Personality vocabulary is handy for describing friends or favorite characters in a book or movie, but it’s important if you are writing a resume (CV) or preparing for a job interview.
Are you creative? Well-organized? Responsible? You need to be able to “sell” your best qualities while still being accurate. (Mis-representing yourself—claiming to be better than you are—could lead to losing that job if your work doesn’t match the skills you claimed.)
(Only use these on a resume if they actually apply to you! You can practice some of them below.):
English has many words that describe personality traits, temperament, and attitudes.
Your temperament is your general approach to life: calm or excitable, orderly or free-spirited. Temperament and basic personality traits tend to be set, and don’t change much, but you can change your attitudes—and make a real change in your life.
The resume words listed above describe some traits employers love. On the other hand, no employer wants to hire someone who is lazy, uncooperative, unfriendly, inefficient, disorganized, dishonest, irresponsible, impatient, or late all the time.
We enjoy being around people who are generous, kind, and cheerful, not selfish and stingy (unwilling to spend money or share with others) or always in a bad mood.
Of course, most of us fit between the extremes of these words. You may have an inclination toward laziness, but when you really need to you can work hard. Or you may be generous with friends but a little stingy (or ‘tight’ or ‘cheap’) when someone asks for money to a good cause.
Even the most cheerful person may be negative and grumpy when he isn’t feeling well, and the most cautious person may do something daring and risky in an emergency. For more ways to describe attitudes and feelings, see Emotions Vocabulary for helpful illustrations, quick definitions, and a practice crossword.
Practice some of the most common words for temperaments, traits, and attitudes below.The first 7 questions are for general personality traits and attitudes toward life. Questions 8-12 are specifically work-related: words for interviews, resumes, or employee evaluations.
A cynic is a person who expects to find selfish motives behind even the most apparently altruistic (unselfish) acts. He mocks the idea that people do anything just because they care about someone else.
A skeptic is less negative, but also reads critically, questioning the truth of what he or she hears or reads and watching for bias. Skeptics, like cynics, do not assume people are telling the whole truth. (This is the meaning of the expression “take it with a grain of salt.” You need to understand that what someone is saying may not be completely accurate.)
They are aware that people may twist or mistake the facts, sometimes unconsciously, to make them fit their beliefs or interests. The opposite of skeptical is gullible. Gullible people believe anything people tell them, even if it is unlikely.
Which of these words is the closest opposite of ‘cynical’:
(The answer is ‘trusting.’ Cynics might possibly be cheerful, though they are more likely to be negative and pessimistic. Trust in people’s basic goodness is the direct opposite of cynicism.)
Choose the best answer for each of the next questions: