Common Interview Question: What Was Your Greatest Achievement at Your Previous Job?

APRIL 26, 2011 | BY MICAH

Remember that time that you were asked to take out the trash, and you didn’t want to take out the trash, so you convinced the janitorial staff that the trash was their duty even though it wasn’t so that they took out the trash for you? Yeah, that may have felt good, but that wasn’t your greatest achievement.

Any time you are asked about your greatest achievement, it needs to be something extremely professional that helped the business succeed, preferably with relevance to the position you are applying for. Stay away from anything personal. This is not a time to bring something meaningful in your life into the conversation. This is a time to brag about your greatness to the interviewer.

Bad Answer

“My greatest achievement at my last job is something personal to me. My boss and I had been working hard on some project after butting heads for a few weeks. Finally, we reached a breakthrough, and I could tell from them on that she and I had a deeper connection – one of mutual respect. That meant a lot to me.”

That’s great, but the employer doesn’t care. Remember, you need to seize every opportunity at the job interview to sell yourself. That does not sell yourself.

Good Answer

“My greatest achievement would likely be when I was able to complete the entire year’s worth of tax calculations, including extra quality checks a full month before deadline. It freed up time to get started on the next year’s balances and saved the company roughly $50,000 in excess work.”

This shows the company how you are going to benefit them in the future. It is a true professional achievement that will speak highly of your abilities to the interviewer.

Take Away Interview Tips

  • Stick to items that are completely professional.
  • Make sure they impress the interviewer.
  • Try to make them relevant to the new position, if possible.

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