“What are you most proud of?” is an interview question that many job-seekers don’t know how to answer. It seems straightforward on the surface, but the way you approach your response can matter a great deal!
This guide will teach you how to explain what you’re most proud of as a professional, in a way that will certainly impress the interviewer.
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Why Interviewers Ask This Question
A question like this unveils more information than most realize. Resumes only provide so much information, and open-ended questions help fill in the gaps. “What are you most proud of?” gives hiring managers the information they need to paint a bigger picture of who you are and what you have to offer.
Answering this question allows you to talk more about your skills and qualifications. Think of it as a temporary green light to do a little humble bragging about your past experiences. It’s an open invitation to let the interviewer know about the skills that helped you achieve those successes.
It doesn’t have to be strictly hard skills required for this job. “What are you most proud of?” could be answered by highlighting soft skills and other unique attributes that make you a fine candidate for this job. Interviewers want to know more about those details they won’t see on a resume.
Another reason this question comes up is that it demonstrates your values, priorities, and thought processes at work. It’s about figuring out what success means to you and what you do to get there. The question is also about seeing if your definition of success aligns with the company’s goals.
For example, saying that the accomplishment you’re most proud of was bringing in the biggest commission in your company’s history shows that you’re profit driven. Meanwhile, talking about learning a new skill by yourself indicates that you care more about expanding your knowledge.
How to Answer “What Are You Most Proud of?”
“What are you most proud of?” is a question that comes in many forms. But no matter how it’s phrased, there’s tons of nuance to providing an impactful answer.
Your response holds a lot of weight, influencing how decision-makers view your hiring potential. To avoid missteps when answering this interview question, follow these steps to develop something memorable that works in your favor.
1. Pick Something Job-Related
Everyone has personal and professional accomplishments that they are proud of. However, it would be best if you stuck to the latter when answering this interview question. While you may be proud of personal triumphs or your family, it’s not the time and place to talk about them.
Hiring managers are interested in what you can bring to the company, so personal details won’t be as relevant.
“What are you most proud of?” is an interview question that’s best approached by thinking back on your career. There’s a good chance you have some moments that stick out in your mind due to how much influence they had in helping your career trajectory move forward. Jot down a list of those proud moments and reflect on what you’ve done well thus far.
Then, pick one story that relates most with the job you’re trying to land.
Research the company and the position. Look at mission statements, review the latest business news articles, and see what this job is truly about before heading into your interview. With that information in mind, you can mold your answer to cement your qualifications.
Use this opportunity to connect what you’re proud of to what you can do for the company. It’s about showing off your capabilities while reminding the interviewer exactly why you’ve made it this far into the hiring process.
2. Provide Details on How You Accomplished It
Don’t just provide a one-word or one-sentence answer. Talk about your experience! “What are you most proud of as a professional?” is a question that offers valuable insight, but it can only benefit you if you go into detail.
That doesn’t mean you have to ramble on for several minutes. It’s still wise to be relatively concise, but you can still go into enough detail to let the interviewer know why this moment matters. This would be a good time to use the STAR interview method.
Focus on how you accomplished what you did. Talk about what skills you used to get there and what you learned along the way. Hiring managers love to hear that you’re using success to better yourself.
Talk about the fact that you’re constantly setting new goals and striving to improve your career. You don’t want to make it sound like you’ve peaked in any way. Instead, lean on the steps you took to get to those career victories and highlight the fact that you plan on having even more success in the future.
3. Give Credit to Those Who Helped
In most cases, the moments you’re proud of weren’t possible working entirely by yourself. There’s a good chance that others played a part in helping you get there! Don’t forget to highlight those individuals.
“What are you most proud of?” is an interview question that can quickly end with you bragging more than you intended. You don’t have to be ultra-modest, and you’re allowed to show pride with your response. However, you must keep yourself metered and show some humility.
No one likes to work with someone self-centered and incapable of identifying the people who provide support. It doesn’t matter whether your proudest moments were a result of collaborative work or an old manager helped pave the way for your most significant accomplishment. Talk about those people and share the glory.
Doing so shows humility and reassures hiring managers that you’re a team player. It also shows that you won’t become a bulldozer that wants to take credit for everything.
4. Share What You Took Away From the Experience
Finally, wrap up your response by explaining what you took from the experience. It’s all about growth and continued improvement. As mentioned earlier, you don’t want to come off as if you’ve peaked and have nowhere left to go.
Treat your proudest moment as a launching pad for even greater success. Talk about the lessons you learned and how they shaped your career moving forward. Maybe it taught you invaluable soft skills you continue to use today. Or perhaps it showed you that approaching workplace challenges requires a shift in perspective, improving how you come up with solutions.
Whatever the case, highlight those takeaways. It’s the perfect way to bring your response full circle while indicating that you’ll bring what you learned into this new position.
What to Avoid Saying
“What are you most proud of?” is a question that gives you plenty of chances to leave a positive first impression. However, there are also many ways it can go wrong!
To avoid an interview snafu, here are a few things you should avoid when answering this question.
Negativity and Bad-Mouthing
Never resort to badmouthing when you create your response. That applies to all interview questions, but it’s crucial when it comes to sharing what you’re most proud of. The potential to sound full of yourself mixed with tons of negativity about past employers is not a good look.
It doesn’t matter if your proudest moment involved sticking it to your old boss or if it was becoming one of the best workers on your team. Resist the urge to bring up any ounce of negativity about previous jobs. You can still talk about those moments, but you must develop your answer in a way that leaves the grudge you hold behind.
Negative responses often sour the mood and ruin the interviewer’s opinion about you. If you’re willing to talk bad about former employers or colleagues, what’s stopping you from doing the same thing in the future? That’s a risk most hiring managers aren’t willing to take.
Keep things positive at all times.
Earlier, we talked about how you should share credit and talk about individuals who helped you reach those proud moments. That’s a tip you need to remember. Egotistical responses are the quickest way to flip the script and ruin your chances of getting a job offer.
No one wants to work with self-centered individuals. Even a glimpse of that inflated ego is enough to make many hiring managers move on to another candidate.
It’s easy to blur the lines between pride and overt bragging with this question. That’s why it’s essential to share credit, talk about what you learned, and focus on how that experience affects what you can bring to this job.
“What are you most proud of?” is an interview question that can make it tempting to make things up. Some people assume this question is about doing whatever it takes to make yourself look accomplished. But that’s not the case. Lying will not work in your favor.
Instead, it could come back to bite you! All it takes is contacting references and talking to former employers to get the truth. Getting caught in a lie is the epitome of embarrassment. Not only will it ruin your chances of getting the job, but you’ll probably develop a reputation for dishonesty.
Be authentic, and don’t try to make what you’re most proud of more significant than it is. If it matters to you, it’s enough.
Need help coming up with answers to “What are you most proud of?” It seems tough, but developing a memorable response is easier than you think. Everyone’s answer will be different, but you can use our tips and examples below to get inspired and prepare for this question the best you can.
In our first example, the applicant focuses on a more personal accomplishment. It’s still relevant to their career and the job they’re applying for, but what they’re most proud of is about personal growth. The answer works because it’s humble, shows how far the individual has come in their career, and indicates that they plan on using what they learned to succeed in the new position.
“I’m most proud of a time when I led a company-wide training session for a new piece of software we implemented into our daily operations. I was the person who recommended adding the software to our tech stack. Due to my familiarity with it, management recommended that I train our entire company on how to use it.
I wasn’t huge on public speaking and terrified of standing in front of a few hundred peers. I have to give credit to my immediate supervisor. She gave me tips on how to relax and sound confident while providing some much-needed support.
After the training session, management gave me tons of praise. It was a significant confidence booster and a real turning point for my career. From that point forward, I decided to be more vocal and take more opportunities to improve my public speaking skills.
Eventually, I started leading meetings. That turned into taking the helm for small projects. I’m eager to push myself even further and lead larger teams while maintaining the sense of confidence I’ve gained over the years.”
In our following example, the applicant highlights a time when they worked hard to get on a specific project. They talk about how they worked hard to be considered for a team they wanted to be a part of and how it shaped their career moving forward.
“I’ve only been in this industry for a few short years, but at this point I’m most proud of getting chosen to work on a big-budget marketing project at my previous job. At the time, I was working on smaller, low-budget assignments. While I appreciated the opportunity to pay my dues, I was itching for more responsibility.
I dedicated my time to becoming a top performer. No matter how small the project seemed, I took it on to build my portfolio and show project managers that I was reliable enough to become a part of more significant projects. That work paid off, and I was asked to be a part of the team to tackle this large marketing project despite still being relatively new.
I took that opportunity to heart and continued to work hard. I give a lot of credit to the project manager who took a chance on me. Not only did he provide support every step of the way, but he continued to push me and my skills.
That project paved the way for me to contribute to many more high-budget assignments at my previous employer. It taught me to never rest on my laurels, and I continue striving to improve everything I do.”
Our final example revolves around money and profits. The job-seeker talks about how they surpassed sales goals. But instead of being egotistical, they remain humble and lean on how the experience helped push their career further than ever.
“A couple of years ago, I was lucky to set a sales record for my previous company. I beat the last record by a large margin, resulting in significant profits for the company.
I owe that success to the encouragement of my sales team lead. They always stressed the importance of cultivating leads even if they didn’t seem like it would pay off. With that advice in mind, I kept in touch with a prospect that many salespeople on my team didn’t want.
The lead had spent years inquiring about a potential sale, but they never pulled the trigger to close a deal. Despite that, I always kept in touch, answered their questions, and made time to speak with them when they contacted our company.
After a couple of years of showing interest, the prospect made a massive deal to replace old software with our SaaS product across their entire operation. That included multiple locations and hundreds of users.
That broke a number of sales records within the company and taught me that patience can pay off!”
Answering “What are you most proud of?” doesn’t have to be intimidating. In fact, you should view it as an exciting opportunity to make a great impression and show your skills!
Take your time, do some prep work, and you’ll be able to give an answer you feel good about.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.