How to Answer: What Are You Most Proud Of?

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May 14, 2020
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min read

You've made it through the majority of the job interview confidently, speaking to professional accomplishments from your last job and highlighting the parts of your career history that are most relevant to the role. But then comes the question, "Can you tell me about your greatest achievement? What's an accomplishment that you're most proud of?"

Many of us freeze on the spot. How are you supposed to recall proud moments from a previous job on the spot and talk about yourself in a positive light? It may feel uncomfortable to speak to your professional achievement.

During a job interview, you’ll be asked various questions to help assess your skills, abilities, character traits, and personality. How you answer can help the company understand more about you and if you’d be a good fit for the role and company culture—and the questions can help you evaluate whether this is the type of company you’d like to work for. 

Given how important your answers are, it’s key to prepare for typical interview questions. Though no one can say exactly what questions may come your way, there are common behavioral interview questions you can expect, such as, “What accomplishments are you most proud of?” 

It’s a question that invites you to brag a little about your career—which can feel uncomfortable since we’re often taught not to boast about our personal accomplishments and biggest achievement. 

Here’s what to consider when reflecting on the accomplishments you’re most proud of and how to articulate your answer to that interview question before your next interview.

Why do interviewers ask these questions?

The answer to these behavioral interview questions, like your greatest achievement, provides information that other interview questions do not. Resumes contain so many details, but an interview question about your proudest moment can help fill in any gaps. This provides hiring managers with all the information needed to help them and their potential customers.

As a job seeker answering this question, it helps the interviewer understand your qualifications as a candidate. Take it as a temporary green light for bragging about past experiences. This will let interviewers know about your strengths to help you achieve your success in the interview.

Your choice of greatest achievement will show the interviewer what you consider important, and how you achieved it will show them your process and how you get things done. By asking this type of interview question, employers can see if your skills and work ethic match their needs and align with their company culture.

How to prepare to answer “What accomplishments are you most proud of?”

Though questions may vary from interview to interview, there are a handful of standard interview questions job seekers can come to expect, regardless of industry or role. It’s helpful to map out your answers ahead of time using specific examples from your previous career experience to help illustrate how your strengths would apply in the role you’re interviewing for.  

In addition to thinking through these top 10 interview questions, you’ll want to pinpoint specific past accomplishments examples to highlight. Before heading into an interview, take some much-needed time to brainstorm and reflect on your career history. 

Think about the following to help craft your answer about the accomplishment you’re most proud of:

  • Any awards or educational achievements you’ve received
  • A specific time you dealt with a difficult situation and turned it around
  • A presentation or specific project that got you praise or new business 
  • A sales pitch that led to an increase in revenue
  • A time you reached a difficult goal 
  • A time you went above and beyond to achieve success
  • A team you built or led and what the impact of its function was for the business

As you think about some of these past experiences and scenarios, identify three possible answers and jot down some thoughts about why each was meaningful, both to you and the company. You can use the “Notes” tool within your Teal Job Application Tracker to organize your interview questions and answers all in one place. 

Practicing your response in the context of the specific job description makes it easy to incorporate all of the necessary keywords and allows you to craft your answer based on what you know the recruiter, hiring manager, or entire team is looking for. Make any edits and additions you need, and your changes will be saved automatically.

Teal’s Job Application Tracker saves notes for every job you are interested in to help you stay organized.
Teal’s Job Application Tracker saves notes for every job you are interested in to help you stay organized.

Implement the STAR method 

Once you’ve identified three possible good answers to the question, “What accomplishments are you most proud of?” implement the STAR method

For each accomplishment, examine the: 

  • Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example
  • Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation
  • Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it
  • Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved

Using the STAR format, you can set the stage for your accomplishments. You can discuss the situation and outline specifics including the who, what, where, and why. This is the part where details matter in fleshing out the story and situation at hand. 

Then focus on the task. What were your roles and responsibilities in this situation? After that, focus on the action which is the highlight of the accomplishment. What did you do to turn a situation around and have a positive outcome?

End with the results, clearly illustrating what happened and how the situation resolved thanks to something you did.

This helps present the conflict and resolution of an accomplishment through a storytelling format and can make it a memorable response, which can help engage the interviewer. 

You can run through the STAR method using your top three greatest accomplishments to see what feels the strongest and will impress a prospective employer. Which brings us to the next important point. 

Practice makes perfect 

A job interview is a performance of sorts. A professional actor wouldn’t go onstage without knowing their lines and rehearsing. Similarly, you shouldn’t go into an interview without practicing or rehearsing what you might say, especially when it comes to common interview questions. It may feel silly, but saying the words out loud ahead of time can help you determine if your answer works and deliver your lines with confidence when the time comes. 

Practice aloud how you’ll respond to “What accomplishments are you most proud of?” instead of freezing up, bumbling along, and providing a long winded answer. 

You want to be able to sound confident, concise, and have clear example answers in mind before the job interview. You can start by: 

  • Writing your sample answers down
  • Revising your sample answers 
  • Rehearsing example answers aloud in front of the mirror
  • Practicing with a friend or mentor who can offer feedback 

Rehearsing your interview answers with a trusted friend, peer, or mentor can help you perfect your responses, avoid reading it word for word, and tighten up any loose parts. You can even take a video recording of yourself and play it back (no need to share it, it’s just for you!) to see how you sound and look. It can be awkward but may provide much-needed insight into how you can improve your delivery and be able to provide a great answer to an interview question. 

Head to your Teal Job Tracker for tips and resources to help you practice interviewing for the most common interview questions.

Use the Practice Interviewing tips within Teal’s Job Tracker to help you present your best self in an interview
Use the Practice Interviewing tips within Teal’s Job Tracker to help you present your best self in an interview

Tie it to the role you’re interviewing for 

While you’re practicing and perfecting your interview question answer regarding your proudest accomplishment, make sure you nicely tie it back and make it relevant to the role you’re interviewing for. Consider the following:

  • How does your most significant accomplishment relate to the organization or company culture?
  • How will this accomplishment help you take on this new role and excel in the position? 
  • What skills did you use in your example that may help with this new job?
  • What makes this professional accomplishment unique?

Tying the accomplishment you’re most proud of to the company and position can make it clear why you’re a top-notch candidate who should be hired. Providing an example that isn't necessarily relevant to the job may still be useful in the interview, but may not be as strong. 

One trick for seeing which qualities and skills are most important to highlight for this role: Use the matching mode feature in the Teal AI Resume Builder. You can compare your resume and the job description side by side to review the highlighted keywords and hard and soft skills, and from there, emphasize those keywords to show the hiring managers and team that you are the best candidate for the position. 

Teal’s AI Resume Builder compares the skills in a job description to the skills in your resume to give you a match score
Teal’s AI Resume Builder compares the skills in a job description to the skills in your resume to give you a match score

Sample Answers 

It can be daunting when an interviewer asks “What accomplishments are you most proud of?” and being unsure of what to say or not having a clear and defined example. 

Here are some potential resume accomplishments examples for people at different stages of their careers. 

Minimal work experience 

“While in college, I was able to maintain a 3.75 GPA and graduate with honors while volunteering in my community. I’m proud that I was able to excel in my studies and contribute my time to the local women’s shelter. I learned time management, focus, leadership, and organizing, which will help me be successful in this entry level role.”

Some work experience 

“The accomplishment I’m most proud of is helping my team increase revenue by 25%. In my previous role, I valued being a team player and worked as part of a sales team. However, progress had plateaued and I suggested new types of outreach to my boss such as social media marketing. This suggestion brought success helped us get new leads and increase sales.”

Management or executive experience 

“As a manager in my previous position, I led a team of 10 employees. Each employee helped the business reach its goals, but one employee, in particular, was struggling. Working with the employee, I realized they were not set up for success. I came up with an individualized plan and checked in on a regular basis. With tailored training and support, this employee became one of my star employees and the team turned around and morale increased.”

Of course, you can tailor your answers to your experience. Use any specific numbers or data that may be relevant, especially if it’s about managing a certain number of people or boosting sales revenue by a specific percentage. 

Final thoughts 

Being asked about your accomplishments in an interview is pretty normal, but can be nerve-wracking if you’re not prepared. Giving this question some serious thought and putting in the time to practice can make a world of difference—and may be the deciding point as to whether you get hired for a new job or not. 

Ideally, you want to come off as confident, polished, personable, and professional and illustrate how this accomplishment can help you succeed in this new role. The more preparation, the easier it will be so you can have a great interview. 

For more interview prep, check out this guide to the most common behavioral interview questions and answers

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tailor my response to "What are you most proud of?" to fit the job I'm applying for?

When answering this question, reflect on an achievement that showcases skills relevant to the job. For instance, if you're applying for a leadership role, discuss a time you led a team to success. Highlight the skills you want the interviewer to notice, like your ability to motivate others, strategic thinking, or problem-solving, and make sure your example demonstrates those competencies effectively.

Can personal achievements be discussed when asked about what I am most proud of in a job interview?

Yes, personal achievements can be relevant, especially if they've helped you develop professionally or demonstrate qualities valuable to the role. For example, completing a marathon can illustrate your determination and commitment. However, ensure the personal achievement you choose to share has a clear link to the job's requirements or the company's values.

How detailed should my answer be when discussing an achievement I'm proud of?

Your response should be concise yet detailed enough to paint a clear picture. Aim for a brief explanation of the context, the actions you took, and the results achieved. Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your answer effectively, keeping it to no more than a couple of minutes. This method helps you stay on point and ensures you cover all critical aspects of your achievement.

Melanie Lockert

Melanie Lockert is the founder of the blog and author of the book, Dear Debt. Through her blog, she chronicled her journey out of $81,000 in student loan debt. Her work has appeared on Business Insider, VICE, Allure, and more.

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