It’s a question that everybody is always asked in a job interview but they still struggle to answer sometimes: “How would you describe yourself”?
It may seem easy because you think you only have to talk about your achievements and experiences. But there’s a lot more to it. You don’t want to give too much information or too little. And you certainly don’t want to give arbitrary information. You need to strike a balance to set the right tone for the interview.
The ‘describe yourself’ interview question seeks to understand whether you’re the right fit for the role—and the organization. The hiring manager is meeting you for the first time. Their knowledge of you is restricted to your resume—or perhaps your cover letter.
So, they want to figure out if your skill set, personality and strengths match the organization. You must focus on answering this question to the best of your abilities.
How To Describe Yourself
First, you have to stay true to who you are. You have to know yourself first before you can explain it to someone else—especially someone like a hiring manager.
Being authentic, honest and confident are three traits that can help you crack your next interview. The Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
Think about who you are, what you’ve done and what you want to achieve.
Here are some examples of how to describe yourself in a job interview:
I Work Well In A Team
Collaboration is an important workplace skill. Talking about being a team player will help you establish yourself as a worthy candidate. The hiring manager will be interested to learn how you’ve played your part in a team. Be sure to give examples of a project where you played a role in leading your team to success. Whether it was tackling setbacks or achieving your team goals, these examples will help support your claim. Related skills that you can mention include empathy and cooperation.
I’m Creative And Imaginative
Being creative and imaginative is a broad concept. This doesn’t necessarily mean being good at painting or crafts. It can even mean something like implementing a creative payroll system to streamline salary disbursements. Or you can talk about an organizational hack that you applied to get your work done sooner. Highlight experiences that show your ability to think out of the box. If you’ve developed ways to make your work life easier or come up with profitable ideas for your previous organization, you can mention that as well.
I Have A Strong Sense Of Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is one of the most critical skills to help you advance in life and work. It means that you understand your strengths and shortcomings. Knowing who you are and what you can do to be better shows that you’re capable of growth. This attribute will show the hiring manager that you’re adaptable and a quick learner. For instance, instead of getting offended by feedback, you’ll take it as constructive criticism. Being self-aware is a valuable skill because you can control your feelings, thoughts and actions. You know when to take initiative and when to step back.
I Like To Give Back To Society
If you’re a philanthropist or love to volunteer, you can definitely say that you like to do your bit for the world. Whether it’s helping out at a senior care home, planting trees or going to an animal shelter, your volunteer work is priceless. However, be mindful when you’re explaining your volunteer experience. Be humble and modest about your work so that the hiring manager knows you strongly believe in these causes.
I Have An Eye For Detail
Paying attention to detail means that you catch errors faster than others. Being meticulous is another important workplace skill that you can highlight. When you’re asked to describe yourself, you can talk about what you’re good at. Talk about being good at focusing on the smallest detail to deliver near-perfect work. This shows that you’re willing to be accountable for your work and take responsibility in case things don’t go according to plan. You can even say that you are detail-oriented, orderly and perceptive.
I’m An Effective Problem-Solver
Sometimes hiring managers like to focus on your problem-solving skills. It’s important to show them that you can stay calm under pressure, think objectively about a problem and take inputs from everyone before making a decision. Being an effective problem-solver means to think critically before jumping to conclusions. Weighing the pros and cons, understanding different perspectives and listening to others form part of good problem-solving. You can mention other skills like decision-making and thinking critically.
I’m Driven And Motivated
This is where you can talk about being proactive and taking initiative. You can highlight anything you may have worked on that required you to go out of your way. You should talk about projects where you’ve done more than you signed up for and achieved your results. If you’ve helped a coworker or resolved conflicts in your team, this would be the time to mention that. You shouldn’t shy away from talking about your achievements. Be proud of them and share relevant information that shows your effort and hard work.
These are only a few of the many ways that you can describe yourself. Of course, you may find several other characteristics you can mention like being attentive, goal-oriented or even compassionate. Just remember to support your skills with real-life examples so the hiring manager can trust your words.
How To Crack Your Job Interview
Now that you know how to describe yourself in a job interview, learn more about some ways to help you deliver your answer effectively.
The way you speak and present yourself in front of the hiring manager is just as important as what you’re going to say. Here are some ways to ace your job interview:
It’s important to be confident and sure about your answers. If you come across as too anxious while speaking, you may not be able to get your point across. Make eye contact with the hiring manager and speak up. Have faith in your abilities and know that you’ve worked hard to get this opportunity.
Pay Attention To Nonverbal Cues
You should be aware of how you move your hands, your facial expressions and your body language. These are nonverbal cues that can help you strengthen your case. As much as you pay attention to your own nonverbal cues, also make note of how the hiring manager responds to your words. Communication is not only verbal but also nonverbal. If you see the hiring manager lose interest, you can modify your words to bring them back to the conversation.
Listen Before You Speak
Many times, we make the mistake of speaking out of turn. We start speaking even before the hiring manager has finished a question. Sometimes your interview may take a different direction than anticipated. So, wait for the complete question before you start speaking. Listen attentively, think about your answer and then make your point.
Monitor The Tone, Pitch And Volume Of Your Voice
Imagine if you start speaking so softly that the hiring manager can’t even hear you! Remember that your oral delivery is an important aspect of your interview. You should be aware of your tone, pitch and volume while speaking. Your speech should be clear and easy to understand.
Be Enthusiastic And Friendly
You don’t want to come across as someone who’s uninterested. Appearing enthusiastic and excited about the opportunity shows that you want to be part of the organization. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should be overly excited—just enough to convey that you’re grateful for their time.
A job interview is an intimidating scenario because there’s a lot at stake. But the way to approach it is to be your true self. Just remember, everything you’ve done to come this far. It’ll help you to describe yourself in the best way possible. Tell yourself that you can do it; give yourself a pep talk.
Your speaking skills can truly improve your chances of acing your next job interview. Learn more about how to speak confidently with Harappa’s Speaking Effectively course. With frameworks like Aristotle’s Appeals (Ethos, Logos and Pathos or Credibility, Reasoning and Emotion) and the PAM (Purpose, Audience and Message), you’ll learn how to craft a persuasive message in no time.
Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics related to the COMMUNICATE Habit such as Self-Introduction, Types of Skills for Resume, Guide to Answering – Tell Me About Yourself & 50 Most Common Interview Questions to ace your next interview for your dream job.
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