"Tell Me About a Time You Went Above and Beyond" (4 Answers)

Updated January 3, 2023

During job interviews, hiring managers often ask open-ended questions to learn about your work ethic, personality and behavioral tendencies. One question they frequently ask to assess your motivation and engagement at work is, "Tell me about a time you went above and beyond." Preparing your response to this question before the interview can help you speak confidently and make a good first impression.

In this article, we discuss why employers ask this question, explain how to answer it and offer four in-depth example responses you can consider when preparing for your own job interview. 

Key takeaways:

  • Employers ask this question to learn about your work ethic and commitment levels.

  • Select an example of a project or task with a clear goal.

  • Use the STAR behavioral response technique to outline the situation, your response and the results.

Why employers ask about going above and beyond

Interviewers may ask this question to see if you're the type of employee who is willing to do more than what they require of you. Many employers want an employee who takes on new challenges that result in consistent improvement instead of doing only exactly what they are told. If you have one or a few examples to share that show you exceeded expectations by going above and beyond, then your interviewer may think you're an exemplary employee who is a top performer.

Employers may ask you questions similar to this one, such as:

  • Do you typically meet or exceed expectations?

  • How were you rated on your most recent performance review?

  • Describe a time when you went beyond the expectations of a customer.

When you answer this question well, it shows your personal values and how they may benefit the company you're interviewing for. This may increase your chances of being hired.

Related: How To Appear Confident in an Interview

How to answer "Tell me about a time you went above and beyond"

Here are some steps you may use to guide you through your answer to this interview question:

1. Think about a project you completed with a clear goal

Consider a time when you had a project or task that had a clear goal. Explain the goal and what your leader expected of you in an easy-to-understand way. This helps your interviewer gain an understanding of the situation before you try to impress them with your story about exceeding expectations.

Related: How To Answer the Interview Question “What Motivates You?”

2. Discuss why you chose to go above and beyond

Your interviewer likely wants to understand your thought process. Tell them why going above and beyond was appropriate for the situation and how you believed it would benefit your department or company. You may want to provide them with some specific background information relating to your assigned project or task to help the interviewer understand your decision to exceed expectations.

Related: 13 Ways To Go Above and Beyond at Work (With Examples)

3. Explain how you went above and beyond

Make sure you use an example that shows you as the leader who exceeded expectations. This is a more positive and effective response instead of an example that shows you following a coworker's idea to go above and beyond. Let the interviewer know how much effort and time you dedicated to achieving a better outcome with your extra work.

Related: 8 Ways To Make an Easy Connection With Your Interviewer

4. Explain the outcome

Provide the interviewer with the details of a successful outcome. For example, you might explain how happy a customer was with your above and beyond customer service or provide metrics based on a project that required you to complete a task with measured results. Once you explain the outcome to the interviewer, close your answer with a statement that suggests you're a person who goes above and beyond for what you're passionate about.

Related: Interview Question: “What Does Integrity Mean to You?”

4 example answers to "Tell me about a time you went above and beyond"

Here are a few sample responses to help you confidently discuss a time you went above and beyond:

Example 1: Entry-level marketing assistant

"During a recent project, my team leader asked me to complete a marketing report based on two of our top competitors. The requirements were simple; I had to fill out the answers to questions about our competitor's products, their prices and sales percentages on a spreadsheet to present in a meeting. 

I saw an opportunity to go above and beyond by making colorful charts and graphs comparing our current numbers to our competitors, and I assessed what we needed to do to beat our competitors. I presented the information in a clear and precise way, using a slideshow in our meeting. My charts helped everyone in the meeting to stay engaged, and our brainstorming session about our next steps was successful."

Related: Last-Minute Interview Tips

Example 2: Mid-level sales manager

"When I was a sales manager at my last company, I had a meeting with a potential client who wasn't sure if that they wanted to purchase our services. My job was to help a sales representative to close the deal. I thought about the facts I knew about the prospective client to see if there was any way to make a lasting impression on him. 

Thinking back, I remembered he was a baseball fan and his favorite snack at the games was roasted peanuts. I bought a bag of peanuts and placed them in a gift bag that had the colors of his favorite baseball team with our company logo to give to him at our next meeting. I closed the deal, and my supervisors commended me for going above and beyond for that client."

Related: Interview Question: “Describe Yourself in 3 Words”

Example 3: Entry-level customer service representative

"Going above and beyond in my position is something I enjoy. It makes the clients feel special, and it helps our business. I regularly call clients to check in with them and see how they are doing, even if there are no issues with the service they received. This is not required by my company or supervisor, but I think going above and beyond our customer's expectations by keeping in touch with them helps to build lasting relationships that keep the clients loyal to our business."

Related: How To Introduce Yourself in an Interview

Example 4: Assistant manager

"A couple of months ago, I noticed my manager didn't complete most of the staff schedules for the following weeks. My manager normally completes them on time, but he had been working on several other urgent projects. Rather than add to his burden by complaining, I offered to help him with some of his workloads so he could complete the schedule. We worked overtime hours for a week, and I helped him catch up on everything while learning new skills. I am always ready to go above and beyond to help a colleague or manager with tasks and projects."

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