In part one of our Interview Preparation series we covered behavioural questions on teamwork and how to best answer these questions. In this section, we’re going to focus on answering time management.
Time management is an essential skill for any job. Time management doesn’t necessarily mean how you spend your time at work and how quickly you get your tasks done. It refers to how you prioritise your time to get the most important tasks done first, how you manage distractions, and how you handle new project work that pops up out of the blue.
When asked about time management in an interview scenario, the interviewer is trying to get an understanding of how to manage yourself daily, how you react to new tasks. Be prepared with examples of how you manage your time and include all the different elements of time management.
Prioritising daily tasks
Hiring managers and employers want to know how you will handle your day to day tasks without being told how to do everything every day. A simple way of getting this point across is talking about making a daily to-do list for yourself either at the beginning of each day or the evening before so its ready for you when you get in the next morning.
Prioritise your list by which tasks are most important and which deadlines come first. On your to-do list create three must complete tasks that need to be done by the end of the day. Scheduling your time so that you can give attention to the three most important tasks demonstrates that you can handle your workload.
An employee who can meet important deadlines with high-quality work is worth their weight in gold. When asked how you handle deadlines by the interviewer, you want to focus on how your work to be working ahead. For example, you might outline how you breakdown an overall project into smaller tasks, setting deadlines for each of these tasks. You want to demonstrate that your time management strategy concentrates on continually making progress each day and that ensures the project is completed on time.
Say no to multitasking
Sometimes multitasking can’t be avoided. However, employees who try to multitask all the time don’t produce high-quality work and often they have to go back over the work and correct all the mistakes and errors.
The most effective time management strategy is to schedule your time so that you can dedicate yourself to one task at a time. By telling the interviewer about how you focus on a single job and focus on providing high-quality work.
Managing distractions and ad hoc tasks
You can’t plan for everything. Interruptions, distractions and ad hoc tasks will come up. Hiring managers and employers want their employees to be able to set time limits or boundaries with their colleagues or stop themselves from getting lost in their phones. Talk about how you have core work time, and you have created chit chat limits in previous roles, and it works well for you.
Burnout is a real problem for employers. Showing that you can balance your work and your personal life is essential. When asked about your work/life balance talk about how you give 100% at work but at home, you disconnect and focus on your hobbies, family and just your own general life.
Answering questions on time management can be complicated, remember to include all elements of time management to show your effectiveness and productivity.