Home / Interview Questions / What is Your Biggest Accomplishment?

What is Your Biggest Accomplishment?

It’s common for interviewers to ask, “What is your biggest accomplishment?” Nothing like being put on the spot to describe the most impressive thing you’ve ever done, right? 

Whether you’re just starting out in your career or have a long list of noteworthy accolades, we’ll explain how to answer this consequential interview question easily.

Why do interviewers ask about your biggest accomplishment?

This is a tricky question, because interviewers aren’t asking it to stack up the answers against one another and see which candidate has accomplished the most impressive feat. Instead, it’s more about getting to the heart of what matters to you. The accomplishment you choose to highlight will tell the interviewer a lot about what you value and how you define success.

But don’t count out the value of the achievement itself, either, because this is important too. An interviewer wants to see how you’ve made a difference for organizations and teams you’ve been part of in the past. So, your answer should cover a situation where you made a meaningful impact. 

What is an interviewer looking for in an answer about your accomplishments?

When asking about your biggest accomplishment, an interviewer will be on the lookout for the skills that are necessary to succeed in the role, whether they’re technical skills like crunching numbers or soft skills like communication. Your answer should be a vivid example of how you used these skills in a real-world setting with outstanding results. 

They also want to hear how you achieved it. Your accomplishment shouldn’t be something that just fell into your lap. Rather, you want to pick a story where you worked hard and overcame adversity, which shows your resilience and perseverance. 

How to answer the interview question, “What is your biggest accomplishment?”

Look carefully at the job description

The job description is a road map to answer this question, spelling out the most important skills for the job in black and white. Once you’ve narrowed it down to two or three, think of an accomplishment tied to those skills in your background. 

For example, suppose it’s a position that calls for teamwork and critical thinking. In that case, you might describe a challenging project where you led a team to accomplish a stretch goal on a very tight timeline, explaining the steps you took and the decisions you made along the way.  

Craft a compelling story

Think of the hero in any action movie. They don’t defeat the bad guy in the first 10 minutes. That wouldn’t make for a very captivating film. Instead, we see them face a problem, devise a plan, go up against setbacks, and ultimately overcome the challenge. This arc makes the story interesting and makes the end result much more impressive. 

Position your answer like your own mini action movie, taking the interviewer along for the ride and highlighting the hoops you had to jump through to achieve your goal finally. 

Quantify your impact

In addition to using an example that showcases key skills, you also want to choose one where you made a demonstrable impact. Use numbers and stats to quantify how your actions helped the company.

How not to answer

Choosing a personal accomplishment

While achievements like raising children or completing a marathon are admirable, unfortunately, using a personal anecdote is a missed opportunity to sell yourself for the job. Focus on accomplishments that are relevant to the requirements of the position. 

The exception is if it’s a personal achievement that’s very closely related to the role, like if you were named volunteer of the year in a capacity that mirrors what you’d be doing on the job.

Sample answers to “What is your biggest accomplishment?”

Example #1

“My biggest accomplishment was convincing a major prospect to switch from a competitor to the company I worked for. This prospect had been on our list of dream accounts for years, but they were steadfast in their loyalty to our competitor. 

I developed a sales presentation featuring a 10-point breakdown of our competitive advantages specific to this particular client. Then, I built rapport with the CEO’s secretary over the course of several months until I was finally able to get a meeting on his calendar. I devised a list of several dozen questions he would likely ask and prepared thorough answers for them. On the meeting day, I felt like I gave it 110%. He called me the next day and asked me to send over a contract. It’s now our second-largest account.”

Example #2

“I’m very proud of how I’ve contributed to improving my company’s reputation. When I first started working here, many of our online reviews were terrible. The biggest complaint was our service speed, which is admittedly slow. The problem was that management didn’t seem to know or understand how this was impacting our business. 

While I couldn’t make our service faster on my own, I took it upon myself to mitigate the negative reviews by being proactive about our wait times. I convinced my manager to install a ‘current wait time’ clock in our reception area, which sets the proper expectations when a customer enters the door. I also updated our website and Google business listing with our peak hours, so customers can opt to arrive at a less popular time slot if they don’t want to wait. 

It’s been six months since we’ve made these changes, and our rating on Google has gone from 3.8 stars to 4.5.”

By showcasing relevant skills, crafting a captivating story, and demonstrating your impact, you’ll impress an interviewer with your accomplishment and give them a compelling idea of how you can achieve similar results as part of their team.