5 Words to Avoid When Describing Yourself in an Interview

5 Words to Avoid When Describing Yourself in an Interview

All employers have their favorite types of job interview questions.

They can use the common ones like “Tell me something about yourself” or “Describe yourself” or can bring in variations of the same question. The overall approach remains the same. What you need to keep a check on is the types of words that you use when answering such questions.

Interview processes can make you sweat even with the easy-sounding questions. What you should share in your answer should help you build rapport and show employers that you are perfect for the job.

When asked to describe yourself in an interview, whatever the form of the question may be, there are some words you should always avoid. Here are five words you should never use to describe yourself in job interview questions.


#1 Intelligent
Sure your hiring manager is looking for someone who is intelligent, and you surely are. But do not phrase the word in your answer. This is one of those words that other people should use to describe you rather than you using it. Intelligent or not is a judgmental call and you definitely want to keep from describing yourself this way.

Instead talk about how you think. Use words like logical, quantitative and words that are have stories to support. Use words that are less judgmental and can be proved through facts.

#2 Likeable
Being likeable among your friends and family is a common thing. And according to that fact, everyone is likeable. So again using a word such as likeable for yourself does not make sense. This is something that others can decide for you. Plus you do not want to fall into a trap where the employer asks you what makes you likeable. You cannot answer, “Everyone is polite to me, I am invited to lunches and everyone laughs at my jokes.”
That is not what they want to hear. And you do not want to sound desperate!

Use words like outgoing, optimistic and team player and back them up with examples for a better impression. Tell them how you pitched in, spoke in meetings and got clients. It makes a better impression on the hiring manager when you present yourself with valid examples.

#3 Successful
Understand the difference. You can successfully complete a given project or a target. But you just cannot call yourself successful. Saying that you are successful sounds arrogant. It leaves an impression of an arrogant person saying I am rich and good-looking. You do not want to sound like one.

Focus on your success from general terms to a skill that is more specific. Frame your answer to include phrases that say you are good at whatever you do. A hiring manager will be more focused on a success of a particular task that you completed on the job rather than an overall success.

#4 Obsessive
Being passionate is different. Avoid describing yourself with this trait as it has a negative inference. Having to explain yourself over this would mean that you and the interviewer do not share the same page ideally. You definitely want to avoid such a situation.

There are many more words/phrases that show your passion toward your work without putting yourself in an awkward position. Also, quoting instances that prove your passion would help you more in answering this job interview question.

#5 Humble
You do not have to brag about being humble. That is one thing an interviewer can notice when you are in a conversation with him. In case the employer does not find you humble, you will be stuck in an unfortunate contradiction with no way to talk yourself out. The more you try to explain yourself, the more you sound weird.

In an interview you should always follow the strategy of show and not tell. Every time you brag about yourself thinking that this quality could help you one step closer with the interview, you could face some more questions that would be difficult to answer. Therefore, to be sure that you safely land the job, only state information supported by facts. Talk about what you have done and what you have learned and let the interviewer judge you.

The Last Tip

Throughout your answer, remember to keep your focus on skills and experiences that are relevant to the position you are interviewing for. Do not be afraid, relax. Tell anecdotes and stories. Do not repeat your resume. The interviewer can go through your resume. When you are in an interview, the interviewer looks forward to knowing what is not present on your resume.


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