We all put a lot of thought and effort into how to answer questions about times we failed so that we don’t look bad in the interview, but how much thought do we put into choosing stories to answer softball questions like, “Tell me about a time you went above and beyond the call of duty?” Even though this is a positive question, it’s very important to carefully choose a good story to answer it well.
You should always have a story or two to tell about times you went above and beyond at work. It points out that not only did you meet the expectations of your employer, you exceeded them. That shows you as extremely valuable to a future employer.
The key to keep in mind when choosing a story to tell is to choose one that speaks to how you could and would be successful in this new role. Think about the job description for this new role. Your first choice of story should be one that describes how you went above and beyond in relation to a central task in the description. This should talk about a conflict, or a difficult situation related to your job that you overcame. If you don’t have a story like this, then a story that highlights a positive character trait can also be good, although there should still be a conflict and a resolution.
Whatever story you choose, tell it using the STAR method: (S)ituation or (T)ask; (Action) you took; (R)esult you got. So it sounds like, “I faced this situation, and we needed that done. Based on (specific factors), I decided to do (specific actions), and the results were (whatever they were).” Do not forget to talk about the results—this is the most powerful piece of your story.
An alternative way to answer this question is to bring out your brag book for a little show and tell time. Evidence can do great things for the impression you make with your answer. So, along with your story, show the note from your happy client or boss; the graph that shows how the production numbers went up after your action; or the award you received from your action.
Brag books are wonderful visual aids for your job interview. They help you communicate more clearly and more powerfully about who you are and what you can do. Anyone could compile a collection of your successes and organize it in a brag book.
See what goes into a great brag book and how to use it in an interview in my Brag Book Podcast and start creating yours today.
About the author
Career Coach – Peggy McKee is an expert resource and a dedicated advocate for job seekers. Known as the Sales Recruiter from Career Confidential, her years of experience as a nationally-known recruiter for sales and marketing jobs give her a unique perspective and advantage in developing the tools and strategies that help job seekers stand head and shoulders above the competition. Peggy has been named #1 on the list of the Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters by HR Examiner, and has been quoted in articles from CNN, CAP TODAY, Yahoo! HotJobs, and the Denver Examiner.
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