Misc Tips

How Do You Prioritize Your Work? (Interview Question)

Most jobs require you to handle a number of duties, and also you’re going to face competing priorities.

So employers ask interview questions like “How do you prioritize your work?” or “Inform me a couple of time once you had conflicting priorities at work.”

And in the event you can’t present the employer that you simply’ve obtained a confirmed system for time administration and activity administration, they’re going to be anxious.

(Which might value you the job supply.)

Arising, I’ll present you find out how to reply interview questions on conflicting priorities so you possibly can impress the interviewer and land the job.

What Does “Conflicting Priorities” Imply?

Conflicting priorities are targets competing on your time and a focus that can’t all be executed without delay. When confronted with conflicting priorities, you’re compelled to handle your time and rank these duties so as of significance, addressing some earlier than others.

Employers will typically ask an interview query about competing priorities to ensure you’ll be capable of deal with an important duties they assign you and full tasks inside their deadlines.

To correctly deal with conflicting priorities, you’ll want time administration expertise, communication expertise (if working as a part of a workforce), the power to remain calm whereas working under stress, and problem solving capacity.

Examples of Conflicting Priorities at Work

  • Your direct supervisor advised you that Activity A must be executed instantly, however a Division Head, who works above your boss, pulled you apart and requested in the event you might assist them with Activity B.
  • You’ve been given two pressing tasks and advised each are a high precedence however solely have time to deal with one earlier than the tip of the day.
  • A workforce member stop, you’ve been given their workload along with yours on the final minute, and also you gained’t be capable of end your most important mission whereas managing their workload.
  • Your supervisor assigned you an pressing activity, however earlier than you’ve completed, requested you to assist a unique mission that’s essential and desires extra consideration.

Widespread Interview Questions Concerning Prioritizing

Probably the most common interview questions concerning prioritizing your work are:

  1. How do you prioritize your work?
  2. How do you handle your time and prioritize duties?
  3. How do you deal with a number of duties and priorities?
  4. Inform me a couple of time you needed to handle conflicting priorities at work

With interview questions 1, 2, and three, you possibly can reply in the identical approach, since they’re targeted in your basic method to prioritizing duties all through your day.

Query 4 is a behavioral interview query. To reply this query, you’ll want to explain a particular time you had conflicting priorities.

However the basic concept for what to say to an employer is similar for all 4 questions:

One of the best ways to reply any query about the way you handle conflicting priorities or many duties/deadlines is to indicate you keep calm and logical, and most significantly have a system.

In the event you can present employers you’ve confronted competing priorities prior to now and have a way for dealing with them, by giving an instance or describing your system, you’ll fulfill the interviewer.

Beneath, I’ll share examples of the way you’d reply interview questions on prioritizing your work.

How Do You Prioritize Your Work? Instance Interview Solutions

Instance Reply 1:

I wish to prioritize my work by preserving an Excel spreadsheet of my tasks and their deadlines so I can see the whole lot at a look. Then, I kind and alter the spreadsheet to prioritize my work based mostly on the significance of a mission, how lengthy it’ll take, how pressing it’s, and whether or not I’ll want enter from different workforce members to finish the work. I evaluate this sheet every morning. In my present function, I normally have six to eight tasks. I’ve discovered that by speaking clearly with my workforce and supervisor at a number of factors all through every mission after which monitoring the whole lot in Excel, I’m in a position to handle all of my duties and hit every deadline, even when we hit some sudden challenges or delays. I’ve discovered that communication is vital in all of this, too.

Instance Reply 2:

Working in retail customer service, it’s not all the time doable to deal with the whole lot pressing without delay, so it’s essential to know what the best precedence is. For instance, if a buyer drops and breaks a glass jar within the aisle, cleansing that up is pressing as a result of it’s a security hazard. I’ve taken it upon myself to check and be taught what’s most pressing within the job and if I’m unsure, I take advantage of my greatest judgment after which ask my supervisor after the actual fact if I acted accurately. By means of this, I’m all the time studying and bettering, and this helps me know the proper precedence to comply with subsequent time I’m confronted with the same state of affairs.

Instance Reply 3:

Every week, I take a look at my workload and tasks and set a every day schedule to assist me prioritize. Normally, I’ll estimate how lengthy a mission will take and provides it a rating by way of how pressing it’s based mostly on that. Having a transparent precedence every day permits me to higher handle my workload and juggle a number of duties with out lacking deadlines. When needed, I can prioritize inside a day, to make sure that I’m tackling an important jobs very first thing within the morning.

Instance Reply 4:

I’ve needed to juggle a number of deadlines and tasks in my two most up-to-date jobs, so I developed a system that works nicely for me. I take advantage of a calendar and alert system to trace my precedence checklist so I can see what’s essentially the most time-sensitive and pressing amongst my duties. I additionally break every mission into steps to see which items of the work are most pressing or require essentially the most time. That approach, I can set a precedence every day for bigger jobs or tasks, which permits me to hit deadlines even on lengthy, complicated duties. Among the tasks I’ve managed in my present function have lasted a number of months and concerned 10-20 workforce members, for instance.

Inform Me a Time When You Needed to Handle Conflicting Priorities: Examples

Instance Reply 1:

In my senior yr of school, I had three professors assign giant, multi-week tasks that had been all due the identical week. I knew this might be a crippling workload if I saved it for the final minute or didn’t prioritize and plan forward, so I sat down, broke every mission down into smaller duties and estimated how lengthy every smaller activity would take. This confirmed me which duties to deal with soonest, and I used to be in a position to make use of this method to get the whole lot turned in on time. It labored, and I completed my senior yr with a GPA of three.8.

Instance Reply 2:

As a software program developer, I’m usually engaged on two to 3 tasks at a time, with various significance and urgency. Every has a unique mission supervisor, too, so I’m typically given conflicting duties which are time-sensitive and essential. For instance, I used to be lately advised by my supervisor to cease what I used to be doing and assist out on an pressing activity for the remainder of my workday. He didn’t know that I had been pulled apart to work on one other pressing mission already, although, by a mission supervisor in one other group. So I merely stated, “I’m glad to do this, however are you conscious that I’ve been pulled in to work on <mission title> by <mission supervisor’s title>?” It seems that my boss didn’t understand this, so that is an instance of the place clear communication and my capacity to remain calm beneath stress allowed me to find out the proper precedence and full essentially the most pressing duties first.

Tailor Your Reply to the Firm When Potential

Employers ask questions on prioritization as a result of they need to see in the event you’d be capable of prioritize successfully in their place.

Usually, you’ll have a wide range of examples you possibly can share for occasions you needed to handle competing priorities.

However you’ll impress the interviewer most in the event you can concentrate on examples and solutions which are much like the work you’d be doing within the job you’re discussing.

For instance, think about your final job was a mixture of analytical expertise and spreadsheet work, but in addition interpersonal interplay and teamwork.

If this subsequent job you’ve utilized to is sort of solely teamwork-oriented and may have you interacting with purchasers/clients, you then’ll need to share examples of the way you managed conflicting priorities when working with purchasers/clients.

Displaying you’ve been in a position to prioritize duties in conditions much like the job you’re discussing will present the interviewer you’re an excellent match for his or her firm.

Nevertheless, in the event you’re now making use of to positions involving extra analytical work and solo work in spreadsheets and different instruments, you’ll need to talk about the way you handle particular person work successfully as a substitute.

So take a look at the job descriptions for positions you’re concentrating on and spot what essential duties they point out.

Then suppose again to your previous work and create a couple of examples that contain related duties and challenges the place you used group and time administration to remain forward and prioritize.

That offers you higher ends in your job search.

In the event you’re in a position to talk about a time you went above and beyond what’s anticipated of you, that’s additionally nice as a result of it’s a delicate talent that transfers into any new job. 

Errors to Keep away from

There are a few errors it is best to keep away from when telling the interviewer the way you prioritize work.

First, I like to recommend you keep away from saying something that can make it sound such as you wrestle to handle time or duties.

So your reply ought to spotlight conditions the place anybody would have been overwhelmed or would have needed to juggle a number of duties.

However in the event you sound like somebody who’s all the time falling behind or feeling overwhelmed at work, then that might value you job provides.

Another mistake: I like to recommend leaving private tales out of your reply.

It’s tempting to speak about work-life stability, and the way you prioritize your work when additionally juggling elevating youngsters or any variety of different private and household obligations.

Nevertheless, your reply will likely be so much less complicated and fewer regarding to a possible employer in the event you concentrate on speaking about the way you method every activity at work.

Speak about the way you prioritize your work in opposition to the opposite duties you’ve been assigned so you possibly can hit deadlines.

Whereas that reply technique is a bit dry/boring, it’ll keep away from saying something that’s a possible purple flag to an employer, and that’s what it’s good to do when requested this query.

It’s not a query the place it’s good to wow the interviewer. As a substitute, you’re trying to reassure them that you’ve got a way for prioritization and may deal with each activity they offer you.


For any sort of job, employers need to know which you could prioritize work based mostly on what’s pressing and create a workflow to remain targeted on what’s wanted.

Additionally they like to listen to that you simply talk along with your workforce and administration as part of prioritizing when needed.

In the event you ship an interview reply that sounds just like the pattern solutions above, you’ll present employers you’re able to being productive of their setting and of recognizing what’s pressing and essential.

To wrap up, go create a couple of solutions based mostly by yourself profession experiences, particularly these that can match with the roles you’re interviewing for.

By practising forward of time, you’ll really feel extra assured and be able to reply interview questions on the way you prioritize work.

Associated interview questions:


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