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Interview Question “How Do You Prioritize Your Work?”

How Do You Prioritize Your Work?

Prioritizing work is one of the keys to a successful work environment. An implemented action plan means that the daily process of managing time, meeting deadlines, and staying ahead of schedule results in positive, progressive workflow, effective productivity, and less stress.

How do you prioritize your work?


When interviewing for a new job, potential employers will want to know how you are going to achieve these goals and will ask "How do you prioritize your work?".

There are steps to consider that help improve the prioritization process while maintaining the goal of completing the project on time.


Some other forms of the question


There are many formulas for the question “How do you prioritize your work?”, including:

  • How you prioritize your work 
  • How do you define your business priorities?How do you prioritize work?
  • What are your business priorities, and how do you define them?

Why does the interviewer ask you this question?


Employers ask this interview question as a way to assess your time management skills and to assess your ability to distinguish between urgent and important tasks.

Your answer to this question allows the interviewer to get an idea of how you would manage and complete your work tasks, should you be hired for the job.

Highlighting your time management and organizational skills and your ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance can show employers that you are capable of multiple responsibilities and perform efficiently on the job.

Interviewers want to know that you can manage your time, exercise judgment, communicate, and shift gears when needed.

Start by talking about whatever system you've found works best for planning your day or week, whether it's a broken to-do list app or a color-coded spreadsheet.

This is where you will definitely want to draw on an example from real life.

So go ahead and describe how you've reacted to a last-minute request or other unexpected shift in priorities in the past, including how you evaluated and decided what to do and how you communicated with your manager or teammates about it.


How to prepare for the answer

It is best to give real-life examples to show the interviewer that you are not only talking about a general strategy, but that you have practiced it in the workplace.

Here are some key elements to include in your answer when asked how to prioritize work.

Provide examples of how you plan your daily schedule and set deadlines for urgent and important tasks.

Use the following steps as a guide to help you answer the interview question, “How do you prioritize your work?”

Examples of answering the question


Response templates can help you understand how to carefully answer the “How do you prioritize your work?” question. Consider these sample answers to help inspire you to prepare your own answer:

I keep the lines of communication open with my boss and co-workers. If I am working on a task that will take a while to complete, I try to send an alert to my team as soon as possible. If my workload becomes unmanageable, I check with my boss for items that could drop to the bottom of the priority list, and then try to reset expectations on different deadlines.

Once I start working, I record the tasks I need to complete and list them in order from highest to lowest priority based on due dates. This helps me manage my workflow and keeps me on track with what I need to get done for that day.

I always communicate with my team leader about the expected due dates for my assignments first. Then I create my own deadline based on the given due dates. Usually, I like to give myself at least a day or two in advance, that way I can complete my work and still have time to thoroughly review everything before handing it in.

If I am working on a task that I know will take some time to complete, I reach out to my managers as soon as possible to let them know. If I feel that my workload has become unmanageable, I speak with my team leader to discuss tasks that I can move down my priority list. This helps me not get overwhelmed, and I can reassess my expectations about deadlines.

I'm used to working under tight deadlines, so I put my most urgent tasks at the top of my to-do list every morning when I get to work. Then, I set a clear deadline for myself which is usually one day before the company's due dates. Recently, I had to change my workload to accommodate an urgent product request. The customer wanted to finish custom modifications to the product within a week, but the normal time period for implementing modifications is 10 to 14 days. I have reached out to the production department and the manufacturing team to implement urgent changes to the production schedule. These modifications allowed us to ship the product to the customer on time, effectively reducing the time it takes to apply customizations by three days.

See: Interview Question “What Is Your Expected Salary?”

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