INTERVIEWS / MAR. 18, 2015
version 2, draft 3

How to Answer "What Would you do if you Had to Finish Multiple Tasks by the End of the Day, But it was Impossible”

Theoretically Impossible

This interview question holds the distinction of being one of the toughest possible questions to answer. If something is impossible, you can’t pretend as if you are going to do it all. Despite the fact this long string of text looks intimidating it’s actually an extremely simple question. It’s a curve ball designed to throw people off.

See Also: 3 Steps to Answering ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ During a Job Interview

Let’s deconstruct this question and see where it leads us.

What is the Interviewer Looking For?

All interviews are about giving the interviewer what they want. It’s not about a practical scenario because these are fantasy examples that are unlikely to happen in the real world. There are a couple of things interviewers want to see.

First of all, they want to see how you cope under pressure. The easiest way to put someone under pressure is to give them something unfamiliar. Questions like these are at the height of unfamiliar because how often will someone ask you that in the real world? Probably Never!
 
The last thing they want to see is how you’re going to delegate tasks and how you’re going to prioritise. This is something you very much will have to deal with in the real world of work. If you’re running out of time, you need to show you can complete the most important tasks first and leave the others for later.

The Perfect Answer

The perfect answer is to say that you would prioritise the tasks based on whatever is most important. If the interviewer is particularly devilish, they may attempt to catch you out with real world examples.

For example, if you were working in an accounting capacity you may say that you would complete the petty cash accounts first because they’re necessary to begin the next day with a brand new float. On the other hand, sending out a late payment email to a customer could wait until the following morning.

The perfect answer is to show you know how to prioritise. It’s the same regardless of the job you happen to be applying for.

Delegation

If the interviewer doesn’t specify, and you want to impress, you could even show off some of your team-working skills. In this case, you could say you would delegate some of the less important tasks to other team members. Yes, the interviewer might have meant that you personally are responsible for these tasks, but if they don’t say that, show them how creative you are.

It’s a clever answer that involves thinking outside the box. You could even speak about delegation and prioritisation for bonus points.

What about the Easy Out?

Another option available to you is to speak to your boss, calmly explain the situation and let them handle things. This demonstrates another skill to a potential employer. It shows you’re willing to speak up when there’s a problem and you won’t attempt to bite off more than you can chew. It’s also an example of a character that’s unwilling to sweep problems under the carpet.

The Answer is to Prioritise Your Answer

If we look at the three possible answers to that question here, we can see they target different areas. So what answer should you give? The answer lies within your application. If you can demonstrate delegation through a previous managerial post, choose one of the answers that doesn’t talk about delegation. You’ve already proven this to the interviewer.

See Also: How to Answer the One Interview Question Nobody is Prepared for

Use questions like these to fill in the gaps your application has left. Overall, while these questions may seem like a bother, they’re actually your chance to say what you didn’t have space for on your resume. Use them wisely and use them to stand out from the crowd. It may just get you that job!

Have you ever encountered this question in an interview? How did you deal with it? Your thoughts and comments below please...

 

 

Get our FREE eBook!
'6 Steps to Landing Your Next Job'

LEAVE A COMMENT

0 comments

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Get our FREE eBook!
'6 Steps to Landing Your Next Job'


G up arrow
</script> </script>