How Do You Define Success

How to Answer Interview Question: How Do You Define Success?

How do you define success? What a question! The way success is defined is based on a personal perspective. For many, it is the accumulation of wealth, for some, it is a state of achieving happiness and for others is the accomplishment of a set goal.

Success can be defined and redefined depending on the personality and bring up this question during an interview can knock you off balance because you may be worried about giving the wrong answer.

This interview question has no right or wrong answers, but there are some answers that are better than others. Your response to the definition of success, to the hiring manager, draws a picture of who you are, how well you will perform in a particular role, and how you will fit into the company vision and values.

So this interview question is a simple but complex subjective question, not to worry, this article contains the necessary information you will need to ace this question. But first, what’s the need for this question in the first place.


How do you define success? Interviewer’s Angle

Bringing up this question during an interview should not catch you by surprise; it is a popular question in the question arsenal of the interviewer. As stated earlier, your answer to this interview question, to the hiring manager, draw a picture of who you are, how well you will perform in a particular role, and how you will fit into the company culture. The employer wants to know about your work ethics, your personal and work philosophy, priorities, and expectations.

For instance, if you say that success for you is accomplishing set goals, it will give the impression that you are an independent worker, if your response is to success is accomplishing goals where all team members are actively involved, the hiring manager will know if you value teamwork and communication.

Another thing the hiring manager wants to know is if you hold yourself to high expectations when it comes to deadlines and the position you are applying for.

Like I said earlier, there is no one right answer, and your response may be what is needed for the position or not and the impression you leave in the mind of the hiring manager may or may not get you the role it all depends on how you answer the question.


How do you define success? Your Answer

Know the Role

This is a vital thing to do before any interview, you should be mindful of the role you are applying for. Before answering this question, you should research the job description. This will help you define success the way the employer wants you to.

A digital marketing role may want to know how well you have done with other pages based on SEO statistics and analytics, while a technology role will define success based on innovativeness.

As you carry out your research, you should visit the company’s website; study its vision statement, mission statement, and core values. Look for their presence in the news and social media taking note of their accomplishments and what they promote.

This is the fastest way to learn about the company’s culture so you can align your answers with their goals.

Sell your proudest achievements

When answering how you define success, consider selling your greatest achievements to the hiring manager. Think of many as you can but don’t bore the interviewer with a lot of stories, you can stick to five different achievements.

You can tell your story of the last promotion on your last job and what you did to get that position. It could be your contribution to a group project and how it leads to the success of the project.

Describing these will show how you define success. Just make sure they are in line with the job role to put you in a better position in consideration of the job.

Quantify Your Details

They say action speaks louder than words but during an interview, numbers speak louder. When selling your success story, you must qualify your accomplishments; this gives your story some weight.

For instance, instead of saying “I got a promotion in my last job because made a great sale worth a huge amount of cash” say “I got a promotion because I closed a deal worth 5 million in sales.

This makes the hiring manager have a picture of how huge your impact will be on the company.

Put Your Personality in Your Answers

During your research, you discovered that there is an area of the company’s value that overlaps with yours make sure you bring it up in your response. However, your response should be balanced and must work hand in hand with the company’s values.

You can also add how working with them will bring a positive impact on you and the company. This will go a long way to show your employer that you share their values and will be a great contributor to the company’s growth.

Include your skills

It is important that you should include important skills that you have learned so far and how those skills make you successful.


What not to say

Yes! There is no right or wrong answer to this question, however, there are some things that you should avoid saying.

Do not be generic

You may what to define success according to the Oxford dictionary that may sound like a good foundation but it is not what your employer wants to hear. The hiring manager wants to hear your angle, how “you” define success.

Mentioning religion

Your religious beliefs are important and they may have contributed to your success, do not bring them up except you are interviewing for a religious position.

Too much personal information

It is good to share “your definition of success “but do not get carried away by putting out too much information. This might make your interviewer uncomfortable and may blow your chances of getting the job. Share personal information that is related to your professional success.

Final Thoughts

Every company was created with the aim to succeed. For them to do that, they need to employ individuals who can define success, who dream of succeeding, and who can incorporate their goals to align with that of the company.

Be a potential employee that finds this connection and present it during your interview. Do not forget to speak with confidence and enthusiasm. Wish you all the best in your interview.

Interview Questions

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