If the interviewer asks you “What accomplishments are you most proud of,” pick a work-related accomplishment (not personal) that’s aligned with the prospective company’s values and goals.
Explain how you achieved what you achieved — context matters just as much as raw facts here. Make sure to include quantitative or qualitative results, and describe what you learned from the accomplishment.
And consider yourself lucky if you get this question! You just got the perfect chance to highlight your proudest wins without coming across as arrogant.
Picking the right accomplishment is key, as it speaks volumes about your values, priorities, and character. To your interviewers, what you consider an achievement illustrates the kind of employee you will be.
For more information and a detailed guide on how to answer “What accomplishments are you most proud of”, read on.
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Why Do Recruiters Ask “What Accomplishments Are You Most Proud Of?”
To gauge your personal values and work ethics
The accomplishments you deem most important will give recruiters insight into your personal values and work ethic.
They speak volumes about your discipline, how you approach and organize your work, and how you set and achieve goals.
They also speak about your dedication and integrity: if you’re responsible, proactive, and if you take the lead.
Your accomplishments reveal your priorities, too: Will you choose an accomplishment when you saved or brought some money to the company? Or built and led a team? Or developed a certain skill? Judging by this, they’ll know if you’re business-oriented, people-oriented (suitable for a leadership role), or expertise-oriented.
Your answer will also reveal a lot about your interpersonal skills at work, like teamwork, leadership, and collaboration.
Will you choose an accomplishment you achieved on your own? Or will you highlight an accomplishment that was the result of a mutual effort by the entire team? Do you give credit where credit is due?
These are all things they’ll be looking for in your answer.
To assess problem-solving skills and adaptability
The achievement you’re most proud of can tell a lot about your adaptability and problem-solving skills.
For example, using an example where you thought outside of the box and solved a problem at work can show you’re a creative thinker focused on solutions.
To evaluate your ability to work under pressure and achieve results
In the end, this is at the core of any business — being efficient and getting the work done. The best accomplishments you can mention at an interview show how your work impacted the business bottom line — even if there were some roadblocks on the way.
To identify if you’re a cultural fit
Different people and organizations have different priorities. If, for instance, a company values teamwork above anything else, you’ll probably score some bonus points if you mention successfully onboarding a group of new hires as your top accomplishment.
We’re not saying you should make things up — but if there are several things you’re really proud of in your career, pick the one that feels the most relevant to that particular interview.
If you want to learn more tips and tricks on answering the most common interview questions, sign up for our free course!
How to Answer “What Accomplishments Are You Most Proud Of?”
If you’re thinking “But I don’t have any special achievements, I just do my day-to-day,” you’re not alone. Most candidates tend to be critical of themselves and fail to recognize their accomplishments.
Here’s a 3-step process to help you overcome this:
- Step 1: Get rid of this mindset. We guarantee you have achievements to be proud of.
- Step 2: Find these achievements.
- Reflect on your work experience so far. Good performance is an achievement in itself — think of the time a manager or team member praised you for a work well done, or when you felt happy with an outcome.
- Step 3: Measure these achievements.
To measure them, consider the frequency of your work (how often/how quickly you produced or delivered) and the scale of your work (how much of something you produced or delivered, how many people you managed, how big the budgets/projects you handled were).
Qualitative achievements are also legit. These are all the interesting stories or situations when you felt you improved something (although you don’t necessarily have the numbers), or skills you developed, or awards and recognitions you received, and similar.
To get you inspired, here are 30+ Work Accomplishments and Achievements. Although the article is created for a different stage of the job search (resume building), it’s still full of super useful tips on how to frame “normal” duties as actual achievements.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into tips to identify these and answer “What accomplishments are you most proud of?”
Identify your achievements
Reflect on your past achievements and figure out what you’re actually proud of. These can be:
Here, you can include:
- Successful projects or campaigns
- Positive feedback
Basically, anything from your work history that you’re particularly proud of.
For professional achievements, tips about the frequency and scale we wrote above will be particularly helpful.
Be careful here!
Although it says “personal”, it does not refer to events in your personal life (“I became a football coach” or “I raised two wonderful kids”).
Instead, these accomplishments should refer to the things that are not necessarily tied to your position but are still connected to your growth as a professional.
- Overcoming personal challenges (for example, working on your introvertedness and starting to speak up during meetings or starting to network)
- Achieving personal growth or development goals (for example, starting a side hustle or your own small business)
- Getting recognition (for example, getting a local “50 under 50” award or “Most involved parent in school”, etc.)
Useful especially if you have limited work experience (or, obviously, if you’re in academia).
Here, you can speak about:
- Honors or distinctions
- Research projects
- Conference talks
- Foreign exchange programs
- Clubs or extracurriculars
Choose a relevant and impactful example of something you’re proud of
It’s important that you choose a relevant accomplishment that will both demonstrate your capabilities and indicate alignment with the prospective company’s values.
Do your homework: analyze the job ad and look up the company (their website, Glassdoor reviews, any relevant and recent news, and social media).
This is the best way to learn their values and determine the key skills needed to land that job.
For example, if you’re applying for a company that values a strong sense of community and giving back to others, then your experience with organizing a soup kitchen will be perfect.
Or, if you’re applying to a youthful startup that values creativity and innovation, then you can tell them about your capstone project where you helped a company expand to an emerging market.
Doing this will prove that you have the skills needed to thrive, but it will also show them you’re a cultural fit.
Showcase your unique skills and strengths
The duties of a single position can somewhat vary from company to company and from industry to industry. That’s why your proudest accomplishment won’t always reflect 100% of what a prospective employer needs.
For this reason, you should highlight your transferable skills that will ensure success in different roles. Some of these can be:
- Communication. This skill can be useful in a variety of different roles, from customer service and sales to management.
- Leadership. Even if you’re not applying for a managerial position, any company wants an employee who is not afraid to take the lead in certain circumstances.
- Time management. Again, even if you’re not someone who will be responsible for other people’s performance, having outstanding time management skills will be useful for managing your own timeline, organizing your work, meeting short deadlines, responding to urgent requests, and similar.
The skills above are essential for just about any position and they’ll always bring you bonus points. But to really stand apart, find a balance between these essential skills and the ones that are unique to you and your experience (hard skills, skills obtained in a specific industry, etc). You want to show them you’re a well-rounded person that has everything they need.
✔️Pro tip: Be sure to highlight your commitment to life-long learning. This means drawing a lesson from any experience and talking about what you learned from each accomplishment.
Showing recruiters that you learn from bad and good times alike will help you stand out.
Use the STAR method
The best way to answer the “What are you most proud of” question is to tell a story. And to make an engaging and coherent one, you can use the STAR (or PAR) formula.
STAR stands for Situation — Task — Action — Result, while PAR stands for Problem — Action — Result.
They’re essentially the same. What you need to do is provide a bit of broader context (Situation or Problem), then talk about your actional plan and what you did to solve the problem (Task/Action and Action), and what were the results (Result).
Here’s a sample “What are you most proud of” answer based on the STAR formula:
Situation (describing the context):
In my previous company, I worked as a Sales Associate in a B2B company that created this awesome ESP (email service provider). I was responsible for closing deals with potential customers.
Task (explaining your responsibility):
There was this particularly important prospective client that was hesitant to switch to our platform. They had used our competitor’s solution for years and were pretty happy about it. So it was crucial that I find a unique angle to approach them, build trust, and close that deal.
Action (detailing your strategy and tactics):
I did extensive research on their company and industry and uncovered some of the key pain points they were facing. I also created a spreadsheet to help them compare their software with other options, including our solution. I scheduled meetings with the client’s team where we discussed their challenges and goals for the upcoming year. Turns out that the pandemic changed the eCommerce industry immensely and they needed a tool with extensive options for segmenting their audiences — which is exactly what we offered. Plus, we were a smaller company and our services were more affordable and more tailor-made than those of our competitors.
Result (showing what you accomplished):
In the end, they decided to trust us even though we were new kids on the block. Together with a coworker, I managed to close this deal and this was our first big client ever. Three years on and they’re still with us. This experience taught me a lot about collaboration and putting myself in someone else’s shoes. I don’t think we would have closed the deal hadn’t it been for the extensive research.
Thinking about an example in advance and preparing an answer with a STAR formula will help you confidently deliver a story that flows perfectly.
Check out our dedicated guides on how to tackle other common job interview questions. Those are really likely to come up at your next interview:
- Why should we hire you?
- Why do you want to work here?
- Tell me about yourself
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- What’s your greatest weakness?
- What are your strengths?
Sample Answers to “What Accomplishments Are You Most Proud Of”
Sample answer mentioning a measurable achievement
Sample answer focused on a successful project
Sample answer illustrating how you overcame a challenge
Sample answer demonstrating personal growth
Sample answer referring to a conference talk
Sample answer showcasing foreign exchange programs
Tips for Delivering Your Answer to “What Are You Most Proud Of?”
Be clear and concise
Use simple language and avoid jargon. If you’re applying for a job in a different industry, don’t use the industry jargon, and don’t assume a recruiter will understand you.
Find a simple way to explain complex ideas and concepts and provide only the most important details. Otherwise, your story will be too long (and probably confusing) and you’ll lose your recruiter after a minute or two.
Show genuine enthusiasm and pride
Convey interest in the company and the position you’re applying for. Show enthusiasm and maintain a positive attitude and body language.
Express gratitude for the experience and its impact on you, highlight what you learned from it, and hint that you’d fit in well with this company and achieve awesome results for them too.
Avoid boasting or exaggerating
Recruiters will recognize signs of dishonesty. That’s why you need to tell a true, realistic story and be honest about your accomplishments.
Additionally, you’ll want to acknowledge the contribution of other people if there was any — don’t take all the credit if you weren’t the only person working on a project.
Practice your answer to ensure a confident delivery
You already know that practice makes perfect. The only way to have an informative answer and deliver it in a convincing way is to prepare it and practice in advance.
To do this, jot down the main points you want to cover.
Having nailed down the main ideas, head to the Mock Interview tool where you’ll be able to act out an interview and record your answer as many times as it takes to get the perfect answer.
And when you’re ready to submit your answer, you’ll get comprehensive feedback for different elements of your answer (body language, pace of speech, vocabulary, filler words).
We know practicing isn’t fun, but 9 out of 10 other candidates won’t be this prepared.
And as AJ says, “Big Interview was super helpful in that aspect of having canned answers for every possible scenario and being in the moment of answering those questions.” Read more about how our tools helped him land his first job in tech and get 7 job offers along the way!
- Recruiters ask about your proudest accomplishment to get to know your preferred style of work, assess your problem-solving skills, and check how you achieve results and work under pressure
- Your answer will help them determine if you’re a culture fit, as they’ll know more about your values
- Talk about your professional accomplishments, skills you developed, personal growth and milestones, or academic successes
- Make sure the accomplishments you talk about are relevant to the position you’re applying for
- Always highlight lessons learned from accomplishments
- Use the STAR (Situation Task Action Results) method to craft your answer
- Practice your answer in advance for a confident delivery and a coherent story
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What accomplishments should I talk about when asked “What is your proudest accomplishment?”
Mention your work-related achievements, personal milestones or growth goals, and academic successes: important projects, awards, promotions, certifications, publications, scholarships, conferences, and similar.
How do I craft an answer to “What is your proudest accomplishment?”
Use the STAR method to create a coherent story that will keep the interviewer engaged. Always highlight lessons learned from your accomplishments. Be enthusiastic and give credit to coworkers if your accomplishment involved them too.
Why do they ask about my accomplishments?
To get to know you better: your preferred work style, your values, your problem-solving skills, how you prioritize and organize your work, and if you’re a culture fit.
What should I avoid when speaking about my proudest accomplishments?
Avoid boasting, being arrogant, and taking all the credit for yourself. Also, try not to overwhelm your interviewer with context and background information. For instance, you don’t need to explain in great detail why a given task was particularly difficult. Acknowledge the obstacles, show how you overcame them, and focus on the end result.
Can I mention more than one accomplishment?
Yes, you can mention more than one accomplishment. However, prioritize your top one or two accomplishments that best demonstrate your skills and abilities related to the position. Be concise and focus on relevant achievements that will clearly showcase why you’re a great fit for the job.
What if I feel I never accomplished anything special, just did my job?
Even if you feel like you haven’t accomplished something extraordinary, you can still find valuable experiences to share. Reflect on your past roles and highlight instances where you faced challenges, provided solutions, or contributed to your team’s success. It doesn’t have to be a major breakthrough. Smaller accomplishments can also demonstrate your skills and attributes.
What are good examples of accomplishments?
Good examples of accomplishments are those that showcase your skills, work ethic, and impact. Possible examples include:
- Meeting or exceeding performance targets or sales goals.
- Developing and implementing innovative solutions that improved processes or increased efficiency.
- Successfully completing a challenging project within predetermined deadlines and budget.
- Leading or playing an integral role in a team’s success.
- Obtaining professional certifications or winning industry awards.
Remember to tailor your examples to the specific job you are applying for, emphasizing transferable skills and experiences.
What is your greatest achievement best answer?
The best answer to this question will emphasize your work-related achievements, personal milestones, or academic success. It’ll also be tailored to the job ad and the company, highlighting the shared values between yourself and them. A good answer will also follow the STAR (Situation Task Result Action Result) format.