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What is Your Greatest Accomplishment?

interview tips Sep 21, 2021

This is one of the most commonly asked interview questions. Handling this question is pretty straightforward. However, there are five specific items I want you to keep in mind, and all of them are critical to your interviewing success.

Item #1 – Work Example

The first thing to remember is that, in almost all cases, you should use a work example and not a personal one. Why? Know your audience. You’re talking to a Recruiter or hiring manager who is trying to determine if you are a good fit for a specific position within the company. Your interviewer will never hold it against you for using a work example. This is what they expect to hear.

Even if you have accomplished something truly amazing in your personal life (beating cancer, completing a triathlon, helping starving children in a less-fortunate country, etc.), you simply cannot guarantee the audience will want with this type of story. Such accomplishments may come up naturally over the course of the interview, but they should not be your lead example when asked “What is Your Greatest Accomplishment?”

Item #2 – Dynamic

It kind of goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Your example should be dynamic. It should also really touch on the core aspects of what is going to make you great at any job. Some excellent traits to share are problem solving skills, leadership, an ability to navigate ambiguity, being data-driven, adaptability/flexibility and teamwork.

This is a behavioral interview question and you will want to utilize the S.T.A.R.L.F. method (Situation. Task. Action. Results. Learnings. Follow-Up Questions) to craft your response. As always, I want you to put a strong emphasis on your actions. However, don't forget the last two items: learnings and follow-up questions. I want to know what you learned from this significant experience. And, because these examples typically have a lot of depth, do not forget to ask specific follow-up questions to see if you can dig into more detail on any item.

Item #3 – Position/Company Focused

You may have a "go-to" example for this type of question. In that case, make sure you are making small tweaks to make it position/company specific.

If you have multiple accomplishments you can highlight, take the time to think through the example that works the best for this position and this company. From a position standpoint, think about what is critical for success to do well in that role. From a company perspective, think about their mission, values, and even the industry. 

Item #4 – Passion

Your body language, pitch, tone and positivity should all resonate with your interviewer. Show that you are passionate about the example that you are sharing. If you are not passionate, it will show! You may need to find another example that will better display your passion. This is a question that you need to think about and practice before any interview to make sure you are sharing the best example for that position/company.

Item #5 – The Why

The “why” is very important in your answer. At the end of your response, you should finish strong with concise and clear results and a strong learning(s).

The more you can implement the why throughout your answer, the better. Keep it dynamic. Keep it relevant to the position. Keep it passionate. Then, end with this specific verbiage to help tie it all together.

Watch my full video on this topic:

To recap, here are the 5 items to remember:

  1. Know your audience
  2. Provide a dynamic response with applied learnings
  3. Keep it company specific (maybe)
  4. If you don’t feel the passion, they won’t either
  5. Focus on the “why”

For more interview practice tips follow my YouTube channel or sign up on Practice Interviews to learn more about personal interview coaching and other job training resources we offer.

Jeff H. Sipe

Jeff has interviewed over 1000 people in his career and previously spent five years working at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley. You likely found Jeff through YouTube and you will find the same level of dedication in his one on one practice interview sessions.

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