Tough Interview Question - Describe a situation in which you were successful.

Describe a situation in which you were successful.

Similar interview questions:
Tell me about a time when you did something above-and-beyond.
How do you define success?
Give me an example of success in your work.
Have you been successful in the past?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is probing both your definition of success and how you systematically achieved that success. The interviewer will also be looking for individual versus team results.

The best approach to answering this question:
Focus on a work-related example with measurable deliverables which you achieved either individually or as part of a team (as long as you were a key component to the team) and be ready to fully explain the details start to finish.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
"An example would be the new productivity system we recently developed and installed for use by our team. This project started as a tool that I personally developed to enhance my own productivity. My boss saw how it impacted my personal productivity and asked if I could lead an adjunct project to roll it out to others on the team. We delivered the system ahead of schedule and within budget. I led a team of two others in my first opportunity to take a lead role on a project for my company. The system has been in use for three months and already has resulted in a 15% productivity gain for our team. Now the VP for our department is looking at rolling it out across the company. Overall, the project has been a success for me personally as well as for those in the company who have used it. So far, the ratings have been 100% positive…"

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
"An example would be the research project I completed as part of my internship last summer. I was responsible for reviewing a new technology tool being developed in the marketplace to decide if there was a value for adopting internally. I completed the research ahead of schedule and recommended a small scale implementation to test the use of the tool internally. Since I delivered my research early, my boss asked me to lead the test implementation. The test implementation was successfully completed while I was there and I provided an implementation plan which was followed by others after I completed my internship. The tool has been rolled out throughout the department…"

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"Success if a very subjective term. It means different things to different people. How I might define success may be very different from how you define success. Just waking up this morning was a success for me. How about you?"


Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!


Further review: know the answers to these Fifty Standard Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

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