Your interview is going swimmingly, and suddenly you get asked about your proudest moment. If you’re a recent graduate, you’ll probably talk about your degree, which is a fair answer. But for some, this question can often be a stumbling block.
To ensure you give a well-thought-out and professional answer, we will walk you through the steps that you can take to prepare for this question and provide some unique example answers that you can gain inspiration from.
Without further ado, here is how to answer ‘What are you most proud of?’
Why do hiring managers ask this question?
Employers generally ask this question to evaluate your definition of success; they want to see what your career goals are, what you have achieved so far, and if they align with their company’s goals.
Based on your answer, they can tell if you’re a driven candidate who is keen to learn and achieve more within the role you’ve applied for. Through your answer, they can also identify if this job will be a good fit for you and whether they can help you gain new skills that will allow you to progress even further.
How to craft a response
How you approach this interview question can help you create a lasting impression on the hiring manager. And while one answer won’t fit all scenarios, the following tips will help you create an ideal response.
Here are some tips that you shouldn’t overlook:
1. Reflect on your education and career journey
Before you put pen to paper to prepare a sample answer for your interview, it’s a good idea to reflect on your education and career journey to identify moments that you’re proud of. Jot them all down, and then select the best examples related to the role you’re applying for.
For example, you could say that attaining your master’s degree by the age of 22 was a great achievement – showing that you’re dedicated to success.
Alternatively, if you launched a high-performing campaign that generated a high amount of sales and profit at a previous role, you could also use this as a great example.
2. Relate your response to the job
Bear in mind that your response should always align with the role that you’re interviewing for. So, if you’re changing careers, it’s vital to select an example that would show your transferable skills.
For example, customer service plays a crucial role in many jobs, so you could use some of your past customer service experiences to show how you’re an excellent communicator and have great attention to detail.
3. Align your goals with those of the company
This tip can be applied to any interview question you answer; you should keep the company’s goals in mind when forming your answers.
For example, suppose you’re interviewing for a philanthropic company. In that case, you could say that you are proud of your volunteer work and would love to suggest some companies that the business could also partner up with. This aligns perfectly with the company’s own mission and character and will paint you as a suitable candidate for the job.
4. Use the STAR method
The STAR method helps you create a cohesive answer to any behavioural interview question. First, explain the situation you were in, which could be your previous role or academic course. Then discuss the task you were doing, followed by the actions you took to achieve your results.
5. Be honest
Always give a truthful response when answering interview questions. While it might sound more impressive to offer a fabricated story, it won’t benefit anyone. Chances are the hiring manager will see through your lies, and if they don’t, you’ll be found out if you land the job, which could affect your success within the organisation later on.
6. Relate it to one of your ambitions
While you may have achieved something marvellous, you need to use your answer to show that you still want to learn and grow.
To demonstrate how ambitious and hard-working you are, offer an example that you’re proud of and explain how this success is a stepping stone for your next goal. For instance, if your most prominent achievement was a successful product launch, explain another more important goal that you set for yourself following that.
7. Be confident
Regardless of your answer, be sure to say it with confidence - even if you haven’t got an awe-inspiring achievement to share, don’t start by highlighting that it’s not interesting. Instead, make it sound like the best accomplishment of your life by talking about it with pride and authority.
If you still need some help to craft your response, here are a few examples that you can use for inspiration and adapt to fit your personal experiences.
For a creative role
My most significant achievement to date is having a feature piece listed in Forbes magazine. From when I was a student, my professional goal was to get a by-line in Forbes. Even though I sent numerous pitches in and received a handful of rejections, I didn’t let this stop me.
I persevered, worked harder, and I was finally accepted with a lifestyle piece on female equality. This opportunity then opened up many other avenues and made a great addition to my portfolio.
For an educator
During my career as a teacher, there’s one particular situation that I’m most proud of. I had a student who was extremely bright but lacked the confidence to use her skills and knowledge correctly, which affected her grades.
To help boost her confidence, I used to make her stand up in class, read aloud, and work as my teaching assistant during the lesson. Although the first couple of times were extremely painful for her, with my support and assistance, her confidence began to grow, and she discovered how talented she is, which boosted her grades. Years later, this student got in touch to let me know that she had qualified as a teacher, and it made me feel incredibly proud. The whole point of being an educator is to help and inspire others, and this example made me feel like I had achieved the greatest milestone.
For an executive
I’m most proud of successfully managing a team of 40 for over 10 years with an increase year-on-year return. At first, we started as a team of five travel consultants and grew to 40 by adding various specialist roles. These new opportunities offered encouragement to the staff, allowing us to have hardly any staff turnover whatsoever. The success of managing this team opened the path to my promotion as general manager, where I led the company for a further five years. However, now I am ready to use my knowledge to work in an industry closer to my interests.
Like any other common interview question, it’s essential to adequately prepare your answer and use examples related to the role or the company you’re applying for. If you fail to do so and just recite general or irrelevant responses, then you will ruin your chances of landing the job. So, make sure to offer insightful answers that capture both your character and suitability for the role you are interviewing for!
Have you ever had to answer this question during an interview? What was your response? Let us know in the comments section below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 6 December 2017.