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How To Answer: “How Do You Manage Your Time & Prioritise Your Tasks?”

As you can see from our pretty extensive “Interview Advice” section, on our Knowledge Base we’ve written about job interviews a lot over the past couple of years – but as this is our Career Knowledge Base, we know there’s a lot more than we can write about and discuss. Why? Because job interviews are just so tricky – and you can never really be too prepared!

With that in mind; today I thought I’d shine the spotlight on another common job interview question – “How do you manage your time and prioritise your tasks?”.

Now, it’s worth pointing out that this one doesn’t necessarily pop up in every interview, however it does seem to make an appearance in a lot – namely for jobs where you’ll be required to work on your own and use your own initiative.

So, how do you tackle this one?

Don’t Panic

Just as with any other interview question, when answering this one you need to keep calm and try not to panic. The interviewer isn’t trying to catch you out – they just want to know how you cope with a large workload and how you go about priortising tasks – so they can see how and if you’d fit into their existing business/team. That said; rather than just spilling out the first thing that comes into your head, take a deep breath and…

Think Logically

Yes, with this question it’s all about thinking logically. Consider how you’ve tackled completing a number of tasks in the past. Did you throw all your tasks into a hat and then pick one out at random to tackle? No, chances are you did logically  – listed your tasks and then prioritised them in order of due date and importance to the business – asking your supervisor if you weren’t sure about how important a certain task was to the business.

OK, so that might sound like a simple answer – but this is also a bit of a simple question too! Like I said; the employer isn’t trying to trip you up with this one – they want to see how logical you are and how you approach certain tasks.

Relate It To The Role You’re Being Interviewed For 

When you’re explaining how you manage your time, a great way to make your answer super relevant to the employer is to relate it to the role that you’re being interviewed for. For example, you could say; “If I was asked to complete a number of pitches simultaneously for some of your clients, I’d start by sitting down with my line manager to understand the clients’ requirements and then creating a number of tasks for each, setting a deadline for each and liaising with in-house teams to check their availability and workload”.

An answer like this demonstrates your approach to work – and it also shows that you have a good understanding of their processes and how they potentially approach tackling larger projects.

Use A Real Life Example 

When finishing up your answer to this one, it can be a good idea to quote real life examples which demonstrate how your approach to time management and tackling tasks has been successful in the past. Why? Because this helps to show the interviewer that your methodologies have paid off in the past and they’ve resulted in a successful outcome for your previous employer.

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