Welcome! You've Got 10 Free Credits.

Your free account comes with 10 credits. Credits can be used with any of our job search tools:

The number above shows the number of credits you have available.

Your free credits will refresh every 30 days.

If you want to learn more about credits and how they work, click here for more info.

If you want unlimited access to our tools, you can sign up for our unlimited plan below:

GO TO FREE TOOLS
GO UNLIMITED
  • Home
  • Blog
  • How To Answer The “What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment” Interview Question
29 Jul 2021 Austin Belcak

How To Answer The “What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment” Interview Question

Of all the difficult interview questions out there, the ‘greatest accomplishment’ prompt can be particularly tricky. However, it tends to be a great question that interviewers and recruiters use to get to know you better.

Answer too arrogantly, and you’ll appear difficult or over-reaching. Answer too modestly, and your interviewer might think you’re not taking them seriously!

How do you strike that perfect balance when answering “What is your greatest accomplishment?” – and how can you execute it with confidence?

This interview question could be a make-or-break scenario, so it’s essential you plan ahead.

In this guide, we’ll look through everything you need to keep in mind to knock this question out of the park. We’ll cover:

  • Why interviewers ask this question
  • How to prepare your answer ahead of time
  • The best way to answer “What is your greatest accomplishment?”
  • Two example responses

Ready to get started? Let’s go.

Why Does An Interviewer Ask “What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment?”

This question is similar to “What is your greatest strength” because the interviewer isn’t just looking for a great answer, they’re interested in how you answer, too.

Your interviewer really wants to know the following about you:

  1. How ambitious you are, and what drives you
  2. If you have the right attitude and are a good fit with the company/team
  3. A little about your problem-solving skills, if possible
  4. What your definition of ‘success’ might be

Your answer to this question really can give away all of the above. And most of it will come down to delivery. An interviewer wants to hire someone confident, yet grounded.

Answer too arrogantly, and you may appear problematic. Answer too modestly, and you may appear passive or disinterested. A recruiter will know if you are over-exaggerating or under-selling yourself!

What Answer Are They Really Looking For?

With this question, your interviewer wants to know that you’ll push for success. They want an answer that tells them you not only have the right skills, but that you want the position and know you're the best person for the job.

A recruiter wants to hear about a relevant, genuinely impressive experience from your professional life. They want to know:

  • That you’re a team player
  • That you focus on details as well as results
  • That you genuinely care about your work

That’s why it really does pay to plan ahead. A great life hack you could use ahead of time is to start making notes of all your professional successes. Keep track of every win – big and small – and refer back to your log when it’s time to prepare for an interview.

Brilliant note-taking apps such as Bear and Evernote, for example, are easy to annotate right after your latest win.

The Best Ways To Answer “What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment?”

The best answer to this question is one that is not only believable, but one that has a start, a middle and an end. Think about structuring your answer like a story.

Let’s break this down into a 5 step formula:

  1. Think of a working situation or scenario from your recent professional life.
  2. What was a challenge that arose – and what was at stake?
  3. What did you do personally to help turn things around?
  4. How did things change for the better following your action?
  5. How has this accomplishment influenced your career?

Answering the question with a story format works well, as you can fit all kinds of experiences into the framework. This is much like the Star Interview Method, where you break down your answer from the situation to the result.

The idea of story building is older than you think! Aristotle created the story arc theory, which is useful for breaking down plays, movies, books – and everyday situations! Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic goes in-depth – a great read.

What To Avoid Saying

Success is relative to an extent, but you need to make sure your answer is relevant to the job you apply to. You won’t be able to get away with claiming X number of kills on Call Of Duty as an accomplishment, sadly.

Again, as explored above, you want to avoid coming across either too cocky, or too dismissive. Let’s consider some scenarios in which you could appear either way.

Too Arrogant

  • Disregarding or even lambasting your company or co-workers – not appropriate!
  • Positioning yourself as the hero, but being very vague on details
  • Claiming you are the ‘quickest’, or the ‘fastest’, or the ‘best’
  • Failing to show positive changes you made to others’ lives

Too Modest

  • Referring to others’ opinions of you too much
  • Downplaying your final accomplishment
  • Sandwiching your positives with negatives – try the other way around!
  • Using negative words – ‘almost’, ‘pretty much’, ‘more or less’

It takes time to strike the balance. Check out my guide to a similar interview prompt – ‘tell me about yourself’ – for more tips.

Greatest Accomplishment Example Answers

Ready to give highlighting your own accomplishments a try? Here are some example answers to help inspire you:

Example #1

“My greatest accomplishment came during my role as a networking engineer at (Company). An office serving 100+ agents suffered a huge data outage right in the middle of a busy working day. They needed a quick, reliable solution so they could get back to helping customers.

I took initiative and applied a general fix to help bring the network back online – while I worked on a permanent remedy to prevent the issue happening again in future. This meant customer queues were kept to a minimum, and I helped to make sure this potential disaster didn’t repeat itself!”

Example #2

“A year or two into my role as an onboarding trainer at (Company), our firm was starting to take on a bigger influx of employees. This pushed our resources to the limit, and what’s more, our existing documentation was starting to grow ever-more outdated.

Taking initiative, I worked closely with my team to develop an open-source training wiki via the company intranet. This not only helped new employees onboard quicker and more confidently, but our team was now able to make new changes and create new pages as needed. It meant new recruits could hit the ground running faster and happier, and that led to saving revenue for the company, too.”

Both of these examples are great because they clearly identify a problem, they quickly detail a solution, and consider the bigger picture.

Final Thoughts

This question is designed to really get you digging deep, but it’s also a quick, easy way for a recruiter to get the measure of you. That’s not a bad thing, providing you put in plenty of interview preparation!

Remember, being asked about your greatest achievements is very likely to appear in any set of interview questions. That applies face to face and through telephone interviews, too.

Start planning early and take notes. Follow our five-step formula, and record every little win. You never know when you might need to refer back to them!

Austin Belcak

Austin is the founder of Cultivated Culture where he helps people land jobs without connections, without traditional experience, and without applying online. His strategies have been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, & Fast Company and has helped people just like you land jobs at Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, & more.

LEAVE A REPLY

YOU’VE SEEN AUSTIN IN

Fast Company Logo
Business Insider Logo
Inc. Logo
The Muse logo
Cultivated Culture
SIGN UP
LOG IN
Cultivated Culture ResyBullet ResyBuild Mailscoop

Welcome Back To Cultivated Culture!

Log into your Cultivated Culture account using one of the options below:

Log In With LinkedIn
Log In With Google
Log In With Email
LOG IN

Forgot your password? Click here to reset.

Need a free acount? Click Here To Sign Up

By logging in, you agree to Cultivated Culture's Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and agree to receive email updates.

One Free Account, Four Job-Winning Tools

Sign up for a free Cultivated Culture account and get access to all of our job search tools:

Your Bullet Score is:

Sign up for a free Cultivated Culture account to get the full breakdown of your bullet along with suggestions for improving it:

Sign Up To Save & Export Your Resume

Sign up to create, save, and export your resume and get access to our suite of job search tools!

Sign Up To Get More Free Email Searches

Create a free account to unlock more email searches and get access to all four of our job-winning tools:

Sign Up With LinkedIn
Sign Up With Google
Sign Up With Email

Sign Up

Already have an acount? Click Here To Log In

By logging in, you agree to Cultivated Culture's Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and agree to receive email updates.

SIGN UP
LOG IN
Cultivated Culture

You're In! We Just Need You To Verify Your Email.

Choose one of the options below to verify your email address and get free, unlimited access.

We'll need you to verify your email address before you're able to unlock free, unlimited scans.

We'll need you to verify your email address before you're able to unlock free, unlimited templates, saves, and exports.

We'll need you to verify your email address before you're able to unlock free, unlimited email searches.

We sent a verification link to your email, all you have to do is click that link and you'll get full access!

Resend Verification Email
Verify Your Account Now

Need a free acount? Click Here To Sign Up

By logging in, you agree to Cultivated Culture's Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and agree to receive email updates.

Cultivated Culture

Looks Like You Still Need To Verify Your Email Address!

Whoops! Looks like you still haven't verified your email address. We'll need you to do that before granting free, unlimited access to our tools.

If you can't find the original verification email, click the link below and we'll send a new one:

Sent! Please check your email.

Resend Verification Email

Need a free acount? Click Here To Sign Up

By logging in, you agree to Cultivated Culture's Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and agree to receive email updates.

Cultivated Culture

Oops! You've Hit Your Credit Limit.

Looks like you've used all 10 of your free credits for the month. Your credit limit will refresh in days. You can learn more about your credit limit here.

Want to stop worrying about credits?

Sign up for our Unlimited plan to get instance unlimited access to all of our jon search tools for one low price. Click below to learn more:

LEARN ABOUT UNLIMITED
Cultivated Culture

Go Unlimited!

Upgrade to our Unlimited plan to get unlimited access to all of our job-winning tools for one low price:

$9.97 billed monthly

Monthly

Quarterly

(Save 10%)

Six Months

(Save 15%)

Your Unlimited plan comes with...

Unlimited access to all of our job search tools

Priority support from our team

No obligations - cancel any time

UPGRADE MY PLAN

By clicking "Upgrade My Plan," you agree to Cultivated Culture's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

Cultivated Culture

Note: You will not be charged for updating your credit card using this form. After your new card is added, you will be billed on the date of your next billing cycle.

Cultivated Culture

Welcome To The Unlimited Plan!

It's official! You have unlimited access to every single one of our job search tools.

We sent you can email confirming your order so keep that for your records. You can manage your account through the My Dashboard link.

Use the links below to get started with any of our tools or click the button at the bottom to close this pop up and keep working!

BUILD & EDIT A RESUME SCAN YOUR RESUME ANALYZE RESUME BULLETS FIND AN EMAIL ADDRESS CLOSE & KEEP WORKING
Cultivated Culture

Cancel Your Subscription

We appreciate you being a part of the Cultivated Culture community! If you'd like to end your subscription, just fill out the form below to cancel:

Why are you ending your subscription?

Please share more details about your selection.

Confirm Cancellation

Your Subscription Has Been Canceled

Your Cultivated Culture Unlimited subscription has officialy been canceled.

You will still have access to all of our tools through the date that you paid for (). You can renew your subscription at any time.

We're wishing you a ton of success with your job search!

- The Cultivated Culture Team

Cultivated Culture
Job Toolkit
Coaching Call
Resume Course
Ahh So Close!
Job Toolkit
Coaching Call
Resume Course
Ahh So Close!
Want A GUARANTEED WAY TO WIN MORE JOB OFFERS?
I'm giving away some of my premium content for FREE. This is stuff you won't find anywhere on the site. Stuff that's helped people just like you land jobs at places like Google with no "traditional" experience and without applying online. If you're tired of job searching and want to land a job you love, spin for a chance to win strategies most people pay for: