"Going Above and Beyond" Examples of Interview Answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 18, 2021

Asking open-ended questions is a common tactic interviewers use to challenge candidates interviewing for job openings. These can be questions that test the personality, experience, and fundamental characteristics of those interviewing for specific positions. Understanding how to answer a common example of one of these questions, "Tell me about a time you went above and beyond," is key to impressing your interviewer at this critical stage of applying for a job.

In this article, we explain why knowing how to answer is helpful and why interviewers ask for these stories, outline how to construct your response, and provide "going above and beyond" examples of interview answers.

Why to prepare "going above and beyond" examples

Preparing your "going above and beyond" examples gives you a framework for the kind of responses that interviewers may wish to hear from candidates. Understanding what elements to include in a story of when you've exceeded expectations can help you perfect your answer to better impress interviewers. No matter what the job is that you're applying for, it's common for interviewers to ask you about a time that you've put in more effort than the job required of you in order to create a positive outcome.

Why employers ask about a time you went above and beyond

Employers often ask about times that you went above and beyond because your answer provides an insight into your work ethic, personality, and professional behaviour. Being willing to put in more effort than usual when the job requires it means that when challenges arise in your role, you can overcome them. Prospective employers may want to know what you consider to be an excessive level of effort, and what your threshold for "above and beyond" is.

For instance, if you consider working an extra hour over one week to be going above and beyond, they may expect you to put in less effort overall. Conversely, if you can provide examples of times when you've put in a significant increase in effort for the benefit of the company, this makes you seem like a more promising candidate. Employers may also want to know what actions you're willing to take to go above and beyond. You may have exceeded requirements by putting in more effort to get something done quicker or completing tasks that aren't normally yours.

Related: How To Answer Interview Questions About Stress

How to describe a time you went above and beyond

It can be wise to think of a few examples of times when you've gone above and beyond at work before you go into an interview for employment. That way, if you're asked, you can answer without delay and show a level of preparedness and confidence that can impress your interviewer. Once you've thought of a few instances, it's helpful to use the STAR interview method to construct your example in terms that employers care about. STAR is an anagram for:

  • situation

  • task

  • action

  • result

Related: 5 Situational Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

1. Situation

Begin your response with a clear outline of the scenario which required you to go above and beyond. In doing this, it's wise to make clear exactly what your typical performance expectations were. For instance, you may mention the hours you usually work, the number of tasks you usually complete, or how quickly or comprehensively you're typically expected to complete them. The beginning of your response is the best time to mention any key details or provide any necessary context.

Example: "In my previous role, I worked as a customer service representative in the call centre, taking orders and arranging deliveries."

2. Task

Next, be clear about the challenge you overcame, whether that be a heavier than usual workload, a higher importance task that required greater effort, or for you to complete new or unusual tasks. Avoid exaggerating and try to describe the challenge as honestly as possible. Be as specific about the required task as you can.

Example: "During the busy holiday period, our call centre team had 55% more orders than usual to process."

3. Action

This is the part when you describe what action you took to go above and beyond. This is the central piece of information the interviewer wants to discover. As with the task, be as clear and precise about why the action you took exceeded the scope of your usual work. Explain using facts and figures whenever you can, to make it easier for the interviewer to quantify the degree to which you went above and beyond.

Example: "In order to cope with the huge increase in orders, I worked two extra hours each day, and came in on Saturdays during December as well."

4. Result

The result is just as important for your interviewer to understand as the action, as it shows the true impact of your effort. This may just be a brief statement proving that the extra time or effort you put in resulted in a positive and significant outcome. The result may be that the business achieved its productivity or revenue goals, or that you improved the business in some way.

Example: "I completed all of my December orders with minimal errors, and we had a successful and lucrative peak in sales throughout the holiday period."

Example answers

Regardless of the industry, in most positions, there are opportunities to go above and beyond. In some cases, staff put in extra effort in order to meet unusual requirements of the job. In others, the job doesn't require going above and beyond, but the result of the extra effort is a significant benefit to the company. Here's a selection of example answers from different jobs when being asked to describe a time you went above and beyond:

Example 1: entry level marketing assistant

Explore this example answer to prepare your own:

"As a marketing assistant in my previous role, I routinely created market reports to inform our brand activity. The brand manager asked me to complete a report comparing our market share with our three closest competitors to present at our quarterly meeting. I went above and beyond in my research and presentation of these statistics. I created visualizations and graphs to illustrate where our brand sat among the top ten competing brands, with our three closest competitors highlighted. The graphs made it easy to assess exactly how we match our closest competitors and contextualize our presence in the market overall."

Example 2: mid-level sales manager

Here is an example answer for a managerial role:

"As a sales manager in my previous role, I managed a team of sales representatives. I met with a prospective client whom a sales representative hadn't yet been able to convince to trade with us. After designing a bespoke rebate plan to entice them, I invited them to a working lunch to present it. I was able to convince the client that trading with us would benefit them and gain their trust. They began trading with us, and we have maintained a long and lucrative professional relationship. We now supply 20% of their portfolio."

Related: 10 tough Interview Questions and Answers

Example 3: entry-level retail sales assistant

Review this example answer for inspiration:

"As a fine wine retail sales assistant, I was responsible for driving the sales of our products and developing relationships with our top customers in store. Whenever we had a new vintage arrive, I took it upon myself to call up all of our top customers and recommend the wine, and offer to take an order for them before it sold out. This made those customers feel special, made sure they didn't miss out on any of the new wine, and ultimately increased the sales of some of our most expensive products."

Example 4: assistant manager

This example of a response from an assistant manager can guide you in your own:

"As the assistant manager, I helped the manager of our store to run it efficiently. One month, I noticed they hadn't finished the staff rosters for the rest of the month. Usually, my manager would complete them on time, but because of a busier than normal period, they had fallen behind. I offered to complete the roster for them and spent a few extra hours every day for a week writing the rosters up and coordinating availability with the store's staff. I learnt new skills in the process of helping the manager keep the store running smoothly."

Example 5: bar manager

Review this example answer if you want to learn how to answer questions about going above and beyond:

"As the manager of a bistro, it's my responsibility to run the bar on a day-to-day basis. For a few months, Sundays were really quiet, and we actually lost money on them. I spent a few hours of my free time a week to contact and coordinate musician friends of mine to arrange live music for Sunday afternoons. After a few weeks, Sundays became one of the busiest days of the week for us, and we increased Sunday revenue by 200%."

Explore more articles