Avoid These Words When Describing Yourself in a Job Interview

While in an interview have you been prompted to describe yourself in three words? What words did you use?

Asking candidates to describe themselves, or asking “how would others describe you?” is a strategy used in many interview processes, but responding with humbleness and sincerity can be tricky. What words you use to describe yourself can say a lot about the type of person you are, but for many of us, bragging about our strengths feels phony. It can be hard to convey to your interviewers the type of person you really are without coming off as pompous and pretentious.

In Jeff Haden’s article featured on Inc.com “10 Words You Should Never Use to Describe Yourself” Haden unveils the worst words to describe yourself and why this is so.

He explains how describing one’s self as humble is contradictory, and describing one’s self as straightforward is usually code for rude, abrasive, or disrespectful.

There seems to be one way to understand the method to the madness. When describing one’s self, employ Behavioral Emotional Intelligence. Behavioral EQ is not comprised solely of emotional intelligence of self, but also behavioral intelligence of self, and emotional and behavioral intelligence of others. This includes components such as self-insight, self-control, emotional perception, and the ability to influence others. Think about not only how you perceive yourself but how your behaviors impact how others think of you. Think about whether the words you are using are describing you as something you should already be and also think about if your behaviors are aligning with your words.

Haden advises against using the descriptive word adaptable because that is something that everybody should already be. He says “I hate to whip out a cliché, but the only constant is change. Nothing–no industry, no market, no job, no, um, nothing–stays the same. We all have to be adaptable. Like Chris Rock says, never take credit for things you’re supposed to be.”

He also advises against using the word empathetic because, although it is great to be an empathetic person, empathy means nothing without behaviors associated with it. “You must do something with those shared feelings such as offer support or help.”

Use Behavioral EQ when describing yourself and also when trying to exude the adjectives that you believe you are comprised of. Outwardly exhibit components of EQ though your words. Demonstrate self-insight and emotion perception. EQ is a skill that many businesses are now looking for in their employees. By describing one’s self with thoughtfulness one can prove that they actually are the carefully chosen words that you are using to describe yourself but, more importantly, you will also demonstrate that you are Behaviorally Emotionally Intelligent. This means that you not only understand your emotions and the emotions of others but that you also know how to behave to accommodate other’s needs.

Want to practice Behavioral Emotional Intelligence? View our Weekly Behavioral EQ Tips here or view our Behavioral EQ Model for more information.

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