60+ Powerful Words to Describe Yourself in Interviews and Resumes

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"How would you describe yourself?" is one of the most common questions asked in a job interview, requiring you to come up with unique and suitable words to present yourself positively in a matter of seconds.

The best way to describe yourself during a job interview is to provide concrete examples of what you have done in your previous roles and highlight your accomplishments. The words you use should allow you to showcase your personal traits, setting you apart from other candidates.

Before a job interview, you likely have already worked on how to describe yourself, carefully selecting words for your resume to attract the HR's attention. Describing yourself, or self-introduction or tell me about yourself question, is never an easy task, especially when applying for a job. Crafting the best words to describe yourself on a resume is even harder, as you must avoid accidentally choosing adjectives or phrases that are not positive or professional or talking too much when asked to describe yourself in just a few words. But, worry no more - we’ve got you covered!

How to Choose the Best Words to Describe Yourself

1. Know your audience

To determine what words to use to describe yourself, whether on a resume or during a social gathering, consider your context and your audience. Are you describing yourself to secure a job, or are you introducing yourself on social media? Each scenario involves a distinct audience, and, consequently, different words should be used. When describing yourself on resumes or in cover letters, choose descriptive words that emphasize your skills and achievements.

How about describing yourself in a job interview? You might be asked to tell the interviewer about yourself, or sometimes, you might be asked to describe yourself in one, three, or five words. In an interview, you are allowed to elaborate on your answers.

First, pay attention to the question and answer exactly what is asked. Before you start speaking, think of the most desired skill or trait for this role. Pick a word or start a short sentence that showcases that you have that skill. Lastly, if you're writing a professional bio on your social media to attract recruiters, the words you choose can be more casual but still best define yourself and the career path you're taking. Tailor the words in the description about yourself to demonstrate professionalism and abilities by thinking about the general skills and personal traits deemed necessary for your career.

2. Know how you want to present yourself

Next, once you have a clear audience in mind, decide how you would like to present yourself to them and attract them effectively. For example, if you are being interviewed for an engineering role where debugging is crucial, choose words that emphasize your analytical or problem-solving skills to describe yourself. Then, provide a real-life example to elaborate.

If you want to effectively demonstrate your leadership skills in a job interview, choose words to describe yourself such as 'encouraging,' 'mentoring,' and 'strategic thinking' to directly address the 'describe yourself' question. Similarly, if you aim to impress the audience with your communication skills, provide an answer containing adjectives like 'confident,' 'approachable,' and 'persuasive'.

To present yourself as a creative thinker, try to include these phrases in your answer for describing yourself: 

  • Open-minded to other people's ideas
  • Keep eyes on the latest industry trends 
  • See things from diverse perspectives

3. Note that different words can create different impressions

Be cautious when selecting adjectives to describe yourself, as many words can have similar meanings but create different impressions. For instance, 'ambitious' and 'aggressive' can both denote a desire to achieve a lot, but 'aggressive' might convey an unintended impression in certain contexts. Therefore, it's crucial to prioritize the impression a word conveys, not just its meaning.

Additionally, if possible, research the company you're applying to or interviewing with to understand their culture and choose words that align well with their values when describing yourself—whether on a resume or in an interview.

Good Words to Describe Yourself in Different Situations

Just as it is important to "do the right thing at the right time and in the right way," you need to choose the best way to describe yourself in a particular situation. Check out the list of words to describe yourself for four different scenarios, as shown below.

Words to describe yourself for job interviews

AdaptableAdventurous
AmbitiousCourageous
DisciplinedDynamic
EnergeticEnthusiastic
FriendlyHumble
IndependentMeticulous
MotivatedOpen-minded
PassionatePatient
ReliableResourceful
SincereSociable

Words to describe yourself for resumes

AccomplishedAttention to detail
CompassionateCreative thinker
DedicatedDetermined
DiligentExperienced
ExcelGoal-driven
IntuitiveLeader
Problem-solverProficient
Results-orientedSelf-confident
Self-motivatedSelf-taught
SkillfulSympathetic

Words to describe yourself for college applications

Active listeningAdaptive
CheerfulCooperative
CreativityCritical thinking
DeterminedDutiful
EagerEnthusiastic
Fast learnerGo-getter
Hard-workingOrganized
PatientPro-active
Team playerResponsive
SkillfulWell-planned

📚Further reading: Best College Application Resume/CV with Examples [Resume Writing Guideline]

Words to describe yourself for networking events

ApproachableCalm
CaringCollaborative
ConfidentConsiderate
DiplomaticEasy-going
EncouragingEntrepreneurial
ExtrovertedFlexible
Good listenerHumorous
MultilingualOpen-minded
People-personPersonable
SociableStoryteller

“Describe Yourself” – Example for Resumes

While writing your resume, carefully choose words to describe yourself. The words used on a resume to portray you should be impactful and concise, considering the limited space available. Recruiters typically spend limited time on each resume, so simple adjectives are often sufficient. Another effective way to describe yourself on a resume is through statistics. Numbers speak volumes and can help recruiters quantify your abilities and accomplishments.

Although the entire resume is technically a document that describes you professionally, there are sections where you can incorporate one or two words to help you stand out among a group of candidates. These sections are:

A resume profile is a short bio. You can describe yourself with words that demonstrate the most wanted personal traits in your resume profile, for example, analytical data analyst or passionate leadership. 

A resume summary or objective professionally presents you in a couple of sentences, utilizing descriptive words to provide the recruiter with a clear picture of your abilities and accomplishments. For example, incorporating phrases such as 'proven track record' allows you to elucidate the level and scope of your professional achievements.

Work experience is an excellent section to incorporate descriptive words that portray yourself, enhancing the appeal of your resume. This is where you can articulate your achievements with sentences. For instance, when detailing your success, you can use words such as "undertake thorough reviews" or "wisely manage".

In the skills section of your resume, the words used to describe yourself should enable the recruiter to assess your skills. Simply listing various skills can be insignificant if you don't describe how well you perform each skill. In this case, words like "advanced programming" can be helpful.

“Describe Yourself” – Sample Answers for a Job Interview

If you're going to have a job interview, be prepared for self-introduction and personal trait questions. Below are four sample answers for the "describe yourself" question that will help you nail your job interview.

Q1: Describe yourself in one word

Answer: I would say I'm a great team player. I feel very comfortable working with people and always bring positive energy to the team. I also understand the dynamics of working in a group well to ensure productivity. As a digital marketing specialist, I frequently collaborate with people on both cross-team and inter-team projects. I believe that I have always been able to perform well and connect with every person in my team. 

💡Pro tip: When asked to define yourself in one word, avoid simply stating the word. Instead, be sure to demonstrate that characteristic through a clear explanation or specific examples.

Q2: What are three words that describe you?

Answer: The first word I would use to describe myself is curious. I love exploring the world out there and researching new things, especially technology. That’s why I decide to pursue a career in IT. I'm also quite flexible. I can multitask with ease and go with the flow even when a situation is out of my control. Lastly, I am very determined and don’t give up easily. 

💡Pro tip: Keep in mind not to describe yourself with three words that contradict each other. For instance, it doesn't make sense to define yourself as both an introvert and an extrovert. Additionally, choose three attributes that are most suitable for the job you're applying for.

Q3: Describe yourself in 5 words

Answer: If I have to describe myself in 5 words, I would say I am detail-oriented, enthusiastic, self-motivated, creative, and reliable. I love fashion and beauty since I was a kid. So, I never mind putting in some extra effort and even money to make sure the makeup works by me turn out flawless, unique, and deliver a seamless customer experience. 

💡Pro tip: In this case, it's not necessary to explain all the things that describe yourself since it may take a lot of time. However, interviewers would expect to hear words that best embody your personal brand.

Q4: Describe yourself in one sentence

Answer: I would say I am innovative, adaptable to change, and goal-driven - someone who is willing to take on difficult challenges and can be relied upon to help an organization achieve its goals. 

💡Pro tip: If the interviewer asks you this, it means they don't have a lot of time for this question. Therefore, keep your answer for describing yourself as concise and impressive as possible. It's also fine if you mention either only one or a variety of qualities.

Q5: How would you describe yourself?

Answer: I would describe myself as a persistent person. I don't give up easily when I am faced with challenges. Quite the contrary, I love challenges as I see them as puzzles and solving puzzles is what I am passionate about. 

💡Pro tip: If asked this question, you can either choose a single word to describe.

Words Not to Use to Describe Yourself

Using incorrect phrases and inappropriate ways to describe yourself can hurt your chances of getting the job. Read on to learn about the sets of words you need to avoid when talking about yourself.

❌ General traits

The following words are commonly picked by most candidates: 

  1. Calm
  2. Careful
  3. Ethical 
  4. Hard-working
  5. Honest
  6. Intelligent
  7. Loyal
  8. Patient
  9. Punctual
  10. Serious

You can derive many benefits from having such traits in your daily life, not just at work. While these adjectives are good for describing yourself, they may not be suitable answers for questions like 'describe yourself' in an interview. These traits are basic and general, and they may not help you showcase unique qualities that will resonate with the interviewer and set you apart from the competition.

❌ Negative things that describe yourself

It's always great to be honest and stay true to yourself. That said, some words, while not inherently negative, may give off the wrong impression during a job interview.

Check out the list of words to describe yourself that the audience may not want to hear: 

  1. Aggressive
  2. Easy-going
  3. Introverted
  4. Fast
  5. Imaginative
  6. Outspoken
  7. Perfectionist
  8. Risk-taker
  9. Straightforward
  10. Stubborn

❌ Words to avoid in a professional setting

As a job seeker, it is essential to choose professional words to describe yourself. This allows hiring managers to assess whether you will perform well and be a cultural fit in the workplace.

Below are some words that are not suitable for job applications and interviews: 

  1. Athletic
  2. Brave
  3. Chilled
  4. Couch potato
  5. Day-dreamer
  6. Family-oriented
  7. Funny
  8. Generous
  9. Religious
  10. Speedy

🔑  Key Takeaways:

Now that you may see it is not too hard to find the right words to describe yourself, let us recap the key points that help you stand out as the best candidate:

  • Stay honest, positive, and be yourself.
  • Describe yourself with professional words that are appropriate to use in relevant settings. 
  • Match your answer with the job description of the job you're applying for.  

Good luck with your job hunting!

With CakeResume — a free resume website, you can easily create a CV online and download your CV’s PDF format for free. Land your dream job and create your CV online (free download) now!

--- Originally written by May Luong ---

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