In over fifteen years of interviewing all levels of staff, I never once got sucked into these sorts of questions. For me, the question of How To Answer The Job Interview Question “Describe Yourself In One Word”, was never an issue. I wouldn’t ever have asked it.
The object of the interview is twofold. Firstly, to see if you like the candidate and consider if they can do the job. And then to decide if they will fit into whichever department the position is for. Secondly, to see if they like what you are presenting to them.
The ‘describe yourself in one word’ conversation would never have come up. It achieves nothing. It teaches you nothing about them. And it only serves to put them ill at ease. And what is the point of that?
Real Or Unreal?
It is also extremely unlikely that you are going to get a ‘real’ answer, despite what all the ‘consultants’ say. You will have done what I am about to do here and prepared an answer that you hope will get you the job.
That is a totally different answer to a word that might be relevant. So what’s the point? There is none.
If Someone Had Ever Asked Me?
I would have said, ‘I am an antidisestablishmentarianism.’ It wouldn’t be true, of course, but I would have enjoyed watching them making an excuse to leave so they could go and look it up.
It wouldn’t have mattered because by then, I would have lost interest in the job and, most probably, the company itself. Someone once said to me that how the interviewer conducts the interview speaks volumes about the company. Quite often, it does.
Play The Game
However, the question has been asked, and you have to play the game. I assume you will want to give an answer that won’t blow the interview. So let’s look at the question first.
We all know that it’s impossible to sum up your character or your personal skillset in one word. So what is the reason they are asking you? As there isn’t an answer, it is a pointless question. But you have got to say something that will impress them. Whether you think it is accurate or not.
The Trite Answers
You can use some very tired old expressions that have all been used hundreds of times before. In fact, they have been used so often they carry no value at all. Some interviewees will just drag them out and use them. Which is one reason the question has no value in the first place.
Let’s have a look at some of these:-
- Successful, you have to prove that one.
- Enthusiastic, you’d better be able to prove that one as well.
- Strategic, whatever that means at an interview.
- Focused, yuk, a 90’s expression that means no more than you can think and stand up at the same time.
- Creative, got any proof?
- Steady, another word for boring?
- Motivated, really, who says so?
There is a long list of them. All of them are candidates for the ‘trite’ answer of the year. And they are not, despite some opinions, good answers to the question.
Not Helping Am I
So let’s get rid of these rather weak attempts at portraying yourself in a one-word answer to satisfy an interviewer. Let’s try and think up some one-word answers that might actually truthfully throw some light on you.
It doesn’t help to trot out a bunch of platitudes in the hope that one might sway the interview. But what can you say that is about you that might not send this interviewer scrambling for his dictionary.
What Are They Really Interested in Getting From You?
Assuming you have the qualifications and the experience to do the job, they are looking for someone who will work hard. Someone who will just get on with the job. So what about these for a few suitable answers…
That will tell them plenty of things. It will tell them you aren’t going to be dishonest with your work time. That is, while at work, your time is spent doing your job, not just ‘getting through the day.’ Or, here is another one…
Being responsible at work means you are going to take the task at hand seriously. A bit like being responsible in life. And, one more…
This sends out a message, not about any alleged abilities that cannot be proven. It tells the interviewer that you are not unresponsive to new ideas and are not afraid of change or a challenge.
What Can You Say?
I don’t think you need any more than that. All that can be done with this ‘highly intellectually challenging’ question is give it a simple answer. Is the interviewer looking for something that sheds light on you as a person? If so, then those one-word answers will give them a clue.
So, Honesty, Responsible, and Flexible are acceptable answers in my book. But if you want to be brave and you have a better interview lined up elsewhere, the antidisestablishmentarianism answer could be fun.
Interviews are stressful enough, as it is without an interviewer making it more difficult. Just be a professional; a quality briefcase always helps; I recommend the Tassia Luxury Leather Executive Case Attache Briefcase.
And maybe they will say, “can you spell anti… What was it?” If so, you can do it with a nice pen, such as the Parker IM Fountain Pen.
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Looking for Some Superb Interview Advice?
Then, it’s time to find out how to answer What Makes You Unique, How Would You Describe Yourself, Why Do You Want To Work Here, How Do You Handle Conflict, What Are Your Career Goals, or how about Strengths And Weaknesses For Job Interviews, the Best Questions To Ask In An Interview, or What Are You Passionate About in 2023.
Or check out a superb selection of online guides, such as INTERVIEW with DESIRE and GET HIRED!: How to Ace the Interview, Hiring Squirrels: 12 Essential Interview Questions to Uncover Great Retail Sales Talent, Get That Job!: The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview, How to Answer Interview Questions: 101 Tough Interview Questions, Sell Yourself & Get Your Dream Job, or even Amazing Interview Answers: 44 Tough Job Interview Questions with 88 Winning Answers for some high-quality information.
Also, the STAR Method works very well for most interview questions, so The STAR Interview: How to Tell a Great Story, Nail the Interview and Land Your Dream Job is worth a read, or The STAR Method Explained: Proven Technique to Succeed at Interview, plus use the STAR METHOD INTERVIEW: A Notebook for job seekers to practice your skills before the interview.
You will get interviewers who will resort to this style of questioning. Just take it in your stride. At the end of the day, they want employees who can do the job. Not people who can give ‘clever’ answers to pointless questions.
All the very best with your next interview.