Describe a Time When You Went Above and Beyond

Interview Question: Describe a Time When You Went Above and Beyond

Preparation is important for success in an interview; job candidates who prepare ahead of time tend to do better than those who didn’t. Although it is crucial to prepare for questions related to the organization, position, and associated duties and responsibilities, it is arguably more important to prepare for interview questions that assess your work ethic, personality, and professionalism. Apart from your qualifications and experience, such interview questions can be used in the final selection process. Your response to the questions will either make or mar your chances of getting hired. An example of such questions is- describe a time when you went above and beyond.

Do you typically meet or exceed expectations? Have you ever gone beyond your assigned responsibilities at work? How were you rated on your most recent performance review? Are you the type of employee that isn’t flexible? Will you volunteer to get the work done when you find the company in a tough situation? Do you normally go beyond your job description to help the team to achieve its goals and targets? Or do you believe that every employee needs to focus on their job description only? Regardless of your beliefs and thoughts, going above and beyond to help the company grow should be at the back of your mind.

Undoubtedly, the interviewer or hiring managers are constantly looking for hardworking employees with a positive attitude; no organization wants to hire workers who might sleep on the job. Moreover, most employers value an excellent work ethic amongst other important traits. Also, the interviewer wants candidates that are motivated and willing to work above and beyond what they expect them to do. Hence, it is vital to leave a good impression on a potential employer or organization; remember, other strong candidates, are vying for the same position.

Similarly, you have a golden opportunity to show off and talk about one of your greatest accomplishments when asked to describe a time you went above and beyond to get the job done. However, a vague answer could leave the hiring manager feeling like you are lazy, inflexible, or unmotivated. Relatively, the interviewer may be hoping to hear some specific information from your response; therefore your response should reassure the interviewer that you are capable of doing more than the bare necessities to get the job done.


Why Do Interviewers Ask Job Applicants to Describe a Time When They Went Above and Beyond?

Recruiters ask for a time you went above and beyond for the following reasons;

  • The hiring managers want to evaluate job applicants’ work ethic and attitude.
  • Also, the interviewer wants to measure and know your problem-solving skills and ability.
  • Relatively, the employer wants to see how job candidates perform or work under pressure.
  • The hiring manager wants employees that just don’t do what they are asked to but can take on new challenges that result in constant improvement.
  • Similarly, the interviewer wants to identify specific competencies, skills, and personality traits that they need to help them fulfill their goal.
  • The employer wants to know whether you will settle for good enough or mediocrity rather than striving for greatness in your work.


What Type of Situation and Story Should You Choose for Your Answer?

For behavioral interview questions, a work-related situation or story is recommended. Normally, the interviewer will ask you some personal questions like-tell me about yourself at the beginning of the interview. After that, you are expected to keep your responses or answers strictly professional or official. When you use a personal story to answer this question, you can hardly convince the interviewer that you are the best fit for the role. Additionally, the story should be recent and have a great outcome. Importantly, the situation or story should directly answer the question. Preferably, share a situation at work where you went beyond expectations and did what you weren’t expecting to do that day.


Answering the Question- Describe a Time You Went Above and Beyond

It is important to answer this question well; giving a great response will demonstrate your values and skills and how they may benefit the organization you’re interviewing for. This can increase your chances of getting the job. The following tips can suffice;

  • Recall a project you completed with a clear goal.
  • Highlight why you chose to go above and beyond.
  • Discuss how you went above and beyond what was required.
  • Explain the outcome of you going above and beyond

Recall a project you completed with a clear goal: The best way to answer this question is by enabling the hiring manager to gain an understanding of the situation. Before you try to impress the interviewers with your story or example about going above and beyond, think of a time you had a project that had clear goals and targets. Describe the goals and targets and explain what your supervisor expected of you and the team in simple terms. This way, the interviewer will have a clear picture and understanding of where the rest of your story is headed.

Highlight why you chose to go above and beyond: There is a reason for every action or inaction; hence, discuss why you chose to exceed expectations on that day. The hiring manager likely wants to understand your thought process. Therefore, tell them why going above and beyond was appropriate for the situation and how you believed you would benefit your team or the organization at large. In relation, you may need to provide them with some specific background information on your assigned task to help them understand your decision to go above and beyond.

Discuss how you went above and beyond what was required: Next, try and discuss how you exceeded expectations to solve the problem. What did you do? How did you do it? How much time and effort was required to get the job done? Did you put your team members through as well? Ensure that you adopt an example that portrays you as a trailblazer who went above and beyond; don’t use an example that shows that you merely followed a colleague or team member’s suggestion to exceed expectations. The employer specifically wants to evaluate the time and effort you dedicated to achieving a better result for the team with your extra exertion.

Explain the outcome of you going above and beyond: Finally, inundate the hiring manager with details on how successful the endeavor is. Provide details of the positive outcome of you going above and beyond. For instance, you might provide metrics based on a project that required you to complete a task with measurable results. You can also emphasize how satisfied and excited a client was after you exceeded expectations to provide excellent customer service. When you are done explaining the outcome to the hiring manager, you can conclude with a statement that buttresses and emphasize you as an individual who goes above and beyond for what you are passionate about.


Things to Consider When Preparing Your Answer to the Question

  1. Figure out what skills, qualities, and experience you want to convey
  2. Select and tell the right story.
  3. Start with an explanation.
  4. Stay focused and note recognition
  5. Research and make a list of your work experiences


Mistakes to Avoid When Answering the Question

The biggest mistake you can make is being too vague in your response; this can ruin your credibility. Other mistakes to avoid include;

  1. Do not stress about coming up with a profound example.
  2. Do not exaggerate. Remember, you are trying to convince the interviewers that you are hard-working. Exaggerating the truth might weaken your case.
  3. Do not rush to get to the next question. This will undermine the entire response.
  4. Lastly, do not try to demonstrate any skill or quality that the interviewer didn’t ask for. It takes the focus off and makes the answer less relevant.

Interview Questions

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