Question forms part of
Civil Service Question Bank
Project Manager Question & Answer Sheet
Other interview questions that are similar
Can you share an example of a project you completed that went above and beyond what was expected of you?
Describe a time when you exceeded your manager’s expectations. What did you do and what was the outcome?
Have you ever faced a challenge at work that required you to go above and beyond what was expected of you? How did you handle it?
Can you tell me about a time when you took initiative to improve a process or task at work, resulting in a positive outcome?
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
There are probably an infinite number of questions that the interviewer could ask you on the day. Some questions are incredibly common appearing in almost every interview you will have, while other questions you might hear once and never again regardless of how many jobs you apply for.
Fundamentally though all interview questions are really trying to find out one of 3 things:
1 – Can you do the job? (Do you have the skills/experience needed?)
2 – Will you do the job? (Do you have the drive/motivation to get the job done?)
3 – Will you fit in? (Does your personality match the workplace culture? Are you likeable?)
That’s it. Those are the 3 things that the interviewer is trying to ascertain. Every question that is asked of you will fundamentally be trying to resolve one (or more) of these 3 things.
With this question the interviewer is looking to see if you ‘can do the job’ (No. 1) and if you ‘will do the job’ (No. 2). Put simply in order to exceed expectations you need to be able to meet expectations, indicating that you can in fact do the job as advertised.
The interviewer is seeing if you are the type of person when given a task who will put the bare minimum effort in to complete the requirements or if you will go ‘above and beyond’ and really strive to deliver excellence in everything you do.
How Best To Answer ‘Tell me about a time you exceeded expectations’
As this is a ‘Tell me about a time‘ question you are going to need to provide an example. The best way of doing this is to follow the B-STAR technique for answering interview questions.
Answers using this method follow the below structure:
B – Belief – What are your thoughts and feelings with regard to the subject matter? – You should open your answer by telling the interviewer why you feel it is important to exceed expectations.
S – Situation – What was going on? Briefly explain the scenario that was taking place. – Try not to spend too much time describing the situation. The bulk of your answer needs to be about you and what you did so keep the situation simple to understand and even simpler to describe. A good example to use is a first project with a new client, you can talk about how you felt the first impression was important in maintaining a fruitful relationship and you wanted to really impress.
T – Task – What was your role in the action? Most of the time it is best that you are taking an active rather than passive role in the encounter.
A – Activity (or action) – What did you do? Detail the steps you took and why you took them. – This should take up the bulk of your time answering the question.
R – Result – How did everything end up? Try to use figures if possible (e.g. we cut costs by $3m, customer satisfaction scores increased 25%, failures reduced to zero, ice cream parties increased ten-fold etc.). As you are exceeding expectations try to touch upon what was originally expected and then compare that with what you did.
Remember though that the B-STAR technique is descriptive not prescriptive. You do not need to follow this flow strictly, go with what is best for your answers and that will allow you to put your point across and show your experience the best.
What You Should NOT Do When Answering Questions
Do not avoid the question.
Do not describe a failure (unless specifically asked).
Do not downplay the situation.
Do not overhype the situation.
Do not say you have no experience with the subject matter.
Do not reject the premise of the question.
Do not have a passive role in the situation.
Do not give a one-sentence answer.
Do not overly describe the scenario and miss the action
Tell me about a time you exceeded expectations – Example answers
Exceeding Expectations – Project Manager Example Answer 1
I feel it is important to exceed expectations whenever possible in our line of work as I believe it is one of the more fundamental ways that people and organisations grow, if everyone just conformed to expectations then eventually we would stagnate. Personally I like to exceed expectations so that my colleagues and managers become aware of my capabilities and learn that they can rely on me for extra or higher priority items.
A time I exceeded expectations was when I was working on a complex and time-sensitive project for a client. The project involved coordinating with multiple teams and stakeholders, and required a high level of attention to detail and quick problem-solving skills.
I took ownership of the project and went above and beyond my normal responsibilities to ensure its successful completion. I proactively identified potential challenges and developed contingency plans, communicated regularly with the client to keep them updated on progress and addressed any concerns they had in a timely manner, and worked closely with my colleagues to ensure that all tasks were completed on time and to a high standard.
As a result of my efforts, the project was completed ahead of schedule and received high praise from the client. They were impressed with the level of service and attention to detail that I provided and were thrilled with the results of the project. This recognition from the client not only exceeded their expectations but also helped to strengthen our relationship and build trust.
This experience taught me the importance of taking ownership of projects and the benefits of going above and beyond in order to exceed expectations and deliver exceptional results. It also demonstrated the value of proactively addressing potential challenges, effectively communicating with clients, and collaborating with others to achieve a common goal.
Exceeding Expectations – Teacher Example Answer 2
I always strive for excellence in everything I do, so when I see an opportunity to exceed a student, colleague or manager’s expectations I jump at the chance to impress. I believe this is important in our line of work as exceeding expectations means delivering better outcomes for our students which is the reason I became a teacher in the first place.
A time I exceeded expectations as a teacher was when I was tasked with creating a curriculum for a new elective course. The course was designed to be hands-on and interactive, and was aimed at engaging students who had previously struggled with traditional classroom learning.
I took the challenge to heart and went above and beyond what was expected of me. I spent countless hours researching best practices for hands-on learning, developing engaging and interactive lesson plans, and creating a variety of hands-on activities that would bring the material to life for students. I also reached out to experts in the field and collaborated with other teachers to bring in guest speakers and arrange field trips.
The result was a highly successful course that exceeded the expectations of both the students and the school administration. The students were engaged and excited about learning, and the feedback from both students and parents was overwhelmingly positive. Many students who had struggled in traditional classrooms excelled in this new format, and the course became a model for hands-on learning across the school district.
This experience taught me the importance of taking a creative and innovative approach to teaching, and the benefits of going above and beyond to engage students and create a positive learning experience. It also demonstrated the value of collaboration, research, and continuous learning in order to exceed expectations and achieve success.
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