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How do you measure success?

An excellent answer to this job interview question includes a number of elements. It begins with research and introspection. Learn about the job and company, including their measures of success as expressed in news postings, press releases, message boards, or other publicly available information. For example, the company site may mention employees receiving an industry award. If you’ve received a similar reward, that’s gold.

The second element is knowing yourself so you can honestly match your success measures with those of the job or company. This can be pretty flexible, such as “When I make deadlines, without mistakes, that to me is success. I notice your company has a 98% on time rating with projects. I want to work to continue that, and even try to improve it.”

The third element is to tie success into home life. Interviewers look for well rounded employees, so being able to describe success criteria for other elements of your life is a plus. Don’t make this the main component of the answer, but add it as an aside. For example “When I get home and find the crock pot meal I started that morning done to perfection – that’s success in the kitchen.”

To recap, an excellent answer includes three elements:

- company measure of success

- tied to your measure of success

- with a hint of off job success added

Here are some examples.

Varying Success:

“I have a lot of different measures for success. At work it’s meeting goals while maintaining an excellent working relationship with co-workers and clients. When I spoke to some people who work here, I learned that the company rewards people who meet goals. At home success is the garden I planted growing well. We just harvested a huge batch of tomatoes.”

Benefit to Company:

“If my work has helped the company meet a goal or grow, that to me is success. I’m happy to see there are bonuses to people who meet goals here. I intend to earn those bonuses. My son just got a B average report card, which is success for him after I worked with him so he could improve from his C average last semester.”

Step by Step:

“Going step by step through a process to complete a goal, is to me, success. Plan the steps, follow the plan, achieve the goal. I saw on your web site the company lists its yearly goals. That’s a good motivator. Of course, when I play tennis on the weekends my measure of success is to win the match.”

Pride in a Job:

“To me success is in whatever I set out to do. At work that means making sure I give 100%, and help the company by performing my job tasks well. I plan to take advantage of the training you offer so I can be more of an asset. At home when my kids smile after tasting my meals, that’s success too.”

One of the most clever answers we’ve ever heard? “Success is, to me, making an impact on others. Maybe you can take a minute to think of people who have motivated you. I’ll keep the time.”

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