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Interview Questions

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Time Management, How Do You Manage Your Time?  
    Notes and Advice from Andy Anand

"How do you manage your time?”

“Tell me about a day when you were overwhelmed at work. What did you do?”

When the interviewer asks you “How do you manage your time?” or one like it, he’s trying to understand not only how you manage your time, but whether you manage it. Do you manage your time, or does your time manage you? Are you reactive, or proactive?

Time management is critical in many areas of work, so you have to prepare to prove, with solid examples, that you will manage your time well, and that your new boss will get what he is paying for: results that are delivered on time.

With this question, skilled interviewers will want to know:

  • your system for managing your priorities (lists, piles, etc)
  • how you determine the value of tasks
  • how you determine what is done first
  • whether you negotiate your priorities and deadlines or just say ‘yes’ to everything that hits your desk.
  • How do you say ‘no’ when you have too much work?

Therefore, always be prepared with several detailed examples times when you had to manage high demands on your time. Rehearse your answer, and try to relate a specific example that showcases your ability to get results in the face of overwhelming demands.

Sample Answer

“Hmm…. OK, everyone has a system for managing time, but not everyone understands that there are priorities, and life can sometimes take you by surprise. I try to be flexible so I can change my plans on a moment’s notice depending on how important things are.

For example, last week I was working on a big project that was due on Friday for our Marketing department. It was a business critical project, so the deadline was pretty firm. On Thursday morning, I got a call from a client I’d been trying to close business with, and they were in trouble. Their preferred vendor didn’t deliver, and now they were in trouble. Here was a big chance to land a new client, but we had to deliver results by Friday morning.

It was clear I couldn’t do both projects unless I stayed all night. While I’m willing to do that, I tried first to call my Marketing Department to see if we had any slack in the internal deadline. They said they could delay until Friday at 1 PM. I went to my boss, explained my situation, and asked if I could borrow Joe for the afternoon. Rather than lose the new client opportunity, my boss pushed some of Joe’s work back for a day, allowed me to borrow him, and together we were able to meet both deadlines and still leave the office by 7:30 that night. Smart work and negotiating our deadlines helped me to deliver the impossible without letting anyone down that day.”

Additional Resources:
More sample interview questions than you can imagine are in the Interview Questions and Answers Database. This resource is affordable for almost anyone and is highly recommended.


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