How To Answer Multitasking Interview Questions

How To Multitask – Interview Question

There are several different versions of multitasking interview questions:

  • Tell me about a time you’ve had to handle multiple tasks at the same time.
  • When have you had to multitask?
  • When have you had to listen and write notes at the same time?
  • How do you organize your time?
  • How do you determine your priorities?
  • How do you prioritize your tasks?

Regardless of which form of this question you get, they’re all asking the same thing, and are answered in the same way.

To answer any sort of multitasking interview question, you want to use an example of a time when you’ve had to multitask, and show that you were effective in doing so. This can simply be a story, but it’s recommended that you utilize the S.T.A.R method for this interview response, as it falls under the umbrella of behavioral questions. What we don’t recommend doing is simply providing generic time management tips.

Why Do They Ask This Question?

The reason they ask this interview question is to gauge how you’ll handle having multiple tasks thrown at you in this new job role. Do you crumple under pressure or can you manage your time effectively? Every job you have will require the ability to multitask to some degree, some positions more than others, but it’s pretty rare to have a job where you’re able to completely focus on one task.

Regardless of that fact, we’re going to be expected to take on several responsibilities at once. That might be answering phones while filling out forms and chatting with 6 customers online. It could be that you simply have multiple reports due by the end of the week and you’ll need to manage your time properly. It’s rare that you can simply sit down and focus on one thing at a time, especially as more and more people start relying on you to get things done.

How Should You Answer This Interview Question?

In any job, we’re going to be expected to multitask. Check out any research and it’ll show that multitasking isn’t actually a thing. We may think we’re doing several things at once, but really we’re shifting our attention constantly, and that shifting of attention does take a toll. Some of us manage it better than others, but we’re all susceptible to fading productivity the more and more tasks we’re expected to do at the same time.

Employers know that shifting focus can lead to reduced productivity, which is why our goal when answering this question is to convince them that we will be able to accomplish everything asked of us, even when having to shift our focus and multitask at times. The way to do this is to give an example of a time when you’ve already done this. If we can show that we’ve been in a position where we’ve had several tasks at the same time, and were able to prioritize effectively to get everything done on time, then the employer can feel relatively confident that you’ll be able to do the same thing in this new role.

Another great way to respond to this question is to share your system of tracking and prioritizing tasks. The purpose of this is to show that you’re not simply relying on your willpower to accomplish all your tasks, but that you have a system in place to fall back on that will always keep you moving forward and completing each of your tasks.

Sample Answer

“At my previous job I had gotten to a point where I was able to complete my day-to-day tasks fairly easily, and started taking on responsibilities in several areas that were above and beyond my core job duties. But taking on so many new responsibilities started to weigh on me.

At the time I thought I could manage everything but I realized that changing between all of these responsibilities started to take a toll on me personally in addition to my productivity. I realized that it wasn’t just the sheer number of tasks that were affecting my productivity, but it was that I was consistently bouncing back and forth between each of those responsibilities.

Once I came to that realization I took steps to chunk my time more deliberately, which allowed me to get more work done in each area without sacrificing productivity by having to constantly move back and forth between each of these tasks. Since then I always try to block off chunks of time to get work done as it really does improve my productivity and allows me to manage my time more effectively both at work and even at home.”

Benefits Of This Answer

  • You told your boss you’re proficient enough that you could complete your expected tasks quickly
  • You told your boss you’re happy to take on new responsibilities when appropriate
  • You showed your boss that your self aware
  • You showed your boss that you’re able to manage your time effectively
  • You showed your boss that this is more of a lifestyle shift rather than just a “time management tool” by alluding to the fact that this has improved your personal life in addition to your work productivity.

Related Interview Questions

This question is sometimes replaced by or can even accompany other time management questions such as “how do you manage your tasks”. Be sure to check out that video right here.

How Do You Prioritize Your Tasks Video – Interview Question
How Do You Multitask Video – Interview Question


James is an Air Force veteran and software developer. He's passionate about personal development and sharing that knowledge with those who want to learn. He loves to mentor students to land their dream job, and excel once they’ve got it.

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