Job Interview Question & Answer: How Do You Effectively Prioritize Tasks
What Managers Look For
Employers ask a variety of questions to see how well applicants manage their time. Interviewers may ask, “How do you prioritize tasks?” or “How do you manage your time?” to get an idea of how quickly and efficiently someone completes their job duties. A strong reply shows how a worker might fit in at a company.
Know How to Respond
When answering the question “How do you manage your time?” it’s important to give solid examples of how you stay productive. Focus on specific situations that you used a to-do list or scheduling method to complete a job. Think about these time-saving processes beforehand so you can offer a response that’s concise and impressive.
Responses to Avoid
Knowing what not to say is just as important as knowing what to say. Avoid discussing time management strategies that might look unfavorable to hiring staff such as:
- Micromanaging or putting unrealistic expectations on your ability to do a job.
- Lack of communication with coworkers and managers, as it leads to misunderstandings.
- Procrastination because it puts more stress on employees.
Avoid discussing inefficient approaches to managing time in a job interview. Consider how employers will see the big picture, and speak to proven methods of success.
Review the following suggested responses to “How do you manage your time?” to help create your own answer. Remember, these are for reference only. Your replies should be honest and relate specifically to personal experiences.
Sample Answer 1 – Prep Cook Job
“The first thing I do when I get to work is set up a schedule. At the very top, I make a list of all the food the restaurant needs that day. At the bottom, I write down work I can do between busy periods, things like cleaning or helping coworkers.”
Sample Answer 2 –Day Care Worker
“My job requires a lot of multi-tasking, so planning out my day helps me remember everything I need to do. Every night, I write out all the tasks for the next day and what time they need done. This helps me balance the most important items and those that don’t have a strict deadline.”
Sample Answer 3 – Server
“Time management is extremely important to serving. With each table, I develop a routine to keep up a quick work pace. For example, I always suggest appetizers when I take drink orders. When I come back to take their food order, I ask if customers need any condiments for their meal. This keeps me from making extra trips and helps me remember what they need.”
Things to Keep in Mind
Preparing a response to “How do you manage your time?” can help you feel more confident during a job interview. When thinking of your answer, remember to consider the following ideas:
- Communicate what time management practices you use to complete tasks.
- Detail specific situations when those practices have helped you.
- Explain how your time management skills could benefit their business.
Sharing examples of how you effectively manage time on the job leaves a lasting impression on hiring managers.
This is a good response. You always want to say that you are great at managing your time and accomplishing tasks, and it helps to detail how you learned time management, like how our participant does when he mentions that he developed the skill in college. Additionally, you should talk about the tactics you use to be successful at time management. Notice how the following interviewees detail what they do to manage their time.
You can also tell the interviewer a story about a time when you were faced with time constraints and explain the steps you took to accomplish your goal on time. As long as you give a good view of your process for finishing work on time, you’ll have a great answer for this question.