What would you say is your most notable accomplishment?
This is an ideal job interview question because it gives you a clear chance to strut your stuff and set yourself off as the best candidate for the job.
For that reason, no matter how tempted you are, never, ever answer this question by talking about something you accomplished outside of work. No stories about your kids or how you completed an Ironman contest. Always focus your answer on a work-related accomplishment.
But don’t just choose any work-related answer. Think of an answer that is relevant to the specific job for which you are applying. If you saved your previous employer from bankruptcy, but you can’t find a way to relate the skills used in accomplishing that feat to the skills you need for this job, it won’t make a difference.
Here’s where you need to do a little prep work: Go through your brag book, your performance reviews, everything you’ve got and found a story that will be a tight fit for this job.
Yes, you need to have a story to go with your answer. You don’t want to just talk about the end result of your effort, as in “I ranked #1 among sales managers for seven years in a row” or “I found a way to streamline processes saving the company five million dollars over the last two years.” Both are great results, but if you limit your answer, you’re missing out on the opportunity to really sell yourself for this job.
Instead, you want to tell the story. Use the STAR method and tell about the Situation or Task, the Action, and the Result. Tell how you approached the situation, what your thought processes were and how you used the available resources to reach your goal or solve your problem. Talk about the obstacles you overcame and then the end result.
Use your brag book as supporting evidence. (A brag book is simply a collection of “good job” documents: award letters, performance reviews, reference letters, complimentary emails, especially good examples of your work, and other performance stats that don’t fit on your resume.) If you received an award, complimentary email or any other form of documentation for the achievement you are talking about, show it to the interviewer. It will make a powerful impression.
The achievement itself, along with a great story, will show off your critical thinking skills, creativity, your work ethic, and your skill level. All of these attributes will help sell you as the top candidate for the job.