Other interview questions that are similar
- Can you describe a situation when you had to manage several projects at once? What strategies did you use?
- Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize your tasks in a busy workday. How did you decide what to focus on first?
- Have you ever had to balance multiple responsibilities at the same time? How did you organize your time?
- Could you share an example of a period when you were overwhelmed with tasks? What steps did you take to manage your workload?
- Can you tell me about a time when you had to handle competing demands? How did you ensure all tasks were completed?
- Describe a situation where you had to manage multiple deadlines. What was your strategy?
- Have you ever had to multitask under pressure? What was your approach to maintaining quality across all tasks?
- How have you handled a situation where you had too many tasks and not enough time to complete them all?
- Can you share an instance when you were required to shift your focus frequently between tasks? How did you maintain your efficiency?
- Could you provide an example of when you had to juggle multiple clients or projects with different needs? How did you ensure everyone was satisfied?
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.
Let’s consider the question: Can you provide an example of a time when you had to juggle multiple priorities? How did you handle it?
When an interviewer poses this question, they are essentially probing into all three fundamental areas they are interested in.
1 – Can you do the job? By asking for a specific example of when you’ve had to manage multiple priorities, the interviewer wants to understand if you have the necessary organizational and task management skills. The ability to effectively juggle multiple tasks and deadlines is often a key requirement in many job roles.
2 – Will you do the job? The way you handle the situation also gives insights into your commitment and motivation. Did you step up to the challenge, or did you shy away from it? An ability to navigate multiple priorities underlines a proactive attitude and a willingness to push through difficulties to get the job done.
3 – Will you fit in? Lastly, your approach to managing multiple priorities can reveal a lot about your personality and how you operate within a team setting. Are you calm under pressure? Can you communicate effectively with others to delegate tasks or ask for help when needed? These insights can help the interviewer assess if you’ll blend well with their existing team dynamics and company culture.
Hence, when faced with this question, keep in mind that your answer will be giving the interviewer a glimpse into your skills, your motivation, and your compatibility with the team and company. Try to formulate a response that addresses all these areas to fully satisfy what the interviewer is looking for.
How Best To Answer ‘Can you provide an example of a time when you had to juggle multiple priorities?’
Unless the question you are asked is a straight ‘up or down / yes or no’ style question then you are going to need to learn to describe, expand and elaborate on your answers. 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: Begin by sharing your underlying beliefs about the importance of handling multiple priorities effectively. This could include your views on time management, multitasking, or your approach to meeting multiple deadlines. Your belief sets the tone for your response and demonstrates your personal philosophy or values. You might say, for instance, “I believe that being able to balance multiple tasks efficiently is an essential skill in today’s dynamic and fast-paced work environment.“
S – Situation: Next, describe a specific situation where you had to handle several priorities at once. Keep it concise, providing just enough context for the interviewer to understand the scenario. You might say, “In my previous role as a project manager, there was an instance when three critical projects with overlapping timelines landed on my desk.“
T – Task: Explain your specific role or responsibility in that situation. It’s important to show that you took an active role in resolving the situation. You might say, “As the project manager, it was my responsibility to ensure all projects were delivered on time and to a high standard.“
A – Activity (or action): This is where you detail the steps you took to manage the situation. Be as specific as possible, describing your actions, decisions, and thought processes. For example, “I started by reviewing each project’s requirements and deadlines. I then developed a comprehensive schedule that mapped out the necessary tasks for each project, allocating resources accordingly. To ensure smooth progress, I held regular check-ins with each team, adjusted schedules when necessary, and made sure communication lines were always open.“
R – Result: Finally, share the outcome. If possible, quantify the results to show the impact of your actions. You might say, “Despite the challenges, all three projects were successfully completed on time. In fact, one project was finished ahead of schedule, which was highly appreciated by the client. Our team’s efficiency also improved by 15% during this period.“
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
Can you provide an example of a time when you had to juggle multiple priorities? – Example answer
The examples provided below can serve as a foundation for creating your unique answers. For additional inspiration, our new guide includes five sample responses to this question and over 100 answers to all of the most common interview queries.
“I firmly believe that the ability to handle multiple priorities is an essential skill in today’s fast-paced work environment. One instance that comes to mind is when I was working as a project manager at my previous job. Three crucial projects with overlapping timelines were assigned to me.
As the project manager, it fell upon me to ensure that all the projects were completed efficiently and on time without compromising the quality. To manage this, I first reviewed each project’s requirements and deadlines. After understanding the scope and resources required for each, I developed a comprehensive schedule mapping out the necessary tasks for each project and allocated resources accordingly.
To ensure smooth progress and address any roadblocks immediately, I held regular check-ins with each team and adjusted schedules and plans when necessary. Communication was key during this period, and I made sure that all team members were updated about the progress and changes.
The outcome was highly successful; all three projects were completed on time, and we even managed to finish one project ahead of schedule, which delighted the client. What’s more, during this challenging period, our team’s efficiency improved by 15%, which was a great achievement in itself.”
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