Whether you’re taking extra assignments while a co-worker is on leave or working at warp speed to finish a project by the deadline, just about every job has times of stress. But not everyone handles stress the same way.
When an interviewer asks, “How would you handle a sudden increase in work responsibilities?” they really want to know:
- How do you manage stress?
- How do you prioritize tasks?
- Are you adaptable?
Here’s what you want to emphasize in your answer.
Everything’s Under Control
When everything in your department is falling apart, can you keep it together? An important last-minute project or unexpected setback can send work into a tailspin. If this has ever happened to you, try to demonstrate how you kept your cool – and maybe even saved the day!
You want to describe a time when you experienced a high-volume work crunch and how you managed. Don’t blame anyone for the increased workload but do emphasize how you responded. Give as much detail as possible — including how it turned out.
“Interviewers want to know what happened,” says My Perfect Resume. “They want to know how successful your way of handling the heavy workload turned out to be.”
If things didn’t end perfectly, you could conclude by mentioning what you learned from the experience and how you might adjust your reaction in a similar situation.
What’s Your Priority?
Inquiring about how you react to a sudden increase in work also relates to how you prioritize tasks. You want to demonstrate that:
- You can effectively manage your time
- You can work on multiple projects simultaneously
- You can complete tasks by a specific due date
“What the employer is looking for with the question ‘How do you prioritize work?’ is to see if you know the difference between the urgent and the important,” says career coach Theresa Merrill in an article for The Muse. “They are not the same. A good answer addresses the need to distinguish between the two.”
But don’t confuse working effectively and working overtime.
When faced with more work, “a lot of people will just say, ‘I stay until the work is done’,” notes Work it Daily. “Persistence is good, but letting them know that you approach problems analytically and strategically is better. Show them that you can think critically and make good decisions.”
The ability to gracefully manage an increased workload and readjust work priorities is essentially the ability to adapt. An adaptable employee is an unflustered employee, and level heads are prized at every level of an organization.
While it’s important to react calmly when your workload increases, it’s also essential to answer this question with composure.
“Keep your tone positive and mature. Your interviewer is looking for employees who can react effectively to an increase in workload, without drama or a haphazard handling of the situation,” says The Balance Careers.
If your current job search is causing you stress, reach out to the placement professionals at Pro Resources Staffing Solutions.