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Mastering Success: The Key to a Successful Job Interview

Defining success is essential in a job interview; this determines if a candidate is the right fit for the company and the position. Hiring managers evaluate the candidate’s ethics, aspirations, and character based on how they define success.

This article will provide a three-step process for answering the question, “How do you define success?” to increase a candidate’s chances of getting hired. The Three-Step Process for Answering, “How Do You Define Success?”

The question, “How do you define success?” is a way for hiring managers to know what a candidate is striving for, what motivates them, and what matters to them.

Here’s a three-step process for answering the question. 1.

Briefly define success

The first step is to provide a brief definition of success. Success can be defined in various ways; depending on personal values, achievements, aspirations, and goals.

Keep the definition short and simple, so the hiring manager can comprehend what you consider as success. 2.

Tell a story

The second step is to relate the concept of success to personal or professional experiences. This will provide qualitative data that the hiring manager can use to analyze your character and aspirations.

Companies are interested in hiring candidates that share their values and can fit into the company culture. For instance, if the company is focused on providing excellent customer service, it’s essential to share a story that shows how your values align with the company’s.

Therefore, you can talk about how you helped a customer that was dissatisfied with a product or service. This tells the hiring manager that you’re empathetic, patient, and willing to go the extra mile to provide customer satisfaction.

3. Try to include the company’s values

The final step is to align the definition of success with the company’s values.

This shows that you’re not only the right fit for the position but also for the company’s culture. Use research to learn more about the company’s values and incorporate them into your answers.

For example, if the company values teamwork or collaboration, you can state how working with a team to complete a project was a success for you. This demonstrates that you’re a team player and that you understand the importance of working together to achieve a common goal.

Importance of Defining Success in Job Interviews

Defining success in a job interview is essential as it reveals the values and aspirations of a candidate. Hiring managers use it to analyze the candidate’s ethics, aspirations, and character.

It’s important to note that success is not only achieved through financial gains, but through personal and professional growth. Defining success can also help the candidate understand their motivations and goals.

This can help them prioritize their job search, which can lead to a more fulfilling career. It’s crucial to define success based on personal values to avoid dissatisfaction with achieving success that was not personally satisfying.

Significance of Defining Success in Job Interviews

Defining success in a job interview is more than just explaining personal values and aspirations. Companies use it to determine how a candidate fits into the company culture and values.

This is especially important when hiring for positions that require collaboration, teamwork, and client engagement. A candidate that can align their definition of success with the company’s values, mission, and culture is more likely to be successful in the position.

Hiring managers evaluate a candidate’s character based on their definition of success, and this can increase a candidate’s chances of being hired.


Defining success in a job interview is essential to help hiring managers evaluate a candidate’s character, ethics, and aspirations. It’s important to use a three-step process to answer the question; briefly define success, tell a story, and align the definition with the company’s values.

This will increase a candidate’s chances of being hired and also provide a more fulfilling career. Defining success is a common topic in job interviews, and candidates are often asked, “How do you define success?” Below are some examples of how to answer this question:

Example 1: Defining Success by Meeting Goals

One way to define success is by meeting goals.

Success is not only about setting goals but also about achieving them. Meeting objectives and demonstrating achievement are critical factors that define success in a corporate organization.

For example, a candidate applying for a commercial banking position can signify success by meeting the sales targets set by the bank. The candidate can also mention how they were able to exceed the set targets and contributed to the overall success of the bank.

Example 2: Defining Success Through Work Quality

Quality of work is important, mainly if the position requires specific skills such as that of a graphic designer. Success can mean providing excellent and satisfactory work to clients.

For designers, success is not just about creativity, but also about meeting the client’s specific needs and requirements. The candidate can relate success to a particular design project that required complex problem-solving skills and how their innovative ideas helped solve the problem.

Moreover, they can talk about how they met the client’s expectations and created a positive impact on the project’s outcome. Example 3: Defining Success by Overcoming Challenges

Success can also be defined by how one overcomes challenges.

Overcoming challenges help develop strengths that can be used in organizations. Employers are also interested in hiring candidates who possess the problem-solving skills needed to face challenges at work.

A candidate can explain how they overcame a challenging project and achieved successful results through their logical thinking, innovative ideas and strategies. This would show that despite the obstacles, they were able to find solutions and create a positive impact.

Example 4: Defining Success by Management Accomplishments

A management position requires effective leadership and teamwork, and defining success can include goals that align with team success rather than individual achievements. A successful manager should have excellent communication skills, manage teams effectively, and provide guidance and support.

A candidate can describe how they led a project that resulted in strong teamwork between team members that led to a positive outcome, such as successful completion of the project on time, within budget, and to the satisfaction of the company and the customer.

Why Interviewers Ask This Interview Question

Employers ask, “How do you define success?” in the job interviews to determine whether a candidate’s goals align with the workplace priorities. This question is of great significance in evaluating the employee’s attitude, character, and work ethics.

The response provided by the candidate helps to discover the motivations behind the candidate’s job search. The interviewer evaluates the candidate’s definitions of success against the company’s values.

This helps in determining whether the candidate is the right fit for the company culture. The interviewer can also assess the candidate’s potential in the company.

For example, if the company has an emphasis on collaboration, an ideal candidate would define success as a shared accomplishment of team goals. Thus, the interviewer can identify whether the candidate has leadership potential and the ability to work effectively in a team environment.


Defining success is important in a job interview, and candidates should take their time to provide a relevant response. They can define success through achievements, quality of work, overcoming challenges, or through managing a team’s accomplishments.

Employers ask this interview question to evaluate whether the candidate is the right fit for their company and culture. A well-defined definition of success is the key to a successful interview and potential hiring.

The question, “How do you define success?” is an essential question in job interviews, and it can determine whether a candidate gets hired. It’s important to prepare and practice your response in advance to avoid common mistakes that can jeopardize your chances of getting hired.

Below are some tips for answering this question:

Research the Company

It’s crucial to research the company before the interview to align your definition of success with the company’s values. Research the company’s mission, vision, and values, which can assist in creating an appropriate response.

This will show that you have taken the time to learn about the company and are a better fit for the culture. Give Examples of How You’ve Achieved Success in the Past

Provide qualitative data that demonstrates how you’ve achieved success in the past using specific examples.

This makes the response more memorable to the interviewer while also providing an insight into your aspiration, motivation, and character.

Try to Keep the Successes You Mention Professionally Relevant

It’s important to keep the success you mention relevant to the position you are interviewing for. This shows that you understand what is required of the position, and it increases your chances of being considered for the role.

The successes you mention should align with the job requirements and skills needed for the position. Mention How You’ll Bring Your Skills to the Company

The response to the question should demonstrate how your skillsets align with the job requirements.

You need to provide a clear picture of what you can bring to the table, including transferable skills, and how it would benefit the company. You can mention past achievements in a different context and how it can be applied to the role you are interviewing for.

Do Some Self-Reflection

Self-awareness is key to creating a relevant response to this question. Take some time to examine your professional accomplishments and identify what you value in your career.

Do a self-analysis to understand your motivations behind certain accomplishments and how it relates to the position you are interviewing for.

Let Your Personality Show

The response to the question should show a bit of your personality to differentiate yourself from other candidates. This can include personal traits that align with the company culture.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Answering

To avoid jeopardizing your chances of getting hired, avoid the following common mistakes when answering the question, “How do you define success?”

Avoid Irrelevant Motivations

It’s important to align your motivations with the job requirements. Define success based on how it aligns with your professional goals and not based on personal ambitions.

Avoid Lengthy, Unfocused Responses

The response should be concise and focused. Avoid giving a long story that veers off the topic.

A lengthy response may frustrate the interviewer and indicate poor communication skills.

Avoid Getting Too Personal

When answering the question, it’s imperative to strike a balance between showing your personality and maintaining professionalism. Avoid getting too personal as it might come across as unprofessional.

Avoid Lying

Lying in an interview can lead to negative consequences. Avoid fabricating stories that are not true or exaggerating your accomplishments.

Avoid Being Too Honest

Honesty is crucial, but it’s also important to be tactful. Avoid being overly honest about your goals, especially personal ones that may not align with the job requirements.

Instead, focus on your professional goals.


Preparing and practicing your response to “How do you define success?” is crucial in demonstrating your alignment with the company’s values and competence for the position. Researching the company, backing your response with specific examples, and keeping your response focus and concise are essential.

It’s also important to be self-aware, highlight your transferable skills, and let your personality come through in the response. Avoid common mistakes such as irrelevance, lengthy unfocused responses, being too personal, lying, or being too honest about personal goals.

Preparing for a job interview involves not only crafting thoughtful responses to common questions but also anticipating potential follow-up questions. Being prepared for these follow-up questions demonstrates your readiness and professionalism, and can greatly improve your interview performance.

Let’s explore the importance of anticipating follow-up questions and some examples of possible follow-up questions you may encounter in an interview.

Importance of Anticipating Follow-up Questions

Anticipating follow-up questions is crucial for several reasons. First, it shows that you have thought critically about your answers and are prepared to provide further clarification or expand on your previous responses.

Second, it demonstrates your ability to think on your feet and adapt to unexpected inquiries, which are key skills for many positions. Finally, anticipating follow-up questions enables you to highlight additional qualifications or experiences that may differentiate you from other candidates.

Examples of Possible Follow-up Questions

1. Can you provide more details about how you achieved success in that particular example?

This follow-up question allows you to provide a more in-depth explanation of your previous success story. Be prepared to offer specific details about the challenges you faced, the actions you took, and the results you achieved.

This demonstrates your ability to effectively navigate obstacles and deliver tangible outcomes. 2.

How do your past successes align with the requirements of this specific role? This question assesses the relevance of your previous accomplishments to the position you are interviewing for.

Prepare by thoroughly reviewing the job description and identifying key skills or experiences that overlap with your past successes. Be ready to draw connections between your achievements and the qualifications sought by the employer.

3. Are there any additional qualifications or experiences that you believe would contribute to your success in this role?

This question provides an opportunity for you to highlight any relevant qualifications or experiences that may not have been discussed in your initial responses. It allows you to showcase additional strengths or expertise that could set you apart from other candidates.

Prepare by reviewing your resume and identifying noteworthy qualifications that align with the requirements of the role. 4.

How do you plan to apply your past successes to this company or department? This follow-up question gauges your ability to transfer your skills and experiences to a new environment.

Discuss your understanding of the company’s goals and values, and explain how you can adapt your prior achievements to contribute to its success. This demonstrates your strategic thinking and potential impact within the organization.

5. Can you give an example of a time when your definition of success shifted or evolved?

This question delves into your capacity for growth and adaptability. Reflect on a situation where your understanding of success changed, and discuss the factors that influenced this shift.

Emphasize how this evolution has positively impacted your professional development and your ability to tackle challenges effectively. 6.

Is there any additional information you would like to provide about your definition of success? This open-ended follow-up question gives you the opportunity to provide any relevant information that has not been covered before.

Use this moment to reinforce your alignment with the company’s values, emphasize your commitment to ongoing personal and professional growth, or highlight any unique perspectives or experiences that would contribute to your success in the role.


Anticipating follow-up questions before a job interview is crucial for enhancing your interview performance. It showcases your preparedness, adaptability, and ability to provide further clarification or expand on your previous responses.

Examples of potential follow-up questions include requesting more details about your achievements, seeking relevance to the specific role, inquiring about additional qualifications, and exploring your ability to transfer past successes to the new company or department. By thoroughly preparing for these follow-up questions, you can confidently navigate the interview process and increase your chances of landing the job.

Anticipating and preparing for follow-up questions in a job interview is essential for success. It demonstrates professionalism, critical thinking skills, and the ability to adapt to unexpected inquiries.

By anticipating possible follow-up questions, candidates can provide further clarification, highlight additional qualifications, and showcase their relevance to the role. Take the time to thoroughly research the company, reflect on past successes, and consider how your experiences can be applied to the specific position.

Being prepared for follow-up questions will not only enhance your interview performance but also leave a lasting impression on the interviewer, increasing your chances of securing the job.

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