How to Answer: What are Some Words to Describe Yourself?

Posted by GradConnection

A common interview question that employers ask graduates when recruiting for a graduate program or role is how they would describe themselves. This question can be used strategically by you to highlight your experience and specific skills that make you the ideal candidate for the position. This article will provide helpful tips for you so that you can effectively answer this question.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

Interviewers ask this question for one primary reason: to discover whether you have the qualities and attributes that are necessary for them to have the skills to fulfil the duties and obligations of the role effectively. These qualities can highlight whether you will be a positive addition to the company, both in your ability to assimilate with the workplace culture and the long-term benefits that you can provide to the company. 

How Can Interviewers Ask This Question?

This question can be asked in several ways. However, regardless of the variations, the approach you should take when answering the question is the same. Here is a list of ways the interviewer may choose to ask this question:

  • How would you describe yourself?
  • How would you describe yourself using only one word?
  • How would you describe yourself in three words?
  • How would your colleagues describe you?
  • What are your key character traits?
  • How would you describe your personality?

What Words Can Be Used?

You can use a range of words to describe yourself in an interview. This selection will be personalised and will depend on your individual characteristics, traits, and the requirements of the role and the company. Here are some words that you can select:

  • Creative
  • Dedicated
  • Resilient
  • Hard Working
  • Detail-oriented
  • Dependable
  • Responsible
  • Motivated
  • Organised
  • Compassionate
  • Patient
  • Collaborative
  • Respectful
  • Understanding
  • Ambitious
  • Honest
  • Helpful
  • Loyal
  • Enthusiastic
  • Quick-thinking

How to Answer this Question?

Here are the steps to take when composing a response to this question so that you can maximise your chances of impressing a graduate recruiter during your interview:

  1. Research

    Conduct comprehensive research into the company. This means having a detailed understanding of the company’s values, its mission, and its goals. This information can typically be found on a company website in the “About Us” section. It can be used to tailor your response to this question so that you can demonstrate to the interviewer that your character traits align with the company’s culture. For example, if the website or company’s social media points towards a collaborative work environment, you should demonstrate how teamwork, understanding, and work ethic are key strengths that you possess. This will show the interviewer that you will be able to effectively work with other team members, that you have the capacity to understand others’ ideas and perspectives, and that you will work hard and pull your weight on projects, proposals, and other tasks. 

  2. Read the Job Description

    Similar to researching the company, you should thoroughly read through the job description and have a detailed understanding of the duties and obligations of the position that you are interviewing for. This will allow you to tailor your response to the skills a candidate must possess to succeed in the role. For example, if the role is customer-oriented and requires frequent interactions with clientele, it is beneficial to describe key strengths like patience, resilience, and perseverance. These qualities will demonstrate to the employer your ability to manage client relations in an effective manner that reflects positively on the company. 

  3. Be Positive

    Employers will be extremely hesitant to hire graduates that display negative or undesirable qualities. That is why it is important to stay positive and highlight the aspects of your personality that can be beneficial to the company. 

  4. Consult others

    If you are finding it difficult to identify words that describe you, it may be helpful to consult family, friends, or any co-workers. These people are around you regularly and may be better positioned to describe how you come across to others as well as aspects of your personality they most value. 

  5. Be Genuine

    It might be tempting to select words that you believe will be most attractive to the interviewer. However, you should aim to be honest and genuine. It is difficult, if not impossible, to change your personality. So, if you are untruthful and you are hired, your employer will know soon enough that they were deceived. Similarly, they may also consult your references to find out more about whether you will align with the workplace culture. It is best therefore to be honest. If you believe that your personality will be inconsistent with the company, it is best to look for employment elsewhere. Remember, the workplace has to be right for you just as much as you have to be right for them. 

✏️ Examples

I am a very passionate and dedicated person. I feel very strongly about giving back to my community. That is why I participated in volunteering at a shelter throughout university and why I am applying for this position as a Graduate Lawyer at Legal Aid.

This response not only includes words that describe the candidate’s personality, but it also highlights volunteer experience and the skills necessary to succeed in a high-stress position working at Legal Aid.

I am a very organised person and I like to feel prepared. I have a great eye for attention to detail and enjoy tasks that require sustained concentration. I think this is why I was motivated to pursue a Business Administration degree and why I am applying for this position as an Office Manager. I have several organisational systems in place that increase workplace productivity.

This response highlights key attributes that are necessary for a candidate to excel in a management position.


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