How Do You Choose?
This question differs from “tell me about yourself” in that the interviewer expects a specific, targeted response related to one specific project.
Interviewers ask this question for two reasons: they want a better picture of your abilities, and they want to learn about you personally by seeing what you think is your biggest accomplishment.
But it can be difficult to choose just one accomplishment, especially if you haven’t prepared a response ahead of time. Here’s how to make sure you’re ready for this question.
Write (or type) your accomplishments out on paper.
Regardless of where you are in your career, you’ve accomplished things. Write those things down. If you just graduated high school and don’t yet have on-the-job experience, include things like participating in sports teams or school clubs. If you went to college, include final term papers, group projects, and internships. And if you’ve been in the workplace for a long time, take your top one or two projects from each job you’ve worked at and put them down on paper. Make sure to only include work-related accomplishments—things like having a child, getting married, or winning tickets to a baseball game are awesome, but not relevant to the interview.
Now you should have a pretty big list, right? Time for the tough part. Take that list and knock it down to your top three accomplishments. That way you’ll have three targeted answers to the question that you can change up depending on the interview. You’ll also be able to use those three accomplishments in answering other interview questions.
Structure your answer with specifics.
You don’t want to answer this question with a vague response like “I increased sales,” or “I helped my boss be better at scheduling” or even “I sold a lot of products really fast.”
The key is to start with specific metrics. Something like “I increased sales by 30% in 2019 over the previous year,” or “by learning new software and consolidating various activities, I cleared an additional 2 hours of time a day on my boss’s schedule.”
After listing your specific achievement, go into detail about how you accomplished it. It’s important to show that you can work as a member of a team, but don’t forget that this is your interview. Your response should show that you took the lead on a project, not necessarily that you helped somebody else achieve something.
Tie your accomplishment to the position you’re applying for.
By this point you’ve already researched the company and the position you’re interviewing for. If you can, take your top accomplishment and tie it into what you want to accomplish in this new position. This shows your interviewer that you’re 1) interested in the company and 2) the perfect fit for this position with immediately transferrable skills.
It can be as simple as wrapping up with “and I’d like to bring those skills/techniques/program knowledge to this position as well.”
For more in our Answering the Interview Question series check out:
Do you have any other ways to answer this question? Let us know in the comments section below!