Multitasking interview questions (plus example answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 7 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

In interviews, potential employers often ask about multitasking skills. These skills are beneficial in the workplace, as they can help employees be productive and efficient with how they spend their time. Learning about multitasking interview questions can help you prepare answers for your interview. In this article, we discuss common multitasking interview questions and how to practise your multitasking skills.

Multitasking interview questions

Here are some multitasking interview questions and an example answer for each:

1. Explain what multitasking means to you?

Employers often want to learn what you think about multitasking when the job you apply for relies on this skill. Before they ask in-depth questions, they may want to see how you define it. Multitasking typically means something different to everyone, so your answer can include your personal experiences with the skill and any information relevant to the job you want. For example, if you're interviewing for a management role, you can discuss how multitasking could involve managing a team and performing office duties.

Example answer: 'For me, multitasking means performing several tasks simultaneously or one after another to a high standard. It requires a high level of physical and mental organisation to ensure I perform each task thoroughly. I can use multitasking skills in this job by performing my daily tasks while managing a team. I aim to perfect my multitasking skills by taking detailed notes about what I'm completing each day, giving my team members my full attention when they need me and keeping an organised calendar.'

Related: The art of multitasking: definition and examples

2. Do you have experience in multitasking?

This question refers to any experience you may have from previous work, educational or personal settings. The interviewer may ask this to see whether you have the necessary skills for the job and to learn more about your experience. It's best to give a detailed answer by listing a few places where you acquired your multitasking skills. You can mention your past work experiences or consider how multitasking helped when studying.

Example answer: 'Yes, I have quite a lot of experience with multitasking. In my last job, I worked in a busy reception area where I answered customer queries. I'd speak to customers in person, ensuring they had everything they needed, while also answering the phone and monitoring who was next in the queue. I also used multitasking skills when studying at university. I had a lot of modules to complete coursework for, and sometimes I'd work on individual tasks from each of the topics consecutively to ensure I was up to date with the information.'

Related: What are multitasking skills, and how can they help you?

3. Can you describe a time when you had to multitask?

Rather than asking about your general experience with multitasking, this question enquires about a specific time you used your abilities. You can tell a story about when you multitasked, preferably in a workplace setting. If you have a few examples, choose one that's recent. A recent example can help the interviewer recognise your skills as a present ability you can use at their company. It's a good idea to think of an example before the interview so you can answer this question quickly.

Example answer: 'When I worked in a busy restaurant, I was a waitress responsible for managing a few tables by taking orders and serving food. One day, the bartender went home due to an illness. There was nobody at the bar, and since I had bartending experience, I took over making the drinks while also looking after my allocated tables. I monitored my tables' orders and their eating status while also going to the bar and making drinks for the entire restaurant.'

Related: Receptionist skills: definition and examples

4. How can multitasking be beneficial in the workplace?

This question focuses on the advantages of multitasking. You can mention how multitasking helps you be productive and ensures you can attend meetings and speak to colleagues while still focusing on your daily assignments. In this answer, you might acknowledge that not every situation calls for multitasking and that sometimes it's better to work in a more focused way on one individual task. Mention that different situations can require different working styles and demonstrate how you have the skills to discern when to employ the appropriate style.

Example answer: 'Multitasking can help a lot when I have important tasks to complete but also want to pay attention to certain things happening inside the office. For example, I could keep an eye on a breaking news story while writing a report or attending a meeting. A breaking news story is an ongoing event, so it requires my attention while I'm performing other tasks. Another example is working with customers in a setting where I'm also responsible for my surroundings.'

Related: 9 memory improvement games (definition and examples)

5. When is multitasking an appropriate method of getting things done?

When an interviewer asks this question, they may want to learn if you understand when it's appropriate to use your multitasking skills. For example, if you have an entire spreadsheet of data to analyse or a budget report to write, you may want to give it your full attention. You might pay close attention to the details to ensure your work is free of errors and limit distracting tasks. In your answer, mention how you determine when to use your multitasking skills.

Example answer: 'I use multitasking skills when I'm doing something that requires minimal focus. For tasks that require deep focus, such as writing employee reports at the end of the year, I want to spend a lot of time on the process so I can convey my ideas clearly. To do this, I create a period where I can focus only on this task. I ensure I have this time by scheduling meetings and completing other tasks in the hours leading up to this work. I also block the time off and let others know, so they understand when I'm available.'

Related: Top career skills for any industry and why they're important

6. How do you prioritise tasks?

The interviewer may want to know how you choose which task to prioritise over another. Even though it's challenging to work on two tasks simultaneously, you can use multitasking skills to arrange your responsibilities effectively to ensure you complete them all. You can describe how you assess each task in terms of its importance and urgency and create a daily or weekly schedule after careful consideration. You can also demonstrate how you use prioritisation to ensure you complete each task to a high standard.

Example answer: 'I make a full list of tasks every week. I look at the list and assess how long each task may take and its urgency. Typically, I complete the most urgent task first. Then I do some smaller quick tasks before reviewing the rest of my list. I also put my tasks into a weekly schedule to ensure I have time for them. I include a few spare hours for tasks that may take longer than anticipated or for anything unexpected.'

Related: The 15 most valuable teaching assistant skills for CVs

Tips for improving your multitasking skills

You can use the following tips to help you improve your multitasking skills:

  • Be realistic. Consider how many tasks you can complete during a set time. Work on one main task and a few smaller ones you can do when you have time.

  • Set goals. Have an idea of when you'd like to complete each task. Be realistic with these and know you can always change them later.

  • Write a to-do list. Writing a to-do list can be very beneficial for multitasking. It can help you visualise all your tasks and it's often the first step to building a schedule.

  • Create a schedule. Once you have a to-do list, think about when you can complete each task. Write each task into a daily or weekly schedule and follow it as much as possible.

  • Group tasks. If you have some similar tasks, you could group them for maximum productivity. For example, if you're editing photos for a website and an online magazine, you could edit all of them as a single project.

  • Make notes. If you encounter interruptions during your work, make notes about where you stopped and what you were about to do.

Disclaimer: The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.

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