How To Answer “What Are You Most Proud Of?”

By Chris Kolmar - Dec. 16, 2020
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Discussing your professional accomplishments in an interview demonstrates why you’re a competitive applicant. It shows an interviewer your professional motivations, what you value, and how you define success. All of which are relevant aspects to consider when evaluating an applicant for an open job.

Why Do Interviewers Ask “What Are You Most Proud Of?”

Asking about the accomplishment you’re most proud of reveals a lot about your personality and values. It shows how you measure success for yourself, which is important because it describes what factors motivate you.

For example, a candidate who explains the moment they’re most proud of as the time they made the most amount of money in their position says a lot about who they are and what they care about the most. They define their success with a dollar sign and are motivated by making the most money possible.

Alternatively, an applicant who states that the proudest accomplishment of their career has been self-teaching themselves a coding language also gives a lot of information to the interviewer. It demonstrates a candidate driven by expanding their knowledge and expertise.

Interviewers ask potential hires what they’re most proud of to understand them as a person and their motivations better.

How To Answer “What Accomplishment Are You Most Proud Of?”

Answering the interview question of what you’re most proud of is difficult because your response needs to help your overall interview performance by being relevant to the position you’re applying for and highlighting strengths. Although your most significant accomplishment is a pivotal moment in your career, it needs to be described concisely.

One way to ensure that your answer to this tough interview question is expressed impressively and fully is using the STAR method.

How To Use The STAR Method

Questions that ask for an example from your professional past, also known as behavioral interview questions, are notoriously hard. The STAR method is a job interview technique that helps candidates answer these questions about their past experiences, like the accomplishment they’re most proud of.

The STAR phrase stands for “Situation, Task, Action, Result.” The STAR method’s goal is to keep you on track to producing a cohesive and concise answer to behavioral interview questions that involve past situations in your career.

Review the following steps of the STAR method to develop a strong answer to “What are you most proud of?”

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  1. Situation. The first step to completing the STAR method of answering interview questions is to give enough information about a situation that’s relevant to the question an interviewer is asking.

  2. Task. Explain your role and responsibilities in the situation.

  3. Action. Describe the actions you took while focusing on qualities that will be helpful in the role you’re applying for.

  4. Result. Interpret the outcome and how it impacted you professionally.

The STAR method can be useful when forming an answer for what accomplishment you’re most proud of because it provides guidelines for giving a complete response relevant to the question.

Example Answers For “What Are You Most Proud Of?”

Example #1 – Entry Level Applicant.

“The professional accomplishment I’m most proud of is graduating in the top 2% of my class from Fordham University. I had been accepted to the university on a partial scholarship and worked at a coffee shop to fund the rest of my tuition. Graduating at such a high class ranking with a GPA of 3.9 through sheer hard work made me feel more accomplished than I ever had before. I think that the massive effort this took paid off because excelling in my college years has opened many possible career doors.”

Why It Works: This interview answer works because the candidate uses their school performance to compensate for a lack of professional experience. They describe an impressive feat that shows attractive soft skills, such as problem-solving and perseverance.

Example #2 – Associate Applicant.

“An achievement that I’m proud of is being chosen to work on a big-budget rebranding project that my prior employer had landed.

The team handling this particular project was only allowed to have 15 people on it. Every employee out of the 100 working at the time wanted to be a part of the collaboration on this project, and they only choose their top performers, which I turned out to be one of. I was put in charge of handling graphic design and visual marketing.

Working on the rebranding project was eye-opening because I’d never worked on such an influential campaign before. It taught me valuable skills in communication and collaboration that I bring to every new project I work on today.”

Why It Works: As an associate, this applicant would be expected to speak about an accomplishment relevant to their work history. This answer works because the candidate describes a specific project, why being chosen was essential to their career, and the outcome. It gives a vivid description of the accomplishment and what followed it.

Example #3 – Management Role Applicant.

“I’m most proud of managing a successful administrative team for five years. I oversaw a team of fifteen employees in an office setting. My team worked tirelessly to ensure that our office ran smoothly, and it showed in our company’s overall productivity. The higher ranking associates even recognized us for our work output, and I was awarded a promotion after leading the team for a year.

I consider supervising this team as my greatest accomplishment because of the growth and work produced by them. I gained experience in how to be a better manager and employee. After all, a manager is only as strong as the team that they’re leading.”

Why It Works: Since this applicant is interviewing for a supervisory role, their answer should focus on their abilities in this area. It works because he gives details about managing a team of fifteen and what they gained from the experience.

Example #4 – Executive Position Applicant.

“The accomplishment that I’m the proudest of in my career is launching a schedule organizing application with the Apple store that ended up in the top 10 most downloaded of 2018. It was an endeavor that my friend and I originally began in our first year out of college, and the work had just snowballed for seven years after that.

I look back on this achievement most fondly because not only was it one of the first entrepreneurial attempts I made, but because it was the most successful. Our application still sees 200,000 downloads every quarter, and since it’s humble beginnings, it has created 154 jobs. The impact this app has continues to motivate me towards following my most ambitious prospects.”

Why It Works: Interviewing for an executive-level position requires quite a bit of experience and a specific set of skills to be successful. This answer works because it displays the candidate as an accomplished professional who is motivated to succeed for the right reasons.

Job Interview Tips For Answering “What Are You Most Proud Of?”

After understanding the STAR format and reviewing example answers, deciding how to respond to this question can still be a little fuzzy. Consider the following tips to figure out what situation you’ll talk about and how you should present it in an interview when asked what you’re most proud of.

  1. Choose An Accomplishment That’s Relevant. You’ve probably accomplished many goals in your personal life, but these aren’t the kinds of achievements that an interviewer wants to hear about. Stick with a professional or career-based accomplishment to give details on.

    Additionally, choose an accomplishment that’s relevant to the specific role you’re applying for. If you’re in an interview for an accounting position and explain your most significant achievement as selling a painting, the recruiter may receive it as unrelated.

  2. Focus On The Future. An interviewer asks about a candidate’s past accomplishments to get a read on the potential benefits they could bring if hired. At the end of talking about your accomplishment, tie in some information about what you gained from the experience and how you plan to use these tools in your future career.

  3. Think About Why Exactly You’re Proud Of This Accomplishment. Part of the purpose behind asking potential employees what they are the proudest of is understanding what they’re motivated by and how they define success. Before committing to a situation as your crowning achievement, think about why you’re proud of it.

    The reasoning you have may give insight into whether the answer will reflect positively or negatively on your character.

  4. Practice Your Answer Vocally. Even if you’re confident in the situation you’ve chosen as your proudest moment, you still need to practice delivering your answer out loud. This can be done with a partner acting as the interviewer or simply talking to yourself in the mirror. As silly as it might feel initially, it can step up your interviewing game big time.

  5. Keep It Conversational. An interview can determine your professional future, and the stress of that has the potential to make you appear stiff in an interview. Try to keep the interview, and your answer to this question in particular, as conversational as possible. Speaking about your accomplishments can flow more naturally than other interview topics, so take advantage of it.

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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