Describe yourself to me in one word.
Sometimes job interviewers try to get inside your head. Why? Hiring you feels like a gamble to them and they don’t like it. The person who hires you has a big stake in you doing well on the job.
Remember the 4 unasked questions of every hiring manager: Do you understand the job? Can you do the job? Will you do the job? Do you pose a risk to their own continued employment? You pose a real risk to their job if you don’t do well. (This is a prime reason why 30-60-90-day plans are such great interview tools—they answer all those questions VERY well.) The end result of all this is that they sometimes ask you weird interview questions like, “Describe yourself to me in one word.”
This is a tough one. My personal answer would be “dynamic,” because I change, I adapt, I do whatever I need to do to succeed. That’s a good, all-purpose word that could apply to many different jobs.
But I don’t want you to think only about a word that describes you. That could lead you down the path to picking something like “happy” or “resilient” that might describe you very well but doesn’t speak to the job at all.
As in all things in the job search and interview process, I want you to be strategic. Every part of the process is a step that needs to lead you to your ultimate goal—the job offer. Be mindful of all the steps.
Try to think about answering this question not just by thinking about what you are, but by thinking about what you are in relation to the job…what the job requires, what would make someone a standout employee in this position, what you’re going to do for them.
So “bright,” might accurately describe you because you’re smart, but “successful” might mean more to them. (If you’re successful in other areas, you’ll probably be successful for them.)
Responsible, motivated, dedicated, those are all good words. So are: strategic, flexible, creative, dependable, reliable, helpful, fair, honest, focused, steady, organized, enthusiastic, or maybe even valuable.
Bottom line: Think about the job itself and what a fantastic characteristic would be for someone in that role, and tell them the one that applies to you.
But here’s an extra hint: They might not let it go with just your one-word explanation. The follow up might very well be “Really? Can you give me an example?” So have a story that tells about how you embodied that trait at least once in your work life.