|  November 21, 2013

Interview Questions: Tell me about a time you went above and beyond

Today we’re talking about an interview question I’ve asked many times because well, who doesn’t want to hire someone who takes things to the next level? The question at hand:

Tell me about a time you went above & beyond.

Why you may be asked this question:

Many recruiters and hiring managers feel that having a strong work ethic and being proactive are really important qualities in a candidate. Your interviewer might ask you this if they are trying to hire someone who doesn’t just do what’s required each day, but rather someone who is willing to:

  • Go the extra mile
  • Be proactive about their role & tasks
  • Take things to the next level without being asked

While not every job requires this type of “above and beyond” behavior, if the interviewer is asking you this question, it’s safe to say that it’s important to them.



How to prepare for this question:

As with all behavioral interview questions, your interviewer is looking for you to share a past example versus a more vague statement like “I always go above and beyond”…. so that is exactly what you need to prepare.

First, think about your past work and/or internship experience and think about a time when you took a task to the next level. If you have a few examples to choose from, pick the one most relevant to the job you’re interviewing for.

If you’re having a tough time coming up with an example from a job, think about any volunteer work you’ve done, school projects (if you’re a recent graduate) or anything else in your life that you really feel you took to the next level. Generally, professional experiences are best, but a more personal one can be your next option.

Still not coming up with anything? Maybe you’re being too hard on yourself. I’m sure there is something in you life, school, or work experience that you put lots of effort into and went well beyond what was asked for. It doesn’t have to be a really grand, intense example. Just one that shows you’re willing to go the extra mile.


What makes a great answer:

First of all, confirm this is a regular occurrence versus a one-time thing.

Even though there is probably only time to give one example in the interview, make sure your interviewer knows that this is something you have (and are willing to do) more often.

As an example, you could start out by saying something along the lines of “going above and beyond is something I’ve done often in my career” or “generally when faced with a task, I try to not only execute on it, but also think about how I can do it 110%.”

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Then, share a concrete example to back that up.

You want your example to be clear, to the point, and demonstrate the fact that you went above and beyond what you were expected to do.

Always be authentic.

For me, being authentic when answering any of these common interview questions is a must. Interviewers are smart and they know a canned, robotic, response when they hear one.

I honestly think most recruiters aren’t looking for someone to just BS them – they understand we’re all human. No one goes above and beyond all the time.

Sometimes you’re working on a project and there are time constraints. Sometimes you’re too overwhelmed by what you’re doing to possibly take it to the next level (getting it done is an accomplishment in itself!)

So just remember, even though I’m sharing the ideal answer, be yourself and be human. No one is perfect!

Ready to take your prep one step further?

To check out our full section on common interview questions click here and if you’re currently getting ready for an interview, definitely check out our new interview prep online course as well. The first 2 lessons and course workbook are all available for free.

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