Many questions that are asked during the interview process have hidden meaning. There may be some specific piece of information that the interviewer is trying to parse. If you know what they are getting at, you can give very strong answers.
If your interviewer asks you to give an example of a time that you felt you went above and beyond the call of duty, they are not necessarily interested in the example itself. Instead, they want to ensure that you are the type of worker that will work hard to get the job done properly, rather than just to get the job done. Additionally, they want to know what your definition of “going above and beyond” is.
Points to Emphasize
Because the interviewer is mostly interested in ensuring that you have the quality they are looking for, your answer should focus on that quality. In this case, you should focus on dedication and hard work.
- Remain focused. It is easy to try and squeeze other good qualities into your example, but do not go on a tangent.
- The take-away of your story should be strong, even if the example itself is more general.
- Be confident that your example demonstrates that you are hardworking.
- Conclude by defining “going above and beyond”. This is half of what the interviewer is trying to find out.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
The biggest mistake you can make is being too vague or not specific enough. Figure out exactly what they are trying to figure out and focus on it in your answer.
- Because the moral is more important than the actual example, do not stress about coming up with a profound example.
- Avoid exaggeration. You are trying to convince them you are hardworking. Stretching the truth will only weaken your case.
- Do not rush just trying to get to the next question. This undermines the entire answer.
- Do not try to demonstrate any quality that they did not ask about in your answer. It takes the focus off and makes the answer vaguer.
Always stay positive and confident in yourself.
Here is an example of what your story of a time you went above and beyond might look like:
At my last job, I was given a project and the expectations for it, but I knew that the minimum requirements were not going to get the job done properly. I had to work weekends, but I did it how I knew it had to be done. That is how I define “going above and beyond”: doing what needs to be done and not just what is expected of me.