How Would You Address Conflicting Priorities?

Job Interview Question & Answer: Describe A Time When You Had To Deal With Conflicting Demands

What’s the Point of the Question?

Hiring managers will ask about a time candidates had to deal with conflicting responsibilities to get a sense of how they stay organized and remain cool under pressure. It’s a straightforward question, but that doesn’t mean job hopefuls should ignore it when preparing for the interview process.

The Key to Responding to “How Would You Address Conflicting Priorities?”

Applicants must have two parts to their answer. First, it’s important to outline the steps taken to prevent any duties from falling through the cracks. These will be distinct for each worker. While keeping detailed lists might work for one job seeker, communication could be the key to another’s success.

Next, hopefuls should prepare an example. Some employers state the prompt as “Describe a time when you had to deal with conflicting demands,” so it may be required. Regardless, giving hiring staff concrete details from the past shows prospective workers have results to back up their claims.

What Not to Do

There’s really only one way to answer “How would you address conflicting priorities?” poorly. Job seekers who don’t describe a specific situation for interviewers lose credibility. They’re therefore less likely to be offered employment in the hiring process.

Example Responses

Hopefuls can use these to guide in the prep of their own answers. However, they should not simply memorize them. All replies given during job interviews must be unique to candidates’ lives.

Sample Answer 1 – Pizza Shop Delivery Driver

“I make a lot of mental lists to keep conflicting priorities straight. Setting benchmark goals for myself helps me finish projects ahead of time. I think this method of organization would work well if I had multiple pizzas to deliver at once.”

“In fact, when I was working as a sandwich maker, my system helped me set records for the fastest customer service. I had to balance prepping salads, cooking meat on the grill, and assembling sandwiches as the orders rolled in. I did it by having a clear checklist of things I needed to do in my head.”

Sample Answer 2 – Retail Customer Service Rep

“For me, constant communication is the key to handling conflicting deadlines. Updating my managers on the progress I make, and when I think I’ll have projects completed, shows them I’m following through. This opens the door for compromise if I see I’m not going to be done in time.”

“During my freshman year of college, finals week was rough. I had several papers and a group project to complete. Regularly updating my partners helped us agree on dates that worked within everyone’s schedule. We even finished everything a day before it was due and received a good grade for our hard work.”

Core Concepts

Always remember these points when considering this job interview question:

  • Clearly state a plan for addressing conflicting demands.
  • Highlight a real-world example.
  • Relate the response back to the job.

Potential employees who stick to this formula will likely respond more effectively.

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