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What do you consider your most incredible achievement?

Interview question;

As a student, how should I answer this question ?

Can I talk about a group project (academic related) ?
or
Should I talk about something from my volunteer/paid work?

What are some typical answers to this question? What do interviewers really want to know?

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10 answers


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Dhairya’s Answer

Hi Cindy,
Great question and good job being proactive with interview preparation. The goal of this question is really to give the interviewer an opportunity to learn more about you. You should feel free to talk any experience you're proud of (group project, internship, sports etc). There really is no wrong answer.

What's more important is how you frame your answer. After you've selected an experience, think about the qualities and traits you want to showcase.

Here some aspects you may want to highlight in your story:
Passion
- why is this achievement so special to you? is it something you are passionate and excited about?

Overcoming challenges and adversity
- Were there any challenges you faced? How did you overcome it?
- Did you ask for help?
- Were you resourceful, if so how?

Problem solving
- Did you come up with a creative solution? What was it and why was it unique?
- Did you research and find the right answer?
- Did you experiment and iteratively find an answer/solution?

Organization and Execution
- How did you organize yourself? Did you make a plan and execute against it?
- If it was a group effort, did you create deadline, milestones and a plan for success?

Communication and Collaboration
- Did you ask others for help?
- Did you work with others? How did you communicate and make sure everyone was on the same page.

Hopefully that's a useful staring point. There honestly is not right or typical answer. This an opportunity to showcase the best version of you. Be honest and provide details about why you are so proud of it.

Feel free to reply if you have a particular story in mind and would like to get additional feedback on how to best tell it. Good luck!
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Jay’s Answer

C L,

This is always an interesting question. I think the main goal of the question is to see how the candidate forms their thoughts around personal accomplishments. It is a way to see if the candidate is self-aware and can take and receive praise well.

As to the correct answer, there really is none. It is highly personal and something that doesn't have a right or wrong answer. I think the best way to look at it is to step back and think to yourself about what immediately pops into your head when you think about the questions. That is likely the best answer :)

I will say the thoughts you provided above (academic and personal) are perfectly valid answers.
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Adam’s Answer

Be brutally honest! Use either Paid or Unpaid experience.

Then, tell them WHY it was important.

If you start on the habit "tell them what they want to hear", you will likely be hiding and posturing forever. We need you to be honest. If you have no proud accomplishments, change what you're doing and change that.

It's just another way of asking "What is actually important to you?".
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Joe’s Answer

I would outline a couple of professional and a couple of personal achievements that were/are significant in my life. Keep the answer simple, concise, and factual. I advocate identifying the main bullet point (the achievement) and three supporting bullet points (supporting) and practice, practice, practice.
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Terence’s Answer

On top of demonstrable hard skills (ie - "aptitude" around quantitative, analysis, communications, etc.), Interviewers are looking to find a few traits from a candidate - grit, determination, passion, ambition - that are really hard to determine. You can look perfect on paper with degrees, some strong experience, extracurricular activities. However, these "attitude" attributes are harder to see in a 30/60 minute conversation.

That is why broad questions like "proudest accomplishment" or "tell me about a time when you did XYZ..." are used. Interviewers are looking to have you talk in detail about something you've been heavily involved in. It may require some prodding and questions around specific areas - "how did you overcome this challenge...?".

A fairly standard answer from a candidate may be well thought - "X was the problem, Y was the main challenge(s), and this is what I/we did to meet the deadline/objective". A stronger answer would go into specifics of the challenge ("there was a lack of structure/information available...", how you personally worked to overcome it ("since there were no resources, I worked to build relationships and gain perspective from biz partners/sponsors..."), what you personally learned about these types of situations ("things aren't always going to be laid out perfectly, you need to adapt and adjust..."), and how you've applied these learnings since then ("I've worked to build more structure around projects before I begin them....").

You've got a limited time to show what distinguishes you from the next candidate. Answering the direct questions with anecdotes about yourself can showcase the qualities that set you apart from the next person.

Terence recommends the following next steps:

Think of some key attributes you think the role will require.
What are some things you've done to demonstrate these qualities?
Frame the discussions to highlight your contributions
Talk about what you've learned and how you've applied it since
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Krasti’s Answer

This is a great question but can sometimes be intimidating to answer. You can use any example that had an impact in your life. It is not so much about the example you choose to talk about, but more about what you learned from the experience. You want to focus on answering WHY and HOW that particular event had such an impact in your life that it is considered your biggest achievement. Employers are mostly concerned about what were the challenges that you faced and how did you overcome those challenges. While they may not be a real "work" event, the skills that you demonstrate could easily be applicable in the workplace.
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Fiona’s Answer

Usually key achievements that are a bit different – e.g. do you have extra curricular activities that are unique? Done a particular project that made headlines? Any interesting volunteering experiences?
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Simeon’s Answer

Typical answers are things that you take pride in. Usually, this type of question is less about the achievement itself than about what you value. They're trying to get a sense of what you're in after in live and what kind of work/activity motivates you. If you see something as your greatest achievement, it's logical to try and do the same kind of work again or even surpass what you've done before.
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Lucie’s Answer

I would totally talk about a group project if it is relevant to you and you played a significant role in it!
These questions are hard because you need to be able to look back and define what is an achievement in the first place. In my opinion, a good answer to this question is, any achievement that brought you something: learning, experience, impact, etc.
When was the last time you felt proud of yourself? I am sure many times and for many reasons!

Hope this helps,
Cheers
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Michal’s Answer

The responses above are great. I would add that any interview questions related to your experience could use the STAR method to highlight your accomplishments:

The STAR Method
Situation/Task
Action
Results

Consider the following questions:

• What situation or tasks did I face?
• What action did I take to solve the problem?
• What result/s did I achieve?

This would definitely help you with your resume.

Good luck!
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