31 Aug 2020

How to answer the interview question - How would you describe yourself?

Why is this question asked?

The interviewer wants to know:

• How you perceive yourself

• What skills do you possess

• How will you fit into the company if you’re hired

To answer this question we are going to take two different approaches.

Option 1: Research your audience

As the interviewer is trying to gauge if you’re a good match, in your answer discuss your personality traits that relate to the company. Learning about the company culture will help you describe yourself in a manner that’s attractive to the employer. 

How to do this: 

• Visit the company website - particularly focusing on their about us webpage

• Check their social media channels and see what content is posted

• See if they have any employee reviews online (Glassdoor, Indeed, etc.)

• Search for client/customer feedback (Company website, Trustpilot, Google, etc.)

How this research will help form your answer | Example: ‘Team Player’

Let’s say that during your research you noticed that the company’s employees on LinkedIn regularly discuss how much they enjoy working with their colleagues.

The structure of your answer: 

a) List a personality trait related to the company

b) Give a real example of when you demonstrated this trait

c) Bring the conversation back to the job

Your answer could be:

Example: ‘Team Player’

a) List a personality trait related to the company: “I’d describe myself as being a team player. I believe that working together with a collaborative spirit is the backbone of any organisation's success.”

b) Give a real example of when you demonstrated this trait: “In my previous job I worked as part of a 10 person customer support team where ongoing internal communication was an absolute necessity in order to find solutions for clients. It was a very fast-paced and team-oriented environment, which I enjoyed immensely. This setting allowed me to develop my skills and become the department team leader just 6 months after starting the job.”

c) Bring the conversation back to the job: “On LinkedIn I noticed many instances of your colleagues praising the great team spirit at this company, and I thought the culture here is a perfect match for me.”

Option 2: Review the job description

In a similar approach to Option 1, describing your personality traits that are directly related to the job is exactly what the interviewer wants to hear.

To make your answer relevant to the job you’re applying for, take a look at the requirements and match them with your own personality traits.

How to do this:

• Run through the job description and highlight all descriptive keywords

• Pick out the keywords that are most relevant to your skills and experience

Keyword examples:

• Multitasker 

• Hardworking

• Reliable

• Committed

• Creative

• Driven

• Energetic

• Results-Orientated

• Leader

• Enthusiastic

• Punctual

• Ambitious

• Passionate

• Resourceful

• Goal-Oriented

• Strong Communicator

• Proactive

• Community-Focused

• Conscientious

• Responsible

• Innovative

• Collaborative

• Attentive

How this research will help form your answer - Example: ‘Detail-Orientated’

For example, after reviewing the job description, you notice within the job specification that the successful candidate must have strong attention to detail. 

The structure of your answer: 

a) List a personality trait related to the job requirements

b) Give a real example of when you demonstrated this trait

c) Bring the conversation back to the job

Your answer could be:

Example: ‘Detail-Orientated’

a) List a personality trait related to the company: “I would describe myself as a detail-orientated and focused individual.”

b) Give a real example of when you demonstrated this trait: “Throughout my professional career, particular in my previous role as an Administrative Assistant, I have always demonstrated a strong attention to detail. I managed all travel arrangements and email requests for the Sales Manager at XYZ Company. As her role involved weekly trips across Europe on short notice, a very high level of accuracy and organisation was required on my part. Thankfully, there were never any airport mishaps!”

c) Bring the conversation back to the job: “From researching this role I know just how important delivering accurate data is to the company. As I'm quite an orderly person who performs well in high-pressured environments, I feel this job suits my skill set perfectly.”

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Good luck with your interview!

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