How to Answer the Interview Question “What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment?” in 2024

Have you ever been in a job interview and faced the daunting question, "What is your greatest accomplishment?

It may seem overwhelming to condense all your achievements into a single answer. Or perhaps you feel that none of your accomplishments are enough to stand out.

However, no matter how long you have been in the workforce, you are bound to have a piece of work that you are proud of. This means that you can craft the ideal response to this interview question with thorough research and practice. In this article, I will be sharing valuable tips and tricks to help you master this job interview question. 

Why Employers Ask The Question: “What is Your Greatest Accomplishment?”

Interviewers ask, "What is your greatest accomplishment?" to get insight into your professional history and understand which achievements you hold in the highest regard. This question serves as their way of evaluating three things about you:

Work Ethic: Interviewers are keen on understanding the nature of your accomplishments and your efforts you took to achieve them.

Core Values: Your choice of a "greatest" accomplishment and your reasons behind it can reveal your core values and what you prioritize in your professional journey.

Examples of Your Work: This question allows interviewers to gather specific examples of your work. By learning about your past projects and achievements, they can form expectations about your potential contributions to the role you are interviewing for.

How to Choose the Right Accomplishments?

Selecting the right accomplishment to share during an interview is crucial, especially since many companies rely heavily on these kinds of behavioral interview questions to assess candidates. 

To effectively respond to the "greatest accomplishment" question, follow these steps to identify the achievement you want to highlight:

  • Contribution to Company Goals: Reflect on how you helped achieve the company goals through your accomplishment. Highlight projects or efforts that directly impact the company's success.
  • Impact on Colleagues: Consider whether you've influenced your colleagues as a mentor, manager, or team member. Share instances where you provided guidance, support, or leadership that enhanced the team's performance.
  • Efficiency Improvement: Consider how you've helped make the company more efficient. Describe initiatives, processes, or strategies you implemented to streamline operations and achieve better results.

Whichever accomplishment you select, ensure it highlights skills relevant to the job you're applying for and aligns with the personal values you want to convey to the hiring manager.

How to Answer the Question “What is Your Greatest Accomplishment”?

To effectively answer the question, "What is your greatest accomplishment?" you can follow these steps to prepare a well-structured response:

1. List Accomplishments

Identify two to three stories that best showcase your achievements related to the position you're applying for. These stories should highlight your most remarkable and impactful accomplishments. 

Having multiple examples allows you to tailor your response to different interview scenarios and be ready for follow-up questions.

2. Review the Job Description

Thoroughly examine the job description to understand the specific skills and qualities the employer seeks in a candidate. Choose an accomplishment that aligns with these requirements. 

Additionally, research the company's recent achievements so you can demonstrate how you would contribute to their success.

3. Follow the STAR Method

Structure your response using the STAR method to create a clear and memorable narrative for the interviewer. The STAR method consists of the following steps:

Situation: Start by providing a brief context for your accomplishment. Explain the problem or situation your team or company faced.

Task: Describe your role in the situation, including the responsibilities you had, the tasks you performed, and the skills you brought to the table. Emphasize your qualifications to showcase your value.

Approach: Explain how you tackled the issue and made a positive impact. Use keywords from the job description and any insights from your company research to demonstrate your alignment with the employer's needs.

Result: Conclude your response by highlighting the positive outcomes of your work. If possible, quantify your achievements with specific numbers, such as cost savings or revenue growth, to make your response more impactful.

Sample Answers for “What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment”?

Here are two example answers using the STAR method to give some inspiration:

Sample Answer #1: For Students

Situation: During my sophomore year of college, I decided to participate in a national coding competition to challenge myself beyond the coursework I was taking.
Task: It required participants to solve complex coding problems within a time limit and demonstrate their programming skills in multiple rounds. I struggled a bit due to juggling my regular coursework and extracurricular activities while participating in the competition. 
Action: I created a study schedule and dedicated time to practice coding daily to prepare for the competition. This also kept me on track with my schoolwork and extracurriculars. I also took the initiative to form a study group with classmates during the competition; this helped us learn from each other and solve problems together. Lastly, in order to improve my coding speed and accuracy, I practiced solving problems from past competitions. I researched various techniques and sought guidance from professors to grow as an engineer.
Result: The dedication I put into preparing and working paid off in the end, as I advanced through multiple rounds of the competition. In the finals, I competed against top participants from other colleges and was awarded the third prize. This achievement demonstrated my technical abilities, perseverance, and ability to perform under pressure, and I was extremely proud of myself! 

Sample Answer #2: For Professionals 

Situation: My first job out of college was at [Company] working as a software engineer. My first task was to update one of our mobile applications for one of our products. 
Task: My task was to lead the development team and find a solution to meet my manager’s expectations. My manager had very specific requirements for the app, and my team and I faced several technical challenges to meet them.
Action: First, I conducted extensive research to understand all the requirements and technical challenges we faced. I then led the team in brainstorming sessions to develop innovative solutions that could address those requirements. As a team, we decided to incorporate new techniques that were not yet widely used in our company. It was a new software engineering technique I used previously in my junior year internship, so I conducted several training sessions to help the team understand it and its implementation in the project. I also ensured the team manager had regular progress updates on the project’s completion.
Result: As a result of our efforts, we successfully updated the mobile application and met all the requirements. The app received positive feedback from our manager and end-users, and it was a great success. Our innovative approach to overcoming the technical challenges also helped us gain expertise in the new technique, which the team continued to use in future projects.

The Bottom Line

Mastering the art of answering "What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment?" is an essential skill in your career toolkit. 

It's not just about narrating your achievements; it's about demonstrating your growth, problem-solving abilities, and the impact you can make. 

Remember, your greatest accomplishment reflects your potential and the unique value you bring. 

So step confidently into the interview as you embrace your achievements. You got this!

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