How to Describe Yourself in a Job Interview
One of the common questions that get asked at job interviews in any industry is, ‘how would you describe yourself?’ While there are various ways to answer this question, the key is to explain why your experience makes you the best person for the role. It's the perfect time to promote yourself and the skills you have that align with the job position. In this article, we provide you with examples so you can effectively describe yourself during your next job interview.
Why is it important to know how to describe yourself in an interview?
When an interviewer asks you to talk about yourself, they want you to provide honest information about how your qualities, strengths and characteristics align with the skills and experience they believe their ideal candidate needs to succeed in the proposed role.
The key is to prepare a thoughtful and concise elevator pitch before your next interview, which is between one and two minutes long. By sharing specific positive attributes and how they relate to the prospective role and business, you're helping the interviewer see why you're a good fit for the role and the company culture. Your answer also provides them with insight into your self-awareness, confidence and demeanour.
The three components you need to describe yourself
When you're crafting your response to describe yourself in an interview, remember these three important details:
Describe yourself professionally. Begin with a brief description of your career and strengths.
Share career highlights. Next, focus on two to four career highlights that apply to the position. Interviewers love hearing quantifiable results that show how you use your best attributes to drive success.
Mention why you want the role. Finally, end with the reason you want this position. For example, your previous role was no longer challenging you.
Ways to answer, ‘how would you describe yourself?’
Now that you know what details to include when you describe yourself in your next interview, here are some keywords to incorporate into your response, with examples:
I'm passionate and dedicated to my career.
Employers always hope to hire candidates who enjoy their work, so it's beneficial to use the word passion when you describe yourself and your career. When someone is passionate, they're dedicated to their job and customers.
Example: ‘Because I'm passionate about my career and enjoy coming to work every day, I'm always motivated to succeed. In my previous role, this passion led me to challenge myself every day and learn new skills to improve my work experience. For instance, I did an after-hours Photoshop course to improve my company's promotional photos and graphics and quickly became the go-to design person.’
I'm ambitious and persistent.
To succeed and grow in many roles and industries, you need ambition and persistence. When an employer hires someone with these two crucial qualities, they know their new employee will consistently seek ways to improve themselves and achieve their work targets.
Example: ‘I'm an ambitious person who persistently looks for opportunities to grow and succeed. I'm also a goal-driven person who is constantly setting new objectives to strive towards. My previous company noticed this enthusiasm and promoted me three times in under two years.’
I have an outgoing and sociable personality.
When applying for a customer service or sales role, it's beneficial to mention that you're a naturally outgoing person who can easily make conversation with strangers.
Example: ‘As a people person, I love meeting new people. It's easy for me to find things in common with strangers, and I have a talent for making people feel comfortable in my presence. My sociable nature is especially useful when meeting and starting projects with new clients. In my previous role, my clients' customer satisfaction scores were 15% above the company average.’
I'm a born leader.
While you can teach employees management skills, some people naturally take on a leadership role in group settings. Employers regularly seek born leaders for both leadership and non-leadership roles, as they set a good example and can boost team morale.
Example: ‘As a born leader, my previous colleagues have naturally come to me with questions even when I'm not in a leadership position, as they know I'll either have the answer or point them in the right direction. In saying that, my last two employers promoted me into leadership roles within a year of employment.’
Creativity is a necessary skill to have in many professional fields. Mentioning your creativity offers a great segue for you to introduce your portfolio, if pertinent to the role.
Example: ‘I love letting my creativity flow and building concepts my clients love. In my previous graphic designer role, I developed over 50 complete brand strategies. If you like, I can show you some samples in my portfolio?’
I have exceptional communication skills.
For ongoing success in most industries, efficient communication skills are essential. Unfortunately, they don't come naturally to everyone, so it's imperative when you describe yourself that you highlight your ability to communicate effectively with colleagues and customers.
Example: ‘I'm an exceptional communicator who knows that effective communication skills drive better results, particularly in the customer service industry. These skills allowed me to exceed my KPI targets every quarter in my last position.’
I'm highly organised and detail-oriented.
Employers know organised candidates will be detail-oriented and deadline-driven. Mentioning that you're highly organised is especially useful if you work in the administrative and communication industries.
Example: ‘As a highly organised person, I always take notes and use specific tools to ensure I never miss a deadline. In my previous role, I created a logical filing process that improved my colleagues' work processes and increased departmental efficiency by 25%.’
I am results-oriented.
Being results-oriented means you keep the end goal in mind and know which resources will help you achieve your goal. Employers know when they hire a results-oriented person, they'll do whatever it takes to complete their tasks.
Example: ‘As a results-driven person, I constantly check in with my end goal to determine how far away it is and what my team and I need to do to succeed. I find I work well under this type of pressure and it acts as a great motivator for myself and my team. In fact, over the last year in my previous role, I helped my team shorten our average product time to market by an impressive two weeks.’
List of words to describe yourself
There are a wide variety of ways to describe yourself, from results-oriented keywords to those that outline your interpersonal skills. Here are some words that describe your work style:
Here are some words that describe how you work with others:
A great way to discover other words that best describe you is to ask your friends, family and colleagues. It isn't always easy to describe yourself, but it's surprising how quickly those closest to you define your best qualities. Finally, revisit the job advertisement and identify any relevant adjectives that relate to your best attributes.
What to avoid when describing yourself in an interview
While there are many alternate ways to describe yourself during an interview, here are some examples of how you shouldn't answer this question:
Don't recite your entire resume. The key is to offer a concise answer that focuses on the skills and positions most relevant to this role. Instead of repeating the points on your resume, discuss your most recent and relative experiences that you weren't able to list.
Avoid generalities. For example, instead of saying you're a great salesperson, you could mention that you were the best salesperson at your previous company three quarters in a row last year.
Don't focus on non-work-related information. While this question often cites a response filled with personal information and hobbies, it's best to focus on your professional life only. If an interviewer wants to know about non-work pursuits, they will ask.
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