How do you talk about being successful in an interview?
Depending on how you see success, you will measure your goals and define success differently. Because this is such an important question, interviewers will likely ask you how you define success. How you answer this question can tell the interviewer what’s most important to you and what you might put first. How do you talk about being successful in an interview?
We talk about why and how interviewers want to know how you define success in this article.
Why do employers ask, “What does your idea of success look like?”
Employers want to know how you define success so they can figure out what kind of employee you will be. This question is, in a way, a test of how hard you work. Depending on how you see success, you may or may not be willing to work hard to reach your goals. For example, if you think of success as pushing yourself to be better than you were yesterday, that can show employers that you are willing to work hard to be productive.
Employers may also ask this question to find out what you value most. You could focus on how well your team meets its goals and works together, or you could look at how much money the company makes. The way you answer a question shows how you decide what to do first.
How to reply to the question “What does success mean to you?”
To get ready to define success, you might need to think about yourself and practice putting your ideas into words. Here are some things you can do to prepare for an interview so you can give a good answer to this question:
1. Consider your proudest achievements
Think about what you’ve done that you’re most proud of to see how you define success. I can think of at least five. You might be proud of the promotion you got at your last job, or you might think that following your dream and changing careers was one of your best choices.
Look for common threads in what you’ve done. Your idea of success can be seen in these patterns. For example, you might think you’re successful if a lot of your achievements involve overcoming fears and problems to reach your goals.
2. Think of success as a set of steps
Sometimes it’s easiest to think about your biggest achievements, like becoming an executive or finally making a lot of money with a new business. But you could also say that success is reaching goals every day, every week, or every month. Seeing success as a process can help you focus on the small wins that add up to a big win.
3. Think about what success means for the business.
When getting ready for an interview, think about how they might define success. Using what you learned from your research, combine your idea of success with the values of the company. This will let you answer the question and show that you know the company’s vision and agree with it. For example, if you’re interviewing with a non-profit, their success might not depend as much on how much money they make as on how well they help the community.
4. Tell the truth
Success can be hard to define, so giving interviewers specific, concrete examples can help ground your definition and give you another chance to talk about your achievements. Give specific examples of times you think you did a good job and explain how that happened.
For example, if you think success means leading a group of people to reach their group and individual goals, tell the interviewer about a time you went above and beyond and finished a project before the deadline. Then you can talk about how you helped your team by making them work better together, recognizing individual efforts to boost motivation, and setting goals.
How to respond
Since everyone is different, everyone will have a different idea of what success is. These examples can help you figure out how to combine your own idea of success with a company’s goals or values:
Example 1: A job for someone starting out
“I think I’ve done well when I reach both small and big goals. I think of success as a process in which problems force me to look at things from different angles and come up with creative ways to solve them. Facing these challenges helps me grow as a person, and I hope it also helps me get closer to the company’s goals. Even if I haven’t reached every personal goal by the end of the day, I can still leave work feeling like I’ve been successful as long as I’ve made some progress toward solving a problem or reaching a goal.
Example 2: Mid-level position
“For me, success means doing my job on my team and for my company. I think my boss put me in a position where I can help the team and company reach its goals, so I try to do my job as well as I can. I still want to move up in the company, but I hope to do it by making a difference where I am now.
Example 3: Being in charge
“To me, success means achieving both business and personal goals and helping my team do the same. I think that good goals push us to do better and help us grow. When we reach these goals, we not only help the company reach its goals, but we also become better workers who can help the company grow even more in the future. As a leader, I want my team to feel like they can reach their own goals as well as the company’s, so I make it a top priority to help them reach their own milestones.