Interview Insights | Key Question: What has been your biggest accomplishment? [Template & Sample]

interviewquestionsInterview Question: What has been your biggest accomplishment?

The truth is that my children are my biggest accomplishments. This certainly resonates with the hundreds of moms that I’ve coached back into six-figure opportunities in corporate America.

However, it isn’t the best response to this question especially if you’re a parent who left a full-time role to focus on your family.

The elephant in the room, if this is your reality, is the following:

Is she really committed this time to working for us?

When you think about your greatest accomplishment with this background in mind, I want you to consider the following moments as the ones to highlight when asked about your greatest accomplishment:

  • When did you train or coach a peer into a desirable role?
  • How did you feel when you earned your last promotion?
  • What did you miss most from your time working in corporate America?
  • Who was in the audience during your most important presentation?
  • How did you shape your industry?

The key insight is to identify that time when you felt professionally invincible…the moment when you made mountains move…time stop…or jaws drop.

This is not a question that calls for humility. It forces you to consider truly why you are seeking to return to corporate America. It has to be authentic. You have to believe it. It’s a bit of a test. If you walked into that moment today and were just an excited as you were back then when it happened, then YES you are ready to commit to working again at this moment.

Here is a sample answer from a real mom:

My greatest accomplishment was when I created the social media strategy for Boomer+ Many, Many Reasons that earned the 2010 Gold Effie. I partnered with multiple agencies to ensure a consistent offline/online effort and that campaign resulted in a +.10% increase in market share. The key to that win and success in media has been starting with a consumer insight, supporting it with data, and empowering clients to sell ideas internally. The latter led to my ability to consistently build strong client relationships.

Side notes:

Yes, her son is her biggest accomplishment. However, earning that win really showcases that not only is she a great media strategist and client partner but also that her expertise rises above that of her peers’ and she was acknowledged as the best in her industry. Needless to say, she has more wins to come. What organization would NOT want to hire her?

Interview Insights | Key Question: Tell us about your leadership style.

Business Background and symbol

Interview Question:  “Tell us about your leadership style and how you inspire teams to perform at their best.”

This question comes from one of my top clients who went through my rigorous interview preparation boot-camp however he is not the first interviewee who has had to answer this question.

It pops up quite frequently for obvious reasons namely – what company doesn’t say that it wants to attract leaders?

As a result, it’s important to think through your personal and professional leadership priorities, ways you’ve identified employees to lead, and reputation.

You can cop-out and use the very common and often quoted phrase and say that you are a servant leader.

Otherwise, you can talk about your situational leadership.

I advise neither.

Instead try this:

  • Reflect on what you have deemed to be priorities throughout the course of your leadership roles. Have you always been driven by that monthly dashboard? In that case, perhaps you were an analytically-driven leader or a leader whose decisions revolved around what can be measured.
  • Consider how in the past you have cherry-picked potential leaders to join your team (s). Were you mostly drawn to the quiet genius types who rarely spoke up during meetings but when they did they shared something incredibly brilliant? If this is you, then maybe your leadership style is centered around being the voice of aspiring leaders?
  • Think about the key moments in your career where your leadership reputation has taken shape or when it has shifted. You could have been a type of leader who believed in leveraging resources and experts whenever possible during the 90s and following the Great Recession you have prided yourself on being a resourceful leader who has maximized very few resources with great success.

The key insight is that rather than select an overused adjective to define your leadership style.  It’s better to exercise your self-awareness skills and think about truly what has been the secret to your success in the past that is relevant to the task at hand in the job you desire.

Here’s an example to get you started while trying to tackle this extremely common question for anyone who has had direct reports in the past (or plans on this responsibility going forward).

My leadership style has evolved as a result of the type of professionals that I’ve selected to lead throughout the years. My best hires have been professionals who are quiet. The ones who really don’t believe in marketing themselves nor their ideas. Some folks would classify them as “unlikely” future leaders.

These are the folks who are quiet in meetings yet when they say something it’s always well thought-out, hyper-relevant, and quite frankly brilliant. As a result of my hiring folks like this, I would say that my style is all about serving as the voice of humble geniuses whose ideas would otherwise not get air time. I’ve had multiple opportunities to draw out from my employees their best ideas and have continuously figured out ways to coach these leaders so that they’ve become more comfortable selling their best ideas.

My best example was when I encouraged an Account Supervisor in X firm to draft a plan of his idea of having IBM’s supercomputer Watson actually play against humans on Jeopardy. Mike drafted the road map that made his idea a reality. Actually, Mike even played against Watson on TV.  I can’t say how impressed and proud I was to have mentored Mike. Mike is currently an editor with where he filters stories that are published in its Marketing Ideas section and has represented the publication on numerous panels.

Are you struggling with the best response to this typical interview question? Leave a comment below and I’ll provide the guidance you need to get unstuck. 





Interview Insights | Key Question: “What are you looking to do?”

Miniature business team having a coffee break

Interview Question: What are you looking to do at this point in your career?

Sometimes this question comes right out of the gate during an informational interview, a screening interview, or during round one.

It’s unnerving most of the time simply because it’s the first question that you might be asked and truthfully you were hoping the conversation would start by asking you to walk them through your resume because you have a clear response for that question. Continue reading

Interview Insights | Key Question: “What questions do you have for me?”

leader light bulb as concept

Interview Question: What questions can I answer for you?

This question touches upon my biggest pet peeve.

So much of what I help job candidates do rests on the idea that precise responses that are also persuasive will win over interviewers. Continue reading

Interview Insights | Key Question: “Can you explain the gap in your resume?”

Young Woman On The Telephone And ComputerInterview Question: Why did you take time off during your career?

My clients have a minimum of ten years of rich experiences.

It’s hard for me to imagine not seeing a gap in a resume.

The reality is that various situations necessitate stepping away from a traditional career.

Some of the driving forces behind these decisions have included the following: Continue reading

Interview Insights | Key Question: “Why are you leaving your current role?”

Interview Question: Why are you leaving your current role?

It’s easy to complicate your response to this question.

It puts you in an uncomfortable situation.

If you are voluntarily leaving then not only do you have to justify why you took the role in the first place but then why it’s no longer the best fit for you. Continue reading

I surveyed 100 subscribers. Here’s what happening (or not happening) in their job hunts

2015 is in full swing and after multiple conversations with you as well as your peers, you fall into one of three buckets.

1. A handful of you are dreading having to polish your résumé yourselves or looking for a professional to take that burden off of your shoulders — either way your résumé is not yet a document that you can start using to pursue the open opportunities that are coming across your desk right now. Continue reading

How to Prepare for a Job Interview in a Coffee Shop

thinkcoffee_animalnyThose of us who have been through the job hunting process know that the nearby Starbucks is more than a place to grab a coffee; it’s also where you prepare for that upcoming interview. With 30 minutes to go, you need to stand in line, place your coffee order, wait for that order, take your drink, find an empty seat, drink your coffee and, with minutes to spare, make your way over to your final destination.


As a career coach for the job hunt, I have worked with numerous clients on how to successfully ace interviews from the moment the interview is scheduled to the thank you note afterwards. I know how to maximize every step in the process, including those 30 minutes at Starbucks, so that you always feel confident and prepared. Below is a step-by-step guide that will show you how to make your pre-interview Starbucks visit your most efficient pregame stop yet.


Step 1: Walk Into Starbucks and Prioritize

At this point, you have 30 minutes to go and are likely in need of a quick review because your nerves could be getting the best of you. Pull out your cell phone, open up your notes and start planning. Chances are you already know your Starbucks order (and it shouldn’t be adventurous today to keep your tummy under control) so instead use your time to type keywords for the five things you must remember to mention during the interview. This time crunch and tiny screen space will force you to prioritize what matters most and the background jazz tunes will help get your creative juices flowing. By now, you should also have thought of questions for the hiring manager and have an idea of what the top interview questions will be for the job and how to answer them.


Step 2: Wait In Line and Review

While standing in line, use this opportunity to fill-in the blanks. You already have your five keywords, so now it’s time to figure out the professional stories that best demonstrate your top skills and experiences. Are you long-winded? Starbucks lines are usually fast so try to get down these stories to their most essential takeaways so that you can recall them during the interview. You also have your list of questions, your thoughtful response to the common prompt, “tell me about yourself,” and, if you’re really looking to stand out from the other candidates, an idea of what you’d like to accomplish your first 90 days on the job. Prioritize the information you want to convey first in case you end up being short on time


Step 3: Place Your Order and Communicate

While telling the barista your order is not quite the same as speaking with a hiring manager about your professional accomplishments and background, they both involve communication. The best strategy is to tell the barista that you are job interviewing. Yes, that’s right. Make small talk and be a little vulnerable. During the interview you feel vulnerable, so why not start the acclimation process early on? Then, see how you did. This is the time to course-correct. Rethink how you plan to communicate during your interview and practice speaking confidently while you order your coffee. Starbucks baristas are typically very engaging, so this will serve as good preparation for the interview.


Step 4: Wait For Your Order and Relax

Now that you have mentally reviewed and prioritized the most important information for the interview and visualized how you will communicate, allow your mind to relax a little and look at yourself in the mirror! Is there anything in your teeth? Is your hair in place? A quick aesthetic check-up is always a helpful confidence-builder. And you don’t want to walk into the interview looking or feeling tense or preoccupied. Rather, you want to be focused and relaxed (but not so relaxed you appear careless). Aim to strike the right balance before you reach your destination.


Step 5: Drink Your Coffee and Think Positive Thoughts

Now that you have your coffee in hand and are nearing the time of your interview, it’s time to practice your pitch. It’s impossible to ban all self-doubts that may still be lingering. Try to think positively and be confident that you are going to do well. May I suggest that you share your pitch with a barista – the one sweeping or cleaning the peripherals? The key is to practice anything you want to say with a nice person who is not judging your ability to do the job of your dreams. You’ve prepared as best as you can and are going to the interview armed with a combination of skill sets, accomplishments and personal attributes that are uniquely you.


Step 6: Head to Your Interview and Ace It

Make sure to head to your interview with minutes to spare and don’t bring your coffee or coffee breath with you. Splurge on the Starbucks gum and arrive 5-10 minutes early with enough time to use the restroom (tip: even if you don’t need to, it’s always good to do a last minute check in the restroom to ensure everything is in place and you look presentable). Before heading out, look in the mirror and smile. This simple act will give you an extra boost of confidence right before you go in.


With these steps, not only will you get to have your Starbucks coffee but you’ll be able to use your visit to your advantage. This half hour preparation has been the key to my shyest clients’ success. It helps you focus on what’s most important while getting you in the right mindset before encountering decision-makers or influencers (tip: remember that receptionists can also be part of the hiring discussions).



For more guidance on how to prepare for interviews, set up a 15-minute consultation with me. I’ll help you navigate your way to being the best candidate for the job.




[DARE #14] – Unstuck Yet? – What Went Wrong in 2014?


It’s the last Sunday challenge of the year.  Last week I encouraged you to figure out ways to delegate yourself out of your current job to a better one – it was a forward-looking task.

Now, let’s take one step back.

Be warned: this one is uncomfortable – for everyone but it’s about increasing our self-awareness.

If we increase our self-awareness around the promises that we make to ourselves

If we increase our self-awareness around the expectations we place on ourselves

If we increase our self-awareness around why we have unfulfilled promises and unsatisfying expectations

…then we can get to the root of what it will really take to achieve our desires in the new year.

So, dare #14 is for you to revisit your 2014 New Year’s resolutions. 

Crack open that old notebook.

Read your list.

  • So did you eat healthier?
  • Are your finances in a better place?
  • Did you get that makeover?
  • How did that career transition go or not go?
  • Are you in a new home?
  • Did your business grow?
  • Did you launch your website?
  • Are you happier today than when 2014 began?

Think through your 2014 New Year’s resolutions

Cross out the ones you got done and celebrate those

Highlight the ones that you didn’t get done in 2014

The assignment is not to dwell on missed opportunities but to figure out why you left so much on the table.

It’s inevitable.

Chances are (unless you had few or zero 2014 resolutions) that a few big ones did not happen

Chances are that year after year the same one is haunting you

When looking at those unresolved dreams – ask yourself

  • Did I ever really want that or was I trying to fulfill someone else’s expectations?
  • Was I really ready to sacrifice my sleep or family or [x] time for that goal?
  • Did I continue to surround myself with unsupportive folks?
  • How well equipped was I by myself to reach that goal?
  • Was I setting myself up for disappointments by aiming for unrealistic goals?
  • Was I seriously sober when I wrote that? (Just kidding, maybe?)

Here’s an example of one of my own 2014 unfulfilled goals:

My goal was to have in place a do-it-yourself product so that when I birthed my twins I could continue to sustain my business while going from being a mom of one little boy to three boys.

So how did I net out?

I created this sales page.

I sent a note to my database 1.5 months prior to going on maternity leave.

I sold some packages.

And then proceeded the sound of crickets.

I went on maternity leave for about four months.

And instead of selling this DIY packet…former and new clients wanted more of me and my time rather than less of me and my time

In other words, you guys didn’t really want to do-it-yourselves

You prefer a partner

An accomplice

A sound boarding

A strategic career expert to give you confidence in knowing that you are doing everything right or who will help you think through what you’re doing wrong based on years of experience

So after reviewing this 2014 goal

Getting to know hundreds of you

And evaluating my anticipated 2015 “best” life


My plan is to offer higher-touch, even more tailored, deeper diving career coaching options to fewer clients in 2015


You want more of me and I want more of you.

Let me explain.

You want me to be accessible the night before your interview

You want me to iron out your interview answers

You want me to uncover usable insights around your interviewers

In turn,

I want to teach you the most effective ways to outsmart your competition based on your specific situation

I want to show you how to work a room filled with prospective colleagues, leaders or direct reports while taking into account what it will take to get YOU comfortable in a stressful setting

I want to meet you one-on-one

Now, there is no sales page (yet).

My rationale behind my example is not to sell you on my brainchild – instead I want to show you how you can think about your 2014 unrealized resolutions to inform your 2015 goals so that they will have a higher likelihood of success.

Now, it’s time to reevaluate your 2014 resolutions

Be honest with yourself

Uncover why some never happened

And use those insights so that 2015 is more productive and fulfilling.

Happy Sunday,