Learning to talk about your greatest accomplishment at work is just as vital as talking about your other skills. What you have accomplished so far in your career is your strongest case for why you’d be a great hire.
Read on to discover more about why recruiters ask what you are most proud of, as well as how to create an informative answer that will present you in the best light.
The “What Are You Most Proud Of?” Question: Setting the Context
If an interviewer asks you “What are you most proud of?” or “What is your greatest accomplishment?”, consider yourself lucky. It’s the perfect opportunity to talk about your most impressive achievements. Additional variations on this behavioral interview question include:
- “What is your greatest achievement?”
- “What were the biggest wins in your most recent role?”
- “Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty.”
- “What accomplishment are you most proud of?”
Unfortunately, most candidates aren’t prepared for answering this question and/or don’t feel comfortable “bragging.” They may even have been taught that it is rude or obnoxious to brag about your achievements. This is especially true if you’re an introvert or a bit on the modest side.
However, what might come across as obnoxious at a cocktail party is perfectly acceptable and welcomed in a job interview.
Preparing in advance will make you feel comfortable talking about yourself and your work in a positive, natural way that conveys confidence, but not cockiness.
Why do interviewers ask this question?
By asking what are you most proud of, the interviewer is giving you the opportunity to choose a story you want to highlight in the interview — they want to know what sets you apart from others, to get a better sense of what you’ve done and what you value.
Interviewing is not a lot of fun for them. You can make it easier by cutting to the chase and leading with your strongest achievement.
In teaching you how to prepare to answer behavioral interview questions about achievements and accomplishments, we’re also going to give you our approach to coming up with a whole set of stories that you can adapt for different questions.
How to Answer “What Are You Most Proud Of?”
The example that you choose will say a lot about you. First, it’ll give clues about what you value most — for example, were you most proud of closing a huge deal or building a great team? This will help indicate if you are a good fit for the job and the culture.
Your answer will also help interviewers envision you at your best. This is why it’s important not to choose an underwhelming example and to prepare in order to emphasize your best thinking and contributions.
The “Greatest Hits” approach
Our expert interview coach, Pamela Skillings, always asks “What are you most proud of?” (or a variation) in her first practice interview with a client. “This helps me get an immediate sense of what they think is their BEST story,” she says.
This matters because storytelling is a truly powerful tool in an interview. We recommend that you have a set of 3-5 great stories prepared (or more if you know the interview will be heavily behavioral-based).
Your “greatest hits” are your most impressive, interesting, and relevant accomplishments that best represent why you would be a great fit for the position.
A good greatest hit story can be used in a variety of different ways and to answer different behavioral questions. For example, one story about a successful project could be used to demonstrate leadership, problem-solving, or the ability to deal with conflict.
The STAR framework
So you have your greatest hit stories. What now? We don’t advocate writing out a story and memorizing it word-for-word. As with every behavioral interview question, we recommend the STAR framework for outlining your story. It’ll help you focus on key details so you can talk about what you are most proud of in an authentic, memorable, and concise way.
The goal is to write out a few bullet points for each of the key aspects of your story (Situation/Task, Action, and Results). This lets you focus on your key themes without being too scripted.
Our Answer Builder tool will help you learn more about structuring powerful STAR stories — and it will walk you through the process quickly and easily.
It will let you jot down the main points and ideas for each STAR component. After that, you’ll be able to practice and record yourself and our AI tool will then provide you with useful feedback. Expect a bunch of helpful information, such as the pace of your speech, whether your vocabulary is ok, how many power words you used, if you were stuttering and using filler words… AND how to improve all of that!
“What Are You Most Proud Of?”: Sample Answer
Let’s take a look at an example that shows how you can use the STAR format to tell a story about your greatest achievements.
Start by providing a brief overview of the project/situation. Limit it to just enough background to provide context and help your interviewer understand the importance of the situation.
- My department is responsible for managing the training and orientation program that is required for all new hires.
- Unfortunately, a lot of the content was a bit dry when I started.
- It was necessary information for people to have and the training was required, but we had a real problem with people not completing the training — and the course evaluations were pretty negative.
Expert Interview Coach Notes: This is a concise, yet informative enough, set-up describing the problem and its importance to the organization.
Once you have outlined the situation/task, it is time to walk through the key actions you took and the competencies you demonstrated.
- Well, I decided to make it my mission to make the program more engaging and valuable.
- I presented my idea to my managers and they gave me the go-ahead so I started by analyzing all of the evaluations over the last few years to understand what people found valuable and where we were losing them.
- As a result, I was able to restructure the agenda to make the whole program more engaging and interactive.
- We added exercises and switched the order around to avoid long stretches of dry topics.
- We also added a game aspect that really encouraged people to stay involved and complete the entire program.
Expert Interview Coach Notes: In just a few bullet points, this candidate demonstrates a number of attractive competencies: initiative, presentation skills, analytical thinking, and creativity.
Note also the use of both “I” and “we” – this candidate does not shy away from taking credit for their individual contribution, but also makes it clear they worked well on a team.
Finally, it is essential that a good STAR answer always includes a successful conclusion. The last part of your answer should describe the positive outcome(s) of your actions. Concrete results are especially impressive (increased sales by 32%, cut the budget in half), but anecdotal results can also be powerful (I was praised by my manager, I got promoted, the team leader gave me a bonus, etc.).
- I’m very proud of the fact that the new and improved program is earning rave reviews — with 92% of participants rating it as “very valuable,” compared to just 24% who rated the previous version that way.
- My manager was very pleased and promoted me to lead a high-profile training project in our London office.
Expert Interview Coach Notes: Nice and concrete details showing results, focus, and pride in a job well done. The manager’s endorsement and promotion make the accomplishment even more impressive.
Additional Tips and Tricks for Answering Questions About Your Greatest Accomplishment
Here are additional tips to help you craft your answer successfully.
1) Know what not to do
Don’t assume you’re a good communicator so your story will just flow naturally in conversation. An interview is not a typical conversation and going with the flow usually leads to a weak example (the one that comes to mind in the moment is not the best one; or you won’t remember all of the details; or you’ll get caught up in a long-winded answer). Additionally, don’t brag or put someone down — even if your accomplishment was the result of correcting someone else’s mistake. Find a nice balance between being modest and being aware of your success.
2) Lead with your strongest examples
Don’t be shy. Be proactive about making sure your best stories get told. You want to leave that interview feeling like you said everything you could to show that you are the best candidate.
3) Be specific
Don’t fall back on a generic project overview. To be memorable, you need to provide enough detail to give the hiring manager a sense of who you are and how you approach your work. Don’t rush through and leave out the most interesting details.
Remember that good stories give you an opportunity to connect with your interviewer. Give them some details that they can relate to.
4) Be concise
It is so easy to ramble on if you haven’t prepared your stories in advance. Outlining with the STAR method helps you identify the most important details so your story stays focused and interesting.
5) Practice, practice, practice!
Do not skip the practice part. We know it can be tedious, but it works. If you’re bored practicing in front of the mirror, try tools such as our Answer Builder. It’ll get fun, we promise.
Practicing will give you the opportunity to present yourself in the best light, while being concise, informative, and interesting to listen to.
Are you doing your greatest accomplishments justice?
Need a hand? There are 2 ways we can help you:
1. Learn how to turn more job interviews into job offers here. (Rated with 4.9/5 by 1,000,000 users)
2. Learn how to successfully negotiate a better salary. (Take a sneak peek of one lesson for free here)