Interview Question: What One Word or Phrase Would You Use to Describe Your Role at Your Previous Jobs?

APRIL 27, 2011 | BY MICAH

“Manly,” she said with a smile.

For many hiring managers, a large part of the interview is trying to see how well you think on your feet. Asking you to sum up your entire work ethic into one word is difficult for even a seasoned interviewer. Some candidates laugh these questions off, and while the answer may not be too important, laughing off the answer like it is unimportant is a bad idea.

How to Answer

You only have one word. Try to choose one that makes you look intelligent. Avoid boring words like:

  • Dependable
  • Hardworking
  • Smart
  • Friendly
  • Organized

None of these words are bad per se, but they are nothing special. Focus instead on words that by themselves are more impressive, like:

  • Adaptive
  • Expressive
  • Innovative

Also, once you have chosen your word, make sure you have expanded upon it. Don’t leave to word hanging.

Bad Answer

“Leader. Because I was a leader at my previous job.”

This is a boring, easy answer. You can do better than this.

Good Answer

“Adaptive. My strategies, actions and sometimes even personality are based on what the situation requires, in order to do my job to the best of my ability.”

As you can see, this answer is a lot better. It uses a better word, it explains the word in terms that will impress the employer, and it shows that you are taking the question seriously. Your interviewer will be impressed by the thought that went into this choice and what it means about who you are as a person.

Take Away Interview Tips

  • Choose a good word.
  • Explain the word well.

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