There are a number of interview questions about multitasking that get asked all the time. And if you want to give yourself the best possible chance of getting an offer, you need to be ready for them!
This list will go over each of these questions, and how you should structure your answers.
1. How Do You Define Multitasking?
Many roles require you to multitask. It’s a valuable skill that can help employees meet company goals. Interviewers use this question to better understand your grasp of multitasking and what it entails.
Not everyone is keen on juggling multiple tasks, but hiring managers want to know that you’re willing to adjust and view it as an important piece to your success. Ultimately, it’s important to show that your views on multitasking align with the organization.
This multitasking interview question is about judging your fit within the existing company culture and getting a clearer view of what you could possibly contribute. If the company regularly requires juggling numerous tasks, hiring managers don’t want to bring in people who aren’t comfortable operating in that way.
The best way to answer this question is to reflect on your past experiences and how multitasking fits into the equation. You can also research common ideologies surrounding multitasking and find a good description that matches your views.
For example, you could talk about the combination of soft and hard skills you employ when working on multiple tasks simultaneously. A response like that is a great way to demonstrate the true nature of multitasking while putting many of your skills at the forefront.
2. What Habits Do All Effective Multitaskers Have?
Here’s an interview question about multitasking that offers plenty of opportunities to provide a unique and thought-provoking response. Hiring managers understand that everyone works differently and harnesses distinct skills when working on complex projects.
The goal of this question is to expand on your previous definition and show interviewers how you approach multitasking. It’s your chance to show that you understand what it takes to juggle several tasks at once and equip the necessary skills to be successful at it. Developing a response requires you to be introspective and consider your own work style.
Reflect on past multitasking experiences and consider what you do to maintain high efficiency. Think about the skills you employ and what habits you make to avoid distractions.
The best answers detail a few tangible hard and soft skills. For example, you can say that successful multitaskers make a habit out of consistent scheduling. Or, you could mention that a good multitasker always organizes tasks by priority.
There are many avenues you can take. The goal is to demonstrate your understanding of multitasking and put your approach on full display.
When speaking of those habits and skills, try to provide examples to illustrate your understanding of multitasking techniques. Discuss real experiences in your past, offer examples, and emphasize the positive results you obtained.
3. Tell Me About a Time When You Had to Multitask.
Hiring decision-makers want to know that you have real multitasking experience. We can’t stress enough how important it is for you to show companies that you’re fully capable of managing a few tasks at once without sacrificing quality or productivity. Multitasking is a necessary part of many modern jobs, so failing to show your experience could ultimately cost you an opportunity.
This interview question about multitasking is used for a couple of reasons. First, it gives you a chance to provide the reassurance hiring managers need to consider hiring you. It’s a way to gauge your work experience and envision you within this role.
Secondly, the question highlights your understanding of multitasking and helps you illustrate its importance in your success thus far. People who know how to bounce around and work productively tend to do well and reach their full potential. How you respond to this question can substantially impact how hiring managers view you as a candidate.
Choose a moment from your past when multitasking made a big difference. Emphasize what you did and speak positively about the experience. Touch on how it helped you grow in your career and how it shaped your techniques today.
Whatever you do, don’t say you lack multitasking experience. Not only is that worrying for hiring managers, but it’s also not true.
You can talk about your education if you’re just starting your career. Multitasking is crucial in college, and you may also have some experience during your internships. Think creatively to find the perfect moment to discuss.
4. How Do You Determine What Task You Should Focus On?
This is a common question that comes up in job interviews for positions that require substantial multitasking. Successfully completing multiple tasks involves more than simply knowing how to work efficiently. Task prioritization is a hallmark of multitasking, and hiring managers want to know that you understand how to approach your work.
You might have multiple deadlines as you check off items on your to-do list. But how do you choose what tasks to knock out first? Prioritizing tasks is about finding the right balance between urgency and importance.
Some of your duties might be time-sensitive, but others may be urgent to other teams or departments. The trick is to prioritize your work based on the needs of the business. Even if that means holding off on other tasks, you should always frame your answer to highlight how you ensure your multitasking contributes to the bottom line.
When developing your answer, reflect on challenging moments from your previous job. Think about times when you had a pile of duties to complete. Then, walk the interviewer through a specific instance and how you prioritized each task.
Always end on a positive note. Your answer should wrap up by telling the interviewer how your prioritization methods worked in your company’s favor.
5. Would You Consider Yourself a Strong Multitasker?
A question like this is your chance to showcase your skills a bit while providing valuable information that may play a part in the hiring decision.
At face value, it might seem like the interviewer is asking you about your core skills. While that’s true to an extent, this question mainly comes up to gain more insight into your past experiences and to highlight your self-awareness.
Companies want people who are confident in their ability to juggle tasks. When delivering your response, you need to be aware of your own capabilities and know how to describe what you can do.
Think of your past experiences with multitasking and talk about the positive outcomes for the team, company, and yourself. Your goal should be to highlight your skills and to eloquently explain that you fully understand what it takes to be a successful multitasker. Demonstrate your competencies in your response and be confident in what you say.
6. What Methods Do You Use to Stay Organized When Juggling Multiple Tasks?
Staying organized is paramount when multitasking. If you don’t take a systematic approach, things can easily slip through the cracks as you fall behind on your responsibilities.
This multitasking interview question is designed to test your time management and organization skills. It’s one thing to say you do well working in a fast-paced environment with tons to do, but it’s another to do it successfully.
What techniques do you use to ensure maximum productivity?
There are many different approaches when it comes to successful multitasking. When answering this question, provide details on how you organize your tasks and stay on track. That may be creating multiple to-do lists, using timers to ensure that you don’t spend an unnecessary amount of time on the wrong tasks, and more.
Don’t just focus on your daily responsibilities. Multitasking often involves a mix of short-term and long-term planning. Review your methods for managing your responsibilities monthly, weekly, daily, and hourly.
A comprehensive response is sure to leave a positive impression on hiring decision-makers.
7. How Do You Deal with Distractions & Interruptions While Working?
It doesn’t matter whether you work in a peaceful office or a chaotic restaurant. Things will come up, and it’s easy to get distracted. Interruptions are one of the worst productivity killers.
Hiring managers want to know what you do to avoid distractions and how you respond to them when they occur.
This question will require some reflection on past experiences. Think of what you typically do to drone out the noise and stay on track when juggling multiple responsibilities. Perhaps you use software to silence alerts, do your best to work in quiet places or put signs at your office door to ask that others don’t disturb you.
Think about your most effective techniques and emphasize how well they work.
The same goes for how you respond to interruptions that inevitably pop up. You may get pulled from your current work to tackle urgent tasks, or you may be in a position that requires people to report to you regularly. What methods do you utilize to get back on track without missing a beat?
Always frame your answer positively and talk about how those methods positively impact your ability to multitask.
8. Do You Believe it’s Beneficial to Multitask When You Don’t Have to?
Here’s an interview question about multitasking that often stumps job candidates. We already know that juggling various responsibilities is important for most companies. Hearing a question like this challenges that viewpoint and makes you take a stance.
The important thing to remember here is that you shouldn’t speak too negatively about multitasking. While this question does recognize that there are moments when multitasking isn’t appropriate, hiring managers still need people who thrive in those workplace scenarios.
The best way to answer this question is to recognize the importance of multitasking and highlight its many benefits while acknowledging that it doesn’t always work in every situation.
You can begin the discussion by talking about its advantages. For example, you can touch on how it saves time, boosts productivity, and ultimately boosts the bottom line. Feel free to provide short examples to demonstrate your understanding of why multitasking is a good thing.
Aim to express that multitasking can be beneficial, even if you’re not pressed for time or need to juggle multiple responsibilities at once.
Then, you can weigh the potential disadvantages. Some good examples include the risk of error and burnout. Consider bringing up a hypothetical situation when multitasking might not be the best choice. For instance, you may want to devote all your attention to a highly-complex task that requires perfect results.
Strike that balance and tiptoe the line. You can express that multitasking isn’t always the right choice, but you must reassure hiring managers that you clearly think there’s a place for it when necessary.
9. Do You Like to Work on One Task at a Time or Many at Once?
Here’s another multitasking interview question that can go either way. It’s open-ended and opinion-based. But despite that, there is a right and wrong way to respond.
You’re free to talk about your true preferences, but you must provide concrete examples and explain your choices. Most hiring managers won’t hold your response against you if your reasoning is sound.
Another thing you must do when responding to this question is express adaptability. Everyone has to work in ways they don’t necessarily like. What’s important is that you’re flexible enough to succeed either way.
That’s how you knock your answer out of the park. Provide a thoughtful response and highlight your willingness to work in whatever way is best for the company’s bottom line. Whether that’s predominantly shuffling between tasks or focusing on one thing at a time, you must let the interviewer know that you’re more than willing to adapt.
10. What Experience Do You Have Multitasking in a Professional Environment?
Interviewers typically ask about your experience with multitasking. They may word it differently, but the goal is always the same. They want to learn how you apply your skills to multitask successfully in a professional environment.
The last part of this question is crucial. They don’t want to hear about your education or juggling personal responsibilities. Your response should revolve around multitasking at work and nothing else.
The point of this question is to go over your experiences and help hiring managers envision you in this role. Every job is unique, but companies prefer people who know how to handle high-stress situations that require them to tackle multiple duties without breaking a sweat.
The best way to respond is to provide real, verifiable examples of your multitasking skills in action. Talk about moments in your career when you had to put on several hats and take care of several responsibilities. Walk them through your processes.
Then, wrap up on a positive note by highlighting how those experiences helped you grow and what positive outcomes came from them.
As you can see, most of these interview questions about multitasking aren’t complicated. Instead, they give you plenty of room to showcase your skills and how you prefer to handle a variety of tasks at once.
As long as you spend some time practicing your answers before the interview, you’ll do great!
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.