One of the most common interview questions a hiring manager asks is, "Can you tell me about a time you went above and beyond expectations at work?"
Because of this, it is very important that you have a simple answer in the holster.
This question is common because a company does not want to hire just average employees!
By following the below guidelines, you will ensure that you provide a quality answer that leaves a positive impression.
Why Interviewers Ask This Question
Knowing why an interviewer is asking a question can better help you provide the answer they are looking for.
With this question, the answer is simple… Are you hardworking?
The problem you may have is understanding what the hiring manager’s definition of hard working is.
When rehearsing your answer, make sure that you did, in fact, go above and beyond!
If you worked at McDonald’s and gave a customer two napkins instead of one, pick a different example. If you have trouble thinking of a good story, see our example towards the end of the article!
Pick One Story and Nail It
I am sure you have a great success story in mind, but if you don’t, that’s okay.
Remember, you just need to show that you are a diligent worker.
The story does not matter, your definition of going above and beyond does.
Pick a story and rehearse it until you can deliver with confidence.
This will ensure that you leave a lasting impression and show you are qualified for the position.
Customer or Management Oriented
Focus on the type of position you are applying for.
I say that because this will determine what type of scenario you describe.
If you are applying for a position that deals with customers, describe your success with assisting customers.
If you are an associate reporting to a manager, describe positive impressions you have had with past managers.
Relating your answers to the job description will display focus and preparation skills to the hiring manager.
Sample Interview Answers
These example answers use the STAR approach to explain how the candidates went above and beyond expectations.
To use the STAR method, describe the situation or task you were faced with, explain the action you took, and the results that came about because of your actions.
Sample interview answers to show excellent customer service:
While working with my last company as a sales representative, I had a meeting with a potential client. In earlier discussions, the client had expressed their love for jelly beans. On my way to their office, I picked up a bag of jelly beans and a gift bag and wrote our company name on it. Because of this, I was able to close the deal without using my normal pitch! My supervisors were very appreciative and as far as I know, the company still serves that client to this day.
A regular customer visited my store and was looking for a very specific clothing item that was sold out at most retailers. We were also sold out. I showed them other options, but a substitution wouldn't work. The customer left the store empty-handed. On my next shift, someone returned the item the customer was looking for. Our rewards program uses customers' phone numbers, so I immediately called the customer to let them know I had their item held for them. They were thrilled and purchased an accessory to go with their new outift!
Example interview answer as an associate who takes initiative:
I was a new clerk in a small, but growing company. I noticed that several other clerks and I had similar questions about some of the processes in the department. We were taking time away from our peers in the department to get answers to related questions. I gathered all of the information I could and documented what I learned throughout my training and first few months on the job. I presented my materials to my manager who was grateful I had taken the initiative to help the department as a whole. Together, we worked on finalizing the documents to create an official training guide for new clerks. The new training documents significantly cut down the learning curve for new clerks.
For more interview questions and answers to study, see our article 50 Top Interview Questions And Answers.