During the job interview, your potential recruiter may ask you various questions to learn more about your personality. One of these questions might be, “Can you describe yourself in three words?” to better understand how you view yourself.
Describing yourself to an interviewer in just three words may be challenging, and understanding how to answer this question can help demonstrate your authenticity and awareness of yourself to your potential employer.
Nevertheless, it’s an interview question you’re likely to encounter — so it is in your best interest to be prepared.
In this article, we’ll touch on why interviewers ask you to describe yourself in three words, highlight steps for answering this question effectively, and provide proven examples for your reference.
Before we begin, you must note that hiring managers don’t ask you to describe yourself to get to know you better; your resume, recommendations, and interviews are enough to provide the information.
They ask this question to evaluate if you’re authentic and self-aware.
To deliver the perfect response, below are some helpful steps you can follow to respond to this interview question: “Describe Yourself in Three Words.”
How to Answer the “Describe yourself in 3 words” Interview Question
When asking this question, it’s likely that hiring managers are looking for adjectives that can align with the role they are advertising.
These three words are essentially your personal brand and should be a way to define your personality along with your professionalism.
Follow these steps to prepare for when employers say ‘Describe yourself in three words’:
1. Consider your qualities
Highlight something that demonstrates your unique, and likable qualities.
Consider your personal and professional traits that emphasize your qualifications for the role.
Your best responses are those that leave a lasting impression on an employer. That’s why you must mention positive terms like “optimistic,” “responsible,” and “calm,” and phrases like “I’m a connector, I’m decisive.”
These are all great for describing yourself.
The fact is that none of us can truly capture ourselves in three words, but when you respond to this challenge with authenticity and self-awareness, you’ll go a long way towards hitting the key points and meeting your interviewer’s expectation.
2. Outline a list of words
Before preparing your response, we advise you start writing down any nuanced adjectives that comes to mind when you think of yourself.
There’s no need to think too deeply. Your initial thoughts are considered more important.
And if you feel stuck, you can ask family or friends to think of a few words that can help you create a more robust list.
3. Research the hiring company
Before your interview, research the hiring organization to understand its culture. This can be done by simply reviewing the job description of the position you’re applying for to gain more insight into the company.
Peruse the company’s website and social media profiles for more information about its brand identity.
By carrying out this vital step, you’ll be able to select the qualities that indicate you’re a good fit for the organization’s culture.
For instance, if the vision on a company’s website quotes its desire to spread positivity with its operations, you might choose a word like “optimistic,” or “enthusiastic” to describe yourself.
4. Provide a genuine response
Ensure that your answer to the question “describe yourself in 3 words professionally” accurately reflects your qualities.
While your response must provide information about your personality, you must remain honest about your characteristics.
This can help a potential employer determine if you’re the right fit for a particular role.
Consider the questions below to help you provide a genuine response when an interviewer asks you to describe your personality in 3 words:
- What are the attributes required in this role?
- What are your unique traits?
- What’s your approach to problem-solving?
- What qualities are you proud of possessing?
- How would a previous coworker describe you?
What to avoid when responding to ‘Describe yourself in three words.’
Never fall for the following when describing yourself in an interview:
Being too timid: Demonstrate your self-confidence when answering this question, and instead of saying I’ve never thought about it, or I’m unsure, try to come up with responses that show why you’re a great person to hire.
Choosing irrelevant words: Filter words that contribute little to no value to the interview. Select words that both embody your personality and describe your professional self.
Showing too much pride: While it’s okay to demonstrate confidence when answering this question, you should also endeavor to be humble. Words like unique or extraordinary make you appear proud and have no value.
Picking skills only because you think they are desirable: When you are trying to describe yourself in three words, do not randomly choose words based on what you think might interest your interviewer.
For instance, choosing words like “perfectionist”, “relentless”, or “self-manager” even when it appears too attractive may not pave the way for you as expected.
Being too modest: As an entry-level graduate during an interview, avoid being too humble as doing this can greatly limit your status.
Stay away from words like ‘nice’, ‘curious’ or ‘sensitive’ when you are about to describe yourself in three words.
Instead, consider sharing your best qualities and enlighten them about your readiness to add value to their company if kindly considered.
Words to Describe Yourself in an Interview
Sample Answers for “Describe yourself in 3 words”
The examples below can serve as an inspiration and perfect reference when responding to ‘Describe yourself in three words.’
“I would describe myself as driven, helpful, and reliable. I chose driven because I am always working toward a new goal and trying to achieve more. Even though I set out to accomplish my own goals, I make sure to stop and help others, which is why I chose that word too. I think that in order for a company to succeed, we need to lend a hand to one another. Finally, I chose reliable because I stick to my promises. If I say I’ll do it, you don’t have to remind me. I’ll get it done promptly.”
“First, I am thoughtful. I have a habit of always thinking of others and finding ways to make their days better or to lighten their load. Second, I am organized. I thrive off planners and sticky notes to ensure I am getting all of my work done on time. Finally, I am empathetic. I can easily understand other’s perspectives and find ways to find common ground.”
“I am curious, insightful, and passionate. By always exploring the world around me and researching new things, I find that I often have a lot to contribute to a conversation or brainstorming session. When I am interested in something, I become truly passionate about digging into it as much as possible. These three words are why I have so much research experience and am looking for more.”
“Creative, flexible, and adventurous are three words I’d use to describe myself. My creativity helps me think of new things to make along with finding out-of-the-ordinary solutions to complex problems. I often go with the flow when a situation is out of my control, making me a rather flexible person. In a fast-paced work environment, it’s important to adapt rather than dwell on the situation. Finally, my adventurousness always leads me to accept new challenges. That’s why I am hoping to move onto a senior-level position.”
“The first word I’d use to describe myself is witty. That’s why I enjoy writing so much. Finding a fun pun or reference is what I do best. I am also quite patient. If an idea isn’t coming to me, I don’t give up. Instead, I keep chewing on it until something great arises. Lastly, I am dynamic, meaning that I have a lot of skills to offer to this position.”
“I am communicative, meaning that I always want there to be a clear line of communication. It’s better to clarify than to be confused. I am also engaged. I love throwing myself into a project and making it an important part of my life. Finally, I am inquisitive. I am always asking questions to learn more.”
“I’d describe myself as driven, communicative and reliable. I consider myself to be driven because I’m always working toward a new goal and refuse to give up if met with any obstacles. I chose communicative because I greatly enjoy collaborative work and would love the opportunity to learn from others if given this position. Finally, I picked reliable because I stick to my commitments. If I volunteer to do something, you can guarantee I’ll get it done to the best of my abilities.”
“I’m organized, patient and helpful. I pride myself on my time management skills and ability to meet multiple deadlines. When I have writer’s block, I don’t give up. Instead, I maintain my patience and keep working on the piece until I think of a great idea. I also enjoy helping my team members approach their projects with different methods. I often find happiness in assisting others.”
“First, I’m passionate. I’ve always been interested in science and like to learn as much as possible about new topics. Second, I’m empathetic. I always try to understand others’ perspectives and find ways to relate to them. Finally, I’m inquisitive. I like to explore the world around me and find meaningful ways to contribute to conversations.”
“The first word I’d use to describe myself is approachable. I pride myself on the fact that I always put in extra effort to make a customer feel comfortable when trying to assist them. I’m also quite observant. I try to pick up on small details that others may not have noticed. Lastly, I’m open-minded. I enjoy trying new approaches and techniques to customer service.”
Variations of the Interview Question ‘Describe Yourself in Three Words’
- How would your friends describe you in 3 words?
- How would your colleagues describe you in 3 words?
- How would your boss describe you in 3 words?
- How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
- What are 3 words to describe yourself?
- Describe yourself in 3 sentences
- Describe your personality in 3 words
- List 3 words that describe your personality
Other Common Job Interview Questions
- Tell me about yourself
- Why do you want to work for us?
- What are your salary expectations?
- What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
- What is your greatest achievement?
- Do you have any questions for me?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Why should we hire you?
- What are your hobbies and interests?
- Are you interviewing anywhere else?
- How do you handle stress?
- What motivates you at work?
- What makes you unique?
- Why do you want to leave your current job?
Expanding on Self-Description: The Power of Three Words
Throughout our discussion on acing job interviews and making a lasting impression, we explored the question, “Can you professionally describe yourself in three words?” or “Professionally describe yourself in three words?” Now, let’s provide additional insights on how to master the art of self-description in three words.
Building on the Basics
You may recall that when responding to this interview question, tailoring your answer to the specific job you’re applying for is essential. The words you choose should align with the role and the company culture. For example, creative positions may warrant words like “innovative,” “imaginative,” and “adaptable,” while leadership roles could call for “strategic,” “visionary,” and “collaborative.”
Highlighting Your Strengths
We’ve emphasized the importance of showcasing your strengths in your three-word self-description. Your choice of words should set you apart from other candidates by emphasizing what makes you unique and aligning those qualities with the job requirements. Whether it’s your exceptional organizational skills, problem-solving abilities, or strong communication, these traits should form the foundation of your response.
Moving Beyond the Ordinary
While it’s accurate to describe yourself as “hardworking” or a “team player,” these terms can sometimes sound commonplace. To truly stand out, consider elevating your response with more specific descriptors. For instance, instead of merely saying “team player,” you might opt for “collaborative leader” or “cross-functional team contributor.”
More Examples for Inspiration
To help you visualize how this works in practice, here are a few examples tailored to different job types:
“Strategist, Innovator, Communicator“: Perfect for roles that require creativity and leadership, these words convey your ability to think strategically, generate innovative solutions, and effectively communicate your ideas.
“Adaptable, Results-Oriented, Collaborative”: Ideal for positions demanding flexibility and teamwork, these words demonstrate your capacity to adapt, achieve tangible results, and collaborate effectively.
“Analytical, Detail-Oriented, Problem Solver”: A fitting choice for roles involving data analysis or troubleshooting, these words highlight your analytical skills, attention to detail, and problem-solving abilities.
“Motivated, Customer-Focused, Goal-Driven”: Tailored for customer-facing positions, these words reflect your motivation to excel, commitment to customer satisfaction, and dedication to achieving objectives.
Practice Makes Perfect
To ensure your response is polished and confident, practice describing yourself in three words before the interview, and if possible, seek feedback from a friend or family member. By doing so, you’ll refine your description and present yourself as an even more compelling candidate.
Remember, your three-word self-description is an opportunity to provide a concise yet powerful glimpse of your professional identity. Tailor it to the job you’re pursuing, emphasize your strengths, and aim to leave a lasting impression. By crafting a concise and compelling answer, you’ll not only stand out but also demonstrate your unique qualities effectively.
As you continue to prepare for your interviews, keep this additional insight in mind for those moments when you’re asked, “Can you describe yourself in three adjectives?” Your enhanced response will reflect your suitability for the position and leave a memorable mark on your interviewer.
We trust that after going through this article, you are now equipped and highly prepared for your first interview question.
The tips and samples we provided in this guide will guide you to understand and fix your answer when responding to the question; describe yourself in 3 words professionally.
Proceed to nail that interview and land your dream job with ease!
Best Wishes with Your Interview!