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How Do You Prioritize Your Work?: Why It Is Asked & How To Answer [With Sample Answers]

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Did you know the average interview only lasts about 45 minutes? With interviews so quick, preparing helps you impress. One common question is “how do you prioritize your work?”

If you’re worried about this question, we’re here to help. While it feels intimidating to answer, it’s a great opportunity! Read on to learn about this question and how to ace your interview.

Why Do Interviews Ask “How Do You Prioritize Your Work?”?

With all the questions to prepare for, why is this one so important? Interviewers have several reasons to ask how you prioritize your work.

One thing your interviewers are searching for is your honesty. It is easy to spot a prepared answer that one expects to be what the interviewer wants to hear. However, these answers may not appear honest to the interviewer.

They may also seek to see if your answer fits their work philosophy. Many interviewers are searching for particular people that fit a specific job. Feeling that your work philosophy isn’t a match may end your interview.

Overall, as with all questions in an interview, the question is meant to suss out how you would fit in with their workforce. It sounds like a high-risk question, but you can greatly impress your interviewer.

How to Answer “How Do You Prioritize Your Work?”

There are several answers you can give to this common question.

One way you can answer is to paint your work as part of your day. Begin by discussing how you schedule your work days, from when you walk into work to when you leave. Highlight how your work is focused on throughout the day to show them you’re in touch with the big picture.

You also may want to focus on how you can shift priorities. Explain that you prioritize work by importance, time sensitivity, or whatever else you feel appropriate. Doing so can show them that you’re accustomed to proper time management.

Another great option is to discuss the question as part of your work-life balance. Rather than focusing on the details of your work day, discuss how you prioritize work as a concept. Explain how important a healthy work-life balance is to you and how it can help you stay motivated for work.

There are several other methods that you can use. These three answers are great options, especially in the context of a whole interview. Think of which paints the picture of you you’d like your future employers to have.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Above all else, you should remain honest in an interview. Being dishonest can harm your interview, mislead your interviewer, and waste time on both ends.

If you give a dishonest answer to impress them, they may give you a position you don’t want. If you earn the correct position with dishonesty, your employers may find that you don’t fit as well as they believed.

Focus on connecting your answer to the job requirements as well. You can highlight specific skills, such as working under pressure or time management.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

You wouldn’t want to give them an answer that undersells your abilities. For example, telling your employers that you struggle to prioritize properly may not work out. While you may feel this is an honest answer, it’s better to give such a statement during other questions.

Your future employers should see your strengths more than your flaws. Stay honest, but this is no time for modesty. You can discuss other topics with your questions to ask at the end of your interview.

Examples: How to Answer “How Do You Prioritize Your Work?”

Your answers likely won’t be a single phrase. A question this open-ended is a great time to highlight several of your strengths. Consider these examples a good opener, but you should craft a longer answer in your practice interviews.

Prioritize By Time Sensitivity

A good tactic is to highlight your ability with time management. An answer such as “I prioritize my work tasks by which is the most time-sensitive” shows your ability to focus on deadlines and upcoming tasks. Play around with the wording to ensure you’re focusing on your strengths!

Why This Answer Works

This answer is fantastic for hectic or fast-moving workplaces. If you’re applying for a restaurant job, for example, your interviewer may wonder if you can keep up with the consistent speed.

Showing that you’re strong with prioritizing tasks by which is the most time-sensitive is crucial for a hectic job. Your employers will likely focus on this strength more than others in many workplaces.

Prioritize By Task Importance

Sometimes the most important tasks aren’t the longest or most time-sensitive. Sometimes, it’s a smart choice to focus on what’s the most important task.

When asked, answers such as “I prioritize my work based on what’s the most important to my responsibilities” are strong.

You can also word this answer to make yourself more of a team player! Consider answering with “I prioritize my work around what can help my team perform best and accomplish our tasks.” Doing so can help you look more team-oriented and willing to take responsibility.

Why This Answer Works

Some employers find it best to focus on employees that prioritize importance over other factors. You may find yourself with a task that needs immediate attention. While some employees may prefer to hold the task while other older jobs are handled, you’re showing that you know when priorities need to shift.

Prioritize By Size or Time

In high-volume situations where you have a great deal of work, it’s important to know the proper workflow. Many find themselves buried under a large number of tasks.

You can show that you’re able to handle the volume by showing how you prioritize a high volume. An answer such as “I look at what jobs can be done quickly and accomplish those so I can ensure productivity” can show that you know when to dive into work.

Conversely, you can focus on the larger tasks. In this case, you may answer “I organize the jobs by how much work each task takes and tackle the largest one first.”

Why This Answer Works

These answers show that you aren’t intimidated by a proverbial mountain of work. Saying that you take the big tasks first helps show that you aren’t the sort to sit back and let work continue to pile up. Instead, you dive right in and start getting work done.

Focusing on small tasks first can show your employers that you’re willing to complete multiple small jobs. In many industries, this tactic can help keep workflow going for several teams. Neither answer is incorrect; it’s best to answer with which is more true about yourself.

Additional Tips for Impressing an Interviewer Asking How Do You Prioritize your Work?

There’s more that you can do than give a stellar answer! While your answer should come first and foremost, you can impress your interviewer in several other ways. Here are three of the best tips for stunning your interviewer.

Turn the Question

Once you’ve answered, consider having the interviewer answer. While they consider your question, ask them “How do you prefer your employers to prioritize their work?” Doing so can help you understand your interviewer more.

Segue Into A New Topic

Another great choice is to use your answer to turn the topic into something else. Give a thorough and strong answer and then transition into a topic of your choosing.

For example, while answering your work priorities, discuss your previous experience. From there, you can tie your answer into why you’re qualified to take the position you’re interviewing for.

Highlight Versatility

Finally, you can use your answer to show how versatile you are. Are you excellent with time management and shifting priorities? Now is the best time to highlight your strengths. Craft an elevator pitch and use these moments to show off your skills.

Additional Questions to Be Aware Of

Your interview won’t consist of a single question. Here are some of the other questions that may accompany your interview.

  • What Motivates You To Do A Good Job? Your interviewer may ask “What motivates you to do a good job?” This is an excellent time to show your priorities. Focus on what makes a workplace healthy and motivating for you as an employee.
  • What Are Your Strengths & Weaknesses? Nearly every interview will contain the question “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” For this question, turn your weaknesses into strengths or say how you’re overcoming them. Simply saying “I’m lazy” isn’t a weakness – it’s a bombed interview.
  • What is Your Work Style? Your employer will likely ask you “What is your work style?” Use this time to explain how you excel in certain work environments. However, it’s not a good idea to say what work styles you can’t accomplish.
  • How Do You Handle Stress? Work is almost always stressful. Your employer will likely ask “How do you handle stress?” It’s important not to say that you get easily overwhelmed or that you avoid stress. Instead, discuss how you overcome stressful situations.
  • Describe Your Work Ethic: Open-ended questions like “Describe your work ethic” are ideal! Use this window to highlight your stellar work ethic and what keeps you motivated.

Frequently Asked Questions

With everything discussed, there are still a few things to consider. Here are the two most frequently asked questions regarding preparing your interview answers.

What are 3 ways to prioritize?

There are countless ways to prioritize. Here are the three most common ways that people use:

  1. Create a task list with tasks prioritized as you see fit.
  2. Use a calendar and stay organized to ensure no task escapes your attention.
  3. Stay productive and communicate progress with your teammates.

What is the most important step in prioritizing?

The first step is to identify what is important and what order you feel tasks should flow in. However, the most important step is to stay productive. Working on the wrong priority is better than not working at all!

Impressing Your Audience

When your interviewer asks “How do you prioritize your work?” you can use the opportunity to wow them. Focus on being honest and give an answer that highlights your skills.

Take the chance to showcase what you can do and what makes tasks important to you.

For more information on how to ace your next interview, be sure to contact us!

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