How To Answer 'What Was Your Greatest Accomplishment?' In an Interview

How To Answer 'What Was Your Greatest Accomplishment?' In an Interview

Throughout your interview, you will stumble upon lots of different questions.

What you will most definitely get asked by the hiring manager is, “What is your proudest achievement?”

That question is kind of the opposite of “Tell me about a time you failed”. It gives you the opportunity to speak about your ups throughout your career.

No matter how long have you worked, or what your previous jobs have been, there are always accomplishments that you are proud of.

But how to decide which one to share with the hiring manager?

Don’t worry, we will get you ready to answer that question perfectly.

If that’s not the only question that bothers you, you can check out these 5 Tricky as Hell Job Interview Questions, or dive into our Mock Interview Service to cover all aspects of your interview.

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HELP ME NAIL MY JOB INTERVIEW

So let’s not waste any more time and get you ready to answer “What is your proudest accomplishment?” with confidence.

Why do HRs ask this question?

What the HR wants to see here are real-life examples of your work and what accomplishments you consider as most valuable and important.

They don’t want to hear you brag on and on about your achievements, though.

What they really want to get from your answer consists of three main points:

  • Your work ethic

The HR is interested in what you would consider as an accomplishment and what work have you done to achieve it.

  • Your values

The HR is interested in which specific accomplishment you would choose and why you picked it among others.

  • Real-life examples of your work

The HR wants to see real-life examples of your work, which would help them get an idea of the projects you have completed and what they can expect from you.

Another reason for the hiring manager to ask this question is to see what makes you stand out from the crowd.

It is very likely that the position you have applied for is attractive for many more job-seekers, and the purpose of the interview is to pick the best candidate.

So choose your accomplishment wisely and make yourself stand out from the other candidates.

If you need some tips about setting yourself apart from other candidates, we got you covered.  

How to Choose Your Proudest Work Achievement for Interview Questions

When choosing which achievement to include in your answer, there are a few important points you need to consider.

First,

Be Specific and Talk about Results

You need to make your answer clear and detailed.

You would want to avoid vague language such as “I oversaw a project”.

Explain what was the project, what was your role and what you achieved through it.

Last, but not least, explain why you consider it a significant accomplishment.

Secondly,

Research the company

When answering most interview questions, you need to consider the company’s values.

This way you show that you are compatible with their beliefs and you would make a great addition to their team.

A good place to start your research would be the job description.

There you can find all the skills necessary to fulfil your responsibilities, as well as some company information.

Other action you can take to learn more about the company include:

  • Browsing their Website and LinkedIn profile
  • Reading online employee reviews
  • Reading news articles about the company

If you want to go into depth with your research, you should really check out this article.

A good technique you can use for your answer would be the

S.T.A.R Approach

S.T.A.R stands for Situation, Task, Approach and Results, and it is a great way to form a cohesive, concise and clear answer.

Let’s give it some extra thought, so that you would understand it a little better:

Situation - To start your answer, provide a brief context that sets up your accomplishment. That often includes an issue that either you, or your team, is experiencing while working on a company’s project.

Task - Next, explain your role in the project. This could include your tasks and responsibilities, as well as certain skills that you have provided to resolve the issue.

Approach - Then, explain the actions you took to make an impact or solve the problem. Make sure you are using keywords from the job description in order to show your skills are transferable and improve your chances.

Result - Finally, complete your answer by describing the positive outcome of your work. If possible, provide numbers to make your answer more impactful.

And last, but not least:

Ensure your accomplishment is recent

Whatever accomplishment you choose, make sure it is up-to-date.

In our fast-growing world, many skills that were valuable 5 years ago, are now normal requirements for every position.

Make sure your answer is relevant to today’s job market.

Often this means using an accomplishment from the recent past.

But if your achievement is still relevant, it does not matter if it is 5 months or 5 years old. If it is relevant, it counts.

Sample Good Answers to “What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment?”

Example Answer #1 - For Entry-Level worker

My greatest accomplishment so far was finishing my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in time with a 3.9 GPA. I needed to find a full time job to support my studies, because my family couldn’t help me. My experience taught me time management, habits and prioritization. I was able to stay focused on my goal, which was to finish my degree with high grades and to be able to start my career as an Accountant. I believe my dedication would be an advantage for the position.

Example Answer # 2 - for Experienced worker

My greatest personal accomplishment was while I was working for my last employer. I was able to increase the success rate of their Marketing department and the company’s profit. When I first started, the team in the department struggled to hit the quarterly goals. My job there was to create a new marketing plan for the company and implement it to make bigger revenue. After less than a year we were able to hit 20% over our targets and the plan brought more than $2.5 million in revenue for the company.

Example Answer # 3 - Volunteering Experience

My proudest accomplishment was a year ago. I managed to organize a large fundraiser for our local shelter. We were 3 people in the project, however my other colleagues were transferred in the middle of the campaign and couldn’t help me finish it. However, I successfully launched the campaign and the crowdfunding plan, so we could receive as many donations as possible. In the end of the fundraiser, we donated more than $1500 to the shelter, a lot of food, cozy clothes and help.

After that of course you should expect at least one follow-up question.

They want to know more about you, so they won’t just move on immediately. They want to see what is driving you forward and what you see as a great achievement.

Don’t panic when they ask you for more details, you could be glad that they are interested. Prepare to give more information. Tell them how you handle challenges and why this accomplishment made you proud.

Always think of the hooks you are giving and for what the Recruiter would want to learn more. One of the best signs he or she liked you is the interview follow-up question starting with “Oh, really? Tell me more about ………...”

What is more, remember that a strong impression is made not only with the answers, but also the body language you use when you are talking with the Recruiter. Have you thought about your posture, how you cross your legs, what kind of mimics you make?

If you haven’t, it’s important to read a little about this topic in our article on the body language that you should use in an interview.

Takeaways: What Are Your Proudest Accomplishments

We told you how to choose your proudest accomplishment and what are the perfect ways to answer this question, no matter how much experience you have.

Most importantly, don’t be shy when it comes to what you are really proud of. Talk about something that has happened recently and is somehow connected to what you are being interviewed for or your career path.

Choose something that really impacts you or somebody around you. And it happened because of your skills and abilities!

Don’t be afraid of numbers, use data when you can. Show results and if possible - prove them.

Always be ready for follow-up questions and look after your body language when you are answering.

Practice what you are going to say. And not only the answer to “What was your greatest achievement”. Go through all the possible questions a Recruiter may ask you.

No more wondering “How to answer? What are they going to think?”

Follow this advice and get you one step closer to your dream job.

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What are your thoughts? How do you describe your greatest achievement? Give us a shout-out in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!