100+ Words to describe yourself in an interview

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December 15, 2022
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min read

You know the job you want, sent in a great application package and received the question all candidates hope for: “When can you schedule an interview?”

Now the stakes are getting high.

Getting a hiring manager's attention with your resume is the first big step toward securing the position you want. The second big step is to dazzle them in an interview and throughout the hiring process.

During this time—which can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the role—it's up to you to use the best words, and positive words, to describe your skills, work history, experience, personality, working style and more. To set yourself apart from the competition, having personalized, unique words to describe yourself throughout the interview is an easy way to impress the people who are interviewing you.

There are dozens of descriptive words that stand out from the mundane, and you don't have to go through a vocabulary lesson to start using them.

How to show, not tell

When using words and phrases to describe yourself in a job interview, it is best to show how you've done something instead of telling someone that you've done it. The best way to show is to use data and action verbs to describe a skill, experience or accomplishment.

Think about it this way: Anyone can write “hard worker,” “detail-oriented,” “strong work ethic,” or any other cliche words and terms often incorporated into resumes and cover letters. Using one of those terms won't make you appear any different from another candidate who uses those same terms. Use the right words to describe yourself, shed a positive light on your career success, and stay positive to show the hiring manager that you are the right candidate for the job.

To help you determine the right words to use, make sure you're clear on your skills. Use Teal's Skills Workbook to identify current and potential skills that you want to acquire. Once you've identified those, enter them into the Skills Identifier tab of your workbook.

Present your best self by identifying and leveraging your top skills.
Present your best self by identifying and leveraging your top skills.

By combining data and action verbs, you tell a professional story that is uniquely yours. For example, if you have experience managing other people, a great way to communicate that on your resume or in an interview is using concrete examples like, “I led eight employees on a customer service team.” Quantify your experience and touch on your achievements whenever you can to help hiring managers better visualize that experience.

Teal’s free AI Resume Builder can help you keep your work history up to date and help you write metric-driven achievements using our Achievement Assistant tool.

Teal’s Free AI Resume Builder helps you write metric driven achievements.
Teal’s Free AI Resume Builder helps you write metric driven achievements.

Matching job post keywords to your resume

As you are applying to jobs, it is necessary to customize and tailor your resume to each opportunity. By creating a targeted resume, you are only incorporating the skills, experience and professional achievements you have that best match the job description. Hiring managers are looking for the best match, so identify the ways your experience matches that position.

Before digging into your resume, study the job post. Take note of the descriptive words that are used most or have the biggest emphasis. Teal's keyword feature, within the AI Resume Builder, is an easy way to see which skills and keywords are most important in each particular role. If you have any experience associated with these words or can use the terms in an honest way, incorporate those adjectives and verbs into your resume.

Use Teal's AI Resume Builder to quickly compare the skills and keywords in the job posting to those in your resume. Make sure to add any relevant experience to your customized resume and to your application and interview answers.

Teal's AI Resume Builder compares the skills in a job description to the skills in your resume to give you a match score.
Teal's AI Resume Builder compares the skills in a job description to the skills in your resume to give you a match score.

How to answer “Describe yourself in three words”

“Describe yourself in three words” is a common job interview question. Prevent yourself from being thrown off guard with this question by thinking about it ahead of time.

Again, you will want to set yourself out from the competition by using unique adjectives to describe yourself in the interview. Prospective employers ask you to ‘describe yourself in three words' to learn more about your personal and professional personality and what makes you different from other candidates.

Another thing we recommend that you do before you go into a job interview is to do a little bit of introspection and self-awareness work on your work style by taking Teal's Work Style Assessment. Determine how you work best to be able to include the best words to describe yourself in your tailored resume.

Unlock your tailored career insights with Teal’s Work Style Quiz, a free career personality assessment.
Unlock your tailored career insights with Teal’s Work Style Quiz, a free career personality assessment.

If an interviewer asks you to describe yourself in a job interview, think of the positive words and refer back to the best qualities that make you stand out - consider any accomplishments, creative ideas and personality traits that make up who you are. Out of those qualities, determine which ones best suit the job post and know how to articulate those words in a way that's appropriate and genuine. (Remember to match your traits to the job description whenever possible.)

After taking the Work Style Assessment, make sure to review the results and use the work style tool. Go to it, read the positive words, read the job searching section, and read about interviewing. Hopefully that will give you some tips to better understand your style and skills as you go into the interview.

Unlock your tailored career insights with Teal’s Work Style Quiz, a free career personality assessment.
Unlock your tailored career insights with Teal’s Work Style Quiz, a free career personality assessment.

100+ words to describe yourself in an interview

If you are struggling to come up with active, engaging, and positive words and adjectives to describe yourself in a job interview, here are 105 options to choose from.

For a more in-depth selection, check out our new resume synonym library with over 600 words.

  • Dependable
  • Ambitious
  • Imaginative
  • Resourceful
  • Meticulous
  • Flexible
  • Proactive
  • Persistent
  • Observant
  • Proficient
  • Considerate
  • Curious
  • Organized
  • Personable
  • Rational
  • Accountable
  • Collaborative
  • Gracious
  • Idealistic
  • Decisive
  • Compassionate
  • Transparent
  • Dependable
  • Engaged
  • Punctual
  • Bold
  • Analytical
  • Diligent
  • Confident
  • Eager
  • Empathetic
  • Unconventional
  • Visionary
  • Thorough
  • Responsible
  • Inventive  
  • Upbeat
  • Capable
  • Sincere
  • Courageous
  • Articulate
  • Literary
  • Energetic
  • Ethical
  • Involved
  • Disciplined
  • Reliable
  • Trained
  • Artistic
  • Cultured
  • Tenacious
  • Reflective
  • Thorough
  • Amiable
  • Diplomatic
  • Candid
  • Authentic
  • Insightful
  • Tolerant
  • Skilled
  • Grateful
  • Consistent
  • Dauntless
  • Versatile
  • Adaptable
  • Licensed
  • Prepared  
  • Competitive
  • Attentive
  • Cheerful
  • Dynamic
  • Progressive
  • Optimistic
  • Conscientious
  • Understanding
  • Thoughtful
  • Intuitive
  • Enlightened
  • Industrious
  • Informed
  • Assertive
  • Competent
  • Committed
  • Centered
  • Creative
  • Qualified
  • Adept
  • Intrepid
  • Trustworthy
  • Constructive
  • Compelling
  • Enterprising
  • Prodigious
  • Broadminded
  • Amenable
  • Efficient
  • Sensible
  • Focused
  • Engrossed
  • Extroverted
  • Daring
  • Fascinating
  • Humanistic
  • Certified
  • Equipped

Applicable words for common job interview questions

Interview question: Where do you see yourself in five years?

You want to be realistic in your answer and outline a future that appears attainable. Speak to any learning and growth opportunities you're interested in, as well as the career goals you have.

Applicable words: Ambitious, proactive, optimistic, committed, intrepid

Interview question: What is your ideal work environment?

Think about the role you're applying for, as well as company research you've conducted, and tailor your answer proving you would be a good fit for the team.

Applicable words: collaborative, flexible, proficient, understanding, trustworthy, constructive, efficient

Interview question: Why do you want to leave your current position?

It's important to stay positive when responding to this question. You don't want to speak badly about your current employer. Instead, focus on your career goals and speak to the growth you want to make.

Applicable words: ambitious, proactive, intuitive, competent, broadminded, qualified, daring

Interview question: How do you offer feedback?

Feedback ideally helps an employee develop in positive ways. The way one delivers feedback speaks directly to their leadership skills. You want to answer this question in a way that shows encouragement, fosters further creativity, and points to strengths in your management style, while also being constructive and intentional about the matter at hand and next steps.

Applicable words: authentic, humanistic, constructive, informed, focused

Interview question: Tell me about a time you set a goal for yourself. How did you go about ensuring you would meet your objective?

Your answer should briefly describe the goal and why you chose it, your plan of action to achieve it, and how you followed the necessary steps to accomplish your goal. Make sure you choose words that outline your process and highlight your abilities throughout.

Applicable words: industrious, energetic, tenacious, efficient, focused

Implement the STAR Method

When describing yourself in response to interview questions, you want to be able to provide concrete examples to show how you used your skills in real life. We recommend using the STAR method: Highlight a Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

The STAR method provides a memorable framework for answering interview questions about how you handled certain situations in the past in a professional setting and manner.

Practice Makes Perfect

A job interview is a performance of sorts, so you want to make sure you're well rehearsed before setting foot on stage. It will help you feel confident to go into an interview and answer questions after crafting and writing honest answers that speak to the person you are and what you can offer to a potential employer.

Rehearse your answers with a trusted friend, peer, or mentor to help you lock down the best adjectives to describe yourself and perfect your responses.

Head to your Teal Job Application Tracker for tips and resources to help you practice interviewing for the most common interview questions.

Use the Practice Interviewing tips within Teal’s Job Application Tracker to help you present your best self in an interview
Use the Practice Interviewing tips within Teal’s Job Application Tracker to help you present your best self in an interview.

Make Your Tailored Resume Stand Out and Get You in the Door

Before you can dazzle an interviewer, you have to land the interview by standing out to recruiters and hiring managers. The job of your resume is to get you noticed and get you in the door. Optimizing it using Teal's free AI Resume Builder will help you land interviews for the next opportunities that excite you.

By using Teal's AI Resume Builder, you can export your resume directly as a PDF and quickly get it into the hands of your potential employer.

Use Teal's AI Resume Builder to optimize your resume for each potential job opportunity.‍
Use Teal's AI Resume Builder to optimize your resume for each potential job opportunity.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I choose the most appropriate words from the list to describe myself in an interview?

Select words that align closely with the job description and required skills for the position. Reflect on your past experiences and achievements to find words that genuinely represent your work ethic, personality, and professional strengths. Aim to choose words that will differentiate you from other candidates while remaining authentic to who you are.

Can I use these descriptive words in both my resume and interview, or should they be tailored differently?

While it's important to maintain consistency in how you present yourself, you may tailor the words slightly. On your resume, choose descriptors that are impactful and match key competencies for the role. In interviews, expand on these words with examples and stories that demonstrate your qualities in action, providing a more dynamic and engaging presentation of yourself.

How can I effectively incorporate these words into my interview answers without sounding rehearsed?

Practice using these words in the context of your experiences and stories before the interview. Instead of just stating the words, weave them into your responses naturally, showing how they apply to your actions and outcomes in past roles. This will help you sound genuine and confident, rather than as if you're reciting a list of adjectives.

Lindsay Patton

Lindsay Patton is a journalist, adjunct professor, podcast host and digital communicator who specializes in business and career growth.

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