Interview Questions and Answers: Define job success interview questions

When you get an interview question asking you to 'define success', they mean business. This is a particularly demanding interview question, and you need to be wide awake. It's intended to separate the real candidates from the others, and this interview question does just that.

Although this class of interview question is relatively normal for the upper scale of mostly professional or executive levels, it can show up much further down the food chain. In some jobs, like client relations, where big money or major contracts are involved, these interview questions are natural checks on the ability of people to do those jobs.

Considerations for the 'Define job success' interview question

  • The 'Define success' questions are the result of job analysis. The manager of the job will have been involved in defining the right interview answer. The employer will already have a good idea what they need to hear as an interview answer, and the idea is to find the people who know what they mean by 'success'.
  • There is no way around this interview question, at all. It's asked directly, and it has to be answered directly, usually in some detail. In many cases, the interview answer can be quite complex.
  • The interview answer has to hit most of the agreed criteria to score any points with the interviewers. There will be several points the successful candidate has to make, to achieve a result. The employer won't settle for anything less than about 8/10, and if they can't find the right person, they may not appoint anyone.
  • Any interview answer has to be good. The applicant is being asked to summarize the success of the job, which means a good working knowledge is required.
  • Expect to be asked supplementary interview questions about anything that's not clear, or isn't structured and integrated into the vision. Only a really solid interview answer will do.
  • You're not just being asked what success is, you're also expected to produce a working model, in your interview answer. You need to do that, because this is one of the definitive competitive interview questions. It scores heavily for you, when done well.


The job is a client relations job in advertising, handling big contracts. Predetermined criteria require a sales concept to describe success.

Interview question: 'Define your vision of success in this job.'

'This position, to succeed in a meaningful business sense, should have definite business goals. This role is made to show what we can really do as an agency. The vision is to develop the role, and generate business for the agency. I see building and expanding new and existing relationships as the key, and as the measure of real success.'


The interview answer shows

  • Depth of thinking
  • The correct view of the job's role as per established job criteria
  • A measure of success

The applicant has met all criteria for the interview question.