals might reply to the question focusing on the words diligent, loyal, and reliable:
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.
Here’s how healthcare professionals might reply to the question focusing on the words empathetic, patient, and adaptable:
I always try to make my patients as comfortable as possible. One time, we had a patient that was presenting some unusual symptoms. After multiple tests, we didn’t have a proper diagnosis and the patient was getting irritable. To ease their mind, I asked more questions and offered some advice based on my personal experience. This allowed us to determine their care needs, set a plan to improve their health, and earn the patient’s trust.
Here’s how finance & accounting professionals might reply to the question focusing on the words ethical, organized, and thorough:
I’ve always put an emphasis on details and identifying issues. Recently, I found a key data discrepancy that directly led to a large accounting error. To prevent any financial loss, I took initiative to review all the data sets to find where the initial error occurred. I also recommended a new quality control process so that moving forward we would not have the same issue and would eliminate any negative financial impact to the company.
Here’s how operations professionals might reply to the question focusing on the words critical-thinking, collaborative, and efficient:
I tend to be the go-to for solving problems. As a volunteer for my local youth sports team, I recently had to put my skills to good use. We lost a contract with one of our vendors, leaving us without some equipment right before the start of the season. I reached out to local businesses to secure donations while working with my peers to find a new vendor. The season started on time and we were able to save some extra funds to send the team to the championship game.
Here’s how managers & leaders might reply to the question focusing on the words motivated, ambitious, and leader:
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.
Here’s how IT & software professionals might reply to the question focusing on the words analytical, innovative, and resourceful:
I’m someone who loves a challenge. One of my friends needed a new system for processing orders at their company. I asked what they were ideally looking for and realized that there wasn’t any existing software on the market that met both their needs and their budget. I built a new software program that integrated with their other existing systems, solving all their business needs using a single technical solution.
Here’s how teachers & educators might reply to the question focusing on the words attentive, disciplined, and supportive:
I’ve always been one to pay attention to the people around me. One time, I noticed that a student of mine was getting into a lot of trouble. It was strange, since I never knew him to misbehave. So, after detention, I reached out to him to see what was wrong. He opened up about what he was going through, and I offered him some advice and resources. He was able to get the much-needed help he needed.
Here’s how human resources professionals might reply to the question focusing on the words analytical, collaborative, and decisive:
I have always thought of myself as a team player. My traveling softball team had to choose which tournaments we would play in for the season. Everyone had differing opinions and the group was pretty divided on where we would travel to. We were closing in on our deadline to decide, so I volunteered to plan the season. I collected my teammates’ suggestions, organized the information, and was able to include everyone’s first or second choice. We ended up having our best season yet!
Here’s how creative & design professionals might reply to the question focusing on the words imaginative, passionate, and proactive:
I thoroughly enjoy using my imagination. Seeing my ideas go from concept to creation is the greatest accomplishment. In my most recent position, there was a failed marketing project that the company was ready to give up on it. Knowing that it would be very helpful for business growth, I came up with a new idea and headed up the project. With my team, we were able to bring the plan to reality and not only successfully complete the project, but helped create new revenue opportunities.
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!
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.
Words to Describe Yourself on a Resume (+Stories)
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!