Home / Interview Questions / How Do You Handle Success?

How Do You Handle Success?

It’s one thing to be asked about how you deal with failure during a job interview, but how do you handle success? Isn’t achieving success something we should all aim for and take pride in?

Well, you might not have given it much thought, but how you handle yourself when everything’s coming up roses says just as much about you as how you react when the chips are down. So, an interviewer might ask questions to gauge how to respond in the face of success. 

It’s important to know what an interviewer is really asking when they inquire about your attitude toward success so you can craft the best answer possible. 

Why do interviewers ask you about dealing with success?

How you respond to a question about success can give an interviewer insight on how you view yourself. For example, are you comfortable talking about your successes? Are you over-confident? How you describe success and the level of credit you take for it can clue an interviewer in if your ego is a potential problem.

Asking about how you handle success is also a roundabout way of finding out how you conduct yourself in any situation that deviates from the norm, including failure. Believe it or not, people tend to react similarly in response to both success and failure–either handling the highs and lows with a cool head or letting emotions get the best of them. An interviewer wants to find out if you’ll be thrown off course by the inevitable ups and downs of any job.

What interviewers are looking for about success

An interviewer will listen carefully to how you describe your part in an achievement. Do you gloat and bask in the glory, or do you share the credit with others who contributed? Hiring managers want employees who are going to be team players, and that means spreading credit around for a job well done and sharing responsibility when things go wrong. 

Interviewers also want to identify candidates who handle success gracefully. Winning feels good, but it’s important not to get so caught up in it that you lose sight of the next goal. A hiring manager will be looking for a candidate who takes pride in their accomplishments but keeps their sights set on the bigger picture. 

How to answer the interview question ‘How do you handle success?’

Define what success means to you

Explaining your personal feelings on success can help set the stage for a natural segue into how you positively react to it. It also gives you a way to tie in your favorable attributes.

For example, if you begin by saying that you view success as achieving a goal you’ve worked hard toward, you can then describe how you feel proud when you achieve something you’ve set out to accomplish. This not only answers the question in a positive way but highlights your goal-oriented mindset.

Use negatives as a positive

This is a great example of a question that can be answered by describing what you DON’T do. For example, you can show self-awareness by describing how you’re careful not to let success go to your head, or show that you’re conscientious by not spending a disproportionate amount of time celebrating your wins.

Emphasize a level head

While keeping your cool might not be the most exciting way to respond to success, it makes you a safe bet for an employer. Hiring managers are looking for candidates who are level-headed and predictable rather than dramatic and unpredictable, especially when experiencing success or failure.

How not to answer

Go too far to either extreme

When talking about success, you want to appear humble, but not so humble that you minimize your own accomplishments. On the other end of the spectrum, you don’t want to answer so confidently that it comes across as arrogant. The perfect answer strikes a balance between appreciating your achievements and acknowledging the reality that success can come and go.

Sample answer to ‘How do you handle success?’


“I enjoy success as much as the next person, but I don’t like to get too caught up celebrating because it distracts me from my larger goals. Instead, I like to think of success as fuel, motivating me to keep moving forward. When things don’t go my way, I can look back on other times when I have been successful and stay positive without losing momentum.”

When talking about how you handle success, think about skills and qualities that are likely important to the hiring manager–communication, collaboration, positivity, and so on–and try to work these into your answer. If you can cite an actual example of a time you displayed these qualities in responding to success, even better.