How To Answer Interview Questions About How You Handle A Heavy Workload

Man answers interview question about how he handles a heavy workload

We all have times on the job when the work piles up. However, we don't all react in the same way. Some of us handle that stress better than others. A potential employer naturally wants to know how you will react when that situation happens in this new job. So, they say something like, "Describe a time when your workload was particularly heavy and what steps you took to handle it."

How would you describe a heavy workload?

A heavy workload is a workload that requires you to use your time management skills to juggle multiple tasks, responsibilities, and projects in order to successfully complete them on time—without sacrificing the quality of your work.

How should you answer interview questions about how you handle a heavy workload?

In order to effectively answer interview questions about how you handle a heavy workload, you need to know how to answer behavioral interview questions using the "Experience + Learn = Grow" format or STAR technique. You also should understand what employers want to know (what are they REALLY asking?).

Behavioral Interview Questions

This is a type of behavioral interview question. These types of questions ask you to describe your past actions or predict how you'll react in future situations. These can be great ways to get insight into your personality and how you approach difficult situations.

Answers to behavioral interview questions are best structured using the STAR format (situation or task, action you took, and results you achieved). Using this technique ensures you say what you need to say to give a complete answer to the question. (Some people forget to talk about the results they got from the actions they took, but this is the most important part.)

What Do Employers Want To Know?

Young man answers interview question about how he handles a heavy workload


Basically, employers want to know how you approach problems and stress. Can you adapt? Can you prioritize? Can you stay calm? A lot of people will just say, "I stay until the work is done." 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. Walk them through how you have dealt with this issue before or how you would deal with it.

Good Sample Answers

Hiring manager asks job candidate how they handle a heavy workload


Here are a couple of examples of good answers to this question:

1. "We all have times when the workload gets a little heavier than normal. I've found that the best way to handle it is to step back, take a look at everything on my task list, and prioritize. Most of the time, not everything needs to get done immediately. Some things are more critical to team goals than others, so sometimes it's necessary to prioritize."

Then, tell a short story about a time when you did that, and tell what the results of it were: you got X task done, which was beneficial because of Y.

2. "In that kind of situation, prioritizing and teamwork both become critical. I speak to my supervisor to see if I can help him or her and get some input on which tasks to tackle first."

Then, talk about the time you provided assistance to your boss on a mission-critical task and what happened as a result of that teamwork.

Every interview answer should help sell you for the job. Be prepared with great answers for dozens of tough questions in How to Answer Interview Questions and How to Answer Interview Questions II, both available on Amazon.

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.