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!
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."
Why Are They Asking This?
Chances are, the interviewer wants some assurance that you're:
Good at multi-tasking
Able to complete most assignments on time
Communicative when problems arise
What is another trait they are probably looking for by asking this question?
Ability to prioritize
Fear of authority
What Not To Say, And Why
You might be tempted to answer...
"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...
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."
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."
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."
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!
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This Byte has been authored by
Mary Ellen D'Intino
Instructional Designer | Social Worker