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Be prepared for tough multitasking interview questions. Check out our 8 questions with answers

Be prepared for tough multitasking interview questions. Check out our 8 questions with answers

Artwork by: Antonina Kasyanikova

  • What does multitasking mean in the workplace?
  • Why do employers ask questions about multitasking?
  • 8 Multitasking interview questions with answers
  • Key takeaways

Some employers may want to gauge your multitasking skills during interviews. Keep reading to view some multitasking interview questions that you might encounter.

Multitasking is a skill that can carry you far in the professional world. The ability to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously may make you more productive and prepare you for leadership positions. If you’re on the lookout for new jobs, you might encounter some employers who prize multitasking highly.

During your interviews, employers will try and gauge the skills that they value most. If they’re looking for a multitasker, you can expect to encounter some questions about this skill. In this blog, we’ll help you prepare for these questions and provide some sample answers. We’ll cover the following topics:

  • What does multitasking mean in the workplace?

  • Why do employers ask questions about multitasking?

  • 8 multitasking interview questions with answers

What does multitasking mean in the workplace?

Multitasking is the ability to successfully complete several tasks at the same time. Some projects require your sole and undivided attention and multitasking may not always be the right approach. However, if you have a lot of minor tasks to complete, it can be an invaluable skill. The skill of multitasking is made up of other competencies, including:

  • Task prioritization

  • Delegation

  • Time management

  • Resource allocation

  • Problem solving

  • Organization

Multitasking is especially important for leadership professionals. These individuals often have to supervise other employees, complete administrative tasks, provide documentation, and report to their own supervisors, all on a tight schedule. The ability to stay organized, manage time, prioritize tasks, and allocate resources effectively can help leaders perform at a high level.

Why do employers ask questions about multitasking?

Not all employers value multitasking. Some would prefer that their employees focus on a single task with total attention. However, some roles require a jack of all trades who can manage several projects at the same time. In these cases, the employer may ask about multitasking to ensure that candidates can remain productive and avoid burnout.

8 Multitasking interview questions with answers

Here are eight interview questions about multitasking that you might encounter during your job search:

1. “How would you define multitasking?”

This question is pretty basic, but it allows the interviewer to gauge your understanding of the topic. Although it seems simple, they can extract a lot of information based on how you answer. If you encounter this question, be sure to highlight quality and productivity in your answer, rather than just giving the basic definition of multitasking. 

Here’s an example of a good answer:

“For me, multitasking is the ability to handle several different responsibilities at the same time without loss of productivity or quality. An effective multitasker can complete several tasks without any of them suffering as a consequence.”

2. “Would you describe yourself as a strong multitasker?”

This is another basic question that can help the interviewer gauge your work style. When you answer, try to be honest. If you’re not a strong multitasker, you probably don’t want to have multiple projects assigned to you at the same time, and your employer should know that in advance. If you are a strong multitasker, use some examples to bolster your answer and make it more credible. 

Here is an example answer to this question:

“I consider myself a strong multitasker, although it’s not appropriate in every situation. For example, in my last job, I had to supervise the wait staff, manage inventory, create schedules, deal with customer complaints, and maintain quality controls every day. I quickly learned how to prioritize my duties and complete them in the least possible amount of time.”

3. “If you’re confronted with multiple tasks, how do you determine your priorities?”

This is a hypothetical question that can help the interviewer understand how you might react in real life. When you answer, use your past experiences to guide you and be as specific as possible. 

Here’s a sample answer that a candidate might give to this question:

“If I had to prioritize a list of tasks, I would start by determining their importance. I would probably start with the task that affected the most people or had the biggest impact on operations. I would also narrow the list down based on timelines. If a certain task had to be completed quickly, it would probably be at the top of my list. If all the tasks were equally important and timelines were unimportant, I’d start with the most difficult task and get it out of the way.”

4. “What is the key ingredient for successful multitasking?”

If you have to answer this question, it might be helpful to break the concept of multitasking into several components. As we mentioned above, multitasking is made up of many other skills, including time management, organization, delegation, prioritization, resource management, and problem-solving. Think about each of these elements and determine which is most important for your individual work-style. 

Here is an example answer:

“For me, resource allocation is the most important part of multitasking. I only have so much time and effort to give during a given day, and it’s important that these resources go to the right task at the right time.”

5. “Describe a time that you had to multitask. How did you approach it?”

This question can tell the interviewer whether you’ve proven your skills in the real world. When you answer, think back on your experiences and select an instance that best demonstrates your multitasking abilities. This doesn’t have to be from work, you could also select an example from your personal life. 

Here’s a sample answer:

“In my prior role, I was a social media manager responsible for monitoring and expanding my brand’s digital reach. That job required me to multitask on a daily basis. I would often keep two monitors on at work, one for monitoring social media engagement and responding to comments, and the other for creating new content. While I was working, I would also listen to industry podcasts to stay up-to-date on new techniques and trends.”

6. “How do you avoid distractions when multitasking?”

One of the main dangers of multitasking is that it’s easy to become distracted. While your future employer may want you to work on multiple tasks at once they’ll also want to keep your productivity up. When answering this question, focus on several specific techniques that you’ve used in the past. This can show that you have real-world experience and a strategy for success. 

Here’s a sample answer to help guide you:

“In my previous job, I often had trouble remaining focused and I came up with a strategy to maintain my productivity. First, I would prioritize my tasks based on their urgency and importance to avoid spending time on unimportant items. Next, I would close all windows on my computer not related to work and turn off my phone. Finally, I would break down each task into sub-items and give myself a timeline for each. This helped me stay focused and avoid unnecessary distractions.”

7. “What tools do you use to stay organized and manage your time when multitasking?”

Organization and time management are two of the most important parts of effective multitasking. Your interviewer may ask this question to determine whether you have a good strategy for maintaining productivity while focusing on multiple jobs. 

Here is a sample answer to this question:

“I generally keep it pretty simple. In most cases, I’ll create a spreadsheet with all of my subtasks and determine a deadline for each one. That allows me to prioritize my tasks and stay on a strict schedule. As I complete each one, I check it off the list.”

8. “If you have the choice, would you rather focus on one task or multiple?”

This is a general question that helps interviewers understand your workstyle and ability to multitask. When you answer, be honest and don’t just say what you think the interviewer wants to hear. Instead of making the answer absolute, describe when you might or might not choose to multitask. 

Here is a sample answer to this question:

“My choice would depend on the task at hand. If dealing with several smaller tasks, I’d rather multitask in order to complete them quicker. On the other hand, some tasks require my undivided attention and benefit from greater focus. In these cases, I’d choose not to multitask.”

Need help preparing for your next interview? Check out our service page with tips and tricks!

Key takeaways

  1. Multitasking is the ability to complete several distinct tasks at the same time.

  2. Multitasking is made up of several other skills, including time management, organization, delegation, prioritization, resource management, and problem-solving. 

  3. Some employers value multitasking in their employees and may ask you about it during interviews.

  4. Asking about multitasking can help employers gauge a candidate’s suitability for a given role and their ability to avoid burnout and remain productive.

  5. Multitasking questions may be especially prominent if you’re applying for management or leadership roles.

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