If a prospective employee asks you if multi-tasking is a skill that is required for the position, they are probably trying to get a better idea of what would be expected of them. Either the job posting wasn't that informative, they didn't take the time to really look at it or they just need some clarification. Either way, they want to know what skills would make them best suited for the job. This shows you, the interviewer, that they want to make sure they are a good fit for the position. That can tell you a lot about them as an employee. You want to find someone who is a good fit because then they will be with your company for a long time.
Points to Emphasize
Since you are trying to figure out if this candidate is the right fit for the job, there are certain points you want to emphasize.
- Give them all of the information. Let them know if multi-tasking would be important, but also let them know what other skills may be useful in this position.
- Talk about how important or not important multi-tasking is.
- Discuss the possibilities of delegating or working with a team, if those possibilities exist.
- Let them know what would be expected of them if they were to get the job.
Giving the candidate as much information as possible will make your job easier.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Try to avoid these mistakes when you answer this question.
- Do not assume they want an answer one way or another. Perhaps they are fishing because they are a great multi-tasker, or perhaps they are hoping you say it is an unneeded skill. Either way, you do not know what they want.
- Try not to give a negative answer.
- Avoid answering in a vague way. Be as straightforward as possible.
- Do not necessarily talk about what the previous employee did. Simply let them know what the position description is.
Answering in a positive, straightforward way will allow them to make an informed decision, which will in turn help you.
Here is an example of a great answer to this question:
This position does not necessarily require multi-tasking. There are a number of teammates, so there can be delegation. However, multi-tasking is never a bad skill to have. It is important for whoever takes the position to have exceptional communication and problem solving skills. This will help them make sure that everything is done that has to get done by the team.
Give a straightforward answer that best fits in line with the company's needs.