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How to answer: “How would you describe yourself” in a job interview

“How would you describe yourself” is one of the common question you may get asked in an interview. This question may also come in different forms such as “Tell me about yourself”.

Here are some tips to help you answer this question.

Do your research

To help you prepare to answer the question you should look at the most important traits of the job you’re applying for. Think of it from the employer’s perspective and read the job description to help you with this. If you’re worried that the job isn’t right for you then you should not apply for the role.

Matching your answer to the job description

In order to show the interviewer that you are the person they’re looking for, you should match your answer to the characteristics they list in the job description. Let’s say the job requires a lot of team work, here is how you could respond: “I think that there is value in collaboration. I am someone who puts aside personal gain for the well-being of the team.”

Example answers

To help you decide how to describe yourself, here are some examples.

Highly organised– I am ambitious and driven and thrive on challenge.  I often set goals for myself so that I have something to strive for. I am always looking for opportunities to do better and be better.

Creative thinker– I am a creative thinker and I like exploring alternative solutions to problems. My creativity has made me become an effective team player because I can anticipate problems.

Proactive– I find that when possible, being proactive is much better than being reactive. When I am planning for a project, I am proactive when there are needs to react to a situation. I evaluate current procedures and processes to identify foreseeable issues.

Natural leader– I am a natural leader and I have been promoted to leadership roles in almost every job I have had. I like to help people and find that my co-workers come to me with questions and concerns even when I am not in a leadership role.

Excellent communicator– I am an excellent communicator and I pride myself on making sure people have the right information because it produces better results. My effective communication skills have helped me increase my client retention rate by 40% in a year.

What not to say

You don’t have to follow up with examples of when you have displayed each characteristic. You could pick two of the characteristics that are in the job description that match up to you what you possess.

Do not lie. Your response should be genuine and truthful. If you know that you are not a natural leader don’t say you are just because it is listed in the job description.

Try to keep your answer under 60 seconds and try not to ramble on. If you ramble on they may take it as a sign that you can’t keep a clear train of thought. To avoid rambling give a concise answer and ask for feedback mid-way. “Does this answer your question or do you need more information?” This will help you avoid stopping before the interviewer is satisfied.

List of words

If you’re still looking for some inspiration. Here is a list of words that you could use to describe yourself.

  • Analytic
  • Detail oriented
  • Motivated
  • High achieving
  • Tech-savvy
  • Dependable
  • Collaborative
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Disciplined
  • Tenacious
  • Balanced
  • Courageous
  • Positive
  • Risk taker
  • Self-aware
  • Diplomatic
  • Empathetic
  • Supportive
  • Flexible
  • Initiator
  • Eager

Extra tip

You may find it useful to ask people in your life such as colleagues and friends for words they would use to describe you. We know that describing yourself isn’t always easy but you would be surprised by how quickly the people in your life can sum up your best attributes.

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