What is your greatest accomplishment?

This can be a tough interview question to answer.

It can be a little daunting, partially because it is such an open question and there are a million different ways to answer.

You want to think not only of your “greatest accomplishment,” but also a great accomplishment that speaks volumes.

Maybe you are having trouble thinking of a great accomplishment.

Maybe you are thinking of so many and having a hard time narrowing it down to just one.

Whatever it is, we are going to teach you how to give the very best answer possible.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

Why in the world do interviewers and hiring managers care about your greatest accomplishment?

Your mind might go a little crazy with assumptions:

  • Are they trying to lure you into revealing how cocky and self-absorbed you really are?
  • Are they trying to get passed your interview facade?
  • Do they know something you don’t?

Relax, it’s not a trap, we promise.

The truth is, this really is a chance for you to brag a little.

The interviewer wants to hear you talk about something you’re proud of.

They want to hear how you figured out a problem or how you prepared for a big meeting.

If you’re a little reserved or shy, do your best to relax your barriers a little so you can get into detail about this accomplishment.

If you’re talking about your greatest accomplishment, you should be proud of it and show it!

But what kind of accomplishments and achievements should you be considering?

Truth is, there are some accomplishments you should consider more than others.

Narrowing It Down

When you are being asked about your greatest accomplishment in an interview, you can assume that the employer is interested in a work-related accomplishment.

As great as it is that you have climbed Mount Rushmore or ran a marathon, these typically are not the answers your interviewer is looking for.

Don’t get me wrong.

These things are amazing!

However, given the context of this basic interview question, try to focus on a career-related accomplishment.

Try thinking about big projects, problems you helped solve, or big ideas you suggested.

Check out our list of the 50 Top Job Interview Questions And Answers for more interview questions.

If You Are a Recent College Grad

If you are a recent grad or someone with very little relevant career experience, then you would be an exception.

You probably don’t have many career-oriented accomplishments, and that’s okay.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have things to be proud of.

Try to find a life accomplishment that could emphasize a skill that you need in order to do your job.

For example, if your position requires a lot of stamina, training, and preparation, running a marathon could be a great answer.

Some other accomplishments and experience you can consider:

  • Leadership roles in different clubs during your years in college.
  • If you’re passionate about the volunteer work you do.
  • A publication or two for work that you put a lot of heart into.

No matter your experience, even if your greatest accomplishment is graduating college, it is important that you pay attention to this next section.

Tell a Story

Whatever your answer is, make sure to tell a story.

The employer does not just want to know what you did, but with who, when, where, and how you did it as well.

When you respond to this question, your answer shouldn’t be a simple, enough-sentence response like, “My greatest accomplishment is x.”

Imagine x represents your greatest accomplishment of curing cancer or saving the world.

Yeah, those are great things in and of themselves, but chances are the interviewer would still want to hear the story behind these accomplishments.

Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to give the interviewer some details!

If you’re talking about your greatest accomplishment, you’re probably going to be at least a little proud about it.

And being proud is okay!

Bragging a little is okay!

The interviewer is asking you to brag a little.

If you take pride in your work, it means you care about what you do and aim to do it well.

Nothing to be ashamed about there.

Here is an example of a good response to this interview question:

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Last December, my company was struggling to meet their end of year revenue. We had about eight days left till the New Year and we were short just over $1.5 million dollars.

As the sales manager, it was my responsibility to get my team pumped up and make sure that we met our goal. Keep in mind; our average monthly revenue was around $1 million dollars so achieving $1.5 million in 8 days was a huge task to take on.

For the remaining days, I organized brief team meetings; call blocks and cash prizes for the reps that closed the most deals. The end result was $1.9 million dollars in eight days. We not only saved the quarter but also greatly exceeded anyone’s expectations.

This is a great example of someone who told a story to describe their greatest accomplishment.

From this example, you can assume they were applying for either a sales or management position.

If it was not one of those two positions, it probably was not the best answer.

Depending on the position, your answer should vary.

It’s important to note that the above story has multiple functions.

Not only is the job applicant answering the question about their greatest accomplishment, but they are also showcasing the skills, creativity, and strengths it took to accomplish it.

This achievement didn’t just happen by magic, you know.

It takes some brainpower and skill to get something done.

That’s what makes an accomplishment worth some pride.

Similar to the interview question “What Are Your Strengths,” this is another great opportunity to brag about yourself.