How do you Define Success?- How to Answer Interview Questions?

How do you Define Success?

Whenever you step into an interview there’s always constant pressure about the type of questions the employer might ask and what if you don’t have an answer for the same. This can lead to anxiety and can hamper your performance in the interview. So if you want to avoid the embarrassment and answer the question confidently, we are here to help you out. Here is the topic- ‘How do you Define Success?’

Interview questions can be of various types. Your employer might ask you about your education, skill set, your achievements, past performance, etc. A very common question most employers love to ask is – How do you define success? This is one of the most favorite questions of every employer and you need to be prepared to answer in an effective manner which can increase your chances of getting the job.

This particular question has a lot of potentials. The employer gets to know how you define success which directly relates to how you will perform for the company’s success.

What is Success? 

In layman’s language, success refers to the act of winning at something, achieving something you truly desire. The scientific definition for the same is to achieve a set goal or aim. Many times the definition of success is interchangeable. It can change according to the person, situation, and environment.

For example- Good wealth is considered to be a success by some people, while others might not consider it to be a form of success. 

Success is subjective and thus needs to be understood at an individual level rather than a group level. For some, it might mean achieving good grades, doing things you love, career growth, growth in terms of money, fulfilling daily tasks, buying your favorite things, etc.

Why do employers ask this question? 

Employers or hiring managers ask questions like- What does success mean to you to understand your priorities. This question helps them understand how much you will work on providing for the company and whether you are a good fit or not. They get to know your thinking patterns, whether you are a person who will do anything for others or do you maintain your boundaries even during work environments. 

This question also gives the employer a glimpse of your personality and whether you possess self-esteem, self-efficacy, or not. They get to know how much confidence you have in yourself. It can be an important deciding factor for the job. As employers always aspire to hire employees who are confident with their skills and achievements. 

Your definition of success also conveys what you think about the position and how you will handle it. If your definition of success means to reach optimum career growth then your employer would understand that you will work passionately without any complaints because you are working towards a goal that’s quite important for you.

So it’s important to answer such questions with some prior preparations to shine in the interview.

Ways to answer- How do you define success?

As success is subjective, the answers to the following question should also be subjective. But answering the questions in a personal manner might not be beneficial for the job. Thus we are here to suggest to you certain ways you can win the job.

Prepare in advance

Whenever you give an exam, you always prepare for the subject in advance to score better. In the same way, when you are going to an interview, you need to prepare to avoid nervousness and anxiety from ruining your interview. You can conduct mock interviews about some of the expected questions.

What does success mean to you? 

Is a common question and you can always prepare yourself well in advance for the same. First, try to write down some of your goals. Then analyze your strengths and weaknesses and how you wish to use them to reach your goal. Construct a strong and persuasive answer which suits you the best.

Planning your answers helps you boost your confidence and appear more approachable and fun to talk to rather than others who are quite afraid to answer the questions.

Professional Achievements 

If you are unaware of what success means to you, then you can divert the attention towards your professional achievements to give a glimpse of your career path. This will help you in deciding a goal that you wish to achieve. When you associate yourself with a goal, this makes it easy for you to think about what success means to you. You get to know what you want and thus you can define your zeal to achieve that particular goal.

Another way you can define success if you are unaware of it is by remembering your past goals and how you achieved them. This will induce a feeling, emotion that you felt when you last expressed success. Remembering those moments will help you understand the true meaning and experience of success. This will thus help in answering the questions confidently without any shuttering.

Look at your past success

You always don’t need to answer the question on a common everyday basis. You don’t need to answer what success means to you, but on the other hand, you can answer what the path towards success means to you. First, you need to make a list of all your past achievements and success records. This will help you in forming a basis that will help guide you in framing the correct answer.

As the answer to this question is expected to be subjective you can answer about certain ways you achieved success in the past for your company. This will instantly attract the employer’s attention and they might ask for more. 

Research about the company 

A great way to stand out from the rest of the crowd is by researching before you enter the interview room. Try to do extensive research related to the company you are interviewing for and understand their goals and objectives. Try to connect the dots between the company and your ambitions to make your answer look personal and not constructed. 

You can refer to the company’s websites to understand its values and objectives. This will help you in knowing what success means for the company. After you get to know it, answer the question keeping in mind the company’s goals and values.

Draft your response 

Whenever you decide on an answer, always write it down. This will save you a lot of time because you would need to rethink the answer over and over again, instead you just need to look at the draft in which you wrote your answers and go through them once before the interview starts.

Writing down your answers will also benefit you because once you have constructed an approximate answer for the question you need to remember the answer. If you don’t write your responses, you will come up with different answers during the interview. It will confuse you even more. Therefore it is advised to write down your responses to avoid confusion and answer appropriately.

Give examples 

While answering the question try to give certain practical and subjective examples about what success means to you. You can compare your situation with the employer or any other staff member. You can define your past successes and give references using the same.

You might even define one of your success stories to the employer. This will help in building a connection with the employer. Stories are considered one of the best ways to market a product. Sharing one of your personal stories which the employer can help you connect and ace the interview.

Ways to define success?

Here we have presented to you some examples to define success that can help you while answering the question in an interview. The way you answer a success question can vary according to the job you apply to. Let’s answer the questions based on three basic levels in a job.

Entry Level Jobs

Even entry-level jobs need you to answer questions healthily and appropriately. You need to understand the job position and the answer to the question. Example to answer the success question-

According to me, success is an art. An individual can give his best and reach a goal. To me, it’s a path that never ends. Every time I reach new milestones, I see more in front of me and the process continues. It also includes helping people with me to reach their goals and move forward in their life. I always focus on overall development and thus see the company’s success as a part of my success.”

Supervisor Role

This role demands you to manage every other employee under you. You need to look after their work, plan ways to maintain workflow, and thus your definition of success should align with helping your employees. Example to answer the success question-

My definition of success as a manager lies in increasing the overall performance of my employees. I aspire to take the team to new heights and teach them the ins and outs of the work. Being a manager for my past company has taught me the various skills that can lead the team to success. My main focus as a manager lies in the team and their hard work, as my employees’ success is equal to my success.”

Upper Management Role

The role demands you to work for the company either in the execution or planning, for example- CEO. You need to define your success in terms of the company, as here you need to work for the company and its success instead of for managing the employees or working under a manager. Example to answer the success question-

Being a leader, I define success as a path where both the individual and the company have the same spot. Either of the parties’ success will lead to the success of the other. When given the task to execute and plan accordingly that will promote good communication and improve their performance.”

Other ways employers will ask the same question

The same questions can be repeated in many ways. The overall meaning of the question remains the same but the words are changed to make the interviewee nervous. Even the employer has an idea that most of the people would have decided a common answer that they would speak when the question is asked. This is done to tap into the individual mind and force them to think and answer.

Many different ways an employer can twist what does success mean to your question, are-

  • Where do you see yourself in 4 to 5 years?

This question is asked to determine whether the person feels that he/ she has the potential to reach a particular spot and has the confidence to carry out work smoothly. It’s a common question that helps in evaluating a person’s self-esteem, self-efficacy, and positivity. It is quite similar to success as it evaluates how much you would be successful in the next 4 to 5 years.

  • How do you measure success? 

The employer can even ask you this particular question. This is a simple question where you need to give how you evaluate success. Evaluating, measuring success can help the employer who will start to understand your thinking patterns. Your definition of success will be competently different and thus how you dispute success will also be very different. You can measure it in terms of educational qualifications, pay scale, professional achievements, company success, team success, etc.

  • Tell me about a time you were successful

It’s a fun question. You can answer it subjectively as you will need to describe personal moments in your life when you felt happy and successful. The duration, timing when, where, can be mentioned to make the answer more detailed. You may describe success as getting your first job, passing the exams, scoring well, etc. The moment you share should align with the company’s success definition and position you are applying for.

  • Do you think you will be successful in this role? 

This question analyzes your confidence in yourself and how you will carry out things to become successful. The employer would always love to hire someone who has all the abilities for the job as well as is confident about his work. The employer knows that successful people have an inner tendency to excel and make the best out of every situation and thus any employer’s first preference would be if you believe in yourself and think that you will be successful in the future or not.

Words to use in an interview 

Certain power words always suit you the best as they define your action and your mindset. Thus using the right words for your interview matters a lot. These methods are simple and can be used every day as well. Some words you should use when in an interview are –

I can, I will

You should always use these phrases to start your answers. This gives the employer an idea that you are an action taker and can take accountability for your actions. With this, the employer can easily pick you from the pool of people who appeared for the interview. 

Example- “I can serve the interests of the company” instead of saying ” I will try my best to serve the interests of the company.”

The first answer is more direct and gives the employer the exact idea you are going for while the second seems quite vague and fearful.


Using such words will make your employer understand your people skills. Respect is an important part of work culture and thus you need to use the word to show your empathic side in the workspace.

Example- “ I would always respect the different interests of my employees, colleague ” instead of saying ” I wish to understand every employee, colleague and why they behave in that particular way.” 


This word will help create an impact on your employer. Your employer will understand your way of dealing with people and situations and can analyze how this behavior can help the company grow. It’s a simple word with a much deeper meaning. So whenever you are trying to appear for an interview, try using the word “lead”.

Example- ” I can lead a team and can help them achieve success .” instead of saying ” I would try to be there for my team and help them teach success by fulfilling their professional goals.” 

These were some words that you can use when appearing for an interview. It’s really simple to construct sentences using those words and therefore you should try them.


Appearing for job interviews can be stressful, but when you prepare yourself by noting down some of your responses, practicing the interview by yourself, and going through a mock interview, then it will help you shine in that interview even though you are the most nervous person out there. Stay confident, polish your skills and slay the day.

How do you Define Success?- How to Answer Interview Questions?

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