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One of the most common job interview questions is "How would you describe yourself?" When answering this common question, your goal is to explain why your experience, personality, and skills make you the best fit for the position.
Other popular variants include "Tell me about yourself," "What is your work style?", "What makes you unique?" and "Describe your work ethic."
An excellent answer to this common interview question isn't as easy as it seems. You need to read the job description, research the company, and match your answer to the job.
If you do that, you'll show the hiring manager you're competent, aware of your skills and a good fit.
This article outlines why interviewers ask this question, how to answer it well and provides sample answers, tips, and mistakes to avoid.
Why interviewers ask, "How would you describe yourself?"
When interviewers ask, "How would you describe yourself?" they're assessing whether you have the skills and characteristics required for the role. Ideally, your answer will highlight quantifiable results from a previous job to support your answer.
"How would you describe yourself?" also helps the interviewer understand how you perceive yourself and your abilities.
How to answer "How would you describe yourself?"
Highlight your best qualities and be honest about why you're a good fit for the position and company when answering "How would you describe yourself?"
This question is open-ended and provides a fantastic opportunity to stand out from other job seekers as long as you invest the time to research and prepare your answer before the interview.
Follow the steps below to create a compelling answer to "How would you describe yourself?"
1. Create a list of adjectives to describe yourself
Create a list of positive adjectives to describe yourself. Think about what characteristics, life experiences, or skills differentiate you from other people who have held similar positions.
For example, if you're comfortable meeting new people, you might mention that in your response.
Describing yourself can be difficult. Ask friends, family members, or former team members if you're struggling. You'll be surprised how easy it is for others to highlight your best attributes, and it's an excellent way to learn which positive characteristics you have.
2. Match your skills and qualities to the job and company
Now you have your list of adjectives. It's time to read the job description and research the company. Reading the job description and researching the company means you can highlight your relevant attributes to the hiring manager and company.
Do not skip this step. One of the worst mistakes you can make is describing yourself as the opposite of what the hiring manager wants.
Inversely, matching your skills and characteristics to the role increases your chance of landing a job offer by positioning you as the best candidate.
For example, if you're applying for a job as a remote account executive, you might highlight two critical remote work skills: working across time zones and collaborating via asynchronous communication.
By highlighting your specific attributes related to the position, you make it easy for the interviewer to see why you're the best fit for the role.
3. Bolster your claims with examples
When answering, avoid blurting out a list of adjectives to describe yourself. The best answers use a condensed version of the STAR method to highlight examples that prove you have a particular attribute.
Highlighting a situation from your past where you demonstrated a strait is far more compelling than saying you have it.
For example, if you describe yourself as dependable and able to handle stress, share a situation where people relied on you, and you were able to handle the pressure. You'll get extra points if you can provide a quantitative result.
Example answers to "How would you describe yourself?"
Review these example answers, and then use them as the basis for your own.
There are plenty of other qualities you could share, so take the time to reflect on your strengths and then look for what is required in the job description.
Example answer #1: Passionate
"I'm passionate about my craft. I love what I do, and I have an intrinsic motivation to improve. In my last job, this passion led me to teach myself Webflow to ensure my designs were implemented correctly, and soon after, I rebuilt our marketing site in Webflow, which in turn, grew our organic traffic by 20%."
Why it works: Every employer wants to hire passionate people who care about their craft. When someone has the drive to improve, they hold themself to a higher standard and produce good results.
Example answer #2: Ambitious
"I'm ambitious. I thrive on challenges, and I'm always putting my hand up to take on the most important projects. In my last role, I started as a Product Manager and was promoted to a Senior Product Manager, and then the Head of Product in less than two years."
Why it works: Ambition is an essential trait for many companies. When employers hire an ambitious candidate with a proven track record, they can rest easy knowing the new hire will do their best to contribute.
Example answer #3: Organized
"I'm organized. Whenever I'm in a meeting, I take notes and send them around to the rest of the participants. I did this at one all-hands meeting in my prior role and sent it to the company. The CEO was so impressed with the quality and organization of my notes from all-hands that she invited me to sit in on the leadership meetings as a note-taker. This freed up the leadership team to focus on the discussion and allowed me to learn how they think."
Why it works: An organized, detail-oriented person who can communicate up to senior leadership is extremely valuable. The fact that they had so much exposure to the CEO means they likely picked up a thing or two as well.
Example answer #4: Personable
"I'm personable. I love meeting new people and learning about their lives, backgrounds, and passions. I always find something we have in common and love making them feel comfortable. I find this skill is essential when I'm selling to new prospects, and I used it a lot as the most successful salesperson at my last company."
Why it works: Some people are outgoing, conversational, and can make anyone feel comfortable even if they're strangers. This character trait is advantageous if they work in sales or customer success.
Example answer #5: Natural leader
"I'm a natural leader. I've been promoted into a leadership role in every job I've had because I like to help my co-workers. I find co-workers come to me with questions or concerns, and even if I don't know the answer, I make an effort to find it for them."
Why it works: People management skills can be taught, but some enjoy managing people more than others. Employers like candidates who are explicit about their desire to manage.
Example answer #6: Result-oriented
"I'm results-oriented and constantly looking for the most important metric to move. I find the pressure of improving a metric motivating and a forcing function for me and my work. In fact, in my last role, I was able to double our conversion rate over six months."
Why it works: A candidate who can keep the end goal in mind and has proof that they've met their mark in the past are valuable. Employers love to hire people who can communicate their value and previous results.
Example answer #7: Excellent communicator
"I'm an excellent communicator. I pride myself on making sure my written and verbal communication is succinct. Succinct communication drives results. For example, I wrote a strategy memo in my previous role that caused the business to change course, ultimately leading to a 40% increase in revenue year-over-year.
Why it works: Effective communication skills are essential in every position and industry, but it's not something that comes easy to most people. When candidates can communicate well, they're much more likely to get the job.
Tips for answering "How would you describe yourself?"
- Focus on the qualities the hiring manager wants: Once you make your list of adjectives, read the job description and highlight attributes that are called out in it.
- Tell a story: Pick two or three adjectives you want to highlight, then think about specific times when you've demonstrated them. It may be helpful to use the STAR interview technique.
- Be succinct: Give the shortest answer you can while still answering the question. Aim for between 60 and 90 seconds.
- Keep things positive: It's OK to talk about your strengths and weaknesses but focus on your strengths. The interviewer will ask about your weaknesses if they want to know more.
- Be confident: Employers want people with soft skills and confidence. Sit up straight, make eye contact, and smile.
Mistakes to avoid when answering "How would you describe yourself?"
- Rambling: Keep your answer concise to make it easy to follow. You can add more color if the hiring manager asks a follow-up question.
- Lying: While you should personalize your answer to the job and company, authenticity is still important. Your answer must be genuine.
- Boasting: You want to sound good but not arrogant. Focus on your best qualities while recognizing there is always room to improve.
- Speaking in adjectives: The interviewer doesn't want to hear a random string of adjectives. Back up your answer with specific examples that demonstrate the adjectives.
Adjectives you can use to describe yourself
Here is a list of descriptive words you can use to describe yourself in an interview, elevator pitch, or resume summary.
Words to describe your work style:
- Top performer
Words to describe your personality:
Words to describe how you work with others:
- Team player
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