Why the interviewer is asking this question: Most jobs require working on multiple tasks at the same time. Even an Air Traffic Controller position, which arguably has a singular focus (keep the planes flying and landing safely) involves a large amount of multitasking to be effective. So the interviewer is asking about your ability to multitask and may push for specific examples as a follow-up question. The answer to the question will also give insights into your ability to both manage and prioritize multiple tasks.
The best approach to answering this question: Answer by saying: “Yes, and here’s an example…” Think through your different assignments and roles and select those which would work best for showing your ability to multitask. Ideally, it will be dealing with several disparate assignments while describing the prioritization which takes place to deliver successfully. You should think of yourself as your own personal project manager, working out critical paths and planning work to optimize your output. This could also be a good whiteboard example if you want to flowchart your work and your decision criteria.
An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates: “Yes, and here’s an example: In my current role, I have both a new development project as well as two maintenance projects that I’m responsible for delivering. While the new development project is important, the maintenance projects are urgent if and when something breaks and needs to be fixed. So I plan my work week to flexibly allow me to cover both needs. The result has been that I have been able to keep all severe tickets to within 48 hour resolution over the past year, while staying on the critical path for delivering my project by the end of the year…”
An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates: “Yes, and here’s an example: During my recent internship, I had three different small projects that were assigned to me during my three months. I needed to effectively organize each project to make sure I understood the critical path for delivery and accounting for possible delays and roadblocks. The end result was that I was able to deliver all three projects by the completion date of my internship…”
An example of how you should not answer this question: “No, I’m pretty much heads down on one thing at a time. Just as long as my boss doesn’t ask me to do more than one thing, I’m fine. But if another thing gets added to my plate, well, that’s when my productivity goes way down…” Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!
- In your own words, what is multitasking?
- Do you have any experience with multitasking?
- What are some of the benefits of multitasking?
- What is the secret to successful multitasking?
- Can you explain a time when you had to multitask? …
- How do you determine your priorities?
HOW DO YOU PRIORITIZE YOUR WORK? (The PERFECT ANSWER to This Tough Interview Question!)
What is a good example of multi-tasking?
Good examples of multi-tasking are listening to a podcast while working or writing. In an office setting, answering phone calls while filling out forms, is another good example of multi-tasking. Successful multitasking is when two or more jobs or tasks can be accomplished at the same time. Usually, there is a primary task and a secondary task.
6. What factors do you consider while deciding on your priorities?
Instead of addressing the talent of multitasking directly, interviewers might use this question to gain a better understanding of your mental process while multitasking. They must realize that you excel at prioritizing the most important tasks first. Consider all of the times youve multitasked in the past and how you prioritized each activity.
“When it comes to prioritization, I have my own set of rules. I start by looking at any deadlines that have been set. Few projects, for example, are due on the same day that management assigns them. I have the power to postpone them if required. The time it takes to perform a task is the next factor to consider. In many circumstances, I put the more straightforward jobs first. As a result, I am able to get more done during the day.
I break down projects into smaller targets if I have to multitask and do all things in the same period of time. I assess which smaller objectives are more important for completing the entire assignment and prioritize them first.”
4. What is the key to multitasking success?
There are no right or wrong responses to this issue in general. Interviewers frequently ask this question to learn about your personal perspective on multitasking and how it works best for you. Consider all of the times youve utilized your multitasking abilities and figure out what worked best for you each time.
“Prioritization is the only way to multitask successfully. A mixture of tasks is referred to as multitasking. You divide each task into smaller tasks and arrange them in a priority order. The talent is recognizing which activities are more essential than others and focusing on those jobs first, which is commonly done in the heat of the moment. You excel at accomplishing all of your responsibilities after you grasp which activities are the most important.”