How do you prioritize tasks?- How to answer an interview question

Imagine being so drowned in work that you forget about what you need to do right now. These are the real-life situations that many of us face in our daily lives. It makes us anxious to get that much work and feel that pressure. Today, we’ll know how to answer an interview question- How do you prioritize tasks?

Everyone wishes for a duplicate to come and help out with the workload. Sadly this cannot happen. It’s not a big issue, but simply it depends on how you look over it, and it’s all about prioritizing what you need to do first.

It can get tricky, the task of prioritizing your work. It can be very difficult to think up at the time when you are feeling the real pressure. So what do you do when they ask you how will you be able to prioritize your work?

How can you start your answer?

What can you do first when you get asked about how you will prioritize your work?

You can simply start by giving a short introduction on how you start your day, how you start your day. Tell them about the morning routine and what you do afterward. You can also tell them about what you did in the earlier jobs.

Many people prioritize their family work rather than the professional front, so their style of working will differ. This question can change the scenario of the interview, and how you answer can turn the tables in your favor.

Mostly, what the interviewee does is, give a straightforward answer. It might be a bit direct, so you need to form a story and present it in such a way that it seems that you are ready to take on pressure any day, and you welcome these situations with open hands.

As said earlier, try telling about your morning routine, then go forward with how you will adjust your home’s work with your office’s one, and what if they both overlap with each other? In that situation, what will you do?

So, this question can be answered in many ways. Let’s look at some of them.

HOW TO ANSWER

The main part of this answer could be some pointers; you can tell the interviewers and implement them in the literal solutions if you can. Let’s look at these points of prioritizing-

  • First off, create a mental map of the work that needs to be done. Then, ask the teammates about what they are planning to do and what’s first on their checklist.
  • If they agree with the task that needs to be finished urgently, then go for task 1 on your list. Complete that together. If this is a one-man task, then go for the one that seems to be the most urgent.
  • There can be many variants of the urgency like you have to submit a task on the nearest date out of all the tasks, your boss asks that he needs to get his task done first then the nearest date one, another situation can be that you can start with the easiest task and the one which takes lesser time to work on it. On these parameters, you need to sort out which one’s more important and whether you will be able to do that in time or not.

Telling the interviewers about how you are reaching the level of tasks and completing them based on your decision can be quite impressive. You can tell them the points mentioned above and how you select which task you want to do first.

  • After that, you have completed the work of the immediate urgency; you need to focus on the tasks either on their work time or the difficult time. You can either choose your most prominent or most productive hours to work on the second task.
  • To complete the above step, you should know what your strengths are and whether you should do those tasks in these crucial hours or not.
  • Setting goals always helps in making the blueprint in your mind. Trying to talk about the goals, you might need to set out some short-term and long-term goals. You need to find the purpose of why you are doing these tasks and how these activities will help you in the future.
  • You can be creative by using flowcharts to describe your activities.
  • You can study a bit of a detailed version of tasks to understand which one is really important to do and which one is not.
  • Harmonize the work which you want to do with your teammates and help them cope up with the pressure you all are facing.

These steps will help you in organizing the tasks and thinking out how you can prioritize the task, and it would be better to have a summed-up version for the interviewers.

Why ask this question?

The question arises, why do the interviewers ask this question?

Yes, why do they ask about this? It’s simply because they want to know the interviewee’s views on how they will be able to work under pressure and which work they will do if they have to choose in this situation.

There can be many variations in how people answer this question. Many people, many perspectives. However, there will be some evergreen answers that will not impress the interviewers now. You can innovate the answer on your own or classically. You can go from what you have seen or heard.

The interviewers are going to ask you this question because they want to know how you think on these parameters and will judge you accordingly –

  • Productivity 

the interviewer checks your levels of productivity when they ask you about the situations you have been in. When they ask you about the tasks, they judge you based on how you have prioritized the tasks and how many tasks you will be put out at the end of the day.

  • The perfect timings 

how do you manage that time of yours, how do you spend those 24 hours of yours or on those work hours? While being asked about this question, interviewers want to judge your time management skills and whether you can do the tasks on time or not. If you do not have the skills, you can develop them by simply putting a hold on the things. Time management skills are important for any employee to acknowledge the deadlines.

  • Stress woes 

 the employers want those people who can easily manage the stress of every day’s hustle, there will be times where the employees would not be able to understand what’s going on due to the stress and at that time, their intellect to handle stuff while the pressure is coming in, and so is the workload.

  • Management skills 

there will be times when; the employee will have to play it smart. You need to be quick and witty about the tasks at hand and work your way up from what you have been assigned. There will be situations when you will have to make sacrifices in other aspects of your life to successfully do some of the tasks, but in the end, if you love doing what you do, then it’s all worth it.

  • Life outside the organization 

as mentioned above, the organization would be interested in knowing how you manage the work-life balance to judge whether you will be able to do the tasks at hand. The company will not want someone who presents excuses every time rather than the work. So, you need to tell them about your work-life balance to the interviewer and act accordingly in the future.

  • The in-depth knowledge

you need to have in-depth knowledge of the tasks you need to do in the time of pressure, as by asking this question about prioritizing the tasks, the interviewer wants to know whether you know about your specific field enough or not. 

As the people who know what they are doing, they will do the work by procedure, hence taking less time and creating more for other tasks for the day. This is a much-required skill for any person looking for a job as you have to know about the basics before going in for the task. If you would need training for it, the employers will take the time to teach you about the stuff before putting you up to the real work.

  • Ethics and values

lastly, the interviewers would be asking the question about prioritizing the work because they want to judge your work ethic and how much you give importance to your time, with giving importance to what you have been doing to the professional front and the personal front. As employers want results, they want someone who will be fully committed to the work. That’s why they want people with rich work ethics and values.

What should you not do?

You know what to say now, but what not to say is a bigger question. People might not be interested in heavy jargon; they might need some simple answers from you. So you can do these –

  • Avoid telling about the timid strategies that seem boring and tell about what you will do instead. Try not to go by the book the most times and rely on your instincts.
  • Don’t over-promise the work you have been doing; try to get as realistic as possible. There might be a time when you will have to do the work you have promised, but you could not deliver, and then it might send out a negative message to upper management. We certainly do not want that, so try to be careful while setting out the bar of expectations.
  • Putting all the effort into working and not communicating, there can arise a problem when you are doing your work, but your teammates do not have the slightest idea that you are on which stage of it, so try to keep up by communicating with everyone on the staff. Make sure that this quality of yours is seen by the employers.
  • If you are a big procrastinator then, this habit of yours might not help you here. Procrastinating the work puts pressure on the employee. You wait till the very end to do the task, and if you are not able to deliver, then it can give out a negative image of you and your team. So, if you are looking forward to giving out the interview then, try not to tell them about the procrastination habit, and if you do, then do tell them that you are working on it at a regular daily pace to correct it.
  • Lastly, try to avoid talking about irrelevant strategies, which are bookish, and give out real-life examples that you tackled on your own. Try telling your side of the story and give out necessary details about the situations you have handled before, even if it is not in the professional setting.

So that was all about what you should not say while answering the question ‘how to prioritize the work’ at an interview. Let’s look at some sample answers for now.

SAMPLE ANSWERS

If you are giving an interview for a management position with experience on your hands and you face this question of ‘how to prioritize the work,’ and then you can say these simple words.

Since where I have worked, I have gotten a fair share of a mental conflict regarding the prioritization of work. I worked on tasks that were of immediate urgency at that time whether it was time taking or not. The work needed to be done in (the specific time), so I concentrated on that task only and diverted my team’s mind to finish the task at hand and deliver on time. At this rate, I was able to finish off work on time. There were situations where I wasn’t able to complete on deadline, but my overall productivity is on the rise since I have started working.

And I look forward to working with this organization to increase my efficiency and create some value by being here. 

If you are giving out the interview for a management position with no prior experience in the official front and you face this question of ‘how to prioritize the work,’ and then you can say these simple words.

I worked as a trainee or intern in the company and learned a lot during those days. I was given a variety of tasks to do every day, and every time I performed those tasks with diligence and sincerity. There were times when the activities overlapped, and some misses, which should have been hit, happened. At that time, I asked my mentor/ boss about this situation, and he simply gave me some tips about how to prioritize work and finish the tasks which are required urgently. In the end, I was able to manage my time for the tasks and performed well at my pace. 

Some of this experience will help me in future endeavors, and I hope to look forward to the new challenges I will be facing in my professional life with your organization. 

How do you prioritize tasks?

Tips to follow 

Let’s look over some tips; you can follow that instant only-

  1. Tell the interviewers about your version of time management practices while working for the previous company, or tell them about the daily life situations you face where you have to make decisions about prioritizing the work.
  1. Give some details of what you did at the time and how you will work on the problems in the future.
  1. Try and give out an explanation about how your skills and ethics will work out in the organization and how you can be useful for the firm.
  1. While giving out the answer, be sure to check your facts as there might be some cross-questioning about what you answer, and if you make up your answer wholly at that point without giving out some real facts, then there will be some problems.
  1. And be responsive to those cross-questioning you have been involved in. Silence would not help you much.
  1. Keep in mind what you are interviewing for; be clear of your position and the duties with the responsibilities you will be handling in the job.
  1. You know this, give out the answers with positivity and handle everything with a smile, tell about your positive traits and if you can, enjoy!!!
  1. If the interviewer asks to explain some of the answers, be ready for that too, as there can be some answers that can be explained further, with some examples.
  1. Be concentrated on your qualities that can be used by the organization and how you will perform tasks bringing out your version with your perspective.
  1. Always go for logic + creativity combination in your answers, as making it too logical might seem as too boring to the people listening, and making it too creative will project it as too unrealistic to believe. So, hammer the perfect balance of logic + creativity.

So those were some tips you can use in real-time and win over the interviewers, and you can add a bit of your personal touch with a charm to seal the deal!!!

Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

Q1 How to gain confidence while giving an interview?

Ans. To gain confidence, it might take days, months, or even years to build up some; it depends on you and how much effort you are willing to put in for this. There are some things that you can do, though. One thing you can do is practice it out in front of a mirror, or you can practice with a friend. They can help you point out what is wrong with the delivery of the answer or in the content. Another thing you can do is take advice from an experienced person about this. Other than asking around, you can motivate yourself by watching inspirational videos.

Q2 what does it mean to prioritize tasks?

Ans. Prioritizing tasks means that you have to tell about which task is important to you and you will do that firstly, the importance of these tasks depends on you, which task you bear in mind as crucial for the moment to be done.

Q3 How can I answer this question of ‘how to prioritize the work’?

Ans. You can answer this question by simply saying that you manage the work and give the most urgent task the most importance. With that, you can say about some of the previous situations you faced in the environment you worked in before.

Q4 How can I impress the interviewers?

Ans. The answer to this depends on you. How your personality is and how you answer questions, and how many times you have practiced for the interviews, you can impress your interviewers by simply being yourself. Keeping it Real can be a good strategy for the interview as this can help in the cross-questioning rounds.

Q5 Should I explain the answers in brief or not?

Ans. You can try answering the question in short, but if they ask you to brief it, then you can go over the little details of it all. And try not to stop at a bare minimum if you get asked about the technicality of anything. Just pour your heart out and say what you know about the respected activity. So, for that, you need to learn about your trade in-depth and have a hint of experience in the respected field.

So, that was all about how to answer the question of ‘how to prioritize the work’ and everything including how to start, what to say and what not to say and some included tips along with the FAQs, hope was enough to answer the question. Lastly, everything comes up to you and how you answer the question in your own creative and innovative way.

How do you prioritize tasks?- How to answer an interview question

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