Best Interview Questions to Ask Job Candidates – Achievements

This is part three of a 12-part series.

Creating a successful and productive team starts with finding great employees who fit your organizational culture. And while you may receive hundreds of job applications and interested parties, narrowing down the talent pool to hire the right candidate for the job goes beyond what hiring managers can surmise by reading cover letters and applicants’ resumes, especially when studies show 85% of applicants lie on their resumes. This is where the art of the interview comes into play.

According to a study, although a typical interview averages 40 minutes, 33% of hiring managers decide whether they want to hire a job candidate within the first 90 seconds of an interview. To ensure you’re completely thorough and make the right decision, it’s important to ask the right questions to fully understand and evaluate a candidate. During this 12-part series, we will explore the best interview questions to ask job candidates and give a few “pro tips” along the way.

Part Three – Uncovering Job Fulfillment, Fear of Success, and Celebration Style

Question: What is one of your proudest achievements?

Follow ups: How did it align with your goals and aspirations? What did you do to celebrate with your team? How did it provide value to others?

In part one of this series, we examined the importance of uncovering a job candidate’s potential fear of failure by asking about past failures and overcoming them. This question examines the other side of the spectrum to uncover behavioral tendencies toward accomplishments.

By asking a candidate to detail a proud career moment, you want to uncover what specific things they find fulfilling and fill them with passion. When an individual outlines a specific accomplishment, they tend to showcase what they see as important and worthy of acknowledgement. This topic also helps an interviewer uncover what type of teammate they are. For instance, are they humble and put the focus on their co-workers? Are they the type of lone wolf, self-starter who sees an opportunity and seizes it? Or more importantly, are they the type of person who has difficulty pinpointing achievements, uncovering a potential fear of success?

While all organizations are built with each type of individual, it’s important to know what type fits your culture and is perfect for the specific position you’re recruiting for.  A modest person may find it difficult to answer this question; whereas, an outspoken person may find this question difficult to answer without sounding prideful or braggadocious. Allow for space for the individual to navigate their answer as they see fit while asking follow-up questions to dig deeper into their behavioral characteristics.


If you uncover tendencies that would make you believe the person has a fear of success, it’s best to understand the characteristic and dig in more to determine if this is a yes or a no-go. Fear of success is a common issue in business and can be caused by a multitude of reasons. One cause is due to “imposter syndrome,” or doubting one’s abilities and considering oneself a fraud. Another could be the individual struggles with change, as well as heightened expectations moving forward. Regardless of the reason, the type of fear of success is the most important to uncover. Does the individual not realize successes, struggle with personal doubt, or most disastrously, actively self-sabotage to fail instead of succeed? The last type of person is the one you need to watch out for, because they can create havoc in the workplace while undermining organizational goals.

What is your favorite question to ask a job candidate? How do you decide who the right candidate is? Let us know in the comments section below!

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