|Posted by Krista Mitchell on July 26, 2012 at 6:20 PM|
Organizational skills are crucial in nearly any position, especially with employees assuming additionall responsibilities as companies downsize. You must be able to adequately convey that you have systems in place to handle multiple types of information, priorities, and deadlines. These are things you need to think about before you interview so that you are prepared.
1. How do you prioritize your time?
Strategy: Describe what level you assign to various priorities and why. Base your answer on priorities for your industry.
Bomb: Lack of appropriate prioritizing based on your career field.
Example: “In retail, the customers always come first. As a Manager, I assign the highest priority to handling customer complaints and problems. When there are no unresolved or unaddressed customer concerns, home-office directives are carried out with diligence. The next priority is employee concerns. I believe happy employees provide the most value and courtesy to customers, and I take great care in choosing and keeping quality personnel. This also minimizes the amount of time I must take to correct problematic employee behavior or to micromanage. After employee relations, vendor relationships take priority.”
2. Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize personal matters over work.
Strategy: The best answer would be that you have never had this happen and that your personal life does not interfere with your job. Realistically however, interviewers know that it has probably happened at least once if you have been working for many years. If you decide to give an example, choose an extreme personal matter like death of a family member that would be appropriate to prioritize over work.
Bomb: Discussing sick children or any other family member you are currently responsible for the care of or discussing personal problems like spousal discord or other family drama.
Example: “When my mother died unexpectedly in 2003, I had to take several days off to make funeral arrangements and travel to her funeral in another state. Otherwise, my personal life has never interfered with work.”
3. What is your ability to organize projects from start to finish?
Strategy: Describe the breadth of your project management experience including scope of projects and budget sizes. Describe phases and development of steps you take to bring a project to completion. The steps should preferably align with the position for which you are interviewing.
Bomb: Displaying disorganized thought pattern or lack of experience or knowledge about steps in project organization.
Example: “I have been a Wedding Planner for sixteen years, organizing weddings with up to 500 guests and budget sizes of up to a half million dollars. My projects include the wedding, the rehearsal dinner, and the wedding reception. Initially, I meet with all interested party members to determine the event date, budget, size, and theme of the wedding as well as venue preferences. Based on the wedding date, I decide how many staff I need to assist me in planning in order to have all arrangements ready by the deadline. I then develop some ideas about flowers, colors, décor, music or other entertainment, cake, and locations and meet again with the bride. Once she has provided more detailed information, I begin contacting my vendors and getting estimates for services and decide upon which vendors to use. I or one of my staff members then meet personally with each vendor to discuss the specific services based on the bride’s preferences in theme, color, food, and entertainment. I meet again with the bride to ensure the plans align with her vision for her wedding. I have my staff meet with vendors periodically to ensure all is going as planned and according to schedule. Once the date arrives, I have all my staff available with me to ensure the event goes smoothly.”
4. What do you do when things are slow at work?
Strategy: The company wants their money’s worth out of you. This question is designed to assess whether you will be actively earning your pay your entire shift or only when it’s busy. Discuss doing productive things such as assisting others or other departments, catching up on non-essential duties, investigating new technologies that may assist in your field, reading and learning new ideas regarding your customers, or networking to build stronger business relationships. It also doesn’t hurt to mention how you like to stay busy.
Bomb: Kicking back and taking it easy.
Example: “When things are slow at work, which is rare, I help any fellow employees or departments needing assistance catching up on work. If there is none to be done, I research new technologies and innovative solutions to problems, usually via the Internet. I like to keep busy and maximize my time at work.”
5. What systems do you use for keeping track of multiple deadlines, projects, and sets of information?
Strategy: Describe anything you use to stay organized including but not limited to your smartphone calendar/alarms/reminders, physical calendar planners, databases or other computer programs, flash drives, and/or a dry-erase board in your office.
Bomb: Remembering it all in your head without using any other systems is bound to fail eventually with multiple meetings, projects, deadlines, and information going on simultaneously.
Example: “Since my iPhone is always with me, I use the calendar feature to keep track of appointments and project deadlines and set it to alert me with reminders. I back up my phone information using iCloud in case my phone is lost or stolen. I manage multiple sets of information using our company’s database as well as Microsoft Excel for spreadsheets.”