When an interviewer asks you a question about handling a high volume of tasks, they’re really asking how you’d be likely to react if presented with a situation where there existed an overwhelming number of priorities. It helps a potential employer to understand both how you react to pressure or virtual no-win situations, as well as evaluating your planning and critical thinking skills.
Points to Emphasize
Given that this particular scenario may in fact occur in any industry, it’s important to take this question seriously and give a thoughtful response.
- Talk about setting priorities and making sure the greatest good is accomplished when something must be left off.
- Discuss exploiting all possible resources, utilizing assistance from other members or departments of the organization to respond to critical needs.
- Remember that accepting ownership of shortcomings is part of any successful worker or manager.
- Keep an upbeat tone and focus on finding the positives rather than dwelling on the tasks which weren’t completed.
This is a difficult question representing a difficult situation. Be honest but make sure your response displays a professional approach.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Don’t assume the worst, but be realistic. Try to provide answers which relate to each likely outcome for best results.
- It’s not beneficial to suggest you’d find a way to make everything happen—the question is worded specifically to state that’s not a possibility.
- Avoid nonchalance. It’s not good to dwell on negatives, but you need to display realistic commitment.
- Give your response some thought; just saying you’ll resume the tasks the next day is a cop-out.
- If you talk about pooling company resources, keep it in check. Don’t seem like someone who pawns off major work duties.
This question is more about personal responsibility and big-picture vision rather than your own productivity, so form your answer accordingly.
This is a somewhat broad inquiry that can be tough to answer. Consider the ideas in this example:
If I were truly unable to accomplish everything, the first thing I would do is step back for a moment and weigh out the priorities. I’d try to find ways to handle any critical work personally or by seeking assistance. If options were exhausted, I’d have to talk with my supervisor about the problem in order to make sure I took the best approach for the benefit of the company.
Above, you see a response from someone who seeks to do as much as possible and get perspective on which work is the most vital to complete. Without certainty, seeking input is always a good idea.