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What to Say When an Interviewer Says, ‘Describe Yourself in 3 Words’

What to Say When an Interviewer Says, ‘Describe Yourself in 3 Words’

Source: This article was originally published on CNBC.
Written by: Courtney Connley, CNBC Make It

You want to present yourself as a seasoned, well-rounded candidate for a job, so describing yourself to an interviewer in just three words may be a challenge. Nevertheless, it’s an interview question you’re likely to encounter.

Hiring managers don’t ask you to describe yourself to get to know you better. That’s what your resume, recommendations and interviews are for. No, they ask to evaluate if you’re authentic and self-aware.

Follow these three steps to describe yourself professionally and deliver the perfect response:

1. Describe how your mind works

Employers are deeply interested in how you think and operate, and you should use one of your three words to accurately capture that. Use words like “conceptual,” “creative,” “curious,” “analytical” or “methodical” to describe your thought process.

One of the biggest mistakes candidates can make in this situation is using business jargon. For example, phrases like “results-driven” or “customer-focused” rarely move the conversation in the direction that an interviewer wants it to go.

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2. Reveal your character

One way to impress a hiring manager is to make sure that one of your three words articulately explains your personality. Words like “resilient,” “kind” and “unrelentingly honest” are all good examples of this.

I had one applicant describe herself as a ‘work in progress’. Her resume had already made that clear to me—but I loved the maturity it took to say it out loud.

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3. Say something interesting about yourself

For your third and final word, choose something that shows you know what makes you uniquely you, and likable, while you’re at it.

The best responses are those that leave a memorable impression on an employer. That’s why she says positive terms like “optimistic,” “responsible” and “calm,” and phrases like “I’m a connector, I’m decisive,” are all great when you need to describe yourself.

None of us can truly capture ourselves in three words, but respond to this challenge with authenticity and self-awareness, and you’ll go a long way toward saying all that really matters.

Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator, and public speaker. Through its online MBA program, the Jack Welch Management Institute transforms the lives of its students by providing them with the tools to become better leaders, build great teams, and help their organizations win.

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