What Sacrifices Have You Had To Make To Succeed, And Were They Worth It?

When an interviewer asks you to reflect on the sacrifices you’ve made in the course of your career, he or she is probing to determine your priorities and how work fits in to them. Asking whether you feel that the sacrifices were worth the gain is designed to weigh whether you are a positive-minded person who thinks in terms of moving forward, or whether you have a tendency to second-guess yourself or your career aspirations.

Points to Emphasize

This is not the most common question to hear in an interview, but your response can weigh heavily on a hiring decision.

  • Make sure to provide at least one or two substantial ideas.

  • Show your career focus without going overboard. For example, suggesting you gave up on your marriage to focus on work might display skewed priorities.

  • Try to come up with sacrifices you’ve made at several different points in your career.

  • It’s recommended that you keep your outlook and tone positive overall.

    Remember to show that you’re a balanced individual with a reasonable focus on priorities outside of work.

    Mistakes You Should Avoid

    Hiring managers want someone who is committed, but over-commitment can be a negative. Keep your response measured for best results.

  • Avoid small ideas, such as sacrificing hours of sleep because your shifts begin early in the morning.

  • Try not to delve into overly sensitive subjects which can shift the focus from work to personal life.

  • Expressing regret in the sacrifices you’ve made for work can be risky, as it conveys a somewhat non-committal attitude.

  • Don’t vent or slip into conversational tone—keep your response professional and grounded.

    Keep a positive mindset when responding to this kind of question. When difficult decisions arise in the workplace, it’s important for hiring managers to know you’ll react with confidence.

    Sample Answer

    Your response will require some introspection, but make sure to answer efficiently. Here’s an example to get you started:

    I’ve had to make some tough choices to reach this point in my career. When I accepted my first position in management, I was asked to relocate out of state; moving away from most of my family was a big challenge. I’ve also had to scale back some of my weekend outings, which is difficult because I love the outdoors.

    Now I have my own family, and my position allows me the ability to travel home and take vacations with them. Given my passion for this particular line of work, I’d say those sacrifices have definitely paid off.

    This response displays two distinct decisions that were made in the interest of career success, while showing how those personal sacrifices eventually became positives.

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