How to answer the interview question “What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?”

Welcome back to 31 interview questions in 31 days. If you are new to this, I have committed to answering 31 interview questions of 31 business days. Today is the 5th day, so we have 26 more to go. Over the next 26 days I will answer a variety of interview questions, including behavioral interview questions, motivation questions and even salary questions. Yesterday we covered the interview question “Where do you want to be in 5 years?” If you haven’t read that one yet, hop over there when you finish today’s!

Speaking of today, we are going to cover the interview question “What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?” Now on the surface this might seem like an easy question to answer, right? I am not so sure about that actually. You see this is another question where if you are prepared to answer the question, then it should be an issue for you. However, if you are unprepared and fumble the answer on the spot it will give the person interviewing a lot of questions about you as a candidate. Does this person really not have anything they are proud of in their career?

So, the first key here is to be prepared. Know that this is a question that could very likely be asked and know exactly what you are going to say ahead of time. Secondly, do not make something up. Recruiting Legend Lou Adler once held a full day training class with my company. He spent the entire day teaching us what has worked for him in his storied career and towards the end of the day he talked about what he considered the most important interview question you can ask.

The question today was the question he was referring to. The reason being is that you can really get a solid idea about what this person’s level of ability is with this question. You can also get the people they interface with, scope of their role, organizational impact and a lot of other information when you ask the right follow ups. You see, for a recruiter, the key isn’t to ask the question, take down the answer and move on. The key to this is in the follow up questions. A good recruiter will ask what their specific role was, who they interfaced with, how long it took, who else was involved, who did you need signoff from etc.

It’s easy for a person to be asked this question and exaggerate their impact if there are no follow up questions. However, if you ask the right follow up questions it is near impossible for a person to keep fabricating without it becoming obvious. So, to recap, have an answer prepared and don’t lie. The one additional tip I will give is that it helps if your biggest accomplishment is something that would add value to your potential new role. Most of us will have several accomplishments we are proud of so if you can pick one that would be particularly attractive based on what you know of the company and role, then it’s a good idea to use that as an answer.

Well there you have it. This is a pretty straightforward question as long as you can avoid those pitfalls. Tomorrow we will cover the question “What is your biggest weakness?” If you liked this post, please feel free to like and share it with your social media. Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a great opportunity.

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