Customer service is everything in today’s competitive business landscape. It’s not enough anymore to satisfy the expectations of the customers. Employers expect us to go above and beyond with our service, to surprise the customer (in good means, of course), and to ensure we did everything to turn them into a returning customer.
“How would you describe an outstanding customer service?” is one of the questions interviewers may ask you to learn more about your customer service skills. A question about going above and beyond in the workplace (or for a customer,. colleague, or for your employer) is another. This question really has many alternative wording the hiring managers can use, including but not limited to:
- Give me an example of when you’ve gone the extra mile for someone.
- Give an example of a time you have gone over and above to achieve something.
- Tell us about a time you’ve gone above and beyond to make something better.
- Give an example of a situation / project / time when you went above and beyond your responsibility to complete a task.
Though each wording is slightly different, and may add some spin to the question, hiring managers always look for the same attitude in the job applicants. Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this question so you understand the right attitude to show. Below the answers you will find some additional explanations and clarifications that should help you write your genuine and perfect interview answer, regardless of the wording of the question.
Sample answers to “Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond in the workplace” interview question
- I recall such a situation from my last job in a retail store, selling sports equipment and clothes. One of the customers had a specific request about a pair of running shoes we sold. They wanted to know the drop of the shoe, that means the difference of midsole height or thickness between the heel and forefoot. This wasn’t advertised on the box. I politely asked them to wait and went online. Checking the webpage of the distributor and also the manufacturer, I didn’t find any information about the drop. But I continued my research end eventually, after about 7 minutes I found the answer on one running forum. The drop was 4mm, I told the customer, and they bought the shoes. They seemed to be very happy with my assistance and the fact that I went an extra mile to help them.
- This is my first job application, and therefor I have no direct experience with going above and beyond in the workplace. But I understand that this is a superbly competitive business, and unless we do something extra for a customer, or at least meet their expectations in all regards, they will leave us and do their shopping somewhere else. I hope to learn what it means to go above and beyond for customers, and will certainly try my best to surprise them with the quality of my service.
- My closest colleague had some family problems about two years ago. Their wife wanted to divorce them, and they found it hard to accept and bear with emotionally. But they could not leave the job, because they were in debt, and could not afford having no monthly income. I took some weekend shifts for them, so they could take a break and solve the problem. I worked overtime on many days, and tried to be attentive to their feelings and encourage them to continue fighting with the situation. This is not a standard behavior in the workplace–at least I do not have experience with such behavior from my previous jobs. But it felt natural for me to act in this way. Relationships with colleagues are important, and I will always try my best for my coworkers, and do not mind going an extra mile for them. * Special tip: If you like the answers, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Premium answers to 30+ behavioral interview questions will help you streamline your interview preparation, and say exactly what the hiring managers want to hear from you in the interviews….
- This is my first job application, but I can talk about an example from school. Honestly, I have always striven for excellence. When we had to write an essay, instead of required minimum of three pages I wrote five. When there was a chance to participate in a competition, or in a non-profit activity, such as cleaning the local river or painting the fence around the school, I always volunteered. I believe that law of action and reaction rules the world. I try my best to help, and many blessings come to my life in return. You can be sure that I want to continue following this philosophy in my first real job.
- Last time I remember an occasion when I have gone over and above to achieve something was when I visited a client of our bank and his wife on Saturday afternoon. This was definitely outside of our working hours, but they were both busy and had children and could not make it together to the bank during the standard working hours. I still wanted to close the deal, to sign them up for a loan, because they had a good credit score and it would be a win-win situation. They were impressed with my attitude, and became the clients of our bank.
- I’ve never worked anywhere before, but I recall many experiences when employees of shops and other institutions went above and beyond for me. For example they offered me a free gift, or helped me to make a difficult decision. Or one lady from a tax office called me to remind me of a payment due, which is something she didn’t have to do. They could have just fined me… All these things made a deep impression on me, and I understood it makes a big difference if we do something extra for the customer. I hope to follow their example in my employment, going above and beyond expectations to deliver a better outcome to someone–be it a customer, or a colleague.
- I would say I went above and beyond for my subordinates in my last job of a construction site supervisor. The atmosphere in the team wasn’t particularly good, which resulted in low productivity. I decided to organize a couple of team building events, such as barbecue for the guys, or playing bowling in the evening. And since company did not cover such expenses for the workers, I paid everything from my pocket. It wasn’t a lot of money of course, but still I did it. And it actually helped a lot, the team members started to feel responsible for one another, the communication was more fluent, and the productivity improved.
* Do not forget to check also: 15 most common interview questions and answers.
Your attitude matters the most for the interviewers
Whether they inquire about a situation when you went above and beyond, or about a conflict you had with one of your colleagues, or about a time when you had to meet a tight deadline, they care mostly about your attitude. The situation you narrate isn’t particularly important.
In this case, you should clearly show them that you understand how things work in today’s business world. Going above and beyond for a customer is becoming a new norm, and you are ready to follow the trend in your work.
And when you are applying for your first job, you can simply stress your attitude–that you want to go above and beyond for the customer, though you haven’t had a chance to do it yet. Or you can talk about a situation from a school.
Examples of going above and beyond for a customer in a restaurant
Of course it is easier going above and beyond for someone when you have large scope of responsibilities and options in your job. But what about simple jobs, such as working in a restaurant, where you just don’t have that many opportunities to do something special. What’s more, you work in a fast-paced restaurant, and while attending one customer, other two are waiting for your attention. It isn’t easy to do something special when you barely manage to handle the workload.
In such a case you have to options. One is referring to small everyday things, such as giving special recommendations to the guests (what dish or wine they should try from the menu), quickly suggesting good places to visit in the city or area (if the restaurant is in a tourist area), offering free packing of food they didn’t eat, etc. Another option is focusing of particular cases, such as when you arranged a gluten free or vegan option outside of the menu for a customer with special dietary requirements. Instead of simply dismissing their request (“we do not have anything that fits your diet”) you talked to the cook and came up with something. Of course this is just one example, but a good one that will work in almost every restaurant interview :).
Tell them a story, use numbers
Everyone loves to hear a good story. And numbers and dates add your words some credibility in the eyes of the interviewers. When narrating any situation, be sure to tell them when it happened, at least approximately. And talk about numbers if possible (how much you helped someone to save going above and beyond, for example).
And instead of simply telling I did this or that, try to narrate a short meaningful story. For example a customer had a certain problem. You didn’t manage to solve it in a standard way, and went above and beyond for them, doing this and that. As a result they solved their problem. This is an ideal way of answering any behavioral question–and you may many of them in your interview.
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You will always compete with other people for the job, some of them more skilled and experienced than you. But you can gain a competitive edge over them, with premium interview answers. Thank you for checking out the package, and I wish you good luck in your interview!
Alternatively you can check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:
- Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer.
- Tell us about your most recent customer service experience.
- Customer service interview – Why should we hire you?