Job Interview Question and Answer: Talk About a Time When You Exceeded Expectations at Work
Why Interviewers Ask This Question
Hiring managers ask, “Tell me about a time you went above and beyond while on the job,” to find out what type of employee you are. Knowing how hard you have worked in the past can give interviewers a sense of your work ethic, and any other strengths you have that could benefit the company. Your response can help managers predict your tendency to exceed expectations if hired.
What Answers are They Looking For?
Your answer to this question should show how driven and proactive you are. Discuss habits you have that show initiative, and how you’ve used these abilities at previous jobs, in clubs or at school. Even if you struggle to think of a specific situation, describing workplace practices that show leadership traits can improve your odds during the hiring process.
Answers to Avoid
When your interviewer makes the request, “Talk about a time when you went above and beyond at work”, avoid boasting or mentioning scenarios that show insubordination or a lack of teamwork skills. For instance, refrain from:
- Speaking negatively about your former coworkers.
- Describing situations where you ignored manager instructions while completing a task.
- Bragging and putting unrealistic expectations on your abilities
The samples below can give you a basic idea of how to respond to the question, “Tell me about a time you went above and beyond.” Draw from your own experiences to create honest and authentic answers about your personal work history.
Sample Answer 1 – Cafe Job for a Candidate with No Work Experience
“Sometimes going above and beyond means anticipating the needs of the job and doing what is expected of you before you’re asked. I try to be proactive in my approach to handling different tasks. For instance, if I have some extra time and notice dishes beginning to pile up, I will wash them in order to cut down on clean up later on.
Sample Answer 2 – Experienced Retail Worker
“At my last job, customers would often ask me about items from other departments. Even though their questions were outside my area of expertise, I knew where shoppers could find the information they were looking for. Rather than just point them in the direction of the right department, I would escort these patrons to another worker who could give them the help they needed.
Things to Remember
Think back on past jobs and experiences as you answer the question, “Talk about a time you exceeded expectations at work”. Choose a situation from your work history or your everyday life that illustrates your strong work ethic and take-charge attitude. Use this approach for a smooth transition through this portion of the interview process.