More Interview Questions and Answers
Are you able to multitask?
Alternative and related questions:
How good are you at multitasking?
Can you give me an example of how you multitask?
The meaning behind the question:
Multitasking is a popular business buzzword. While I personally think this is rather a silly question, that's not to say that it's not a popular one! No hidden meaning, except perhaps that the interviewer might be wanting to make sure that you actually understand what multitasking is.
As it happens, most people don't really understand what multitasking is!
Many busy people will claim to 'multitask' so as to help them get done all the needs to be done. However, research has shown that people just appear to be handling more than one task at the same time – and that multitasking is largely counter-productive, the lack of attention given to any one particular task resulting in (a) that task taking longer than it would otherwise have done and (b) that task being more prone to errors, errors which then consume more time (albeit perhaps later on) to be corrected. Greater efficiency is actually achieved by being able to concentrate fully on one task at a time.
Of course, there are times when we have no choice but to multitask. You're busy writing up a report when an important and urgent email pops up on your computer and, simultaneously, a colleague steps up to your desk to have a 'quick word' about something. But don't delude yourself into thinking that being able to multitask all the time is in any way desirable as a form of time management! In the above scenario, you may be able to 'cope' with the three different tasks demanding your attention but not very effectively!
In answering this question, make it clear to the interviewer that you are aware of this distinction but, at the same time, point out that you are of course capable of multitasking if necessary.
It does depend how you define multitasking. I've read that, when multitasking, people just appear to be handling more than one task at the same time and that it's largely counter-productive. Sometimes, of course, I have no choice but to multitask, dealing with several different issues simultaneously, for example finishing off an urgent email while taking an important phone call. While it's obviously not an ideal way to work, I'm certainly more than capable of multitasking in this fashion when necessary. It's a matter of concentration.
The Interview Question & Answer Book
More interview questions and answers
Talking about your current employment
- Can you tell me what you enjoy about your current job?
- What will you remember most about your last job?
- Is this the first time you have made an effort to move away from your current employers?
- How do you feel about the possibility of leaving your current job?
- How would you describe your current employer?
Talking about this vacancy
- Wouldn’t you be better suited to working in a larger/smaller organisation?
- How do you feel this vacancy differs from your current role?
- What reservations do you have about your ability to undertake this job?
- Can you describe your ideal working environment to me?
- How do you feel we compare to our competitors?
- What would you say is our Unique Selling Point?
- What would be your analysis of the current trends in our industry/sector?
Understanding your career path, plans and ambitions
- What aspects of your career path would you like to have been different?
- What are your greatest regrets about the path your career has taken?
- What has been the greatest challenge you have faced in your career to date?
- What do you think are your main career options for the next five years?
- What exactly does the word ‘success’ mean to you?
Addressing problems in your career history
- Why did you only stay with this organisation for such a short time?
- Why did you stay with this organisation for such a long time?
Coping with stress and pressure
- Are you able to multitask?
- Can you juggle a number of different projects simultaneously?
- How do you handle rejection/disappointment/failure?
- How do you deal with interpersonal conflict?
- What does tact and diplomacy mean to you?
- What makes for a successful team?
Management and leadership
- Would you describe yourself as a good manager?
- Do you really think you’re management material?
- What is your attitude to delegation?
- Can you give me an example of a time when you had to lead from the front?
- Have you ever had to fire or lay off a member of your staff?
- How would you describe your ideal team member?
Personal and professional development
- In what ways do you intend to improve upon your performance?
- How has your current job prepared you for greater challenges/responsibility?
Interests and activities
- What book are you reading at the moment?
- What newspaper do you take?
- Are you interested in current affairs?
The amateur psychiatrist
- If you won the lottery what would you do?
- Can you tell me about the best teacher you ever had?
- If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be and why?
- What are you most afraid of?
Money, money, money
- Why aren’t you earning more?
- How much do you think you are really worth?
- How much does money matter to you?
- Would you still be interested in this job if you current employer offered a pay rise?
- Have you ever had to take a pay cut to keep your job?
- Have you ever asked for but been refused a pay rise?
Author: James Innes