Job Interview Question

How do you evaluate success?

How To Answer Interview Questions Series

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I think the answer to this question has to be related directly to your work. Don’t wax philosophical about what success really is, or what a successful life is all about.

If you go into a philosophical explanation, you’ll knock yourself out of a job. They don’t care that you’ll consider yourself truly successful if you have great relationships, or if you are able to retire to the beach at 60, or anything else relating to your personal life.

Always remember your agenda in a job interview situation: to sell yourself for the job. That hiring manager is your customer, essentially, and you’re the product. You need to know what that customer’s problems and needs are (that’s why you do your interview prep ahead of time and ask questions in the interview) and your entire conversation needs to be about how you (as the product) meet those needs better than any other product out there…and in some ways, exceed them. (It’s like the ‘bells and whistles’ on a product. What are the extras that you bring to the table that make you unique or even more valuable to the company?)

For this situation, success is based on the goals you’ve set for yourself, the progress you make in achieving those goals, and how happy you make those who you work for with you. It’s based on achieving objectives and satisfying the people who are paying you for work.

So a general answer might sound like: “I evaluate success based on meeting the goals set by my supervisors, how quickly I accomplish those goals, and the feedback I get based on my performance.”

Or, “Success means finishing a project on time, under budget, and to the complete satisfaction of the ‘customer’ of that project.” (This could be your supervisor, the person you built a house for / made a part for / created a marketing campaign for / etc.)

If you’re in a management role, you might say, “I evaluate success based on meeting my professional goals while ensuring that everyone on my team is working both individually and together smoothly and in peak form.”

You can talk about customer satisfaction, increasing revenue, gaining more customers, improving accuracy, or any other business-growth or revenue related goal.

And you can certainly mention a few things, and then toss it back to the interviewer: “How is performance evaluated here?” Getting some details about how THEY evaluate success (their performance evaluation methods) will help you hone your answers for the rest of the conversation.


Got a big interview coming up? Let’s make sure you’re ready to ace it with 1:1 coaching!



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