I’ve always thought that one of the hardest (but also one of the most common) interview questions to answer is, “What are you most proud of?” Not everyone thinks of their accomplishments as anything major, but it’s important to share them with your interviewer for them to understand what you are capable of and what fulfills your pride (as they certainly want you to be proud of your work if you end up as their employee). Your interviewer will also be looking for an answer detailing the process of how you accomplished whatever it is that you are most proud of.
First of all, here’s how to NOT answer the question (as I did for my first real job interview): don’t give a short answer. There should be a story involved here with a beginning and an ending. You should lead the interview from how this accomplishment materialized through the end result and then why you are proud of it.
Can’t think of anything you’re really proud of? Brainstorm prior to the interview, as this is pretty much a given question (and can often be one of the most important). Jot down some of the accomplishments that you’ve made within the past few years. It’s best if these answers are related to your profession (college projects, previous work done, professional award) or your character (volunteer or fundraising project you spearheaded, personal achievement). Whatever achievement you choose, be sure that it is in some way relevant to the job you are applying for and that it will give the interviewer a good picture of who you are and what your values are.
Once you have chosen your accomplishment, think about the strategy that led you from beginning to end. The interviewer will be looking for your plan of action here, steps you took, and what skills enabled you to successfully achieve your end result. While preparing for your interview, jot down some bullet points to help you remember to hit each step. Explain any snags or challenges that appeared in your process and how you overcame them. Talk about what you learned during the process. Most importantly, talk about your character traits or your skill set that enabled you to achieve success and tie them back to the job that you are applying for and how they will be important there.
Pride is a hard thing to talk about for some people, especially those who have a more modest personality. But in this case, modesty should be set aside. Your interviewer will want to see your pride in your face and in your voice as you discuss this achievement.
Check out these other articles for answering tough interview questions: Tell Me About Yourself, Your Dream Job.