Job interview question and answer: Describe a time when your workload was heavy and how you handled it

Posted October 13, 2011, by Elissa Collier

An interviewer will ask this question if they want to find out whether or not you can work under pressure. Describe the heavy workload – perhaps a time when you had lots of simultaneous deadlines to meet or a period at work when colleagues were on leave and you were covering more than one person’s responsibilities. It’s good if you can do this with enthusiasm. For example, if you had five huge projects that all had to be completed in the same week, it’s good if you can give a brief description of a couple of the projects to show that you enjoyed the work you did on them.

The interviewer doesn’t just want to know that you got the work done; they want to know how you achieved it. So, if you’re a person who likes to make lists, tell the interviewer this but also explain why you find this useful. Show that you know how to prioritise – this might be as simple as asking the person who gave you the work when they need it done by or creating a chart that shows a timeline of what needs to be done.

In this answer, it might also be useful to point out how you handle stress in these situations as a way of dealing with heavy workloads. If hitting the gym helps you combat stress and clear your head at times when your brain is working overtime, tell the interviewer this. It will show them that you know how to deal with a heavy workload, and know your limitations and how to manage them.

Elissa Collier

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