When the hiring manager asks you this common interview question, they want more than just an example of a time you went the extra mile. They also want to evaluate your work ethic, your attitude towards your job, and your commitment to the company you work for.
It is a tough interview question to answer correctly, so make sure to do the extra work by taking the tips and samples in this post and prepare your specific answer. A little preparation will help you leave a great impression on your interviewer.
5 Tips for Your Answer
- Select a real previous experience you had, and make sure you are honest about it.
- Choose a specific situation that you can relate to the new job and is one of your greatest accomplishments.
- Emphasize the actions that were “above and beyond” the set of expectations.
- Show your proactiveness.
- Highlight the successful results.
5 Mistakes to Avoid
- Avoid talking too much.
- Avoid non-work experiences.
- Avoid vague answers.
- Avoid questionable situations (like unethical behavior).
- Don’t sound like you were forced to do what you did.
How to Answer: STAR Format
When preparing your answer to behavioral interview questions like this one, you can organize your ideas by following the STAR format:
S: Situation – provide a brief background to your story.
T: Task – explain what was expected of you and the minimum requirements.
A: Action – tell them what you did and how you went above and beyond.
R: Result – finish by showing how your effort led to a better outcome.
Best Example Answers to “Tell Me a Time You Went Above and Beyond” Interview Question
1. Example Answer:
As a customer service representative, I’ve always tried to exceed the expectations of the customers. After I helped any customer with a problem, I would follow up with them during the following week. I would double-check if everything was going well with the products they had purchased and if I could help them with anything else.
Most of them were surprised to hear back from me. Some of them even made new orders. My simple approach helped those customers have a good impression of the company and increased our customer satisfaction rate.
Key Takeaways: The answer shows that the candidate is proactive and got good results with extra effort, focusing on each client’s satisfaction.
2. Example Answer:
A few years ago, I worked at the front desk of a hotel. We had a customer who had forgotten his cell phone charger at home. He asked me where he could get another one. I realized that his cell phone model was compatible with mine, so I lent him my charger. He was so thankful that, after he went home, he sent an email to my manager praising me for helping him. After that, he always stayed at our hotel whenever he came to town.
Key Takeaways: The candidate shows commitment to helping customers and willingness to go the extra mile to solve their problems.
3. Example Answer:
In my previous job, I worked on a strategic project for our company and finished my part a few days before the deadline. During the next meeting, the project manager mentioned that a few colleagues from another department had fallen behind with their tasks. They would need to work late for several days including the upcoming weekend to try to finish on time.
I had done their tasks before, so I volunteered to help them. I worked hard with them, including many extra hours, and we were able to meet the deadline.
Key Takeaways: The answer shows that the candidate did his part, but didn’t stop there. He volunteered for extra hard work to help his colleagues finish the project on time, which shows a high level of commitment to the company and just the type of employee that any employer would want.
4. Example Answer:
Back when I worked at a travel agency, a customer purchased a vacation package from me. While we talked, she mentioned that she was a vegan. So, when I had some free time, I searched for vegan restaurants in the destinations she was going to. I called the restaurants to make sure the information was correct and then emailed her my list. She was thrilled that I did that for her. After that, she recommended us to her friends and co-workers, and we gained additional regular customers because of it.
Key Takeaways: This candidate really listened to the customer and delivered great customer service by anticipating the customer’s needs.
5. Example Answer:
During college, I worked part-time at a small bakery. They had no presence on the web or social media. I had been studying digital marketing in school, so I offered to create and manage a simple website and some key social media profiles.
I started with campaigns to get people to engage and share their experiences. Soon, we had a lot of new customers coming to the store and even more phone orders coming in. It was a win-win situation because the bakery’s business grew considerably and I was able to practice what I had learned about digital marketing. I even got a raise!
Key Takeaways: This is a good sample answer for a candidate fresh out of college. The job itself isn’t relevant, but the skillset of thinking out-of-the-box and being growth-minded is very relevant. This answer is a good story that shows not only their willingness to go above and beyond but also the practical experience they got out of it.
6. Example Answer:
Not long ago, I noticed that one of my teammates was working late for the second day in a row. I asked him about it, and he said that he was having problems filling out his recent projects’ timesheets. He needed to submit everything that day to avoid delaying the invoices. I knew the timesheets were tricky, so I offered to help him. It was a lot of work, and it was very late when we finally got finished. He was relieved and thankful that I helped him get everything done before the deadline.
Key Takeaways: This answer shows that the candidate is observant, proactive, and a great team player.
7. Example Answer:
In my last job, I had a customer that used to ask questions or raise issues during our meetings that I had already addressed by email. I figured he didn’t like to read emails, so instead of confronting him, I decided to take a different approach.
I noticed that sometimes he sent audio messages to people. So, I also started communicating with him using audio messages as well. When I needed visual aids, I included images and graphics that I created myself. Our communication improved a lot. I was able to offer him better proposals, and he was quicker to accept them.
Key Takeaways: This answer is a great way to show that you go above and beyond, but also think out-of-the-box. Here, the candidate didn’t settle for doing the bare minimum, but instead brainstormed to figure out how to communicate more effectively with this particular customer.
8. Example Answer:
When I worked as a waiter at a seafood restaurant. I noticed that, especially with larger groups, sometimes people asked for alternatives to fish and seafood dishes. As a seafood restaurant, we only had seafood and fish. So, I talked to the chef, and I suggested that he created other non-seafood plates. He added two chicken options to the menu, and they became popular with our patrons and their guests. After that, we started getting more reservations for large parties.
Key Takeaways: In this answer, the candidate started out with a bit of real background, then provided a simple answer that showed initiative and going beyond his/her duties to accommodate additional customer preferences. Like restaurants, many businesses face today’s competitive business landscape and value employees that help them acquire potential clients and customers.
9. Example Answer:
My last boss used to have a hard time using the computer. He often called me or one of the other team members to his office to help him. So, I offered to arrive half an hour earlier every day and give him some lessons. He was thrilled. It was amazing how quickly he learned. After a month, he was able to handle almost all tasks without any help.
Key Takeaways: An answer like this leaves a lasting impression on the interviewer because this candidate identified a problem and then volunteered to come in early and spend extra time to train his or her boss. It was an ongoing selfless act with a large impact, not only on the boss but the whole team.
10. Example Answer:
When I worked at a retail store, a customer approached me and told me she felt very sick. I took her to our break room while I called 911. I got her to sit down and brought her a glass of water. I stayed with her until the paramedics arrived. They examined her and said her blood pressure was too high, so they took her to the hospital. A few days later, she came to the store and thanked me for taking care of her. She became a regular customer after that.
Key Takeaways: This candidate showed a calm and practical demeanor in a critical situation, which also impressed the customer. The candidate not only provided excellent service, but sound judgment.
11. Example Answer:
I remember when my boss asked me to create a spreadsheet to sort data by timestamp. He knew I was proficient with Excel, even though I didn’t use it in my daily job. It was a large amount of data. I figured he needed something more, but sorting it wouldn’t help him much. So, I asked him more questions, and I decided on a better way to process it: I created several charts out of that data. He was impressed and grateful that I saved him many hours of work.
Key Takeaways: The candidate showed that they wanted to do the task the very best way, even if it took them more effort. If proficiency in Excel was a requirement for the new job, then it was also an excellent way to show the interviewer this skill.
Preparing your answer beforehand is the best way to tackle a tricky behavioral question like this one. Keep in mind that, in this case, it is not only about doing something that isn’t in your job description. It is also about exceeding expectations and bringing positive results. So, tell your story and show how your attitude benefited your last company and can benefit your potential new employer as well. Good luck with all your interview answers and the hiring process!
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.