18 January, 2019
By Mike Simpson
What are you most proud of?
When you think back over your life and everything you’ve done, what moments stand out and make you puff out your chest and say, “Heck yeah, I did that!”
Odds are, if you asked a group of friends this question in a casual setting, you’d get some pretty varied and undoubtedly impressive answers…and some understandably strange answers (Personally I’m proud of the fact that I can blow a Skittle out of my right nostril over 100 feet with a fair amount of accuracy.).
But what if you’re asked that question not by friends, but by a hiring manager – while in a job interview?
Hmm…maybe sharing the Skittle story in that situation isn’t the best idea.
But, what do you share? And why is this question important for an interview?
Short of judging potential threats to my so far undisputed Skittle snorting record (F.Y.I, green ones fly the furthest), hiring managers ask this question because they want to know what achievements you’ve accomplished that you consider brag-worthy.
At its core, pride is the feeling of deep satisfaction or pleasure we experience when we’ve achieved something.
When a hiring manager asks you what you’re most proud of, they’re listening to your answer and then extrapolating out from there just what sort of tasks you enjoy and what work environments you’d thrive best in.
They’ll then take that information and decide if you’d be a fit for the overall job and culture of the company you’re interviewing for.
Remember, the hiring manager isn’t just trying to fill an empty role in their employee roster, they’re looking for the right fit when it comes to future employees…their perfect candidate, and asking you what makes you most proud is a good way to see if that candidate is you (hint, it is)!
Depending on what you share with them, a hiring manager can learn a lot about who you are, what motivates you, and what you consider a success.
Of course, that means answering the interview question ‘What are you most proud of,’ correctly.
How NOT To Answer “What Are You Most Proud Of?”
So, what’s the wrong way to answer that question?
Again, let’s go back to my Skittles example. True, in the right context it’s an impressive feat and the ability has won me more than a few beers at the bars, but unless I’m interviewing for a job in a circus or if there’s ever a need for a Skittles sharp-shooter, it’s probably not the story I’d share with a typical hiring manager.
That’s because the story, while amazing, doesn’t really do anything to show the hiring manager what I could professionally bring to the table as a potential employee because it has absolutely nothing to do with the role I’m applying for.
Basically, what I’m saying is…don’t make your brag-worthy moment a personal moment that’s completely unrelated in any way to the job you’re applying for.
Now that’s not to say you can’t relate any personal stories…and we’ll get to that in a minute, but for right now, if your story doesn’t relate to the job, save it for the bar.
What else should you avoid when coming up with a good brag-worthy story to share with your hiring manager?
- Try to avoid any story that shows your past employer in a bad light. Don’t say things like “I’m just proud of the fact that I managed to survive three years with those knuckle-dragging idiots without getting fired.”
- You also want to avoid moments where you achieved something through sheer luck or circumstance rather than hard work and professionalism.
- Similarly, you also don’t need to share a story that is mind-blowingly amazing or too over the top, especially if it borders on bragging. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest impact on a hiring manager.
IMPORTANT: Sharing a story about how good it made you feel to discover that a simple tweak to a program you were building sped the process up by 10%, saving the company time and money can actually be more impressive to a hiring manager than a story about how you managed to salvage 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 them with love songs from his hometown for six hours until he finally relented and closed the deal.
Keep in mind, while the Mariachi story is…well…impressive, a lot of 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 seeking individuals who could potentially cause problems for the company down the road with over the top theatrics or dangerous stunts.
That being said, keep your answers realistic, humble and targeted to the job you’re applying for. Oh, and honest. I know we’ve said this time and time again, but don’t brag about something if it’s not true…especially if it’s something the hiring manager can easily verify.
5 Tips For Answering “What Are You Most Proud Of?”
1.Make your proud moment relevant:
When thinking about what moment you want to share with your hiring manager, start by first breaking down the job you’re applying for and seeing if there is anything in your past that could relate to what the employer is looking for now. Focus on moments where you made a contribution to work that really helped out the team or a time you solved a problem.
2. Make your proud moment realistic:
No Skittles. No Mariachis. An employer wants an employee who is driven by the feeling that they’re accomplishing realistic goals and constantly looking for ways to push beyond their last achievement and onto the next one.
3. Make your proud moment impactful:
Talk about what led up to your proud moment and why it made you so proud.
Was it a task you’d been working on for ages and weren’t having any success but through perseverance and hard work, you overcame the roadblock?
Was it tackling something everyone else in your department had given up on, knowing you could make it work?
Whatever it is, talk about what led up to that moment as well as the moment itself.
4. Make your proud moment lasting:
How did you follow up that moment? Did you use that moment as a catalyst to push forward on new challenges? Did you share your success with your team so they could learn from it and achieve their own proud moments?
Talk about what you did after you accomplished your task and how that impacted the people around you.
5. Make your proud moment a launching pad:
No employer wants to hire an employee who achieves something and then just stops. The feeling of pride is an amazing one, and an employer wants an employee who is going to be driven to continue to have moments they’re proud of at work. Talk about how you’ve taken what you’re most proud of and used it as a catalyst to continue to achieve and succeed.
3 Sample Answers
Here are a few sample examples of how someone might answer the question “What are you most proud of?”
Entry Level – Applying for a job in Event Planning
Management Level – Applying for a job as a team leader/manager
Putting It All Together
So there you have it, how to answer “What are you most proud of” and make it relevant to the job you’re applying to…no Skittles required!
Remember, keep your achievements realistic, relevant, and impactful if you want to ensure that your answer impresses the hiring manager at your next interview.
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