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Articles > Interviewing & Resignation - 5 Steps to Mastering the Accomplishment Interview
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Interviewing & Resignation - 5 Steps to Mastering the Accomplishment Interview

By James Del Monte, CERS, CPC, JDA Professional Services, Inc.

When setting out to find your next big career opportunity, it is very important that you spend ample time properly preparing yourself for the interview process.  Depending on the job type and industry, companies use a wide variety of interview styles to evaluate a candidate’s career history, capabilities, and personality and to assess their potential to perform a specific job.  Therefore, as a candidate, you must be prepared to successfully handle a wide variety of interview styles.  

The accomplishment interview, which is one of the more commonly used styles today, is designed to encourage you to discuss specific goals you have achieved in your career or throughout your life and how your personal success benefited your company, team, or something bigger than yourself.  If you are a strong, goal-oriented individual with a great track record, an accomplishment interview offers you an excellent opportunity to shine.  While career history is often the best indicator of future success, the accomplishment interview also offers talented new graduates with little to no experience the opportunity to show their worth through discussion of their collegiate, community, and/or sports-oriented successes.  

Below are five steps you should take in preparing for an accomplishment interview:

1. Understand why the company is in business. First and foremost, you need to conduct some thorough research of the company.  Regardless of what their mission statement says, and excluding most non-profit organizations, the overall reason for any company to be in business is to make money.  Your goal is to realize what they do to make money and learn as much as possible about how their processes work.

2. Understand how your job will impact the overall goal. When a company sets out to hire a new employee, their sole purpose is make more money for the company.  There are only three ways for a company to make more money: improve process efficiencies, reduce costs, or increase profits.  Your goal is to realize how your job will have a positive effect on those three areas.  The more detailed you can get the better.  

3. Provide proof of your ability to handle job responsibilities. Discussing what needs to happen for success to occur is one thing; being able to actually deliver is another.  Begin this step by making a list of all the goals you have accomplished throughout your career.  If you are fairly inexperienced, think of the goals you accomplished during college, in your sports career, or through volunteer work.  Be careful not to be too vague.  A statement such as, “I was a good team player at my last job,” is not an accomplishment.  An accomplishment must be either a tangible goal that produced a product or a measurable goal that achieved a result.  

The following two examples of well-worded accomplishments will help you articulate your own accomplishments.

  • Purchased and successfully implemented a new network which increased computer-related efficiencies by 27 percent with up time at 99.9 percent.
  • Implemented an online helpdesk system which reduced the number of open tickets to helpdesk personnel by 84 percent.
4. Tie your successes back to the company’s overall success. Once you have completed your list of past accomplishments, go back through the list and write next to each accomplishment how your success affected the bigger picture.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did I help the company or organization save time or money?
  • Did I help the company or organization make money?
  • Did I help the company or organization improve an old process?
  • Did I help my team achieve a bigger goal?
Again, you should not use vague statements such as, “I helped the company make lots of money.”  Instead your accomplishments should be tied to tangible or measurable successes.  Examples include:

  • Purchased and successfully implemented a new network which increased computer-related efficiencies by 27 percent.  This ultimately helped to improve the company’s printing efficiencies from 2,500 to 3,000 books per hour.  As books are priced at $40 apiece, this increased profitability from $100,000 to $120,000 per hour.  The new network cost just over $200,000 to purchase and install, so it paid for itself within the first day.
  • Implemented an online helpdesk system which reduced the number of open tickets to helpdesk personnel by 84 percent.  This allowed for a decrease in the number of helpdesk professionals required from 10 to 7.  Each professional worked 40 hours per week at $8 per hour, so this decreased the company’s personnel overhead by $960 per week.  As the new system cost only $10,000, it paid for itself in just over 10 weeks.
5. Be able to articulate your findings. As you go through these steps, make sure you take notes and have a good understanding of all your findings.  The more knowledge you have of the information you’ve compiled and the more specific you are in your research, the better you will be at articulating to your potential employer.  

  • For example, if an employer asks, “What do you think we do, and how do you think your job will impact the overall company goals?” your answer should sound something like the following:  “ABC Company is in business ultimately to make money.  In order to do that, you provide drilling services for businesses in the oil and gas industry.  Through use of your patented XYZ machinery, your company provides the most efficient processes in the industry.  My job, as IT Director, will be to ensure that all computer- and network-related technology is running at the most efficient capacity possible with the least amount of cost.  This will ultimately save time and reduce overhead, thereby helping to increase profits for the company.”
No matter how qualified you are for a particular position, it is vital that you properly prepare for the interview process.  The one-on-one meeting you have with a potential employer can make or break you as a candidate.  It is very difficult to gauge what interview style or styles the company will use, so it is important to understand them all.  The accomplishment interview is a great interview style to know because it is one of the most commonly used styles today.  Whether you are a seasoned professional or an entry-level worker, follow these five easy steps and you too can be well on your way to landing the job of your dreams.  


ABOUT JDA

JDA Professional Services, Inc. is a Houston-based IT staffing firm specializing in the recruitment of strategic-technical to executive-level professionals.  We provide IT staffing solutions through full-time, contract, and project-based placements.  Since 1981, we have been helping companies build great IT departments while helping IT professionals find the right career opportunities.

Through our extensive client base and our ability to navigate the hidden IT job market, JDA can help you find the best opportunities available in the least amount of time.  

JDA is Houston’s #1 Source for IT Jobs & IT Career Information

In addition to being one of the leading providers of IT jobs in Houston, JDA is a top source for information on the local IT employment market.  Be sure to take advantage of all that our website has to offer.  Visit our IT professionals section for a complete list of IT jobs available in the Houston area in addition to helpful information regarding local IT salaries, current industry hiring trends, and proven “best practices” for managing your IT career. For a comprehensive list of industry trade group meetings and seminars occurring in our area, check out the Houston Hi-Tech Event Calendar.

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