You're in the interview, and the employer asks:

"What is your greatest achievement?"

Two women at a job interview Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

This is one of the most common interview questions, and for most people, this can be a challenging question to answer.

So how do go about answering professionally, while still showing the employer just how awesome you are?

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1. Prep Some Examples Beforehand

"Tell me about your greatest achievement," is an example of a behavioral question.

Employers use behavioralquestions to see how you've handled past situations, and to get a sense of your ability to perform in a position.

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To prep for this tricky behavioral question: Start by making a list of accomplishments and example scenarios that are relevant to the job and employer.

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2. Be Specific

Once you have your list, you'll want to narrow it down to 1-2 of your strongest examples.

If possible, choose recent examples.

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In your example:

  • Describe the practical skills and specific strategies or steps used that enabled you to succeed.

  • Explain any obstacles or challenges you encountered and how you were able to overcome them.

  • Describe the results of your achievement, and if possible, quantify them.

  • Talk about any useful knowledge or insights gained during the process.

3. Use The STAR Method To Frame Your Answer

A handy tip is to use the STAR method to help frame and organize your answer.

The STAR method stands for: Situation, Task, Action, Result

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Situation: Describe the situation/scenario.

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Action: Describe what actions and strategies you took.

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Task: Describe what needed to be done.

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Result: Describe the results of your achievement.

Example 1: Answer For A Customer Service Role

A customer buying food at a cafe Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

Situation — At the local market, a customer had purchased quite a large order and was having difficulties transferring their items to their car.

Task — Someone on staff needed to assist the customer.

Action — Although I was on my break, I was aware that the other clerks were busy helping customers, so I offered to help that customer with their items.

Result — The next day, we received a message from the customer addressed to the manager. They were really impressed by my customer service and wanted to thank me! As a result, I was promoted on the spot to Customer Service Rep.

Example 2: Answer For An Administative Role

Person working on laptop and holding a pen.

Situation — Our team was struggling to make the monthly quotas for our fundraisers.

Task — As the Program Assistant, I was tasked with helping out the fundraising team with contacting potential donors.

Action — I helped out my team by creating a plan for us to divide up the call list and to set goals for each day for the number of calls for each team member to aim for.

Result — My idea helped to increase the number of donors contacted daily, which led to an increase in our daily quotas achieved for our team.

4. Avoid These Common Mistakes

  • Being too modest - this can undermine your accomplishments.

  • Speaking negatively about past employers or staff - this reflects poorly on you.

  • Making something up or exaggerating your achievements - they want to get to know YOU.

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Take Action

Ready to impress? Take some time to prep for the interview and to craft your answer!

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