this is an essay about "an achievement from my professional life and why I see it as such?"
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"Respect for the Individual" is an attitude that I carried throughout my life. It reminds me to value the diversity of cultures and always treat people as I would like to be treated myself. This attitude helped me to master a difficult situation I was facing during an international assignment in Asia a couple of years ago.
It was back in 2004 where I took the opportunity to join a large project in Japan. The client, a global telecommunication company, decided to staff an international team of Japanese, Europeans, and US colleagues working onsite in Tokyo. I was leading a group of Japanese and Western colleagues in my role as a team lead for the quality assurance of this project. Hence, it was a challenging situation in a new cultural context for me. Not only that English is not commonly spoken in Japan but also the way communication is conducted is very different. I received an impression during the first week where I participated in controversial meetings with our Japanese colleagues. The confrontation of the reserved mentality of the Japanese with the straightforward talk of the Western colleagues often resulted in escalations where both parties left misunderstood by the other. I realized that if no party is willing to respect the culture of its counterpart the success of the project will be put on risk. Consequently to find a way out of this dilemma I had to craft strategies that bring the people together and enhance the team morale.
Thus, I consciously started going out for lunch all together, which should provide a basis for communication in a more relaxed environment. Even though it is not very common in Japan to have lunch breaks I tried to take everybody with me out to nearby restaurants. It was important for me to have a different surrounding than the company's cafeteria. The informal atmosphere offered a foundation for the colleagues to talk about topics that are mostly not work related. Later on, I organized get-together evenings where we went out after work for dinner or sports. Though there were some early apprehensions, they were eliminated by the positive result it brought. I was very happy to see that my actions resulted into a much better working atmosphere and a successful project delivery. For my part, I had my best moment on the "Bonenkai" - a popular Japanese end of year celebration - when my Japanese team members told me that I am the 'Best Expatriate' he worked with so far.
Now after three years, I consider the experience in Japan as a big achievement and an important step in my career. The fact that I could master the complex situation gave me much self-confidence and showed that I could manage people successfully even in difficult situations. Today, this unique ability of handling teams attributed me as a strong leader for my people. Along with the team management, I also further developed my emotional intelligence, particularly my social awareness and empathy skills. These qualities will continue to be my foundation when pursuing future endeavors in both my academic and career aspirations.
I'm happy to give you some editing tips for your excellent essay!
I was leading a group of Japanese and Western colleagues in my role as a team leader for the quality assurance of this project.
I realized that if no party is willing to respect the culture of its counterpart the success of the project will be put at risk.
Thus, I consciously started going out for lunch all together, which should provide a basis for communication in a more relaxed environment. - This sentence is a little awkward. There are many ways you could fix it. One would be: Thus, I decided to start organizing lunch parties, to provide a basis for communication in a more relaxed environment.
I was very happy to see that my actions resulted in a much better working atmosphere
A good night’s sleep before an interview is always a must. However, someone should have mentioned that to this woman, who fell asleep in the company meeting room before her interview started. (As if you needed telling, she didn’t get the job.)
As well as fitting in several hours of shut-eye the night before an interview, it’s also important to plan for common interview questions to ensure a solid performance.
One question which normally crops up is ‘what’s your greatest achievement?’ This question gives you a chance to showcase a landmark moment in your career which demonstrates why you’re the number-one pick.
To learn how to plan for this question to land that job, read how to answer ‘what’s your greatest achievement?’.
What is the purpose of this question?
Firstly, interviewers want to validate your potential by hearing about your achievements. They’re probing for specific evidence of how you can get the results from a task to see what you can achieve in this new role.
Interviewers also want to get a feel for your skills with this question. They’re looking for an answer that explains the skills you used to reach the achievement, particularly the skills listed in the job description. This helps the interviewer make a more informed decision on you.
Also, interviewers ask this question to determine what you value in your career. If your achievement covers individual success, teamwork or customer service, for instance, the chosen value will tell the interviewer whether or not you’re a match for company culture.
Finally, interviewers want you to indicate how confident you are when discussing your achievement. They’re looking for a self-believing performance which assures them you’re the best one for the job.
As such, interviewers are scanning for a confident delivery which demonstrates what you can bring to the table and why you fit the bill.
How to plan your response
This question can be a tricky hurdle to overcome. As ever, it’s all about preparation.
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To present your greatest achievement in a way that piques the interviewer’s interest, you need to consider what you value in the workplace, focus on ways your skills match the requirements and pick out facts and figures from what you achieved. Then there’s the small matter of getting used to talking yourself up!
Read on for how to prepare for this question.
Consider what you value
When choosing your achievement, it’s important to consider which moments in your career you’re proudest of and what you value in these moments. That way, you can show the interviewer how well your values link with company culture.
Your values and achievements could be anything from teamwork, internal progression or hitting targets, for instance. You could even choose an achievement from your personal life which stresses your workplace values. By choosing an achievement which shows your values, you reveal how you measure success and demonstrate how passionate you are about your abilities.
Match your skills to the role
You also need to explain your achievements related to the skills required in the role as it will indicate why you’re a great match and should be hired.
Therefore, you should expand on how and why you used skills to reach your achievement. The STAR method is the most effective way to talk through and expand your skills and abilities. This is because it offers a structured approach to answering a question and is the perfect way to highlight your skills concisely.
Focus on facts and figures
We also recommend focusing on the concrete facts and figures surrounding your achievement. They are a great way to add weight to your ability and validate what you can achieve in your new job.
Picking out figures and statistics, such as percentage growth or client growth, is a surefire way to show how you can go above and beyond requirements. If you give specific figures and reveal how far you overachieved your targets, for example, you’ll demonstrate your record of success and why you should be the first pick for this position.
Prepare to give a confident performance
Finally, learning how to give a confident delivery will make your achievement shine.
The best way to improve your confidence is by practising your response aloud with a friend. When speaking during your practice runs, keep track of your pacing, to decrease nerves, and try to smile at suitable intervals. A few smiles will help you appear proud and reiterate the positive impact of your achievement.
As such, a confident performance can demonstrate your passion for your achievement and help the interviewer believe in your abilities.
Now that you know how to plan for this question, you’re ready to draw up a response. Take in our example answers below for inspiration. Remember to tailor these to your achievements – don’t copy them word-for-word!
“I experienced my greatest achievement when I worked as a website manager for an entertainment outlet. The website was struggling at the time; my team was under pressure, and I was tasked with forming a strategy to increase traffic.
“I noticed the Oscars were in a month’s time, so I devised an Oscars campaign across video, written and social platforms and linked the content to popular search terms. After executing the campaign, I increased content output by 15% and traffic by 20%, showing I can get results in challenging situations.”
“My greatest achievement was when I worked as a sales representative. I was given a list of new targets, and later that month I arranged a meeting with one of our biggest prospective clients.
“I used my communication skills to build a relationship with the director over time. He was unwilling to purchase our product at first, but after I met with him multiple times, formed a bond with him and conveyed the benefits of our product, he was happy to buy from us.
“I was delighted to bring on board such a lucrative client, and the client is now one of our biggest. I’ve since learned communication is one of my strongest traits.”
“My greatest achievement occurred in my current marketing position. I joined as a marketing executive and was keen to progress internally from the outset. I proved my abilities by discovering profitable new markets and increasing brand awareness, and I was later promoted to marketing manager.
“I was delighted to earn a promotion as this is the kind of success I look for in every role. I now have new duties and plenty of variety in my role, which I’m pleased about. I hope I can bring my valuable knowledge to this role, and develop my career with you in the same way.”
By now you’ll see that you that ‘what’s your greatest achievement?’ is all about revealing facts and figures, showing off relevant skills and values and giving a confident performance.
Ace your interview preparation by checking out how to answer other common interview questions, here.