Common Interview Question – How Do You Prioritize Multiple Projects?

MARCH 28, 2011 | BY MICAH

“Well, the first thing I do is I throw a coin directly at my supervisor. Whichever side of the coin imprints itself as a bruise on their face, that is the project I work on. If the throw misses, I take a staple gun, walk up to the front desk, and staple the first associate I see on the back of the neck. Then I take a stopwatch and time their scream. If they scream for an odd number of seconds, I go with the first project. Even, second. If they throw in curse words, I immediately skip all projects and prance naked around the office until security tackles me, then I start the process over again from the comfort of my own home.”

Your ability to organize is constantly on trial at the workplace. People that put no thought into how they prioritize multiple projects tend to struggle when coming up on deadlines. So employers may ask you how you organize. There is no right answer, provided that whatever you say sounds like it would work.

Bad Answer

“I ask my supervisor what he/she thinks should take priority and I start working on that, unless told to stop.”

Good Answer

“Through a combination of deadline, difficulty, project length, team status and inherent importance. For example, a short deadline, difficult project where a team requires my work is going to get priority over an equally short deadline, easy project, because the team’s productivity is based on my own productivity. I also try to group similar items together and get started early on difficult, time consuming projects so that when I brush up against the deadline I am not scrambling and can give attention to other projects as needed.”

This is all the interviewer really wants to hear – that you understand how to give priority to certain projects and you put thought into how you give that priority. Supply this type of answer and you should have no problem impressing the interviewer.

Take Away Interview Tips

  • Explain factors that go into giving priority.
  • Explain how you incorporate those factors into your decision.

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