Managing your time wisely involves more than meets the eye. When employers ask you about your time management skills, they may be looking for more than your ability to accomplish tasks quickly. Good time management involves determining what tasks are most important to do first and knowing how to avoid distractions. An interviewer might ask different kinds of questions, all with the same intention of finding out if you manage the resource of time well. Being prepared to address these questions in advance so that you are efficient with your answers will impress a prospective boss.
Prioritizing Job Duties
Employers want to be assured that you are able to complete your daily tasks on time. In order to determine your skills in this department, an employer may ask you, "How do you prioritize your work day?" Another way an interviewer may ask the same type of question is, "If you have six tasks for the day and you know you can only complete three, how do you determine which one you do first?" One way to answer these types of questions is to say that you start out by finishing a few quick and simple tasks first and then begin a bigger job that takes more time. For example, you might return a quick phone call and send out a few emails, and then get started on the monthly report that's due later that week.
Being able to meet important deadlines is also an important quality for an employee. During an interview, an employer may ask, "When you know you have a huge deadline coming up, how do you prepare?" You can answer this question by saying you analyze a project and determine how many total hours you think it will take. You then look at your calendar and space out the number of hours throughout the days or weeks you have left so that you complete the project on time. This way, you account for how much time you spend working toward the deadline each day.
Juggling Requests from Others
Most offices come with their fair share of distractions, so your employer may inquire about your time management skills in this regard. The question you could receive is, "How do you handle a situation where a chatty co-worker starts talking to you right when you need to finish a project?" You also may be asked how you would prioritize requests from several different managers at the same time. Basically, any kind of question formulated in this manner is looking for your ability to draw boundaries about your time and communicate with people when you need to work.
To some employers, it's important for them to know they don't have totally stressed-out employees on their hands. One way they may inquire out about this area of your life is to ask you about your personal work/life balance. A question you could get about this topic is, "How important is balancing your job with your off time?" Or, they may approach the subject with a question like this, "What do you do when you feel like you're getting burned out at work?" However you may be asked about balancing your life, they want to know that when you are at your job, you're fully present and ready to work hard. They want to see balance and that you know how to rest and take care of yourself too. They believe that employees are more valuable to the company when they can say no and avoid burnout.
- Mayo Clinic: Time Management: Tips to Reduce Stress and Improve Productivity
- Business Management Daily: Identifying Applicant Skills: 50 Great Interview Questions
- Target Jobs: 'How Do You Manage Your Time and Prioritise Tasks?' Tricky Graduate Interview Question
- Skills You Need: Minimizing Distractions and Time Wasters
- Mind Tools: The Wheel of Life
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