Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize multiple tasks
- 1 Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize multiple tasks
- 2 Other interview questions that are similar
- 3 What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
- 4 How best to structure your answer to this question
- 5 What you should NOT do when answering questions
- 6 Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize multiple tasks – Example answers
- 7 Other Interview Question and Answers
Other interview questions that are similar
- Describe an instance where you managed several projects simultaneously.
- Can you recall a situation where you had to juggle various deadlines?
- Share an experience where balancing multiple responsibilities was essential.
- Discuss a time when you had to organize and execute multiple tasks efficiently.
- Tell me about an occasion when you had to strategize your workload with competing priorities.
- Recall a scenario where handling multiple assignments under pressure was required.
- Provide an example of a time when you had to coordinate various tasks within a tight timeframe.
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.
When you are asked about a time when you had to prioritize multiple tasks, the interviewer is primarily assessing the first and second aspects: your capability to handle the job requirements and your motivation to effectively manage your workload. This question digs into your practical experience and skill in organizing, planning, and executing tasks, which directly relates to your ability to do the job. It’s not just about having the skills but demonstrating that you have applied them successfully in real-world situations.
Your answer also sheds light on your work ethic and motivation, which is crucial for the interviewer to understand if you will do the job with commitment and enthusiasm. Your approach to handling multiple tasks shows your drive to overcome challenges, meet deadlines, and maintain productivity. It’s an opportunity for you to showcase how you prioritize, make decisions under pressure, and stay focused, all of which are essential traits for almost any role. Thus, while responding, ensure that your answer reflects both your competency in managing tasks and your motivation to consistently deliver results. Keep your response succinct and focused on specific instances where your skills and drive were clearly demonstrated.
How best to structure your answer to this question
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 – What are your thoughts and feelings with regard to the subject matter? Your beliefs reveal how you perceive and approach multitasking, which helps the interviewer understand your mindset towards handling multiple responsibilities.
S – Situation – What was going on? Briefly explain the scenario that was taking place. A concise description of the situation allows you to quickly pivot to how you effectively prioritized and managed your tasks, which is key to answering the interview question.
T – Task – What was your role in the action? Clarifying your role in the situation demonstrates your ability to take charge and manage multiple tasks, directly relating to your suitability for the job.
A – Activity (or action) – What did you do? Detail the steps you took and why you took them. This is your chance to showcase your skills in prioritizing and executing tasks efficiently, directly addressing the interviewer’s inquiry about your ability to handle the job’s demands.
R – Result – How did everything end up? Using quantifiable results shows the successful outcome of your multitasking skills, which directly speaks to your ability to handle similar challenges in the job you’re interviewing for.
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 by talking about unrelated experiences.
Do not describe a situation where you failed to effectively prioritize tasks, unless it’s a specific ask.
Do not downplay the complexity or importance of the tasks you were handling.
Do not overstate the difficulty of the situation to make your actions seem more impressive.
Do not claim to have no experience with multitasking or managing multiple priorities.
Do not reject the premise of the question by implying such situations are not relevant to your work style.
Do not focus solely on the actions of others, ensuring your role in prioritizing and managing tasks is clear and central.
Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize multiple tasks – Example answers
Example Answer 1
My belief has always been that successful task management hinges on the ability to prioritize effectively, especially in environments where pressure and demands are high. I see prioritization not just as a skill but as a critical approach to maintaining balance and ensuring quality in work.
In my previous role as a project manager, there was a particularly intense week where we were inundated with urgent client requests on top of our regular project deadlines.
The situation was demanding: we were at crucial stages with two major client projects, and simultaneously, three new client requests came in, all marked as high priority. My role involved overseeing these projects and ensuring they were completed on time and to our standards.
I tackled this by first categorizing the tasks based on their urgency and impact on the business. After assessing the situation, I delegated specific tasks to my team members, making sure everyone was clear on what their priorities were. To keep everything on track, I instituted brief daily check-ins to monitor progress and re-adjust priorities as necessary.
My approach for managing these tasks included clear communication with clients to set realistic deadlines and using project management tools for tracking progress internally. This helped in maintaining our focus and efficiency throughout the process.
The outcome was highly positive. We met all our deadlines, and the feedback from clients was overwhelmingly good. Our team managed to deliver ongoing projects on time, and the new client requests were handled promptly and efficiently, resulting in a 20% increase in client satisfaction scores for that quarter.
This experience only solidified my belief in the importance of prioritizing effectively and communicating clearly when managing multiple tasks, ensuring success in high-pressure situations.
Example Answer 2
More Sample Answers…
The examples provided above 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 250 answers to all of the most common interview queries.
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