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How To Answer “What Is Your Greatest Achievement?” Interview Question

One of the behavioural questions you should expect during a job interview is “What is your greatest accomplishment?,” and sadly, this question is considered tricky.

I said tricky because you may want to be extra careful not to sound proud, and end up giving an inadequate answer, and at the same time, there is a way you would answer this question, and appear proud.

In this article, we will briefly discuss the purpose of this behavioral interview question as it will help you understand what your interviewer expects from you, how to prepare your answers as well as some answer examples to this question.

Let’s delve right into it.

Why Do Employers Ask The Question “What Is Your Greatest Achievement?” 

It’s important for you to understand why you are asked this question as it will inform your decision on the answers to give.

That being said, this question is asked to evaluate what you consider to be most valuable to you in life, and if this value of yours fits into the culture of the company.

Additionally, they want to find out if you have some of the soft skills they need in an employee such as  leadership potential, teamwork, adaptability, communication, creativity and problem-solving as well as your definition of  success and whether it matches with the company’s commercial goals.

Finally, the hiring manager aims at finding out if you have the zeal to succeed. 

Tips To Answer The Question – “What Is Your Greatest Achievement?” 

Having seen the reason why this question is asked, the tips below will help you navigate through this question, and give the best possible answers.

1. Choose Recent, And Relevant Accomplishment 

You may have impressive accomplishments that happened many years ago but the ideal thing to do is to look for your most recent accomplishments such as the one that happened in the past one or two years.

Another criterion you should consider when deciding on an achievement to put forward is its relevance to the job or careers you’ve applied for.

Generally, choose something that has a total impact on your career; something important and relevant.

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2. Highlight Your Values and Best Qualities

Travel down memory lane to figure out what are your greatest values and qualities as these qualities must have landed you your greatest achievements.

For instance, you may have been awarded the best customer representative by your company, and this happens to be your greatest achievement.

You were given this title because you value hard work and making customers comfortable while ensuring their needs are sorted.

This is an indication that you are passionate about customer service and you aim to exceed the expectations of your customers and employer, and that your communication skills are over the bar.

I bet the hiring manager should be able to pick that.

3. Research The Job And Company

Carry out your personal research about the company to discover the skills and qualities they value the most.

The essence of this is to use this information to your advantage by tailoring your answer to suit what they are looking for.

Sources of your research include the job description, the company’s website, online employee reviews of the company, blog and LinkedIn profile for previous projects, achievements and client testimonials.

3. Be Honest

You may feel your greatest accomplishment is not good enough or you can’t think of anything that qualifies, and as such, be tempted to tell lies.

This isn’t necessary. You should at every point keep in mind that your definition of ‘your greatest accomplishment’ is subjective and personal to you as long as it is recent and relevant to the job.

Truthfully, the employer is not after the accomplishment you choose to discuss as long as you can demonstrate skills and qualities that give you an edge over other candidates.

4. Be Specific

Make sure you pass your answer in very clear terms , and avoid giving a vague or single – worded answer.

5. Don’t Be Shy 

You don’t have to sound very humble as this is an opportunity to sell yourself professionally, so you must be confident in what you are saying.

6. Practice Your Answer

Nothing comes out perfect the first time, so run through your explanation for what is your greatest professional achievement before the interview starts

How To Answer The Question – “What Is Your Greatest Achievement?” 

In this section, we will be taking a look at how to organize and deliver your answer to the hiring manager in a way that leaves a nice impression.

As always, I recommend the STAR Method, which is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, and Result as this will help to pass your answer across in the best way possible.

Answering the questions asked by each of the letters of this acronym will help you to organize the answer to give your employer. Let’s explore this method:

– S stands for Situation. Ask yourself in what context did your greatest accomplishment happen?

– T stands for Task. What challenges did you face or what goal did you intend to achieve?

– A stands for Action. What action did you take, and what skills did you employ?

– R stands for Result. What was the outcome? Are there lessons you learnt from the experience? Why is this your greatest accomplishment?

Don’t forget all of those answers must be related to a work environment, however, you can refer to school accomplishments, volunteering or even your hobbies but make sure these achievements demonstrate transferable skills.

Some of the examples you could give include exceeding sales targets, organizing a successful charity event, giving a great presentation at work, mentoring a coworker or fellow student, and training for and completing a marathon.

Sample Answers To The Question – “What Is Your Greatest Achievement?” 

Going forward, we will be looking at some of the sample answers you can give as an answer to this question, and these answers can serve as a guide on how to answer yours.

Sample Answer 1: A Recent Graduate

My four-year, 3.8 GPA bachelor’s degree was my most professional accomplishment. I had to work a full-time job while completing my degree in economics because my family was unable to provide any financial assistance. I learned from this to set priorities for my time, create positive habits, and maintain goal focus. I’m happy with this accomplishment and believe the lessons I’ve learned will help me greatly in my future professional endeavors.

Sample Answer 2 (An Experienced Job Seeker)

“The thing I was most proud of was when I was an HR Administrator. I observed that team members frequently had trouble finding particular files, which decreased productivity, especially during busy times. I decided to start a team filing system as a result. Every important document was scanned, and I stored the scans to shared folders on our computer. Our time sheets showed that the amount of time spent looking for files had decreased by several hours by the end of the month.”

Sample Answer 3: An Experienced Job Seeker

The success of the marketing department at my previous firm was restored, and that was my biggest professional accomplishment. The team as a whole was having trouble, and we weren’t meeting our quarterly goals when I joined. I was engaged to develop a fresh marketing strategy, which I came up with on my own and carried out. Within six months, we were doing 20 to 25 percent more than our targets, and through the second part of last year, my marketing strategy generated an additional $3 million in sales for the company. The company was operating at a loss each quarter before this new revenue enabled it to become profitable.

Mistakes To Avoid When Answering The Question “What Is Your Greatest Achievement”

There are certain things you must not say in the course of answering this question, if not, you may risk losing the job even before you got it.

1. Stuttering

Shuttering is an indication that you aren’t prepared for the interview, and that’s an UGLY impression. 

I recommend the STAR technique earlier stated I’m this article to ensure that you don’t miss the key points.

2. Indecisiveness 

You have to prepare your answers beforehand to ensure you don’t end up giving the interviewer a long list of achievements because you weren’t able to make a decision on  which to discuss.

3. Cracking Jokes

You don’t crack jokes when an important question is thrown at you.

Saying things like My greatest achievement was when I managed to arrive at work early once. Just kidding, my real greatest achievement is…” is not acceptable.

4. Undermining Others

Some people may want to capitalize on others’ failures to make their accomplishment seem more impressive, so, if you are one of such people, you should take anything that seems like correcting someone else’s mistake off your list.

Conclusion

I have successfully taken you through how to answer the question “What is your greatest achievement,” so the next time this interview is thrown at you during an interview, you already know what to say and what not to say.

All the best.

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