Top Culture Fit Questions

How to Answer: Tell Me About a Time You Went Above and Beyond the Requirements for a Project

One of the more common interview questions you’ll get during an interview for an internship or entry-level job is: “Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond.” This interview question is industry and role-agnostic and the purpose of it is to understand whether you are the type of person to overachieve and reach for the stars, or whether you are the type of person who does exactly as they’re told, without ever questioning what you can do better.

Luckily, you can practice your answer to this question ahead of time, so here are some things to think about as you formulate your answer:

Think about a project where your original goal had been very clear.

Now explain the original goal in a clear and concise way. It’s important that you give an example where the interviewer can understand what was expected of you, before you try to ‘wow’ him with your story.

Discuss the opportunity you observed that made you think that going “above and beyond” would be beneficial.

For example, if you were given a goal to “eat a pie of pizza”, then eating two pizzas would not be beneficial toward accomplishing your goal. However, if you were given a goal to interview 3 people who ate pizza, but instead interviewed an entire restaurant, then you have a larger sample size, which can help you evaluate the survey outcomes more accurately.

Describe exactly how you went above and beyond the requirements.

It’s important to make sure that you’re using an example that shows YOU as the driver of ambition, and that you weren’t just following someone else’s over-achieving ways.

Explain the outcome.

Finally, explain the outcome, and why going ‘above and beyond’ was the right thing to do.

Extra points if you’re able to include a humble comment along the lines of: “When I’m passionate about something, I tend to be the type of person who goes above and beyond to get something done.”

Say something like: “In my summer internship in the strategy department at Pizzeria Dos, I was asked to find out what customers thought of our new white tablecloths (we had just switched from red tablecloths). I was told to ask 10 customers in total by stopping them on their way out of the restaurant. Instead, with my boss’s permission, I decided to add a small questionnaire to the checks of every customer who came in for the next 2 days. This way, I could reach more people in a scalable way, without bothering those who were in a hurry to get out. I printed the questionnaires on small pieces of paper, so the entire study cost no more than $10 in supplies. I then collected all 50 of the completed evaluations and learned that people hated the white tablecloths because they could see the stains from their dripping cheese too easily. I’m happy that I could deliver 500% of the number of opinions my boss wanted, and that I was able to do it without bothering customers and still getting an unbiased opinion.”

By answering this question with a specific example, you’ll be able to show the interviewer that you’re ready to go above and beyond your assigned duties and to be a team player for the company. This is a great way to show how motivated you are, and to stand out among the pool of other candidates.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 7 Phone Interview Tips That Will Land You a Second Interview and find answers to common interview questions such as What Motivates You?