Interviewing 101: Discussing Accomplishments with Poise and Confidence

In today's job market, you to not only stand out, but also soar to the top of an organization's prospect list. But, you don't want to fall into the trap of over-preparing to the point that you go in sounding rehearsed, and then have a deer-in-the-headlights moment when you get thrown a curveball.

There's a careful balance with interview preparation that requires preparation (e.g., company research, practicing standard questions) and the ability to think (and respond!) on your feet.

I've worked with all sorts of job candidates through interview coaching over the past four years - from entry level through senior management. Across all seniority levels, it's imperative to strike a balance of professionalism and personality, and to demonstrate that you are thoughtful and engaging.Those qualities tend to help interviewers remember and relate to you in a way that helps YOU to move further along the interview process. 

Let's talk about accomplishments.

Yes, I want you to proudly talk about yourself, and feel good about it. 

A long while back, I was a finalist for a position where I was asked to discuss my proudest professional accomplishment. I told the story of being partnered with the Lake Mills Elementary School design team through the LEED v4 Beta Program while serving as Program Manger for the U.S. Green Building Council. It's an inspiring story, and I couldn't help but get a glisten in my eye and visibly more excited as I was describing the project. 

After I finished answering the question, the lead interviewer responded with "wow, that sounds like a truly incredible experience," with a glisten in her eye. It wasn't the response I was expecting, but it taught me first hand the importance of not only being a solid professional candidate, but also an authentic human being with passion and emotions. 

So, spend some time thinking about what your answer to this question would be. You want to communicate something inspiring, and something real that the interviewers can identify with. 

  • Was a program team you were on going in a really risky direction, but the team pulled together and the project paid off?

  • Have you ever found yourself having to really stretch the bounds of your skillset, and you wound up impressing not only yourself, but also senior management?

  • When you reflect on the days you truly enjoyed going to work, what comes to mind? Talk about what you were doing and accomplishing on those days.