8 Answers to "What Is Your Greatest Achievement" in an Interview
When asked, "What is your greatest achievement?" or "What is your greatest accomplishment?" in an interview, it's not as hard to answer this as you might think. It can be fun to talk about our strengths and achievements.
When it comes to effectively talking about them in a job interview, though, some people struggle to get the words out.
It’s a complicated dance with the hiring manager. You don’t want to be too humble, but on the other hand, you don’t want to seem self-absorbed. You also don’t want to describe a situation that, to your hiring managers, isn’t as much of an achievement as you think.
Don’t worry. We’re going to cover why interviewers and hiring managers ask this question and a handful of industry-specific answers you can use as inspiration for your own.
What Types Of Achievements Are Applicable
People always ask what types of achievements are applicable. Could achievements that were made during your time playing sports be presented to the interviewer? The answer is yes. Achievements that show teamwork or the ability to challenge yourself in difficult situations are absolutely applicable. Here are some areas to recall when considering where you might have made achievements:
- During your 4-year university.
- During your time as playing as an athlete.
- During your time as an intern.
- During your time as a volunteer.
- In your home life, if there's a significant challenge present.
Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?
Hiring managers want to know what you’ve done in the past to improve a company. They do this, of course, because they want to see what kind of benefits their own company can reap if they hire you.
In addition to this, hiring managers want to see what you’ve done to go above and beyond in your industry in the past. This can help them paint a picture of who you are as a professional. If you come off as someone who actually cares about success, you’re more viable to the company.
How to Answer “What Is Your Greatest Achievement?” With 8 Example Answers
We’ve split some great inspirational sample answers to this question by industry and position: Marketing, sales, leadership, and finance. You can use some of these sample answers as a template for your own answer before going into an initial interview.
2 Answers to "What Is Your Greatest Achievement?" for Marketing Department Positions
“My last employer had a history of missing the mark when it came to preparing promotional activities. It was no fault of their own-- they were a small company, and the budget focused on the product itself, which was smart and understandable. While employed as a marketing supervisor, I took the time to make a very low-cost plan for three different promotional events. We managed to have enough in the budget for all three, and we brought on a ton of new clients through them. I think my ability to brainstorm and budget are important to this position, and that achievement really proved that to me.”
“My greatest achievement professionally was cleaning up my previous employer’s marketing team. When I was taken on, the team was really struggling, and we were failing to hit our quarterly marketing goals. I was hired to create a new marketing plan, which I designed and integrated into the existing plan without mentorship. In only three months, we were achieving 40-50% above our designated goals. My marketing ideas brought in an additional $500,000 in revenue for the company. We went from operating losses to improved revenue. I’m proud of myself and would love to bring that same dedication to your company.”
2 Answers to "What Is Your Greatest Achievement?" for Sales Department Positions
“I worked in sales and customer service at the same time. I had a lot on my plate while employed in that position. I went above and beyond to give 110% at what I did, and at some moments, I thought it wouldn’t pay off. Then, at the end of last year, it was revealed that I was #1 in sales goals and positive customer service surveys during a meeting. I received the ‘employee of the month’ award and a bonus. I was elated, and it just proved to me that hard work and dedication to your job is always worth it.”
“At my previous job, each sales representative was assigned a goal for the holiday season. The company was struggling to stay afloat in such an over-saturated market, so there was a lot of pressure to drive sales. I took the time to become an employee influencer outside work. I used social media to promote our main product through humorous sketches. This resulted in me being able to surpass my sales goal and help the company achieve record revenue. I really believe that a sales employee should believe in the product and go above and beyond to help the company succeed.”
2 Answers to "What Is Your Greatest Achievement?" for Leadership Positions
“My greatest professional achievement actually took place before I was an official ‘professional.’ That achievement would have to be completing my Master’s degree in 6 years with a 3.9 GPA. I had absolutely no financial support from my family, as they were struggling during this period. I had to work a full-time job as a waitress while pursuing my engineering degree. This experience showed me that prioritizing my time and staying focused on my goals was the key to success. In a way, the experience made me a better leader, as well. I think struggle and being humble makes it easier for leaders to level with their team, rather than see themselves as a “boss.” I’m invested more in what my team produces because I know how difficult engineering can be. I’m very proud of this, and I feel that it gave me quite an advantage in my career now.”
“I worked as a resident advisor for the local college for several years. One day, one of the sophomore dorm residents came to me with a huge problem. Their parents were no longer able to support them financially, and they still had about $2,000 to pay in tuition. If they didn’t have it, they wouldn’t be able to finish the year. They were very upset. I took this time to talk to them, listen to them, and let them cry it out. Then, we started brainstorming together. We ended up concocting a fundraiser and held a dorm raffle event to raise the money. We made the $2,000, and that student has since graduated. I believe that leadership is about teamwork and caring about the people you work with, and that situation proved what good leadership looks like.”
2 Answers to "What Is Your Greatest Achievement?" for Finance Department Positions
“There was an issue with accounts payable. A lot of money was missing, and none of my supervisors could figure out what happened. Most of the team thought it was stolen. I took the time outside my designated duties to trace the money route for the day and eventually found that the money was in a queue for the wrong vendor. We were able to remedy the issue quickly, and my supervisors were very thankful that I took the time to help out.”
“I had taken over as bookkeeper for my last employer. Their previous bookkeeper was, unfortunately, not the most modern bookkeeper. I had to spend a lot of time upgrading the bookkeeping plan and implement some new technology to make the process smoother. In the first two months, the number of discrepancies went down 75%. They had been audited every year for three years. In the year I was there, there were no audits. I’m pleased to have helped the company improve its financial practices.”
Job Seeker FAQ
Common questions about your proudest accomplishment.
How can I think of a great accomplishment?
Take a look at your resume. Does it have accomplishment statements for your previous roles? Does it speak to your career trajectory? If so, try mentioning one of those accomplishments.
Should I use a personal accomplishment?
Only if it is assistive to what the job requires. For example, having a lot of motivation, and winning a rowing state championship would find parallels.
Our favorite resources are included below.
Job interview resources
- Common Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Preparing for Job Interviews by the University of Kansas
- Mock Interview Handbook by CSUCI
- Interview Guidebook by Lebanon Valley College
Resume and cover letter resources
- Writing a Resume and Cover Letter by USC
- Resume Writing Tips by the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Resume and Cover Letter Guide by Harvard University
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