During an interview, you may be asked, "Do you consider yourself successful? Why?" This question demands self-reflection and self-assessment and can feel a bit challenging to answer. While you might not consider yourself to be a total success, think of the question as an invitation to discuss the professional characteristics that you're proud of or a particular achievement in one of your past jobs.
Focus on the things you've done at work that you're proud of, and which helped your team and the company succeed.
Your response is also a good indicator of how humble you are—or aren't. Aim to talk about positive, meaningful achievements without being boastful.
What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know
By asking if you consider yourself successful, the recruiter is trying to assess your past achievements and determine whether you will be driven to achieve such results in the future. This question also allows the recruiter to understand how you define success, and what milestones in your career you consider important.
How to Answer the Question
The easy part of your response is to assert confidently that you do consider yourself a success. Make sure you look the recruiter in the eye and sell the statement with a confident tone, but without bragging.
The more challenging task, however, is to back up your assertion. It's important to provide the interviewer with evidence of how you achieved success in the workplace.
Provide one or two examples of times when you have set and met a professional goal. Briefly explain how you achieved each success—perhaps you overcame an obstacle, effectively managed a team, or budgeted your time effectively.
The goal is to demonstrate your determination and willingness to take on challenges and achieve results.
You might also mention successes you hope to achieve in the future or are currently working to achieve. For example, if you mention your successful sales record, you may also want to explain how you hope to improve upon that success in the future. It will demonstrate that you are hungry for new challenges in the new position.
Once you have established a basis for professional success, you can add a personal achievement, like being a dedicated dad or marathon runner, to round out your answer.
Examples of the Best Answers
Review examples of answers to questions about whether you're successful to get ideas for your own response.
Example Answer #1
I do consider myself successful. Because I always go above and beyond for my clients, I have achieved the highest sales record of anyone in my previous office. However, I am not content with that one success. I look forward to working hard to communicate effectively with future clients to improve on my sales record.
Why It Works: This candidate describes a big success and also points out a skill they're seeking to develop further. That shows they are always pushing to be more successful.
Example Answer #2
Yes, I do consider myself successful. I think my willingness to take on new challenges and work hard sets me up for success. For example, I volunteered to manage a project for my company, which involved managing 20 staff members. I had never managed such a large staff before. However, due to my hard work, effective communication, and clear goals, I effectively managed the team, and we completed our project ahead of schedule. I don’t shy away from a challenge, and I know this would set me up for success at your company.
Why It Works: This candidate does a nice job of sharing previous successes, and also ties their response back to the company at hand.
Example Answer #3
I consider myself successful because of my ability to get along well with others, including employers, staff, and clients. My friendly personality, coupled with my ability to communicate effectively, helps me establish relationships and achieve results, particularly in team projects. Of course, I consider myself to be successful in other areas of my life; seeing three children through high school and college is probably one of my greatest successes!
Why It Works: This person shows themselves to be adept at self-reflection and emphasizes a softskill that's in highdemand by most employers.
Tips for Giving the Best Response
Keep these strategies in mind:
Plan ahead. Before the interview, look through your resume and jot down one or two of your accomplishments in each role, no matter how small. Think about the situation or challenge you faced when working towards each accomplishment and the skills or knowledge you leveraged to bring about positive results.
Say "yes," then back it up. It's hard to imagine a scenario where a candidate would want to say they do not consider themselves to be a success. Start with an affirmative answer. But keep in mind, interviewers are asking this question to learn more about you. So make sure to provide examples of your successes.
Be relevant. You can talk about any qualities or accomplishments that have made you a success. But your answer will be strongest if you focus on assets that correspond to the preferred qualifications of candidates. Tip: You'll get a sense of what the company wants by carefully reviewing the job listing and spending time on the company website.
What Not to Say
Some responses will leave a bad impression. Try to avoid the following:
Bragging. Yes, interviewers want to hear about your successes. But people don't respond well to boasting and bragging. Be sure not to tip over the line.
Rambling. Keep your response tight, and avoid going on and on. Share just a few examples of successes, and then wrap it up.
Going negative. Interviewers are opening the door for you to share accomplishments and achievements. While you don't want to boast, being overly modest and saying you do not consider yourself successful is unlikely to do you any favors.
Possible Follow-Up Questions
- Tell me about a time you made a mistake. - Best Answer
- How would your colleagues describe you? - Best Answer
- What are your biggest strengths? - Best Answer
- What is your biggest weakness? - Best Answer
PREPARE BEFOREHAND. Even if you haven't planned an answer to this specific interview question, having a good sense of what interviewers are looking for in candidates will help you give a more successful response.
GIVE EXAMPLES. Share specific examples of accomplishments that have helped your previous companies flourish.
BE RELEVANT. Pinpoint ways that you've been successful in the past that connect to the role at hand.