Do you feel nervous when asked to describe yourself in a job interview? There's no reason to be. "How would you describe your personality" is a common interview question that you can learn to answer effectively.
Consider it an opportunity to share your unique qualities, achievements, and enthusiasm. You can also make a positive impression on the interviewer and increase your chances of landing a job.
To answer effectively, offer a thoughtful and well-crafted response. It should tell the employer what makes you stand out from all the other job seekers and why they should hire you. This article will prepare you to do just that.
"Give me a description about yourself" may seem like a simple request, but it isn't. Because it's open-ended, there's no framework to help you build a response. How will you answer this, you may ask yourself—shall I start with my family background? My education? My work experience?
Your response will help the interviewer assess how fast and logically you can think, and how well you can communicate in a high-pressure situation.
This question also sets the stage for other questions, such as, "Why are you leaving your current role?" and "Why do you want to work here?"
According to professional presentation coach Joel Schwartzberg, when asked to describe yourself, what the interviewer is actually asking is for you to introduce yourself, get to the point, and not waste anyone's time. They want to see how well you can explain without going off-topic, telling unimportant stories, or giving too much information.
In other words, approach all interview questions "as an audition," advises career strategist John Lees. An audition allows a performer to display a sample of their best skills and talent. Similarly, in an interview, show the interviewer the best of yourself.
When they ask you to describe yourself, what the interviewer also hopes to learn about you is your own unique story and how it shows your personal qualities. Many employers seek a particular personality type for specific jobs, and knowing your personality traits will help them decide if you are the most suitable person for the role.
Ultimately, the employer wants to know: Why should we hire you ?
The interviewer might ask, "How would you describe yourself?" differently. Here are some ways interviewers might ask you this question:
Be alert for word cues signaling what the interviewer wants to know. They might analyze you to learn how you respond to different scenarios.
Giving a short description of yourself is an excellent opportunity for you to showcase the personal qualities that make you the ideal person for the job.
Personal qualities are deeply rooted in your personality. They relate to your creativity, emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and values.
Be aware that personal qualities are different from skills. Unique attributes are rooted deep in the individual, while we learn skills through education, training, and experience.
There are two types of skills— hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are the technical skills you need to do your job, such as computer programming or drafting. They are quantifiable and measurable.
Soft skills, also called "people skills," are related to relationship-building, behavior, and self-regulation, among other factors. Some examples are communication, collaboration or teamwork, and time management.
What are some techniques to help you identify your personal qualities?
As we have learned, interviewers want to see if you can get to the point in a timely manner. So use these tips to help you prepare for the question, "How would you describe yourself?" Here are some tips on how to structure your answer and create moments that resonate with the interviewer:
If you have done the exercise in the previous section, you will already have a list of your top ten attributes that illustrate why you are the ideal person for the job.
Who will you be speaking to? Do some research on the organization. Find out what they do and their mission, vision, and values. You could even research their achievements and missteps.
Plan what you are going to say and create a storyline to follow. Make it simple. A standard template is to start from the present, explaining where you are right now. Then go to the past to share what brought you here. And finally, go to the future or where you are trying to go.
For example, "Right now, I am a writer for [company]. I studied at [university]. After graduating, I would like to work in [goal]."
Career development expert Vicky Oliver said, "Make sure your story has a great beginning, a riveting middle, and an end that makes the interviewer root for you to win the job." Then, keep the interviewer engaged throughout your response.
Schwartzberg suggests scanning the job description for words such as "required," "must have," or "what we need." These point to what employers are searching for in a candidate. Identify which among your personal qualities or qualifications will fit the bill. Then, show the interviewer about a professional experience that shows you filling that need in another job.
For example, if the position requires project management experience, you can say, “I oversaw the development of [project],” or “In my previous role, I was trusted with overseeing [project].”
If your qualifications don't match their wishlist, focus instead on your most relevant qualities that demonstrate how you can contribute in a constructive and valuable way. Look for qualities they want that fit you, like "team player" or "excellent communicator," not qualifications like "master's degree" or "three years of hands-on experience."
Choose relevant and interesting details from your professional experience to make your answer memorable. For example, you can say, "I worked closely for two years with [company]," or "I chose a career in the service industry to help more people."
Avoid negative self-talk or mentioning personal traits that are unnecessary in the workplace. But always be honest when asked specific questions about your weaknesses or failures. Finally, share your lessons and your commitment to do better going forward.
Maintain a positive attitude, demonstrate your ability to work with a team, and use positive language. For example, you can say, "I'm excited to use my skills to contribute to the company," or "I'd like to use my experience to make a difference."
Are there dos and don'ts when giving a short description of yourself? Schwartzberg says yes. Mistakes are common, but you can avoid them with preparation and mindfulness. Here are his tips on what to avoid, as well as other helpful pointers:
Tell the interviewer how your skills, qualifications, and experience can best fill the role. Avoid telling your entire life story or rambling about your hobbies and pets. Save time. Read the room – there may be a chance to reveal more personal details at the end of the interview, but only if doing so will improve your chances.
There is no need to rehash what's already in your resume, like your job history. Better yet, show how a particular job or activity helped you develop skills that will benefit the interviewer's organization. For example, you can say, "At XYZ Company, I learned how to deal with customer complaints," or "I was the choir leader in our church, and this taught me leadership and project management skills."
When talking about yourself, resist embellishing with details that aren't entirely true. Lying will backfire on you.
Some interviewers can put us at ease, accidentally making us drop our guard and mention personal matters that you shouldn't reveal in a professional setting. Remember that you are there for a purpose.
Be polite and mind your manners! Don't interrupt—it leaves the wrong impression.
Practice answering questions when preparing for a job interview. It allows you to hone your responses and present yourself in the best light. It also lets you become more confident for the interview.
Here are some techniques for practicing your answers:
Double-checking the job description will help you anticipate the interviewer's questions and the employer's requirements.
Writing your responses helps fix them in your mind, as writing by hand is correlated to learning new material faster and better.
Practicing your responses beforehand will help you become more familiar and comfortable with the words and content of your answers.
A mock interview is where you simulate a job interview with someone else, often a friend or family member. The interviewer will ask you questions similar to those you may receive during a job interview. It also allows you to get feedback on your answers, which can help you become more confident and prepared.
Career coach Karol Gaitán says, "The goal is not to memorize a script." Instead, you should be familiar with the details of your career, accomplishments, experience, and skills. Then, she suggests you prioritize your response accordingly, as people "typically remember the first and last thing they hear."
Emphasize the hard and soft skills that can set you apart from other applicants and allow you to make valuable contributions to the company. Use these example answers to help you shape your responses.
For each skill, describe the situation, the actions taken using that skill, and the positive outcome. You'll show the interviewer that you have mastery over your abilities and can use them constructively and meaningfully.
Remember to be authentic and sincere when asked to describe yourself in a job interview. Your honesty and enthusiasm will make a lasting impression on the interviewer. Here are some pointers to accomplish this:
"How would you describe yourself?" is a common question in job interviews, and preparing and practicing for it will help you craft a compelling answer. So stay on topic and get to the point as you share your personal qualities and skills that might be of value to the company.
Practicing giving your answer can help you become more confident and avoid common mistakes, such as rambling or interrupting the interviewer. Answer thoughtfully and provide concrete examples highlighting your unique talents and qualifications.
Stay positive, as most employers will analyze your confidence and personality. With these tips, you'll ace this question in your following job interview.
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