Interview Questions: how to answer “Do you consider yourself successful?”

By: Steve Oldroyd

Interview questions are never designed to make you feel comfortable are they? And this is just one more question that will put you on the spot if you’re unprepared.

Its purpose is to get an understanding of how you judge and evaluate yourself, how you define success and, ultimately, if you are driven to achieve results. So how best should you deal with this question?

Naturally, your immediate response has to be ‘yes’. Give examples to demonstrate the ways in which you have been successful throughout your career, but take care that you don’t come across as arrogant – there is a fine line between speaking with confidence and boasting. In recognising success it can also be good to recognise failure and the ability to learn from mistakes. Persistence to achieve and the willingness to take on challenges and work hard are positive qualities that show tenacity, determination and commitment – characteristics that employers will be looking for in candidates.

What does success mean for you?

Success means different things to different people, so think about what it means to you in your professional capacity – it doesn’t necessarily mean ‘winning’, it can often be defined by how you successfully got from A to B. Go through your CV with a fine toothcomb and pinpoint the moments in your career that will best demonstrate success or achievement. Why have you chosen those examples? And what did you do that enables you to describe yourself as successful at those particular points in time? Did you have to overcome barriers? For instance, did you recognise that you needed more training in a particular aspect of your job? Did you do this off your own bat and how were you then able to improve your performance?

Show that you look forward to future successes too

Some of your examples of success may revolve around short-term goals, but it’s good to also allude to long-term goals that are yet to be achieved. It may be that you can weave in your hopes for what you would still like to achieve in the event you are offered the job in question. This will demonstrate to the interviewing panel that you are serious about the position and what it means to you on a personal level. It also indicates that you are hungry for new challenges and won’t be complacent in a new role.

Do make sure you go to your interview prepared with an answer. Make sure you can describe the situation or challenge, how you dealt with it, the skills you used (or quite possibly acquired) and the result. There’s nothing worse that wasting time trying to rack your brains or breaking the flow with lots of ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’.

Look on questions like this as the perfect opportunity to highlight professional characteristics that you’re proud of – and that relate to the position for which you are being interviewed.

You might also be interested in...

More resources