person smiling at a job interview, wearing blue shirt, with the interviewer turned away from the camera
Bailey Zelena; Westend61/Getty Images

Ever been asked to share a fun fact and your mind went blank? Or tried to fill out a dating profile and found it harder than the SATs? Describing yourself can be nerve-racking. You might worry that it sounds braggy, weird, or straight-up boring.

Behold, more than 125 words to describe yourself perfectly, whether you’re giving a quick intro, preparing to answer interview questions like “How would you describe yourself in three words?” or whipping up a resume or cover letter. Plus, we’ll share exactly how to choose the right words for you.

Best words to describe yourself

These words can be used in a variety of circumstances:

  • Adept
  • Agile
  • Ambitious
  • Amenable
  • Analytical
  • Attentive
  • Bold
  • Calm
  • Careful
  • Casual
  • Charismatic
  • Cheerful
  • Collaborative
  • Collected
  • Competitive
  • Confident
  • Conscientious
  • Considerate
  • Consistent
  • Cooperative
  • Creative
  • Daring
  • Data-driven
  • Decisive
  • Dedicated
  • Dependable
  • Determined
  • Diligent
  • Direct
  • Discerning
  • Eager
  • Efficient
  • Emotionally intelligent
  • Empathetic
  • Energetic
  • Enthusiastic
  • Experimental
  • Extroverted
  • Flexible
  • Focused
  • Formal
  • Friendly
  • Funny
  • Genuine
  • Giving
  • Gracious
  • Hardworking
  • Helpful
  • Humorous
  • Imaginative
  • Inclusive
  • Independent
  • Informed
  • Innovative
  • Inquisitive
  • Insightful
  • Introspective
  • Introverted
  • Intuitive
  • Kind
  • Laid back
  • Light-hearted
  • Logical
  • Mindful
  • Motivated
  • Observant
  • Open-minded
  • Optimistic
  • Outgoing
  • Passionate
  • Patient
  • Perceptive
  • Personable
  • Positive
  • Practical
  • Pragmatic
  • Precise
  • Punctual
  • Reflective
  • Relaxed
  • Reliable
  • Self-reliant
  • Sharp
  • Spontaneous
  • Strategic
  • Supportive
  • Systematic
  • Tactful
  • Tactical
  • Thorough
  • Thoughtful
  • Trustworthy
  • Unconventional
  • Versatile
  • Warm
  • Welcoming

Best words to describe yourself in an interview

In a job interview, you may be asked to “Describe yourself in three words,” and you want your answer to stand out. Be ready to:

  • Choose words that are relevant to the position. (Hint: Check the job description!)
  • Back up why you chose each word with a succinct example or explanation.
  • Use this answer as an opportunity to bring up a professional quality or two (or three) that you haven’t gotten to discuss yet.

For example, you could say:

“I’d have to say that I’m resourceful—when I worked in marketing at an early stage startup, I often came up with ways to get our name out there with a very limited budget and a marketing staff of two. I’m also empathetic—my team members often feel comfortable opening up to me and I’m good at adjusting business plans to account for my employees’ personal well-being while still hitting goals. And third, I’m adaptable—that early stage startup changed up its product strategy three times in the first year I was there and I was able to quickly switch gears while seeing what existing work could be repurposed.”

In an interview, it’s also good to have some adjectives in your back pocket to sprinkle into your answers to other questions, like “Tell me about yourself” or “What is your work style?” But make sure you can always back up what you’re saying, either in your answer or if your interviewer asks you to elaborate.

Here are some words you might use to describe yourself in an interview (but the ones in the list above are still fair game, too!):

  • Adaptable
  • Approachable
  • Artistic
  • Authentic
  • Cheerful
  • Considerate
  • Curious
  • Deliberate
  • Diplomatic
  • Empathetic
  • Fair
  • Forward-thinking
  • Helpful
  • Independent
  • Introspective
  • Intuitive
  • Motivational
  • Persistent
  • Perceptive
  • Persuasive
  • Practical
  • Proactive
  • Quick
  • Reliable
  • Resourceful
  • Straightforward
  • Self-aware
  • Self-starting
  • Supportive
  • Versatile

Best words to describe yourself in a resume or cover letter

When you’re writing a resume or cover letter, you’re working with a limited amount of space—so you need to find the strongest, most precise, and most relevant words you can to describe yourself. Go back to the job description to look for the skills, qualities, experiences, and values that seem most important to the job and the company and describe yourself in a way that aligns—while still being truthful, of course. For example, are they looking for people who can quickly transition between different tasks? Then maybe you want to describe yourself as adaptable in your application materials.

Your resume should focus on your accomplishments, tailored to the specific job you want, rather than descriptions of yourself. So these words should generally be restricted to your resume summary. On a cover letter, you’re less constrained in what you write about and you can describe yourself throughout. But like in an interview, you’re going to want to back up any word you use to describe yourself with concrete examples and achievements.

The words you use to describe yourself in a resume or cover letter should take job description keywords into account, but here are some to get you started:

  • Accomplished
  • Adept
  • Analytical
  • Collaborative
  • Confident
  • Creative
  • Curious
  • Detail-oriented
  • Efficient
  • Experienced
  • Knowledgeable
  • Insightful
  • Methodical
  • Meticulous
  • Proactive
  • Organized
  • Resourceful
  • Self-taught
  • Sociable
  • Strategic
  • Tactical
  • Media-savvy
  • Tech-savvy

Bonus tips for describing yourself in professional settings

  • Adjust your choices based on the situation: There are dozens of words that could describe anyone, so pick the best ones for each scenario. If you’re looking for a job, different employers and positions call for different qualities. For example, if you’re applying for some jobs where you’d be managing direct reports, you might want to focus more on words that describe what you’re like as a leader and boss. Use the job description to see what qualifications matter most for any given posting.
  • Choose specific words: Words have their own meanings. Even synonyms rarely mean the exact same thing or evoke the same tone, images, or emotions. So find the word that best suits you and steer clear of the bland descriptors. Sure, you’re “nice” but what form does “nice” take? Are you “dependable,” “generous,” or “empathetic”?
  • Don’t sound like a thesaurus: At the same time, you don’t want to choose words just because they’re uncommon or formal. Make sure you’re choosing the best word, not the fanciest. You’re not “gregarious”—you’re “sociable” or “outgoing.” You’re not “exuberant”—you’re “enthusiastic.” You’re not “contrarian”—you’re “annoying” (so you really shouldn’t be using either word as a selling point).
  • Select descriptors you can back up: Whether or not you’re going to need to tell a story that exemplifies words you’ve chosen to describe yourself, you should have evidence that shows you’re being truthful rather than just saying what you think the other person wants to hear. In a similar vein, stay away from words that are extremely subjective or too hyperbolic to be realistic like “awesome,” “inspirational,” “tireless,” or “groundbreaking.”

Updated 11/4/2022