How To Answer “How Do You Define Success?”

In a job interview you might stumble on the interview question: “How do you define success?” or “What is your definition of career success?” In this article, you’ll find the perfect example answer and interview tips.

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Why do interviewers ask this open-ended question? This question is asked to find out more about a candidate’s priorities. Are you focussed on personal goals, team objectives or organizational success? Your answer gives the interviewer glimpses into your work ethic, personality and career objectives. 

Example Answer (Experienced)

“Let me think for a second… I define success as a journey, not a destination. I enjoy the process of short-term wins because I know that it leads to major accomplishments in the long run. I consider short-terms wins as quantified achievements on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. 

At my previous job for example, our team consisted of motivated individuals that were hungry to meet the daily sales targets and cheerful when achieved. In [Year] alone, our team managed to register 530 customer accounts and contributed to a 96% positive feedback in a client satisfaction survey.

That’s what I define as success. Without these short-term measurable goals it would have been difficult to track/share progress and keep everybody motivated. As a [Job title], I find it important to identify exactly what it is you’ll see, hear and feel along the way.”

Example Answer (No Experience)

“As an aspiring [Job title], I define success as working with like-minded specialists, becoming more experienced in [Subject], gaining more responsibilities and achieving all personal and professional goals for this year. I see the measure of success as a process of short-term wins for long-term goals, and I’m really looking forward to the journey, preferably at [Company XYZ].”

Interview Question Tips

  • Don’t talk about religion or spiritual beliefs unless it matches the company culture. Besides the fact that you define it as success in your life, you should remember that most employers and employees don’t share the same values and beliefs. In addition, don’t share your political views or opinion about policy responses to COVID-19.
  • Don’t give a long-winded and tedious answer. Briefly encounter the point that you want to make without leaving the impression that you’ve already achieved the pinnacle of success.
  • Do understand what the company defines as success by thoroughly reading the job description and the company’s mission and vision statement. Incorporate the company language and some of the keywords in your answer.
  • Do explain that you view success as a journey not a destination. You’ll come across as a self-motivated candidate that gets triggered by short-term wins instead of relying on promotions and bonuses. It’s a valuable trait for happiness and ultimately leads to major accomplishments.
  • Do think about your greatest success and provide a relevant example. You can use it to support your answer, but also as another opportunity to talk about your accomplishments.