Wherever you go in for a job interview, chances are you are going to be asked some questions. “How long have you been in this field?” “How much experience do you have?” “Have you done relevant work before?” and so on.

These questions are easy to answer, and you’ve likely prepared for them beforehand, but there is an even harder question. It’s a simple question, sure, but one that also stumps countless interviewees and has led to several lost jobs: Describe yourself in 5 words.

You would think talking about yourself would be easy but figuring out how to answer tell me about yourself questions can be very hard. However, we do have some cheat codes that will help you rattle off answers that are truthful and that are exactly what the interviewer wants to hear.

How To Answer This Question

While it might seem like child’s play to rattle off words like ‘Good’ ‘Hardworking’ ‘Smart’ and ‘A Go Getter”, you need to remember that employers ask the same question every day and probably get most of the common buzzword answers. To stand out you don’t just need to look for good words but look for the meaning behind the question.

Anyone can rattle off words and say they are these traits, but the best workers outline them with examples and facts that are relevant to the job. For example, you might say that you are creative, but also you need to give an example of a time that you were creative. Share a small snapshot of times where you were those words, and if your prospective employer doesn’t give you a time limit, feel free to speak for a few minutes about your five words.


Be Honest

While it might seem that the answer is aiming for you to share your five best qualities, don’t exaggerate those qualities for your prospective employer, because you might end up under delivering and causing some major problems. You can even share some qualities that you might need to be working on.

For example, if you have problems with time management or being a perfectionist, talking about those traits and giving stories of how you have overcome them can be a great way to differentiate yourself from the other hires. Taking the question seriously and putting in the extra effort is something that will make your employer consider you more seriously in turn for the job.


Write Out 5 Words

Just like how you would prepare for all the formal interview questions, prepare for ones that are less formal as well. Write out five words and think of a few scenarios where you can show off those qualities, then memorize them and be able to call them out on command. Make sure your chosen words are strong and not fluff words, and that you have relevant examples, and that’s all you need to knock this interview question out of the park!

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