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Describe yourself in 3 words in an interview.

Updated on June 4, 2016

How to describe yourself in 3 words at a job interview

How to sell your skills, using the right words

As the job market becomes more competitive, it is important to be ready for interviews and take time to research typical interview questions and have your answers ready. Click here for a list of 100 typical interview questions.

Another typical interview question is to describe yourself in 3 words? The joke answer is of course, "concise". Be careful before you answer like this though, the interviewer might love your sense of humour, but you might come across as cocky and arrogant. The variation on this theme is how would your friends or your current boss describe you in 3 words. The model answers are along the lines of "ambitious", "hardworking", "conscientious", "organised", "positive", "productive", "results-driven", "successful", and so on. Think carefully before you answer, the next question might be to give an example or substantiate your words. If you're "ambitious", then maybe you will be thinking to move on after a short while, if you're "conscientious" perhaps you will take too long to get the job done.


I once answered that I was "quietly, gently, persuasive". Perhaps it was the wrong answer to give, the interviewer stared blankly at me and said "Well, I've never had an answer like that before". Did I give the right answer? They summed up my personality well and it has been a key to my success in life. I don't give up at the first hurdle, I tweak and tweak at what I do until I start to get the results I want. The fact that she had never heard an answer like that wasn't such a bad thing. My answer wasn't a bland one that she would have heard over and over. See this You Tube clip on how to answer this question. This page also has some great videoclips to help you with interview questions and techniques.

There was a reason for my answer however. I had been on a sales training course and we had been given a training exercise. The rules were simple, we were on a sinking boat and there was only one lifeboat, with room for only one person to survive. We were all given a role to play and we had 15 minutes to state our case that we were the person that should be allowed to go on the lifeboat. After 15 minutes, we all had to cast a vote as to who should be saved. The roles we were given included everything from a housewife, prime minister, a journalist, doctor, teacher, singer, pharmaceutical giant, and so on. The 15 minutes began and the room full of sales and marketing executives began to furiously yell over the top of each other 30 or more reasons why they should be saved, very much "save me, me, me, I am the best". No-one could hear each other above the yelling. I was given the role of a doctor and in a moment of calm, I said very quietly, "save me - I work in cancer research and I'm close to making a huge discovery that could save millions of lives. I can't save any of you from this sinking ship, but if you let me on the lifeboat, you will drown knowing that you gave your life to save others". Every person in the room voted to save the doctor.

It seemed a little unfair as a sales training exercise, because I had the role of a doctor. I said the person who was a housewife or a singer had a harder case to put forward. Then I realised, that actually it's a brilliant exercise. I thought if I had been the singer I would have taken a similar stance and said that I was Bob Geldof on my way to do great charitable work to help alleviate the starving children's misery and that I should be allowed on the boat because I was going to save so many lives.

The point of the exercise is that it illustrates one of the most important rules of sales and marketing, always listen to the radio station WII FM (what's in it for me?). When you do your sales pitch, don't just work on transmit. Don't transmit louder and louder with bigger and bigger discounts to try to entice the reluctant buyer. Sell your product in a way that says "you need this because it will benefit you in such a way that you know turning it down is the wrong thing to do". If you're in an interview, persuade the recruiter that they should employ you because you're the one person who will make their business work better. You need to establish what value you or your product has and convey that message to the listener. By offering bigger and bigger discounts to try and close the deal, you're effectively devaluing the product, and this will become self-fulfilling as your product loses its worth.

If a buyer seems reluctant to take the sale because of price, put the ball in their court. Ask them what they are willing to pay. Agree that you can work to that budget, but you will need to adjust what's on offer. They can have the basic rate and add to this later when their budget allows it.

They will.

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    • johnhanlin profile image

      johnhanlin 5 years ago from Clovis, CA

      Insightful, informative & helpful. (Thought you might enjoy the 3 word response!) Very nicely done.

    • favouriteperfume profile image
      Author

      favouriteperfume 5 years ago from Malvern, UK

      Ha ha - well done, and thank you. Very good response! (3 more words)

    • amithak50 profile image

      amithak50 5 years ago from India

      I think you don't need to show yourself ,tell them what you have and what you can provide to their company.Show them that you are unique not a cramming guy who just sit in an interview after cramming the answers..they will caught you

    • favouriteperfume profile image
      Author

      favouriteperfume 5 years ago from Malvern, UK

      Hi amithak50 - that's good advice, it's important to be yourself in the interview and how you fit the role.

    • sethpowers profile image

      sethpowers 5 years ago from Virginia

      Interviews are all about being yourself. It's cliché, but interviewers see so many people trying to pander to them every day, it's nice when someone comes along who isn't trying to conform.

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