If you’ve had a job interview or an awkward first date, you might have experience with someone who asks you, “how do you describe yourself?” Your answers will be different based on the situation, but you’ll most likely try to talk yourself up. But even when you’re saying all the right things about yourself, you could be telling them in a way that doesn’t impress. Here are some helpful ways to describe yourself that’s sure to make an impact.
How to Describe Yourself
I always hated trying to describe myself for a person. There’s so much to me that plays a significant role in the person I am. So how do I narrow all those things down into one or two sentences? Or worse, one word! It’s easy to do the physical stuff. Just stare in the mirror and explain your features.
But when you are trying to describe who you are as a person, it goes beyond looks. It matters about what’s inside. Each person is different. We all have different thought processes based on our life experiences and expectations. We all perceive things in varying ways.
For example, some people may see the homeless man on the corner like a drunk. I might see an abandoned veteran who was cast aside by his country, left to rot alone and scared. Our life experiences shape how we view a situation.
When you’re trying to describe yourself, don’t be basic. Do you know how many people would classify themselves as “funny” or “smart” or “hard-working?” These are not impressive ways to demonstrate the type of person you are. You want to stand out from other people, especially if you’re in an interview.
What to Say to Describe Yourself?
When you’re trying to describe yourself, focus on the qualities you have that would be of interest to the other person. During a job interview, you should already know enough about your potential employer to know what skills they would value above others.
The interviewer isn’t going to care that you can juggle unless you’re applying for a job as a clown. But they are going to care that you can multitask while staying organized. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have to list it. If it doesn’t add value to your situation, leave it out. You don’t have long to make a good impression. Don’t waste it.
When you’re discussing your skills, use power words that evoke strong feelings – “punctual” instead of “on time,” “passionate” instead of “enjoy,” “driven,” rather than “hard-working.” This technique will make you stand out among other candidates who responded with weak answers.
Why Do You Have to Describe Yourself?
The question, “How do you describe yourself?” is a valuable tool for employers. They use this question to find out how well you’d fit within the company dynamic. This allows them to see what skills you think would be an asset to your desired role. It’s a great way to find out if someone has the understanding and ability to fulfill the job description.
You’d be surprised how often a person doesn’t grasp the full scope of what their job would entail. They see a position that appeals to their interests, so they apply without weighing in their ability to do the job. Maybe they have experience with the field and think they can do the job, even though they lack important attributes the company is looking for, like leadership or organizational skills.
Impress the interviewer by knowing what you’ll be responsible for in your new role. When you see what the company is looking for, you can customize your answers to give you the upper hand over other candidates. It’s crucial that you put thought into your answers before responding to each question. Your responses will be analyzed to see if you have what it takes to be the top candidate.
This question is typically one of the first questions asked during a job interview. Asking this question gets the conversation started. Your answers allow the interviewer to develop follow-up questions to hone in on key points that you have mentioned that might be of interest to the company.
An Interview Example
Let’s say you’re applying for a job at a new tech company for a position as a computer programmer. Disclaimer alert -My knowledge is limited in this profession; I got the idea from the tv show I’m currently playing in the background, so I apologize if I make any glaring errors in my made-up scenario.
The job requires you to work as part of a team in a highly competitive atmosphere while adhering to strict deadlines. You wouldn’t want to describe yourself as “I’m a studious programmer that works efficiently by myself on a flexible schedule. I thrive in an environment where I work independently of others.”
While you are using powerful words that employers may react to, such as “efficiently” or “thrive,” you’re automatically telling them you aren’t right for the job by saying you don’t work well with other people or on deadlines. To make a lasting impression, personalize each answer to match the desired skills of the company.
Ways to Describe Yourself
When you’re trying to describe yourself, don’t just name off crucial traits but provide contextual examples that demonstrate the skills you’re describing. Employers like getting factual evidence of how you use the characteristics you claim to have.
Try to use statistics when possible to show how well your idea improved a situation. “I am an organizing wizard. At my last job, I implemented an organizational employee chart, which helped enhance employee production by 32%. Our team went from a 22% rate of completion by the deadline to 63% using my suggestions. (Please forgive me if my math is incorrect. I’m a writer, not a mathematician. It is for demonstrative purposes only.)
Remember that when you’re trying to tell an employer about the type of person that you are, you should use persuasive language that evokes a response from your audience. The following sections are responses you can give that employers like to hear.
I’m Passionate About My Work
I mentioned earlier that you should use powerful words to impress prospective employers. Many people say, “I love what I do.” or “I enjoy my job.” But these responses are vague and a routine answer that employers won’t remember when doing their final candidate reviews.
However, when you say “passionate,” you’re infusing your answer with emotion. It’s easy to visualize the type of worker you are – someone dedicated to their position and their company. They don’t mind putting in hard work and taking on extra tasks to get the job done.
Passionate employees are willing to go the extra mile. They are loyal to the company and their role. Employers like people who take pride in their work and their position. These people give their all and hope to move up in the company, rather than abandon ship to go work at a new place when things get rough, or they get a better offer.
I am Ambitious and Driven
Ambitious employees are an asset to a company and are highly valued. These types of staff are always thinking three steps ahead. They have plans for their future, and they are continually striving to get further. This is good for business as you’ll have less employee turnover, which reduces the costs of training.
When you can promote within the company rather than bringing in an outsider, you’re not just encouraging better performance from the staff. You’re also keeping the company balanced because everyone is used to each other and their routine for working together.
When an employer hears that you are driven, they begin to consider how you will fit into the current role, but they’ll also imagine you in higher positions as well. They try to weigh their options to pick someone who they feel can be an asset to the company in the present and the future. You set yourself apart from the other candidates.
I am Organized
Organization is a crucial skill for anyone who’s considering a role in leadership or management. But it’s also a trait that can improve every area of your life, including your relationships, friendships, and career, whether you’re low man on the totem pole or the head of the company.
Being organized makes your life go much smoother. You don’t have to waste time trying to track down something you’ll need. You can stay on schedule and meet your deadlines. Organization reduces stress and improves your efficiency.
Employers appreciate a candidate who knows how to keep on track and stays organized. These people keep everything at their fingertips, ready to deliver at a moment’s notice. Think about it for a moment. If you’re a boss and you need information about your current project ASAP, which person would you rely on more? The person whose desk is so cluttered you can’t even see the surface? Or someone who uses a sophisticated filing system and takes immaculate notes?
I’m Great with People
When you’re applying for a job, you’re not just committing to a company; you’re committing to the staff. A great employee is good with their co-workers. Supervisors appreciate a person with people skills. Some folks have the natural ability to work a crowd. Talking to others is as natural as breathing. Other people have to put in the effort to be sociable.
If you want to nail an interview, point out that you’re a great team player. You know how to integrate into the living, breathing ecosystem that is the work environment. Other people respect you. Maybe they come to you when there’s a problem, or they need advice. You know your stuff, and you don’t mind helping others when they’re struggling because you’re a team player.
Part of being a people person is being able to sympathize and show compassion for what someone else is going through. Instead of bashing someone who’s struggling with their role, you reach out a helping hand to guide them through it. When you assist a co-worker with a problem, you’re showing leadership skills, which will impress your boss.
I’m a Natural Leader
Some of you might be stretching the dollar a bit with this claim. Maybe you aren’t a natural, but instead, you took classes and attended seminars to fine-tune your leadership skills. That’s okay. It doesn’t matter how you came across your ability to lead. It only matters that you have it. And you know how to use it effectively.
Even if you’re applying for a low position within a company, it’s great to demonstrate that you have skills beyond what you would need for the current job. When employers know what you’re capable of, they’re more willing to consider you when new roles open up that require your talents.
Employers love a person with leadership ability, even if they’re a rookie in the field. That doesn’t mean you should start bossing around everyone at your new job and trying to take over the whole assignment.
But you can show leadership by taking on extra roles that no one else wants. Volunteer for positions like a team leader or team coordinator. Offer to be the person who keeps up with everything to ensure the work is organized and on schedule. Bosses like someone who takes the initiative.
I am Results Oriented
Being resulted oriented opens a lot of doorways for a person. These types of people have a clear vision of what they hope to achieve, whether it’s a long term career goal or just the responsibilities that they deal with on a day to day basis.
They may do things unconventionally or think outside the box to solve a problem. The process of how a task gets done isn’t as important as the fact that it does get completed. It’s not surprising to see a result-oriented person approach the same job a variety of different ways as they test what works and what doesn’t.
Employers love these types of people because they know that the job will get done. They feel confident that any problems that arise will be addressed and solved. And they can count on creative solutions to be presented when obstacles occur.
I’m an Excellent Communicator
Communication skills are crucial if you have ambitions of one day being in a leadership position. Demonstrating that you have these abilities will entice employers to consider you over other candidates who might not, even for lower entry roles. And it makes you stay in their mind during promotion time.
Being an excellent communicator isn’t just about knowing how to talk to people. It’s also about knowing how to listen and engage in a conversation actively. You consider contextual clues, body language, tone of voice, and even word choice when conversing with another person so you can get a deeper understanding of what is really going on. Sometimes, people don’t mean the words they say.
Excellent communicators also have strong speaking skills. They stay present in the conversation and are aware of how they appear. You know how to control your facial expressions, so you don’t give away contradicting cues like rolling your eyes or frowning. You keep your body language open and undefensive – arms aren’t crossed, legs aren’t shaking.
Tips for How to Describe Yourself
It can be difficult trying to talk about yourself. You might be worried about sounding too cocky or arrogant. But you should be proud of your accomplishments and your abilities. You have to be able to convince your audience to believe what you’re saying. Here are a few tips to help you describe yourself.
Tip Number One – Know Your Worth
When you’re trying to think of how to describe yourself, focus on your strengths. Consider what you bring to the table. Get the opinions of family, friends, and co-workers to see what traits they mention. They might come up with ones that you hadn’t considered.
Tip Number Two – Don’t Ramble
When you’re describing yourself, don’t ramble aimlessly. Limit your response to 90 seconds or two to three sentences. Give a thorough answer, but don’t go overboard, listing every quality you have. Stick to the topic at hand and choose the most significant traits to present. Employers don’t need to know that you’re the reigning king of beer-chugging – unless it qualifies as a talent for the position you’re applying.
Tip Number Three – Don’t Get Sidetracked
If you’re describing yourself using past experience, as you should be, remember to stay on topic. Don’t get distracted and go off on a tangent, talking about something irrelevant to your main subject. Employers don’t want to hear stories of your life. They want to hear proof that you have the skills they desire for their open position.
Do your research before attending your meeting. Find out relevant information about the company to discover what traits they would value. If you’re applying at a tech firm, talk about your skills with computers – coding, programming, testing new technologies. Knowing what the company is looking for helps you become the answer to their prayers.
Tip Number Four – Avoid Negative Traits
We all have negative traits. While it’s good to be aware of our flaws, it doesn’t mean they have to be broadcast to potential employers. Qualities that you shouldn’t mention include things like being shy, uncomfortable with public speaking or talking to strangers, and even stress. Employers want to hire someone who can fulfill the role without having to make exceptions. If these traits aren’t going to affect the position you’re applying for, there’s no reason to bring them up.
Tip Number Five – Provide Examples
When you’re describing yourself, be sure you’re providing a real-life example of how you exhibited that trait. If possible, back it up with scientific data. Let’s say you’re going to be describing yourself as a natural leader. You could demonstrate your claim by saying that you’ve been promoted at your last four jobs within six months of being employed by the company. When you have a record of being promoted within a company, it provides more support for your claim.
Tip Number Six – Mention Why You Applied for the Job
After each response, try to link what trait you’ve mentioned to why you decided to apply for the current job opening. Maybe you’re a creative person looking for a fast-paced job where there’s plenty of room for moving up within the company. You could describe yourself as ambitious and driven.
“I would have to say I’m a very ambitious, driven person. In the last company I worked for, I quickly rose within the ranks, being promoted three times in two years. I valued my time at the company, but I felt it was time to expand my horizons, so I started looking for a job with more challenges where I have an opportunity to work my way up the ladder. Your position offers everything I’ve been looking for in my next career choice, so I decided to apply. I think it would be a great fit.”
Tip Number Seven – Be Honest
While you want to make a good impression and stand out among the group of candidates who have all applied to the same position, you don’t want to be dishonest. Never claim you have experience or skills that you don’t possess. If you’re hired based on these abilities, and it comes out that you don’t know what you’re doing, you could lose your job and your professional reputation.
Tip Number Eight – Avoid Personal Details
There is a fine line in the workplace about including your personal life. It’s natural to discuss our spouses, our children, maybe even our parents or siblings, with co-workers during office hours. But that does not mean that you should be discussing your parenting philosophy during an interview unless it pertains to the role you’re seeking. No matter how proud you are of your parenting accomplishments, leave them out when describing yourself.
Tip Number Nine – Have Confidence
You rock, and you know it. Don’t be scared to show your confidence when interviewing for a new position. Employers like staff members who are sure of their abilities. Having faith in yourself makes it easier for someone else to put their trust in you as well. An interviewer is going to be more drawn to someone who has confidence in themselves rather than someone who knows how to do their job but doesn’t boast about it.
Tip Number Ten – Practice Ahead of Time
Take the time to prepare before you go into an interview. “How would you describe yourself?” is one of the most common questions asked during a job evaluation. Your answers can be the difference between you starting a new job or having to continue searching for another position you’re qualified for. Be ready for your interview by practicing what you’re going to say in the mirror, or with a family member or friend.
It helps to sit down and reflect on your life, your experiences. Write down adjectives that you think would describe you. For example, for myself, I would put loyal, dedicated, tenacious (I don’t give up), outspoken, and compassionate. Each of these qualities can apply to my career, my role as a mother, a wife, or even as a friend or daughter.
But I’m also aware of my negative traits – I’m blunt. Sometimes, I say things without considering how they might impact someone else. I can be a procrastinator at times when I don’t stick to my organizational routine. I give too many chances when someone messes up. And I can be a sucker for someone who’s going through a hard time – even if it puts me at a disadvantage. There is such a thing as being too caring.
One Word Descriptions
Trying to sum yourself up in one short response can be challenging. You have so many great qualities. It can be challenging to decide which ones to showcase. But remember that if you get the job, you’ll have plenty of time to show off the talents you don’t mention. Employers appreciate an employee who has hidden abilities they haven’t previously mentioned or demonstrated.
Another challenging task you might come up against while being considered for a new position is to describe yourself with just one word. There are millions of words in the English language. It can be complicated trying to decide on only one simple word to fully encompass all that you are as a person.
Here are a few words you can use to describe your work style that will catch the attention of a supervisor:
- Diligent (employers particularly love this one)
How Would You Describe Yourself?
Now that you’ve gotten some great tips and suggestions for how to describe yourself, you should be ready to rock your next interview; or even impress your date. The skills we’ve mentioned can also be used when meeting new people who might one day be your friends, a romantic interest, or even a future business partner. No matter who you’re talking to, you should always want to make the best impression. Now you can by knowing how to describe yourself.