Question forms part of
Other interview questions that are similar
- How do you prioritize your tasks when you have multiple projects to work on?
- Can you describe a time when you successfully managed competing deadlines?
- How do you stay motivated and focused when working on a long-term project?
- Are you more comfortable working on a single task or multitasking? Why?
- Do you prefer working on projects independently or as part of a team? Why?
- Can you describe a time when you had to switch between tasks quickly? How did you handle it?
- How do you ensure you maintain a high level of productivity throughout the day?
- How do you handle situations where you are unable to complete a task on time or as planned?
- How do you maintain focus and motivation when working on repetitive tasks?
- Do you prefer working on projects that require creativity and innovation or those that follow a more structured process? Why?
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.
So, let’s consider the interview question, “Do you most like starting tasks or finishing them?” and relate it back to the three things every interviewer is looking for.
1 – Can you do the job? (Do you have the skills/experience needed?) This question aims to uncover your ability to manage tasks and projects efficiently. By understanding your preferences in starting or finishing tasks, the interviewer can assess if your work style aligns with the job requirements. For instance, if the role involves a lot of project initiation, a candidate who prefers starting tasks might be better suited.
2 – Will you do the job? (Do you have the drive/motivation to get the job done?) By asking about your preferences in starting or finishing tasks, the interviewer is trying to gauge your motivation levels and work ethic. Your answer can reveal whether you are self-motivated and proactive in taking on new tasks or diligent in seeing projects through to completion. Both aspects are crucial for getting the job done, and your answer will help the interviewer determine if you possess the right attitude for the role.
3 – Will you fit in? (Does your personality match the workplace culture? Are you likeable?) This question also helps the interviewer understand if your work style and preferences align with the company culture and the dynamics of the team you would be joining. For example, if the organization values teamwork and collaboration, your answer could indicate if you are more comfortable working independently or as part of a group. The way you communicate your preferences can also give the interviewer a glimpse of your personality and likability.
How Best To Answer ‘Do you most like starting tasks or finishing them?’
When answering the question, “Do you most like starting tasks or finishing them?”, it’s essential to provide a well-structured response that effectively showcases your work style, motivation, and adaptability. Here’s a suggested structure for your answer:
- Briefly acknowledge both aspects: Begin by mentioning that both starting and finishing tasks are crucial for success in any role. This shows that you understand the importance of different stages in the project lifecycle.
- State your preference: Clearly state whether you prefer starting tasks or finishing them, and briefly explain why. Be honest, but remember to maintain a balanced perspective.
- Provide examples: Share relevant examples from your past experiences that demonstrate your preference in action. Highlight how your preference for starting or finishing tasks has positively impacted your work performance and helped you achieve your goals.
- Address the other side: While focusing on your preference, don’t forget to briefly discuss your ability to excel in the other aspect. This shows that you are adaptable and can effectively handle both initiating and completing tasks as required.
- Relate to the role: Connect your preference and examples back to the specific job you’re interviewing for. Show how your preferred work style aligns with the job requirements and can contribute to the company’s success.
- Demonstrate adaptability: Emphasize that you can adapt to different situations and requirements, regardless of your preference. Highlight your ability to perform well in both starting and finishing tasks, depending on the needs of the project or team.
What You Should NOT Do When Answering Questions
- Giving an unclear or vague answer: Avoid providing an ambiguous response, such as “I’m not sure” or “It depends.” Instead, be decisive and clearly state your preference, while still showing adaptability.
- Focusing only on one aspect: Do not entirely neglect the other side of the question. While stating your preference is essential, it’s also important to demonstrate that you can handle both starting and finishing tasks effectively.
- Being too negative: Avoid expressing strong dislike or frustration with either starting or finishing tasks. This can make you appear inflexible or difficult to work with.
- Overgeneralizing: Refrain from making blanket statements that could be interpreted as an inability to adapt to different situations or requirements. Instead, emphasize your versatility and willingness to handle tasks at any stage of the project lifecycle.
- Failing to provide examples: Avoid making claims about your work style without backing them up with real-life examples. Use specific instances from your past experiences to illustrate your preference and how it has contributed to your success.
- Not relating your answer to the role: Do not miss the opportunity to connect your preference and work style to the specific job requirements. Demonstrating how your preference can benefit the company will help make your response more impactful.
- Speaking negatively about past employers or colleagues: Avoid blaming others or making derogatory comments about previous work situations while discussing your preference. Keep the focus on your own work style and how it has positively influenced your performance.
- Exaggerating or lying: Be honest about your preference and abilities. Misrepresenting your work style can lead to problems if you are hired and expected to perform tasks that do not align with your true preferences or strengths.
‘Do you most like starting tasks or finishing them?’ – Example answer
Project Manager Example
“I understand that both starting and finishing tasks are essential for success in any role. Personally, I tend to enjoy finishing tasks more because it gives me a sense of accomplishment and closure. In my previous role as a project manager, I successfully completed several projects within deadlines and under budget, which resulted in increased client satisfaction and repeat business.
However, I also recognize the importance of starting tasks effectively. I have experience in setting up projects, defining goals, and creating plans to ensure smooth execution. I believe that my preference for finishing tasks, combined with my ability to initiate projects, would make me a valuable asset to your team.
In this role, I am prepared to adapt to the specific requirements and expectations, whether it involves starting new tasks or driving them to completion. I am confident that my skills and work style will enable me to contribute positively to the company’s success.”
“I understand that both starting and finishing tasks are crucial for success in any role. Personally, I tend to enjoy starting tasks more because I thrive on brainstorming new ideas and developing innovative marketing strategies. In my previous role as a marketing specialist, I was responsible for initiating several successful marketing campaigns that increased brand awareness and generated a significant growth in sales.
However, I also appreciate the importance of seeing tasks through to completion. I have experience in executing marketing plans, analyzing performance metrics, and optimizing campaigns based on data-driven insights. I believe that my preference for initiating tasks, combined with my ability to bring them to fruition, would make me an effective marketing specialist for your company.
In this role, I am prepared to adapt to the specific requirements and expectations, whether it involves creating new marketing initiatives or driving existing campaigns to achieve their goals. I am confident that my skills and work style will enable me to contribute positively to the company’s success.”
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