How to answer, without boasting, the question: “Do you consider yourself successful?”
Is boasting a skill or a necessary skill in an interview about whether you consider yourself successful? Let’s find out why and how to talk about achievements.
Why an employer wants to know about your sense of accomplishment
Imagine that you are drinking coffee with a friend and the conversation is about your recent promotion or a complex project that you have implemented. You probably won’t have a problem talking about it, right? You will share your joy and probably take some time to describe why it was so important to you. But imagine this conversation in an interview – and the story of your success may suddenly be quite awkward.
The most common answer to the question: “Do you consider yourself successful?” causes a similar reaction from applicants: shy laughter, a shrug, or a timid: “I do not know, but what a wonderful question!”. It is obvious that most of the candidates did not think about it before entering the company door and do not know what to say.
Of course, an interview and coffee with friends are two big differences. And such questions are difficult because it is difficult to understand why the HR manager or employer is interested in this or what information should be shared.
But, like any other question in an interview, a good answer starts with understanding why the question is being asked.
In fact, this question allows you to get different information from candidates, namely:
- How do you define success?
- Are you focused only on the result, does success depend on what you learn in the process?
- How confident are you and do you believe in yourself? On the other hand, aren’t you overconfident and on the verge of boasting?
- What motivates you when you work towards a goal? What keeps you moving forward?
- How do you work with your colleagues? Do you consider your success a personal or collective achievement?
Now that you understand why the interviewer asks if you think you are successful, read some tips below.
How best to answer this question
1Say yes! confident
First of all, don’t say no! Usually, people do not want to hire someone who does not believe in themselves or can not give any example of success. So be sure to plan to say yes.
However, if you look like other contenders, you’re probably a little embarrassed. “I don’t want to brag,” you might think, or “I don’t want to sound defiant.” Most people think so, so know that you are not alone!
But an interview is a time for self-presentation. Think of your accomplishments as listing facts from your career, it will save you from bragging.
Also, remember your body language. Maintain self-control and eye contact, do not worry, and do not doubt the answer. Be confident and acknowledge your success, whatever it is, and at what stage of your career you are.
Highlight specific achievements
Now that you know you’re going to say yes, start planning the rest of your response by identifying the professional goal you’ve achieved. It shouldn’t be too impressive – no one expects to hear that you’ve been promoted six times a year, but choose an achievement that demonstrates your ability to set a clear goal and accomplish it.
Even better, if you can relate this goal to the position you are applying for. You can use your answer as a chance to tell a story that highlights your specific talent, qualities, or skills that make you an ideal candidate for the job. At the very least, you can give an example to tell you why work is important to you.
The main thing is to be specific.
“I remember one candidate telling me that he had succeeded because he had achieved all the goals he had set out to do. But in the end I could not give any specific examples. Without them, it was impossible to assess his ability to do the job or work well with the existing team ”(Angela Smith, MBA – Head of Human Resources with experience that includes a combination of corporate talent and talent management).”
Detailed examples and stories are more effective than vague banalities, so be sure to prepare some of them.
Explain how you determine the success
Each of your answers allows you to share the depth of your experience and worldview. As you consider the accomplishments you share, determine why you consider it a success, and be prepared to explain as part of your answer.
For example, getting any certificate is a success worth noting, but it is not enough to mention it. Explain why you consider passing the exam success, what it means for you or your work, and what the consequences are. You can take several different approaches to this.
- Focus on personal success. What are the benefits of achieving this goal? You can say something like:
“Even though I worked full time, I really wanted to get a PMP certificate (ProjectManagementProfessional – a certificate for project managers, considered one of the most prestigious), by the end of summer. So I tried to make my schedule so that I had enough time to study and prepare for the exam. I am very glad that I passed the exam on time as a result. And in the process of preparation, I learned a lot about time management. It also gave me confidence that I could set challenging goals and achieve them if I planned.”.
- Focus on professional success. How did your employer benefit from this? You can say:
“When I received my PMP certification last fall, I was able to take on a great leadership role in my company. This allowed me to spend more time with clients, researching their needs and working to find solutions for them. Since then, I have led our team to complete three customer projects, which increased the company’s revenue by 17%.”
Whichever approach you choose, keep in mind that a potential employer will want to know the benefits of your company’s success. So take another step. Discuss how you plan to develop your achievements and how you could use them in this position.
Finally, make sure your example isn’t too simplistic.
“One candidate once told me that his success was that he woke up on time every morning. And while I’m sure it’s a success in some ways, it’s still a basic employer expectation.” (Angela Smith, MBA).
Let’s talk about the process
Everyone knows that success doesn’t happen right away. It will not happen without careful planning, concentration, and perseverance. So be careful not to focus only on the result.
Success is achieved in the process, and it is a chance for you to describe the path that led you there. Share the steps you took to achieve the goal, highlighting the key steps and deadlines. Honestly talk about all the obstacles you had to overcome or talk about your strategic thinking or ability to solve problems. The path is as much a part of success as the result. And while the results are fascinating, the real miracle is the details.
Don’t forget about your team
Success in a professional environment almost always requires a team. So it would be nice to mention your teamwork skills. Most likely, you will work as a member of the team in a new position, so use the opportunity to position your success in the context of great efforts.
If you’re being interviewed for a leadership position, you can highlight the team’s recent success, allowing you to not only share your accomplishments but also demonstrate your leadership skills.
Plan for the future
How do you put it all together and work out a solid answer? Start planning now! Review your resume and achievements, choose two or three of them to use as examples as needed. If you have an interview scheduled, review the job description so you can relate your experience to what employers are looking for. Then focus your examples on this topic.
See examples of answers
Now you know what gives a good answer to the interview question: “Do you consider yourself successful?”. But how does it really sound? Here are some examples to help you create your own:
“I consider myself successful, even though I am at the beginning of my professional legal career. In the summer after my first year at university, I wanted to volunteer for a human rights organization. I knew that for this I needed to study more intensively to become a volunteer and pass the exams at the university. I had a hard time combining all this with my part-time job, which was necessary because I couldn’t make money in the summer, so there were sleepless nights. But it was worth the hard work: I finished the year with pretty good grades and the opportunity to volunteer. For me, success lies in setting a goal and sticking to it, no matter how difficult it may be. ”
“I definitely succeeded. A great example of success is the client I received from a member of our team who left the company. I was told that the client was “heavy.” He was clearly dissatisfied with the level of service he received. I take customer service seriously, so I’ve listened to all his experiences and frustrations and used this information to improve service. I was attentive to each meeting and adhered to all deadlines. In the end, the client was very satisfied and extended the contract with us. I consider it a success, because a positive customer experience is the main thing for a customer service manager. I will bring the same commitment to customers in this position. “
Each of us has a certain level of success – professional, academic, or personal. Don’t be afraid to claim the accomplishments that have led you to where you are. After all, if you don’t, who will?