Deadline Interview Question Number 3 – How Do You Prioritize Multiple Projects with the Same Deadline?

MARCH 25, 2011 | BY MICAH
businessman covered in post it notes not managing priorities© Brian Jackson / Dollar Photo Club

Over the last few posts, we have shown some of the questions that employers may ask with regard to deadlines. An applicant that cannot handle stress is going to suffer in productivity when deadlines arise. These companies want to hire someone that they believe can handle the pressure of multiple projects.

One of the toughest things for an employee is managing multiple projects that have the same (or similar) deadlines. So employers may ask you how you prioritize, in order to gauge both your ability to handle pressure and your ability to organize under pressure.

How to Answer

The best thing you can do is simply show that you have put thought into this. Also, it is a good idea to discuss how you communicate the finishing of the project with clients/supervisors. Both of these will be appreciated by the employer.

Bad Answer

“I figure out which project is most important, and then I try to do that project first before finishing the next one.”

Okay, but how do you decide which project is more important? Prioritizing by money earned is not enough. Sometimes a smaller project can be more important than a larger project. This does not necessarily mean much.

Good Answer

“First I plan out the remaining tasks. In general, I will have already done this well in advance of the deadline. I look at these tasks and decide the easiest route to their completion. Sometimes it is easier to work on one project at a time, sometimes it is easier to switch back and forth depending on similarities in the type of tasks required. If one is due sooner in the day than the other, then that one will receive full priority. In addition, throughout the day I will inform all the necessary individuals of the current project status, so that they also do not find the upcoming deadlines too stressful.”

Multiple deadlines on the same day can be difficult, so your best bet is to show that you have a plan in mind. Though the answer above may not be how you prioritize under the pressure of actual assignments, it does do a good job showing that you come at these problems with a plan.

See also: 15 Common Project Management interview Questions

Take Away Interview Tips

  • Show that you have a plan.
  • Make sure the plan includes how you choose priority and how you communicate.

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