How do you answer the interview question, Give an example of a significant accomplishment
Describing the most significant achievement of your career tells your interviewer a host of information in one question/answer pair. How do you categorize your achievement? Does the interviewer hear you saying that you're just an awesome talented person or do they hear you saying that you work hard and have a can-do attitude in the face of adversity that got you to the completion of the project? I don't think I need to tell you which they'd rather hear. Do you describe only your actions in your achievement? Unless you're a one man company, chances are you had a team of people working with you to achieve your goal. Does the interviewer get the impression they are looking at a team player (however, cliche that may sound) or are you a glory hound only interested in making yourself look good? A side note here, most veterans are conditioned to talk about their job in terms of their "team". They understand that they can't perform their mission all alone. You must accept that talking about your successes is going to sound braggy to your ear, but you must practice discussing your accomplishments so you can give yourself the best shot at landing the job you're applying for. Your answer needs to be well thought out, and while you shouldn't sound like a recording, you should have a well rehearsed answer ready to go at your interview.
So how do you choose which of your fabulous achievements you should share with your interviewer? First of all, do not, no matter what, embellish your achievement. Stick with the truth here.
Look back at the jobs you've had in the past. Pick an accomplishment that will translate well to the job you're applying for. Look at the job posting again for help in narrowing in on the specific keywords they're looking for. Think about new skills you learned or an outdated process that you streamlined and made functional again. Make sure that the success you talk about has a measurable component, how did you add value to your company with your success? If you reduced downtime, have an actual numerical amount of time you saved available. If you reduced costs, make sure you can tell the interviewer an actual dollar amount that your project saved.
The next part is to tell us what you did and help us understand how and why your achievement was a big deal. This is especially important when you are changing career fields, as many transitioning veterans are. If your significant achievement is, "I took my platoon downrange at gunnery and scored a 92% and was awarded the most improved platoon in our entire brigade, through much practice and tactical training." You're going to have to explain, platoon, downrange, gunnery, probably brigade, and why this is such a big deal. If you use language that your interviewer doesn't understand, you're going to lose them, they'll drift off wondering when they can dig into their left over lasagna rather than focusing on how you're going to make an awesome addition to their team! You do not want this. So make sure your military jargon is kept to a minimum.
I know this is a hard question for veterans, but really the strength question is your time to shine, show your new employer why you're the logical choice for their opening. It will be weird at first telling others how great you are, but practice so you sound authentic while discussing your faboulousness and you'll win the interviewer over in no time at all and leave with your new job in the bag.
Three steps to success:
Comments  by Tanyia Shaw — Posted on Jul 11, 2018 in Veteran Interviewing