The more you know about yourself, the easier it is to talk about yourself. Knowing how to describe yourself in a job interview can help you prepare for an interview or any other professional situation that requires self-promotion.
The first step is understanding the difference between your personal and professional identity. Your personal identity includes your values, beliefs, and goals. Your professional identity includes what you do and how well you do it.
The next step is to think about what makes you unique and memorable. What are your skills? What are your accomplishments? What are your passions? What can’t others do that you can? We’ll dive into all these points throughout the article.
Best Ways of Describing Yourself in an Interview
Interviewers often ask candidates to describe themselves at a start of an interview. It is a good ice-breaker question to get to know more about the person. It would be harsh to say that the answer you give can make or break your chances of getting hired but delivering a top-quality answer can really help get your interview off to a great start.
A great answer will tell them a variety of things about yourself, help to build rapport and even reveal some common interests.
There are many broader categories you could cover when you look to describe yourself, such as:
- Hobbies and interests
- Work experience
- Education history
Some people think that they need to give a short and direct answer to this question but that isn’t the case. Take your time to deliver a detailed answer you are happy with.
This is definitely a question that you can prepare an answer to before your interview and where possible link to the business/industry you are interviewing for.
Hobbies and Interests
Sharing your hobbies and interests shows that you are an interesting person and that you have a passion for something outside of work. Revealing common interests such as a love of a sport can help to break the ice if your interviewer shares the same passion.
Depending on the type of job or industry you are interviewing for, your interests and passions might support your job application and show that you have a genuine interest in the job role.
When an interviewer asks you to describe yourself they aren’t just looking to learn what you like to do at a weekend, they are also looking to know about your working history and for details expanding on what they have already learned from your resume.
When explaining your work experience you should look to do more than just explain what you did, when you did it, and who for.
Give additional details such as:
- Why you enjoyed it
- What you learned from it
- What challenges you faced
- What did you achieve and what was the measurable outcomes
- If it was a team project, what did you contribute to the team
You shouldn’t give details of every single project or piece of work that you’ve worked on, but look to give one or two of your best examples to impress them.
Talking about your future ambitions shows that you have a positive mindset and approach towards your career goals. Be appropriate when discussing your ambitions. Looking for progression and growth opportunities is admirable but making unrealistic claims such as that you want to be the CEO within 5 years will lose you credibility.
It is not always essential to mention your education, especially if that isn’t one of the strong points of your resume. But for some, it might well be worth mentioning, particularly if you are a recent graduate looking to get into their foot on the career ladder.
You might also find it worthwhile to reflect on particular points of your education history if for example you have a qualification in digital marketing and you are applying for a digital marketing job role.
Be consistent with your resume and cover letter
When you are sharing information about yourself with your interviewers, be sure that what you say corresponds with the information you have already provided them on your application.
Any inconsistency in detail could lead to them questioning you further or assuming that you aren’t telling the truth.
Research the company and industry
It is absolutely essential that you research the company you are interviewing with prior to the interview. This is something we discuss in more detail in our articles 13 Top Job Interview Tips and The Ultimate Guide on How to Prepare For A Job Interview.
When you understand more about the company and the industry they operate in you can begin to build in your head an idea of how your past experiences and skills relate to their organisation and can support you in this job role.
Raising them at this stage can be a great way to get their attention and make them aware of things they might have missed when looking over your resume.
Deliver your answer with confidence
Confidence is important in any interview. You need to be confident in your skills, career, and the company you are interviewing with. If you are not confident in yourself, then the interviewer will have reason to doubt you and could show reluctance in hiring you. One way to demonstrate confidence in your answers is to not avoid eye contact.
When describing yourself, present yourself as a competent person who has the skills to succeed at the job. When talking about your work experience, make sure you are specific and highlight what makes it relevant for this particular job. When discussing your personality traits, talk about how they make you a good fit for this particular position.