Job Interview Questions About Accomplishments

Interview questions about accomplishments and achievements are often asked during job interviews. This question is popular among interviewers for several reasons. First and foremost, the interviewer is interested in your character, work ethic, and core values. Questions about your accomplishments are so-called ‘behavioral job interview questions.’ Behavioral job interview questions focus on work situations that you experienced in the past. The way you respond to such questions and the information you give the interviewer reveals a lot about your skills, abilities, and personality.

People, in general, are usually not experienced in talking about their greatest accomplishments. However, when the interviewer asks you about your accomplishments, this is actually a great opportunity to demonstrate your suitability for the job. It allows you to share an accomplishment that is relevant to the position that you’re applying to and show that you’re able to add value to your potential future employer.

In this article, we discuss why this is the case, but also why the interviewer is asking you such questions in the first place, and what they are looking for in your answers. Also, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here.

Why the interviewer is asking about your accomplishments

These particular interview questions require you to talk about yourself and your career in a very positive way. It’s therefore important that you can provide the interviewer with concrete examples of your accomplishments. This means that you should be able to provide an answer on the spot when you’re being asked about your career achievements. In other words, this is your time to ‘brag’; not to be humble. However, do not overdo it, but it’s very important that you show confidence when you walk the interviewer through your story.

Interviewers ask this question because they are interested in what possibly makes you stand out from the crowd. Therefore, do not regard it as a trick question. You can imagine that a company receives tens or even dozens of applications for the same position. By asking certain behavioral questions, interviewers try to assess which candidates are more qualified than others for the job.

Behavioral job interview questions usually start with:

  • Tell me about a time when
  • Have you ever
  • Give me an example of
  • Describe situations where
  • What do you do when

Behavioral interview questions about your accomplishments give the interviewer the ability to zoom in on situations that you regard as a great achievement in your career. The interviewer can focus on the details of the situation that you provide. That’s why you need to ensure that you provide the interviewer the situation you were in, your task in that situation, the action you took, and the specific results that can come out of those actions. In short, this is called the STAR-method of providing an answer.

What the interviewer is interested in

The interviewer wants to gain knowledge about your proven work and which accomplishments in your career are most valuable, according to you. They want to get insights into who you really are and how you approach your work. Basically, they are interested in the following things about you:

  1. Work ethic

It’s interesting for an interviewer to hear you talk about what you find important. Also, he or she is interested in what you view as an achievement and what’s needed in terms of completed work to achieve them.

  1. Core values

Follow-up questions about why you chose the discussed achievement as your ‘greatest’ gives the interviewer more insights into your core values.

  1. Work examples

The specific work examples you choose to use in your answer about your greatest accomplishments give the interviewer insight into how you approach projects. By describing your achievements, the interviewer can get an idea of what to expect from you. Based on this, they can assess your suitability for the job.

Frequently asked job interview questions about accomplishments

Below you can find commonly asked interview questions about your accomplishments:

  1. What is your greatest accomplishment?
  2. Tell me about a time you had a significant contribution to a corporate goal
  3. What professional achievement are you most proud of?
  4. Tell me about a time you went above and beyond to achieve something
  5. What professional accomplishment do you think will be the hardest for you to achieve?
  6. Tell me about a recent project that you completed ahead of schedule
  7. Tell me about a time-resolved a conflict within work
  8. What is the most significant accomplishment you have on the horizon?
  9. How do you plan to develop yourself as a professional in the next year?
  10. Can you describe an important goal that you’ve accomplished?

How to answer job interview questions about accomplishments

There are a couple of things you should focus on when you talk about your accomplishments during a job interview:

  1. Give the interviewer an answer in the form of a ‘story.’ Walk them through the challenges you were facing and how you approached them. Furthermore, talk about your actions and the success you had by following them.
  2. Structure your story logically. Use the STAR interview technique to do this. STAR is an acronym that stands for a situation (S), your task (T) in that situation, the actions (A) you took, and what results (R) you got based on your actions. Below the STAR technique is described in more detail.
  3. Highlight your achievements in your answer. This might sound logical but make sure to put the focus on demonstrating that you’re the right person for the job.
  4. Display the skills and abilities that are needed for the job you’re applying for and that the interviewer wants to see. In other words, match your qualifications to the job and skills as mentioned in the job description.
  5. Be serious in your answer and focus on your goal. This is not the time to make funny comments or remarks. Answer the question as a professional and describe to the interviewer what your greatest accomplishments are.
  6. Honesty is key. Interviewers are trained to notice when someone is faking or making up a story. Make sure to prepare yourself well before the interview so that you have several accomplishments that you can discuss if the interviewer asks you to.

STAR Interview Technique

The best way to prepare for your job interview and behavioral job interview questions is by structuring your answers according to the STAR method. This way, you can give the interviewer exactly what he or she is looking for. Furthermore, it allows you to provide a concise and to the point answer about your accomplishments. Below the STAR acronym is broken down into each step.

Situation

When you give your answer to the interviewer, start by setting the stage. Provide context around the situation or challenge you were facing. Also, make sure to provide relevant details.

Task

After you describe the situation, talk about your specific responsibilities and what your role was. It’s important that the interviewer gets an understanding of your task.

Action

Then, talk about the actions you took to resolve the challenges you were facing. Provide the interviewer with a step by step description of what actions you took.

Result

Finally, talk about the outcomes of your actions. Make sure to take credit for your behavior that led to the result. Here you answer questions such as What happened? What did you accomplish? Also, provide the interviewer with information about what you learned from the situation. Make sure to focus on positive results and positive learning experiences.

Sample answers to discuss your accomplishments in a job interview

Below some example answers to discuss your greatest accomplishment. The examples are already written in STAR format so that you can clearly see how you can structure your answers.

STAR-Method Example 1:

Situation: My greatest accomplishment happened in my previous position as sales manager.

Task: I often saw team members struggling to locate specific, but essential client details in the system that we were using at the time. As a result, productivity went down, and it became harder to reach sales targets every month.

Action: After noticing this, I took the initiative to implement a new, more up-to-date CRM system that I already had experience with. After implementation, I trained and coached my team members on how to use it and showed them with what ease they could find and file client information.

Result: We reviewed the results after two months of working with the new system, and our time sheets indicated that we spent multiple hours less on collecting client data. As a result, we were able to increase our sales targets, which we already met in the third month of implementing the new system.’

Why is this a good answer?

  1. The provided example is related and relevant to the workplace.
  2. This answer shows important skills such as problem-solving skills, teamwork, innovation, adaptability, and creativity.
  3. The project turned out a success, which gives more weight to the achievement discussed.

STAR-Method Example 2:

Situation: ‘After I graduated, I started a marketing internship at online retailer ‘ABC.’ The team worked several hours a week on organizing budget sheets and planning models.

Task: My tasks consisted of supporting the marketing team with their daily needs, such as proof-reading marketing materials, helping structure marketing campaigns, and other creative activities. However, during my graduate internship at ‘XYZ,’ I followed a course about structuring planning models that I implemented with my team, and they are still using this model over there today. I thought my experience might be of use at ABC company as well.

Action: I talked to the team manager about my idea, and he approved a trial version to see if it could work at ABC as well. I developed a structured and more effective planning model that was linked to the budget sheets as well. This allowed team members to organize their own parts of the planning and budgets that they were responsible for. This saved the team a lot of time because everybody could work on their own specific part of the planning that was automatically updated while being linked to the budget sheets.

Result: After the new planning was fully integrated into the first team, they saw a decrease of 30% in time spent on planning and budgets sheets. This allowed the team to use there valuable time more effectively and efficiently and focus on the actual marketing projects.’

Why is this a good answer?

  1. This example shows management skills and leadership potential because the solution to an issue caused a more effective process overall.
  2. The provided example is related and relevant to the workplace.
  3. This answer shows important skills such as problem-solving skills, teamwork, innovation, adaptability, and creativity.
  4. The project turned out a success, which gives more weight to the achievement discussed.