How to Answer: “What is your greatest achievement?” interview question

Practice, clarity and professional achievement that can be quantified in terms of return on investment or data that supports your decision, is a good way to answer  “what is your greatest achievement?” interview question.

Preparing for an interview means researching the company you are interviewing at, polishing up on your skillets and trying to find unique answers to stock questions like:

  • What made you apply at our company?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
  • Describe yourself in so many words?
  • And what is your greatest achievement?

Here we will attempt to give an answer to the last question on achievement.

This might seem a straightforward question, but what the interviewer is looking for is what words you use to describe the achievements. The choice of words reveals a lot about your personality. He or she also wants to know what sets you apart from the other candidates and what are your values and ethics. 

what was your greatest accomplishment?

It is also a way to gauge your past performances in your earlier jobs.

what is your greatest achievement

Answering the greatest achievement of your life question in an interview.

When you answer this interview question, are you bragging or stating a fact. If you go on making a mountain out of a molehill i.e. elaborating on a very ordinary accomplishment, then you may not make the cut.

Secondly, if your greatest achievement is organizing the office party or winning your college class election, then again, it does not add to what you will bring to the present work and profession.

Or if you list how you always manage to meet targets and go overtime to finish work or are good at time management, then again, you are meeting your job requirements and doing what is expected out of you. That is not an achievement but fulfilling your job duties.

It also matters what accomplishment you choose to highlight. Is it something that you achieved alone or with a team. Or when you are listing your greatest achievement, do you acknowledge the inputs of others.

Way to Answer “what was your greatest achievement?” interview question

Human resource experts and researches have come up with a STAR method to give an answer that is satisfactory. The STAR translates to Situation, Task, Action, and Resolution.

Describe the situation and in which context it happened. The task that was required to be fulfilled, the unique action that you took fulfills the task. It should be some out-of-the-box action and the final result or resolution that happened.

Situation

It can be about a supply chain pickup that the company was facing.

Task

Tell that you undertook a thorough investigation and did a back check of every task. You found out that it was due to the timings when the order was picked up. The vehicle inevitably got stuck in traffic during rush hours or maybe there were restrictions on the movement of heavy vehicles during those times, and a longer route was taken.

Action

You found the solution in changing the timings or using lighter vehicle or even paying the supplier to make the deliveries in his vehicles.

Result

But quantify the solution in data and cost-effectiveness to the company. Or that the result was that the resolution of the problem ended up in lesser hassles for the company and proved cost-effective in the long run.

Depending on the company and position you are applying for, be prepared with at least 2-3 stories of achievements. Be precise and to the point, do not meander and be long-winded.

Being prepared and practicing your answers to expected questions is a good way to get over any shyness or hesitations. You can avoid sounding too brash and learn to be positive and natural in presenting your case.

Remember to distinguish between your professional and personal achievements. Do not confuse the two. It might help to add an addendum of what you value as your greatest achievement in your personal life—may be running a marathon, scaling a peak, doing something special for your near and dear ones.

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Jane Harper
Jane Harper
Writer. Human resources expert and consultant. Follow @thehrdigest on Twitter

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