Tough Interview Question - What do you think it takes to be successful in this career?

What do you think it takes to be successful in this career?

Similar interview questions:
Do you have what it takes to succeed in this role?
What does success look like to you?
Do you know someone who has been successful in this career or industry? Describe that person to me.
At your retirement party, what would you like to see looking back on your career?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
This is a very different spin on the "Describe a situation in which you were successful." question in that it is forward-looking, rather than historical. It is looking for your definition of success, but also probing to see if you have the tools and a plan for how to get there.

The best approach to answering this question:
Clearly define success for the role for which you are interviewing. This is not a time to talk about your future aspirations to become CEO. Focus on what it will take to get to success in the role to prepare yourself to take on higher level responsibilities. This would normally be in the 2-3 year time frame for most roles. Note that you may be pushed by an interviewer to look further out in your career, in which case you can talk about what would be the natural next step role in the career path.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
"To be successful, it requires the person to be dedicated to the profession in terms of both professional development and delivery of excellent results. Let me give you an example of what I have done in each area…"

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
"I'm personally committed to being successful in this career. I believe it requires a combination of both educational development and hands-on work experience. I'll give you examples of what I have been doing in each area…"

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"Well, with all of the layoffs that happen in this industry, it's pretty important to keep your head low when they are making out the layoff list. You just need to outlast everyone else, to be the last person standing. And I've managed to successfully keep my head low for my entire career."

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 100 Common Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

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