What does it mean to be successful? Having a lot of money, nice car, and a big house? Or perhaps doing a job you always wanted to have? Does it mean being your own boss, and having plenty of time for your family and hobbies? Does the journey matter more, or the final destination? And, don’t people who consider themselves successful lose their drive and motivation, and actually start to stagnate?

Lot of questions, and no easy answers. Someone smart once said that success is a progressive realization of a worthy ideal. It’s a good definition, but not everyone can pursue worthy ideal in life, at least not in every stage of it. At times we basically try to survive, or earn money to pay bills and to have something to eat.

But I do not want to philosophize here for hours–though it would be possible with a strange interview question like this one. Let me rather show you 7 interesting sample answers to it. We will philosophize a bit more below the answers :).


7 sample answers to “Do you consider yourself successful?” interview question

  1. I do, though many people may not share the same opinion. I have just graduated from the University, and find myself in a big debt–just like most university graduates. But I’ve studies the field I love, and now I am applying for a job I always wanted to have. Certainly it will take some time until I manage to have some positive impact in the local community, and until I earn decent money and pay my debt. But I am on the journey, following my career plan, and this stage–having no money and no experiences, belong to each similar successful journey.
  2. Honestly I think I am successful, though you won’t find anything exceptional on my resume. But resume does not reflect everything we experience in life, it doesn’t tell the entire story. I’ve faced a lot of adversity up to this point. My parents died when I was still young, so I had to battle it out on my own. I had a lot of health problems, and had to change my diet and lifestyle completely, getting rid of bad habits until I finally cured myself. I managed to overcome the obstacles, graduated from high school, earned my certification. Here I am, applying for a decent job with you. I’ve walked a long journey in life, and definitely consider myself successful because of it.


  1. It’s early to tell. I am just starting my professional career. Maybe I earned good grades, and did well at the college, but I prefer not to judge it as success. The real tests start now, in the workplace, and I am eager to become a great manager one day. I honestly think that we should not think much about life as a success or failure, at least not when we are young, and have everything in front of us. If one becomes satisfied, they will lose their drive. Once I retire and look back, at all things I did and decisions I made, I will be able to say whether I was successful or not. But before that I have decades of work in front of me.
  2. I honestly believe that most things in our life are given. Equal opportunity is just an illusion. Is a man from New York, who was born in a rich family, had an access to the best education, and leads some big company more successful than a man who was born in a slum, never had a chance to go to school, and ended up sweeping streets, collecting garbage, or begging in front of a church? That’s a tough one to answer in my opinion. And therefor I prefer not to consider myself successful, though I achieved decent things in life. More than anything else I was lucky, and I am grateful for the hand I’ve been dealt by the destiny, God, or whatever we may call it.
  3. I think that I succeeded in finding my place in life, and I haven’t fared bad as a son, and as a father. But I still think that there is more to achieve, that I still have some big achievements waiting for me in life, especially when we talk about my professional career. I am not a bad salesman, and I managed to reach good numbers in most of my jobs. But I am not done yet, the fire still burns within me, and I am as competitive as I was in my twenties. Maybe, after all, this means that I am successful–because it’s not easy to be a salesman for twenty years and still enjoy your job, still wanting to move forward.


  1. I am not striving to reach success in life. It’s not my personal philosophy. I do not try to emulate the journey of celebrities or other public figures people typically consider successful and look up to. On the contrary, I try to live a simple and low-profile life, out of the spotlight, being grateful for what I have. Living in a present moment and not having too much expectations actually allows me to enjoy each day to the fullest, and it doesn’t matter whether I spend it in work, with my family, or alone in the mountains.
  2. I will consider myself as successful if I get this job with you. That’s what I’ve been striving for ever since I started my job search after the college, and found the vacancy you present. I like everything about this company, and I know how hard it is to get in–out of every 100 job applications you receive, you choose just one person for the job. But you see, it did not discourage me from applying with you. Maybe I am not successful yet, but I have courage, and I aim high in my professional career.


Try to stay positive, regardless of circumstances

Maybe you do not consider yourself successful at the moment, and perhaps you’ve been going through a tough period right now–whether in your personal, or professional life.

It is all right to say it in an interview, as long as you remain positive about the future. Surely, things have been miserable, and maybe this job is your last chance. But you see the light at the end of the tunnel, and know that things can change to better at any moment.

Man can be destroyed, but not defeated. Try to stay positive, regardless of what happens in your life right now. Companies do not have a problem with hiring people who struggle, or people who aren’t successful. But nobody likes to hire someone who will bring a negative energy to the workplace.

* Special Tip: Do you consider yourself successful isn’t the only difficult question you will face while interviewing for any decent job. You will face questions about prioritization, dealing with pressure, dealing with ambiguity, and other tricky scenarios that happen in the workplace. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your answers and outclass your competitors, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 31 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will help you streamline your interview preparation, and eventually outclass your competitors and get the job. Thank you for checking it out!

Not everyone has to strive for success

You shouldn’t be afraid to be philosophical in your interview answers, especially when they ask you philosophical questions. Perhaps you do not care about being successful, and try to live in a present moment, not dreaming about some goals in the future. See sample answers no. 6 as a good demonstration of this philosophy.

Or you have empathy with the poor, and understand that more than anything else, you were lucky in life–to be born in a good country, to receive education, to get a chance to dream, and to apply for good jobs. Hence you do not like to talk about success and failure–such concepts are highly abstract to you. Check answer no. 4 in our list for a demonstration of this attitude.

Another option is referring to problems you had to overcome in your personal life. Maybe you haven’t done anything great in your professional field yet, and there’s nothing to admire on your resume. But you’ve been through a lot in life, and the mere fact that you managed to stay sane and graduate in such conditions makes you successful–at least in your eyes, and you do not care what the other think. See sample answer no. 2 for your inspiration.


Too early to tell

You can also feel like it’s too early to judge your life, and whether you succeeded in your endeavors. This answer makes sense especially when you are young, and are just starting your professional career. See sample answer no. 3 as a good example of this perspective on life.

This way of thinking actually helps a lot in your early years. Because we live in a world that expects a lot from us, and many people feel as a failure before they really had a chance to prove their skills.

Once you dash the notions of success and failure and simply focus on your job, trying your best, without thinking too much if someone else is doing better, or if you wouldn’t be happier doing something else in your life, you will find it easier to deal with the expectations and to enjoy your life in work…

Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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