Two women talkingDuring the interview process, employers want to know how you set and approach achieving your goals. That's why "Tell me about a goal you set and how you achieved it," is a common interview question. In this blog, we provide ways to approach this and any other behavioral interview question with a few easy tips.

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Tell Me About a Goal You Set and How You Achieved it

Jun 10, 2021

Two women talkingIn the first of our series about Behavioral Interview Questions, we described what behavioral interview questions were, why interviewers ask them, and how you should prepare for them. Today, we're taking the next step and talking about answering a specific and common question: "Tell me about a goal you set and reached and how you achieved it." For this question, the interviewer is more interested in your approach to the goal than what the goal was. Your answer should briefly describe the goal and why you chose it, how you planned to achieve it, and how you followed the necessary steps to reach it. The goal can be personal or professional. It's how you met the goal that's important in answering this question.

Here's an example that addresses each of the steps described above.

"I am sort of a 'foodie' and I have always wanted to learn how to cook gourmet dishes. My goal wasn't to become a chef. I just wanted to be able to prepare delicious meals for my family and entertain friends. I knew I couldn't attend a cooking school in person and because I needed to do it on my own schedule, I started by watching cooking shows on television. I also found and learned from free tutorials on the internet. Then, when I thought I was ready, I took the next step by enrolling in an online course. I’m happy to say that I have a much better understanding of the art involved in gourmet cooking and I even have a few of my own signature dishes."

Preparing for a Behavioral Interview Question

When it comes time to prepare for behavioral questions for your next interview, try some of these tips.

  • Prepare ahead of time: Today's question is just one of several behavioral questions that you may be asked. Review common questions and practice your responses.
  • Prepare specific examples: Think of situations in which you faced a challenge or handled a responsibility that is listed on the specific job description. They don't have to be direct examples. For example, if you're applying for a job as a customer service representative, but have never held that job, you could talk about how as a receptionist you handled customers' complaints and resolved their problems.
  • Follow the STAR method: STAR stands for situation, task, action and result. For Situation, offer some background on the task or challenge that you'll be addressing. For Task, define your role and responsibilities for the particular situation. For Action, explain what steps you took or ideas you offered to help solve the problem. For Result, share how the situation was resolved, highlighting how your actions helped. If possible, provide quantifiable results or concrete examples of the effect of your effort.
  • Pay attention to the job description: Use the job description to craft your answers. The more relevant your answers are to what the job description is calling for, the better. For example, if the job description emphasizes teamwork, have a specific example of when you worked as part of a team to accomplish a project or task.
  • Take your time answering: After a question is asked, give yourself time to think of an appropriate story before answering. Take a breath. You're prepared and you've got this.
  • Be positive: Many behavioral interview questions will ask you to talk about a failure or problem at work. There's no need to focus on the failure. Simply describe the background of the situation and then move on to how you solved the problem and the results you achieved.

Enlist Some Help

A Ticket to Work service provider that offers interview preparation help can be an ideal resource to help you address STAR questions. They can help you brainstorm some situations to discuss with a potential employer or hold a mock interview to help you practice your responses. That way, you'll head into an interview with confidence.

About Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) Program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI or SSI) and want to work. The Ticket Program is free and voluntary. The Ticket Program connects you with free employment services to help you decide if working is right for you, prepare for work, find a job or be successful while you are working.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket Program, visit choosework.ssa.gov or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket Program Find Help tool.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket Program, visit choosework.ssa.gov or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket Program Find Help tool.

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If you're interested in receiving text messages from the Ticket Program, please text TICKET to 474747. Standard messaging rates may apply. We'll send updates from our blog, identify steps on the path to employment and more. We hope you'll find this new way to stay in touch helpful. You can opt out at any time.

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