Discuss A Time you Were Successful

Continuing to discuss our most common and recent interview questions, we’re going to discuss when interviewers ask you to discuss a time your hard work paid off.  Interviewers look to ask this question for a couple of reasons.  Mainly, they would like to see your level or perseverance and commitment towards a goal.  In addition, they are looking to see what you were able to achieve by remaining steadfast and committed.

Interviewers ask this question and are looking for an answer with substance.  This is not a “gotcha” or trick question.  The interviewer is looking for an example of a time where your hard work paid off.  They want you to discuss, in depth, how your hard work on a goal or a subject led to an achievement or an accomplishment.

How to Answer

If you are asked this question, you should start from the beginning of the story and how you were tasked with the need or the goal.  This question is a great one to use the STAR Method for, as it gives you a concrete outline on how to answer.  Although this isn’t a behavioral question, it is one where you want to discuss the steps and methods you took to reach a payoff or accomplishment.

Utilizing the STAR Method, begin from the beginning and discuss the situation.  Where were you, why were you needed, how did the situation occur, and how were you involved or brought into the discussion?  Look to provide an in-depth answer and to provide a situation for the interviewer.

Continuing with the STAR Method, discuss the task you were given and what you needed to accomplish.  In this section, you aren’t looking to discuss what you did or what actions you took, but rather what you will need to do.  Discuss how you visualized the steps needed to be taken and how you prepared yourself mentally for it.

From there, you want to discuss the actions you took.  This is where you should spend the most time in your answer.  What did you do, what actions did you take?  But you don’t simply want it to be actions in an isolated manner, discuss with the interviewer how you worked hard day-in and day-out on your actions to ensure an appropriate result.

Lastly, discuss how your actions directly led to a successful outcome and result.  You should speak to how what effort and perseverance you put into the task led to an accomplishment and result that you were proud of.  But, show the interviewer during this step how your hard work paid off.  Show them that what you did led to a successful outcome and payoff.


Interviewers want to see commitment, perseverance, and hard work from the interviewee.  They want to ensure that they will remain committed and steadfast to the task and ensure that an adequate resolution is achieved.  Being asked to discuss a time your hard work paid off isn’t a trick question, rather it is one in which the interviewer wants to see an in-depth and substantial answer on how you worked the proper steps to reach the resolution.

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