“How do you prioritize your workload”?
“Simple, I get the most important work done first, followed by the less important tasks”
Let’s take a look at a more ideal response to this common interview question:
First of all, it’s important to identify which key qualities the employer is looking for in your response. These qualities will most likely include organizational skills when dealing with multiple projects, as well as the ability to meet deadlines. Therefore, your response should include examples of how you’ve met deadlines in the past, as well as a detailed description of what makes you a highly organized person both at work and in your free time.
Explain to the employer how prioritizing tasks isn’t as easy as simply completing the task of highest importance or fastest approaching deadline first, but rather how it involves weighing multiple factors of each task and comparing these factors to your amount of time, abilities, and resources at hand. The employer wants to see how you consciously address multiple variables rather than just completing “the next task on the list”. Perhaps there is a certain project wherein another employee is waiting for a necessary component from before it can progress, but has a farther deadline than some of your other tasks. In this situation, it would be wise to complete this task in order for your other employees to have the asset that they require so that the project as a whole does not get bogged down, potentially causing a missed deadline when the time arrives. Provide a real example of something you’ve “self-prioritized” in this way.
Consider mentioning that you create a production schedule for large projects in order to allocate your time in a logistical way. Explain how you map out your work down to the exact hour per day so that you end up meeting your deadline. Also mention how you account for margin of error by allowing a day or two of “buffer time” in order to absolutely ensure that the project is completed on time in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Think of what a production schedule would look like within the position that you’re applying for, and explain how you’d prioritize and manage your time when working on a potential project that your position would entail.
Finally, it’s wise to convey to the employer how you are an inherently well-organized individual who prioritizes tasks outside of the office as well. This will serve as a nice end cap to your response. List examples of how you complete errands throughout the day, or how you keep track of and consistently pay bills on time.
Avoid answers such as “I just do what my boss says needs to get done first,” as this demonstrates an inability to see a greater picture. The employer wants to know that you’re constantly observing the greater goal of your team, manager, or company as a whole. They want to see that you’re a team player.