Everyone has memories from their lives that make them puff out their chest and say, “Heck yeah, I did that!” In a job interview, however, you may find yourself blanking when asked, “What are you most proud of?”
Why? Because many people have difficulty answering questions that require some bragging, even if it is appropriate. Furthermore, it is common to underestimate the value of your contributions at work, causing you to minimize your abilities.
Fortunately, coming up with a great answer isn’t as difficult as it appears. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some pointers and examples of “what are you most proud of” to get you started.
Why do hiring managers inquire about this?
While “What are you most proud of?” appears to be a simple question, it is actually a bit tricky. This one, like “What is your greatest accomplishment?” is frequently used as a behavioral interview question.
The hiring manager wants to learn more about how you think and act at work while also learning about your values and priorities. Furthermore, as Indeed points out, this question allows the hiring manager to see how you define success.
When asked, “What achievements are you most proud of?” The hiring manager will usually want to know about the skills you have put to use. This gives them more information about your capabilities, which is useful.
So it’s okay to brag now, right? Both yes and no. While a little self-promotion is expected, you should pace yourself. According to Work It Daily, appearing arrogant “can hurt your first impression.” So you must strike a balance to impress without going overboard.
How NOT to Respond to the Question “What Are You Most Proud Of?”
So, what is the incorrect way to respond to the question “what are you proud of?”
To begin, recognize that you must discuss “what are you most proud of” examples that are relevant to the job. Now isn’t the time to brag about how you annihilated the competition in a pie-eating contest at a summer festival, because that’s probably unrelated to the job. That’s not to say you can’t share personal stories; they just have to be relevant to the position in some way.
What else should you avoid when creating a brag-worthy story to tell your hiring manager? Try to avoid any stories that cast a negative light on your previous employer. Don’t say things like, “I’m just proud that I survived the shambles that was my previous workplace.”
You also want to avoid instances in which you achieved something through chance or circumstance rather than hard work and professionalism. Similarly, you don’t have to share a story that is mind-bogglingly amazing or excessively over-the-top, especially if doing so makes you appear arrogant.
IMPORTANT: Telling a story about how good it felt to discover that a simple tweak to a program you were developing sped up the process by 10%, saving the company time and money, can be more impressive to a hiring manager than telling a story about how you saved a minor sales deal that was going south by hiring a full Mariachi band and having them show up at your client’s office to serenade him with love songs from his hometown for six hours until he
Keep in mind that, while the Mariachi story is…well…impressive, many hiring managers are more interested in individuals who are motivated to grow and excel in whatever job they’re doing than in self-aggrandized attention-seekers who could potentially cause problems for the company down the road with over-theatrics or dangerous stunts.
Finally, keep your responses realistic, humble, and job-specific. Also, make certain that you are truthful. Bragging about something that isn’t true is extremely dangerous, especially if the hiring manager can easily verify it.
Remember, this is just one of the questions the hiring manager may ask you during your interview! That is why we created an incredible free cheat sheet that will provide you with word-for-word answers to some of the most difficult interview questions you will face in your upcoming interview.
5 Ways to Answer “What Achievement Are You Most Proud Of?”
1. Make your proud moment meaningful:
When considering what moment to share with your hiring manager, first break down the job you’re applying for and see if there is anything in your past that could relate to what the employer is looking for now. Consider times when you made a significant contribution to work that benefited the team or when you solved a problem.
2. Make your proud moment attainable:
Discussing outlandish antics is unlikely to help you. An employer wants an employee who is motivated by the sense that they are achieving realistic goals and who is constantly looking for ways to go beyond their previous accomplishment and onto the next one.
3. Make your proud moment memorable
by discussing what led up to it and why it made you so proud. Was it a task you’d been working on for a long time and hadn’t had much success with, but you overcame the obstacle through perseverance and hard work? Was it taking on a project that everyone else in your department had given up on because you knew you could make it work?
Whatever it is, discuss both what led up to the moment and the moment itself.
4. Make your proud moment last:
How did you follow it up? Did you use that experience as a springboard to take on new challenges? Did you share your success with your team so that they could learn from it and have their own moments of glory?
Discuss what you did after completing your task and how it affected the people around you.
5. Use your proud moment as a springboard:
No employer wants to hire someone who achieves something and then stops. The feeling of pride is incredible, and an employer wants an employee who will be motivated to continue having moments of pride at work. Discuss how you’ve used your greatest accomplishments as a catalyst to continue to achieve and succeed.
5 Examples of Responses
Sample answers are sometimes the simplest way to learn how to approach job interview questions. Here are a few examples of “what are you most proud of” statements, each aimed at a different career level.
1. No College Entry Level
ADVICE: Before we go any further with this example, I’d like to reiterate what I said earlier about not using personal examples for your proudest moment. While I previously stated that you should use professional work stories, for those of you who are just starting out in the job field, this may not be possible. In those cases, using a personal story is perfectly acceptable as long as it is relevant to the job you’re applying for. A personal story could be about an extracurricular activity, charity work, or academic achievement.
“I’m most proud of my volunteer work at a local soup kitchen.” I would go in every two weeks to prepare and serve meals to those in need. It was an opportunity to engage with my community in new ways and make a difference in people’s lives. It also taught me the value of hard work for the sake of hard work, which I believe will serve me well when I enter the workforce.”
2. Entry-Level College Graduate
“The achievement I’m most proud of is finishing my degree with a 3.95 GPA.” It reflects my hard work and discipline, as well as my ability to collaborate well with others on group projects while also shining on my own. The journey was long and difficult, but it prepared me for an exciting career, one that I hope will allow me to learn and grow as I provide value to a new employer.”
3. Mid-Level Individual Contributor
“At this point in my career, I am most proud of successfully transitioning every smartphone user in the agency to a new device type.” We had 45 days to switch MDM services, and the current smartphone device type was incompatible with the new system. As part of the transition, I was responsible for personally handling and configuring 300 smartphones, which included installing the MDM app, transferring phone numbers, and reconnecting services such as email. In addition, I had to coordinate the transitions with the users because their current devices would lose connection once I started. I was able to complete the transition in 32 days thanks to my organization, planning, and communication skills.”
4. Management Level
“One of my proudest moments was coaching a team member to success.” When I first started in a management position with a new company, there was an employee who was struggling to meet their performance goals. While many thought I would have to fire them, I decided to try another approach first. “I adopted a coaching mindset, meeting with them one-on-one to learn more about their challenges and how we could collaborate to find solutions.” Finally, I discovered that the employee’s role had evolved over time, and they were having difficulty accessing appropriate training opportunities to assist with the new responsibilities. That enabled me to devise a strategy for bringing them up to speed, combining formal classes with mentoring. Finally, the strategy worked, and they rose to become one of the team’s top performers in just nine months.”
5. The Executive Level
“My proudest moment occurred only a few years ago. I bootstrapped a company from the ground up while developing a new logistics technology that improved order tracking and delivery monitoring by providing real-time data to everyone in the supply chain. The technology streamlined operations in many industries, increasing operational efficiency for businesses of all sizes. When a larger logistics technology company made me a substantial offer for my company, it made me realize how significant the innovation was, making me even more proud of what I’d accomplished. Now, I’m excited to use my passion for growth, development, and strategic planning to help another company reach similar heights.”
Synthesizing the Whole Thing
Now you know how to answer the interview question “What are you most proud of?” in a way that will get you hired. If you want to impress the hiring manager with your answer at your next interview, be sure to keep your accomplishments realistic, relevant, and impactful.