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Best Answers to "How Would You Describe Yourself?" Interview Question

After the customary pleasantries, the interviewer asks, “How about you describe yourself in 1 minute?”, and you’re without rhyme all of a sudden.

“So, how would you describe yourself?” is an incredibly cut-and-dried question asked in almost every interview. However, the answer isn’t as conspicuous as you probably think. An intricately organized yet prompt answer at your end can be the difference between you taking the crown and returning back home with a heavy heart, dispirited.

A great way to answer this question is to genuinely believe in what you are about to give voice to. Remember, your prospective big-shot employer is not looking for a textbook answer to describe yourself. They are looking for “you” and what you bring to their organization. Your answer has to be concise, focused, and if possible, dished with a fresh and unique perspective. 

Let’s practice. Ask yourself right now. How would you describe yourself? 

Is your answer hard-working or dedicated or passionate?

Some more adjectives?

While whatever you are using to describe yourself is quite possibly true, it just isn’t enough to take the win.

Hope you aren’t a bundle of nerves yet!

Let’s get started and know how to frame the perfect answer to the “How would you describe yourself” interview question. Here’s what you’ll learn in the next 10 minutes.

  • Understand the interviewer 
  • “How would you describe yourself” interview question: Your manual to make the cut 
    Rule #1: Use power words (with examples)
    Rule #2: Describing yourself is basically elaborating your work style (with examples)
    Rule #3: Describe your personality; traits that add value (with examples)
    Rule #4: Describe the community-minded team player in you 
  • “How do you describe yourself” interview questions with sample answers
  • How to Not describe yourself (with examples)
  • Possible follow-up questions to “How to describe yourself”
    What are your greatest strengths - sample answers 
    What is your greatest weakness - sample answers

Understand the interviewer

Put yourself in the interviewer's shoes

If you’re wondering how to prepare for an interview, you’re probably already searching about the types of questions that might come your way. But, before that, don’t you think you should delve a little deeper to understand what these questions actually mean

“How would you describe yourself” is, to be honest, a highly tricky and deceptive question. 

The way you answer shouldn’t just reflect your X factor. Rather, it should convey to the interviewer what you bring to the table. Basically, the trick to answering this question is to clearly understand the intent behind it. And that’s possible only if your vision matches that of the employer.

Now, how to go about that?

What the interviewer really wants to know through your answer to this question is whether you are an out-and-out fit for the firm and if you’ll alloy well with the company culture.

Dedicate quality time prior to the interview and research well about the company and the type of work environment there. 

Take, for example, an interview at Google for Software Engineers. 

If the interviewer asks you to describe yourself, an “I am a team player” or an “I am a dedicated individual” would be too vague a reply and the interviewer won’t be able to gauge your capabilities. Yes, it’s anyway not possible to analyze your coding skills or creativity in an hour or so. But, at least give the patron something to extend the conversation further and pique his/her interest in employing you.

Talk about your current role, any recent accomplishment, or any previous experience that can be significant or relevant to the company.

Remember, adjectives do not describe you; it’s the reasons backing those adjectives that define who you are, what you have accomplished, and what you can do.

Make a list of the adjectives that best describe you and then narrow it down to the ones that aptly match the company’s mission and vision.

How would you describe yourself interview question: Your manual to make the cut

Rule #1: Use power words

Being unique in your answer doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go way out of line. For instance, the answer to describing yourself cannot be something too cliché as “I was the class topper” or something too overtly blunt like “I’m great at everything I do.”

Any quality that you have, no matter how mundane, is unique as long as it contributes to the company.

Use power words while describing yourself and make sure the traits fit the job role. Take, for example, the following scenarios.

  • When to use “highly organized”, “self-determined”, “team player”:  If the job you’re interviewing for includes a tall order of multi-tasking, describe yourself as someone who has worked in a team, is highly organized, self-determined, and can get multiple tasks accomplished simultaneously without breaking a sweat.

Tell your interviewer your best personal story, where you showcased all these traits precisely. 

  • When to use “revenue generator”, “top performer”, “vision for success”: Frankly, these are positive traits that almost every heavyweight company looks for in employees. Industry leaders like Apple, Google, and Samsung want people who can help expand their business and possess the enthusiasm and drive to outperform day in and out.
  • When to use “creative”, “goal-oriented”, “positive self-starter”, “leadership”: Use these traits to describe yourself if the company often faces challenges with organization-wide technology architecture, something common in Google and Amazon. These situations call for individuals who can take charge, motivate the team, and come up with a creative solution to the problem.

If this description fits you, let your interviewer know that, loud and clear. 

  • When to use “accountable”, “resolute and decisive”: Employers love people who are as passionate about the company as they are. If you claim accountability for your role, your interviewer will know for sure that you are determined to go all out. If you are willing to take praises and criticism alike, it’s a clear message to your interviewer that you’re here to stay. 

While taking an Amazon interview preparation or a Google interview preparation, know that your skills will intrigue the interviewer only if you are articulate in your answers to even generic questions such as these.

Remember, at the end of the day, both you and your employer need to grow in terms of revenue and scope of the business. Make sure your answer to the “How would you describe yourself” interview question echoes that.


Rule #2: Describing yourself is basically elaborating your work style

The reason why the “How to describe yourself” interview question is often like a Catch-22 is that people often fail to strike the correct balance between pride and believing in their strengths with modesty.

You’ll find some sample answers below. But, hold on for now. Let’s first try from scratch and frame your own answers. The second rule to deliver a game-changing answer to describing yourself is to express your work style. Now, the importance of this factor cannot be stressed enough.

Some words that you can use to describe yourself are as follows:

  • Analytical
  • Calculated
  • Committed
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Tenacious
  • Persistent
  • Proactive
  • Reliable
  • Resourceful

Here’s a “How do you describe yourself” interview answer sample that defines your work style.

I’d like to describe myself as a “tenacious and resourceful” individual. There was a major software failure in my last job, wherein a large number of clients reported outages. My manager wasn’t available at that point in time. However, I went ahead and found the issue in the software error logs. It probably wasn’t much, but I proactively saved the clients’ precious time and made my manager proud as well.”

What does this tell your interviewer? You’re ready to take on challenges, and you aren’t someone who shies away from upping your game.

5 Awesome Tips to be Tenacious when the going gets tough

  • Embrace fears
  • Set your goals
  • Compete with your peers
  • Be aware and persistent
  • Hang out with people who display the right work ethic

Rule #3: Describe your personality; traits that add value

Your answer to the “How would you describe yourself” interview question should also paint your personality. However, make sure that the traits, once again, must fit the company’s culture. Especially if you are taking a coding interview preparation, try to frame an answer with the following adjectives:

  • Adventurous
  • Courageous
  • Driven
  • Observant
  • Risk-taker
  • Savvy
  • Critic
  • Methodical
  • Enthusiastic

Here’s an example to help you out:

“I believe ‘adventurous’ and ‘risk-taker’ define me the best. In a domain as challenging and ground-breaking as coding, I think we cannot take our game up a notch if we aren’t willing to be observant of what’s lacking and possess the skills and drive to iterate possible solutions to errors and glitches.”

Rule #4: Describe the community-minded team player in you

If you are naturally outgoing, conversational, and enthusiastic (basically, a social butterfly), you will anyway find it rather easy to quickly acclimatize to a new environment with total strangers. Make sure you relay this crucial information about yourself in your answer to the “How would you describe yourself” interview question.

You can try using the following words in your response to highlight your team-player approach to work.

  • Attentive
  • Collaborative
  • Compassionate
  • Diplomatic
  • Responsive
  • Sincere
  • Supportive
  • Tolerant

Let’s help you understand with a “How do you describe yourself” interview question sample answer.

“I absolutely love meeting new people and want to work in a challenging environment with employees belonging to diverse backgrounds. I believe a business runs successfully only if it’s backed by a highly collaborative skeleton. In my previous job, I’ve always been a team player, compassionate and sincere about my colleagues’ struggles, and helped them overcome their hurdles. Also, I think this skill is equally essential when working with new clients – we need to kick off on the right foot with an ideal balance of diplomacy and responsiveness to score high on client satisfaction.” 

This response tells your interviewer that you’re incredibly enjoyable to work with. And that matters a lot more than you think.

“How do you describe yourself” interview question sample answers:

Find below some effectively sample answers that best describe certain personalities.

  1. The enthusiastic and creative thinker:

“I do not want to follow the norms, and I think that’s an important approach if I’m trying to be unique and simply the best. I usually take a more creative road to solving problems and take on issues a little differently than what the textbook dictates. With an open mind and a curious soul, I can find improved ways of doing things. In the long run, the creative route saves time and encourages others in the team to be courageous and ingenious as well.”

  1. The contriver:

I’m all about numbers and results. In fact, you can call me methodical too as I simply cannot compromise with data. This helps me understand if the project goals are at all realistic and what variables need to be changed. I love strategizing, and in my experience so far, it has delivered optimum project results on deadline.”

  1. The analytical problem solver:

“If there’s anything that excites me, it’s complicated codes. I mirror myself as a strong communicator and an armchair critic with an analytical mind. I believe I work best in a diverse team, dedicated to finding and solving critical problems with a divergent thinking approach.”

Now that you know how to prepare yourself with these technical interview preparation tips, it’s equally important to understand what to avoid while describing yourself.

How to NOT describe yourself?

Try to gauge your interviewer’s reactions. If you think he/she is waiting for more at your end, you can follow up on your answers with more examples that talk about your personality and work style.

However, do not go overboard with your examples. Try to give a compact and concise answer, highlighting as many relevant positives as you can. Clock your response at about 60-90 seconds. This shows that you are confident and smart in your conversational skills.

If you keep on rambling about several of your past experiences, you might end up looking like someone who’s just trying too hard.

Don’t bend the truth. Make sure whatever you say is authentic. While it’s crucial to make your answer interesting and mention all positive traits, it’s equally important that your truth remains unalloyed.

Possible follow-up questions to “How to describe yourself”

While a well-curated answer to the “describe yourself” question is the first step forward to hit the jackpot, it’s still not a win unless you respond to the follow-up questions with equal credence.

  1. What are your greatest strengths?

Example 1: 

“When I’m working on a project, meeting the deadline is not my only concern. I strategize, make a game plan, and go all out to deliver the best possible results on time. I make it a point that no competitor tops my results in the same time frame. My commitment, zeal to outperform tirelessly, and vision for success, help me achieve this feat.”

Example 2:

“I eagerly wait for errors so that I can assume my creative approach to fix them. I am a dedicated problem-solver, and coding challenges bring out the best in me. I think coming across errors isn’t a horrible affair. It simply means quicker solutions and much fewer hassles for clients in the future.”

  1. What is your greatest weakness?

Remember, do not mention any weakness that has something to do with the position you’re interviewing for. Talk about some non-essential skills or anything that you’ve recently improved upon. At the same time, if possible, be upfront and try to convert the negatives into something possibly pragmatic.

Example 1:

“I am extremely methodical and pay uncompromised attention to detail. This can often turn borderline obsessive as I cannot bring myself to deliver anything short of perfect. Honestly, this can be a little taxing and time-consuming. But I’m working on that. I’m beginning to realize that my best shot can’t always set the benchmark and there’s nothing wrong with it.”

Example 2:

I was initially a little reluctant to voice my ideas. I usually have a unique approach to tackling issues but worry that it might not fit the organization’s perspective. However, it’s been some time that I realized organizations must grow and develop, and I am an indispensable contributor to this process. I am now gradually learning to pitch my own ideas that can help deliver optimum results in the least amount of time.”

Yogi Berra’s inspirational quote reads:

“Before you build a better mousetrap, it helps to know if there are any mice out there.”

To help you describe your weaknesses with better clarity, here is a list of 10 Best Weaknesses to Say at Job Interviews.

The same applies if you’re wondering an answer to the “How do you describe yourself” interview question. While answering, analyze the intent behind the question and understand what your prospective employer is looking for.

Once you get this right, you know the rest – the winner takes it all! 

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