The interview question, “what is your greatest achievement?” is designed to better understand your skills and your personality as a prospective employee. Personal interviews are meant to provide insights about a candidate that cannot be drawn from a CV. You should answer the question about your greatest achievement in a way that allows your interviewer to assess both your competence and character.
Why Do Employers Ask “What Is Your Greatest Achievement”?
Apart from trying to assess your skills and personality better, the question on what is your biggest achievement may help employers understand the following:
How you handle yourself under pressure or during a crisis
How you take up additional responsibility when your organization needs you
Your technical qualities as well as your people skills
Your perception of your own actions, which is understood by how you talk about what is your biggest achievement
How To Talk About Your Greatest Achievement
While the greatest achievement of your life can theoretically come from your personal or your professional life, it’s expected that in a job interview you’ll be focusing on the latter. When talking about your professional achievements, try to talk about something that’s recent as well as relevant to the job you’re applying for. Take note of the following suggestions to give yourself the best possible chance of coming up with the perfect answer:
Follow The STAR Method
In this context, STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. In answering what is your greatest achievement, you’re expected to go into detail and not provide a one-line answer. An effective way is to break down your achievement using the STAR method. This will give you the opportunity to give enough information about your achievement before you talk about its quantitative and qualitative impact.
Prepare A List
As you prepare for the interview, make sure to compile a list of things you could potentially talk about as your greatest achievements. In the end, you will pick only one (or at most two) from this list, but it’s vital that you create a list to begin with. This is because it’s easy to overlook certain achievements where you haven’t been as emotionally involved but which are, from a professional perspective, just as important, if not more. Once you list everything, you give yourself a better chance to make the right choice for your answer.
Do Your Research
To find out what sort of answer is likely to be most effective, and by extension, which achievement you should focus on, you need to do your share of research about the organization you’re applying to and your job profile. If you’ve worked as a social media manager in your previous job and your upcoming interview is for the position of a data analyst, you’ll be better off talking about an achievement that’s closer to data management instead of a viral social media campaign that you helped design.
Mention Your Takeaways From The Achievement
What have you learned about yourself from your greatest achievement? Has this achievement been a turning point in your career? How has this achievement inspired you (or others) in terms of subsequent performance? These are some of the questions you are expected to address while answering the larger question about your greatest achievement. Doing so proves that you have reflected on your actions and drawn lessons from them to improve as a professional.
What Not To Say
While you prepare a well-thought-out answer, it’s equally important to keep in mind what not to say. Here are a few things you must avoid while elaborating on what is your greatest accomplishment:
Don’t try to be casual or force yourself to be funny (for instance, saying something like “my greatest accomplishment was when I managed to turn up at the office on a Saturday on time! Just kidding…)
Don’t be indecisive or hesitant while answering
Don’t provide three or four options when asked what is your greatest accomplishment
Don’t highlight achievements where the focus is less on what you did and more on what others failed to do
“What Is Your Greatest Achievement” Sample Answer
The following answer to “what is your greatest achievement” can help you grasp what exactly employers are looking for when they pose this key question:
“I believe my greatest achievement came seven months ago in my previous job as an advertising consultant. The finance team of my organization was struggling with a project involving our second-biggest client as the head of the team had to go on leave for personal reasons. The organization badly needed someone to step in and help the finance team in their moment of crisis. With my finance background, I offered to help and soon found myself in charge of the team for two weeks, during which we managed to complete our task well within the stipulated time. This experience taught me that a versatile skill-set and a willingness to take up challenges outside my expected role can lead me to do great things for my organization.”
Learn To Answer The Right Way
At Harappa, we aim to make your job easier when it comes to answering behavioral questions such as “what is your greatest achievement?” through our tailor-made course, Ace The Interview. By signing up for this, you’ll have access to mock interview scenarios, personal analysis and crucial insights about how to tackle the most frequently asked interview questions. Join employees from the likes of Uber, Flipkart and Standard Chartered in enrolling for this course and optimize your interviewing skills.
Explore topics such as General HR Interview Questions, How To Improve Interviewing Skills, How to Answer “What Is Your Dream Job“, “What Makes You Unique” & How to Prepare for a Mock Interview from Harappa Diaries and ace your next interview.
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