For months now, you've been taking care of all your regular responsibilities, plus updating your resume, filling out applications, and preparing for interviews. You consider yourself a multi-tasking champion!

Cartoon image of young man raising clasped hands in victory.

Now you've scored an interview and they throw this one at you:

"Describe how you would handle a situation if you were required to finish multiple tasks by the end of the day, and there was no conceivable way that you could finish them."

Woman doing a double take.. what?

Why Are They Asking This?

Chances are, the interviewer wants some assurance that you're:

  • Organized

  • Good at multi-tasking

  • Able to complete most assignments on time

  • Communicative when problems arise

    Young woman raising hand, pointing at self, with text: That Would Be Me.

Quiz

What is another trait they are probably looking for by asking this question?

Humor

Ability to prioritize

Fear of authority

Honesty

What Not To Say, And Why

You might be tempted to answer...

A woman saying,

"That would never happen to me. I always finish everything on my to-do list by the end of the day."

Although this seems like a pretty good answer, that's not what they asked you. They're asking you how you'd handle a particular situation where you couldn't get everything done on time.

"I don't work well under pressure so I'd probably feel overwhelmed and struggle to get through the day."

This answer might eliminate you as a candidate! They're looking for someone who can handle the pressure of having multiple assignments at the same time.

Now For Some Good Answers...

1.

For a management position:

"I'm a planner. It's unlikely I'd find myself in this situation, but if I did, I believe I'd recognize the crunch ahead of time. I would prioritize the projects and speak with those involved to move the deadlines around a bit."

Bitmoji image with stamp that says Manager

2.

For an administrative assistant position:

"I'm good at multitasking, but if this happened to me, I would go to my supervisor right away, explain the situation, and seek their assistance in prioritizing the tasks."

Bitmoji image with text: Administrative Assistant

3.

For a technical position:

"I'm a hard worker and would put in extra hours to meet any deadlines. That said, if I encountered this situation, I'd prioritize the most urgent tasks and then speak with those involved to move the other deadlines out a bit."

Bitmoki image of woman popping out of computer

Take Action

Interviews can be stressful, but preparing for questions such as this helps you consider your strengths and weaknesses. Before your next interview, ask yourself:

If you need to improve in any of these areas, pick up some relevant reading or look at some other Bytes for tips!

GIF of man looking happy, confetti raining down, and text: Got the Job

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This Byte has been authored by

MD

Mary Ellen D'Intino

Instructional Designer | Social Worker