Unless you were a complete failure, you likely contributed in some way to your previous employer. Your greatest contribution is your greatest achievement, and as we have emphasized, you want every opportunity you can to share that achievement. This is one of those opportunities.
How to Answer
Because the answer to this question can play such a major role in selling yourself to the company, it is not a question you want to take lightly. Ideally, your answer should meet all of the following criteria:
- It is relevant to the company you are interviewing with.
- It will impress the interviewer by being difficult or interesting.
- It makes you sound like a great employee.
- It is an independent accomplishment.
Unless you can’t avoid it, you do not want to share an accomplishment that you did as part of a team. Your own personal accomplishments are much more impressive. Also, now is not the time to be coy, play jokes, or try to give a meaningful answer. It is time to impress the employer with your awesomeness.
“My greatest accomplishment… Well, I have a lot of work achievements, but I’d say my greatest accomplishment was actually smaller and more personal to me. My supervisor was feeling really ill one day but a project was due and needed her approval. I took their entire computer to her home, brought her chicken soup, and helped her recover so that she had the energy to make the approval.”
You’re sweet, but you’re not really selling yourself here.
“I found a minute accounting error that saved the company over three hundred thousand in the course of one afternoon, the day before the third quarter taxes were due. Fixing that error allowed them to cancel layoffs in the HR department.”
That’s a great accomplishment, and one that will impress the employer. You may not have something that impressive, but make sure you try your best to find an accomplishment that is impressive and work related.
Take Away Interview Tips
- Be impressive.
- Try to come up with a powerful answer.
- Make sure your answer matters to the interviewer.