List Five Words That Describe Your Character

During a job interview, there is a good chance that a hiring manager may ask you to “list five words that describe your character,” or she may ask, “What five words best describe you?”

The hiring manager requests this of you because she wants to know more about your individual personality. This list can reveal a lot to her about who you are and how you might fit into the workplace. Your answer also gives the manager an indication of your self-perception, which is a good indicator of the type of employee you will be.

Points to Emphasize

When you answer this question, you’ll want to choose words that best reflect you and tell a positive story.

  • List specific words that you feel represent your uniqueness, like “intuitive” or “approachable.”

  • Choose words that fit the job you’re applying for, like “self-motivated” for a job in sales.

  • All your words should be positive and self-affirming.

  • Instead of just listing your words, mention the context around them.

    The words that describe your character should be honest, connected to the job and unique in order to make the most impact.

    Mistakes You Should Avoid

    This is the most common type of interview question, so you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared with an answer. Follow these guidelines to avoid common mistakes and traps:

  • Don’t list attributes that are too general, like “skilled” or “hard-working,” as they will be unmemorable.

  • Avoid any descriptive words that can be construed as negative, such as “stubborn” or “hard-headed.”

  • Don’t choose words that aren’t at all related to the job for which you’re applying.

  • Be sure to avoid words that could make you sound arrogant or ones that are obviously inaccurate.

    The interviewer uses this list to get a mental image of you that goes beyond paper, so not preparing ahead of time could be detrimental to your interview.

    Sample Answer

    To get an idea of how to answer a question asking you to list words that describe your character, read the example below:

    “The five words that I feel best describe me are resilient, ambitious, optimistic, determined and humble. I was the first person in my family to go to college, and along with their support, these personality traits really helped me get through school and appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given. I feel that they would help me succeed in this job as well.”

    A hiring manager will ask this question to get to know more about your individual personality, so answering honestly and confidently will make a positive impact.

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