Last updated on January 23rd, 2021 at 01:51 pm

No one wants to be a mediocre individual, nobody wants to be a failure. Doesn’t matter whether we speak about individuals or organizations, each of us wants to be successful. But what does it mean to be successful? And how do you define success?

Each person has its own idea of success. It depends on our present situation, on our role models, upbringing, and how we see the world around us. And also on the limitations we set for ourselves.

And while most people measure success in terms of money and possession, there are certainly individuals (or even organizations, and many of them) who have completely different criteria. Spiritual, religious, personal and other aims and their attainment is a synonym of success for these people.

But how to answer the question in an interview?

Two managers talk about success in an interview

Focus on the organization, connect your goals with theirs

Only a few individuals (typically people with equanimity and inner happiness) measure their success in terms of what they did for someone else, or what they are trying to achieve for other people or living organisms.

Surprisingly this is the best answer you can give in an interview–focusing on the others, demonstrating selfless attitude to life and to people around you.

Let me give you some examples:

Success is being part of something bigger, helping an organization to meet worthy goals, to bring some value to the world.

Success is being able to do your best every day in all roles you have in life, whether it is a role of a son, father, or an employee.

A successful man is one who enjoys their life, who knows why they wake up and go to work, and who sees a purpose in everything they do.


Focus rather on the process than on the final result

Nobody has a total control of what they achieve in life.

Many variables play their role, and we can certainly not say that for sure we will achieve this or that in our life, or for an organization. In fact we do not even know what tomorrow will bring.

What is more, setting such goals can easily make us upset (especially when we can’t achieve them), and it makes us focused more on the future, instead of enjoying the present moment, and giving our very best to the activity which we do right now.

Mark my words: It is an effort that counts. In terms of employment, and being successful as an employee, it means trying your best every day in work. And you can certainly refer to this process in an interview.


Some famous quotes that make sense for the employers

Countless famous people have been asked how they define success. Artists, scientists, politicians, athletes, philosophers–you name it.

And while some of their answers won’t really work in a job interview, others are perfect. I put together a little collection of such quotes, to help you with your interview answer. What is more, referring to words of someone famous (famous in good means), you show the interviewers that you like to read, and get inspired by successful role models.

Feel free to use one of the quotes below in your interview.

Bartender tries her very best in work, she is successful

Success is a progressive realization of a worthy ideal. (Earl Nightingale)

Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value. (Einstein)

Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. (W. Churchill)

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming. (J. Wooden)

The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty. (Z. Ziglar)

Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success. (S. Sivananda)

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. (C. Powell)

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. (A. Schweitzer)

Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. (D. Johnson)

Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life; it’s about what you inspire others to do. (not attributed)

You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job, and not be paid for it. (O. Winfrey)

Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it. (B. Lee)

The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. (V. Sassoon)


Summary and more questions

Each company wants to be successful, or at least to survive. In order to do so, they need employees who dream of success, and who can connect their personal goals with the goals of the corporation.

Try to find this connection and present it in your interview. Do not forget to talk with enthusiasm, and to show motivation to do a good job, to be successful in your new role.

Remember that even the best words won’t make any impact if they do not correspond with your non-verbal communication, with the impression you make in an interview. Your verbal and non-verbal communication are equally important on a big day…

What’s more, this 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 get ready for every challenge you may possibly face in your interviews.

Thank you for checking it out, and I wish you best of luck!



Learn how to answer also other tough interview questions:

  • What are your weaknesses? Most people do not like to talk about their weaknesses. What is more, we often can not even tell our strengths and weaknesses, or have an unrealistic view of them. Learn how to identify your weaknesses, and how to answer this question in your interview.
  • Why do you want to work for us? We typically submit dozens of job applications, trying to secure some invitations for a face to face interview. But how to convince the employer that their offer is our first choice?
  • Why should we hire you? Learn how to identify the value you can bring to the company, and how to demonstrate it in your interview.

Matthew Chulaw
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