Tough Interview Question - What is the one word that describes you best?

What is the one word that describes you best?

Similar interview questions:
What dictionary word has your name in the definition?
What word comes to mind when describing you?
If you had to define who you are in one word, what would it be?
How would your parents describe you to their friends in just one or two words?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is trying to get to the core essence of who you are. Or at least who you think you may be. This question is usually used as a setup question to probe deeper, since many candidates will use a platitude word to describe themselves, yet struggle to give an example of how that word is exemplified in practical day-to-day behavior. So it also allows the interviewer insight into how realistic the candidate is being in their own self-reflective view.

The best approach to answering this question:
Answer with a work ethic word which best describes you, while having a specific behavioral example to back it up. This is an excellent opportunity to tell a story about when you went above-and-beyond in your work life. It’s OK to take time while answering to show that you are thinking about the answer, but this is definitely a question that you want to think about in advance and be prepared in advance for how to answer the question.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
"Hmmm…great question. I would have to say dedicated would describe me the best in my work life. I’m dedicated to getting the job done and delivering on time. Let me give you an example of how my dedication recently came through in delivery of my current project…"

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
"Hmmm…that’s a great question. I would say that committed would best describe me. I’ve been committed in both my academic career and in my recent internship, which shows in how I have delivered on my commitments. Let me give you an example of how I committed on my recent internship project…"

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"Well, I’m not sure there is any one word that would describe me best, since I am a such multi-faceted person with many different aspects to who I am. So I reject your question and I will substitute it with a better one, asking me to describe myself in many words. And those words would be stupendous, amazing, incredible, fantastic…"


Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!


Further review: know the answers to these Fifty Standard Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

Search for jobs: