How Do You Determine Priorities in Scheduling Your Time

How Do You Determine Priorities in Scheduling Your Time?

What does priority mean to you? How do you ensure that you utilize your time well? What things do you consider when planning your schedules? Do you just go with the flow? Are you the type of person that considers time management as important? Do you believe in having a scale of preference in everything you do? When faced with so many tasks in a short period, how do you determine which one to handle first and vice versa? These and more are questions that suffice when a worker or individuals are faced with the daunting task of determining or setting priorities to ensure time management.

Time management is a skill every employer looks for in job seekers; no hiring manager or organization wants a candidate or employee that may potentially slow down the process and jeopardize the team’s or coworker’s effort. Time management simply means the ability of an individual to get work done within a given time. Hence, when you set your priorities right, you can subsequently manage and schedule your time effectively and efficiently. However, how do you know that you have effectively determined priorities when scheduling your time? What rubric can you use to plan your time successfully?

Interviews are designed or structured to get the best candidate for the organization; thus, you may have the best qualification and experience and still not get the job. Nowadays, the interviewer or hiring managers are not just interested in qualifications alone. Most employers are arguably looking for highly skilled, motivated, and talented individuals who can hit the ground running from the beginning. In addition, the employer wants the best culture fit for the organization. Hence, questions about the candidate’s professionalism, personality, and behavior are asked during the interview process. One of such questions is the question how do you determine priorities in scheduling your time?

Answering the question can be tricky and even tough; although it looks personal, you are expected to remain professional when responding as well as to link your response to the role you are interviewing for. Also, the question demands specificity; don’t beat around the bush. Instead, hit the nail on the head and give examples when necessary. Also, try and make sure that you show the hiring manager(s) that you are goal-oriented and a critical thinker. Importantly, try and stand out from your competition.

Additionally, the interviewer is interested in gaining an insight into how job candidates manage their time and organize their workload. Therefore, your response should be structured in a manner that depicts how you balance your work and personal time, communicate and relate with colleagues about urgent times and how you respond to changes in your assignments. Relatively, give examples that show that you put your work ahead of other items on your priority list when answering. In this article, reasons, why hiring managers ask this question, will be discussed; the best way to approach the question will be conferred.


What is prioritization?

Prioritization can be defined as a process whereby the level of importance, value, and urgency of an assignment, thing, event, or task is determined by an individual or organization. It is an essential and desirable skill in the workplace and is important for workers to master. Analysts have reported that prioritization affects the success or not of projects, work, your role as a leader, and the engagement of other team members. However, most individuals constantly find prioritization difficult; especially when scheduling their time.


Why Do Hiring Managers Ask the Question- How Do You Determine Priorities in Scheduling Your Time?

There are several reasons why interviewers ask questions on prioritization; below are some of the core reasons;

  • Since time management has been earmarked as a crucial skill at work, the employer wants to have an insight into the job candidate’s time management skills.
  • Also, the hiring manager wants to see how the job candidate sets priorities for large, small, or complex projects.
  • The interviewer wants to assess the applicant’s ability to differentiate between important and urgent assignments or tasks.
  • The hiring manager wants to know whether the candidate is capable of handling multiple tasks and performing effectively at work.
  • Similarly, the employer wants to have an idea of how the candidate will complete or manage assigned tasks if hired.
  • The interviewer wants to depict the candidate’s ability to maintain and sustain a healthy work-life balance.


Tips on How to Answer the Question- How Do You Determine Priorities in Scheduling Your Time

To answer this question successfully, consider the following tips;

  • Emphasis should be made on how you make time for work.
  • Show your time management skills using appropriate examples.
  • Elaborate on how much you care about your work.
  • Describe how you schedule your day
  • Discuss how you maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • Connect your answer to the job requirements.
  • Describe how you set deadlines

Emphasis should be made on how you make time for work: Arguably, this is the most important point to buttress when responding to the question. Remember, you are interviewing for a work-related role; hence the interviewer is interested in depicting how you create time for work regardless of the situation. Also, emphasize how you schedule the time and make room for work despite your tight program. Preferably, describe how you always put work first; how you maintain a sound sleep routine to remain refreshed and energized, and how you make changes to your schedules ahead of time.  For example, you can show how you regularly ask for time off when necessary ahead of time so as not to jeopardize your work. Also, you can show how you always get your shifts covered during an emergency. Finally, try and convince the interviewer that you can get to work on time and get the tasks done efficiently.

Show your time management skills using examples: As aforementioned, time management and organizational skills are important skills every employer seeks in job applicants. Therefore, show the interviewer that you are capable of managing different tasks using specific examples. For instance, you can talk about a time when you had to balance your time between work and school. Describe exactly how and what you did to focus and excel in both endeavors. Similarly, you can refer to how you plan your sleep effectively to function better; you can talk of how you go to bed early to beat traffic for example. In addition, you can talk about how you use a planner or calendar to organize your work and activities. Remember, the employer is looking for strong and reliable employees.

Elaborate on how much you care about your work: The question gives you the avenue to not just talk about how you determine priorities in scheduling your time but why as well. This in turn allows you to elaborate on how much you care about your work. Thus, try and figure out why you consider the job to be important; also, think of why you like to have enough time for your work. For example, if you know that you need an extra hour before you go to work to get cleaned up and focused for work, talk about why that is important to you and why you always want to do a good job. This way, you not only focus on time management skills but also get to share a few other skills and qualifications. Employers and organizations prefer job applicants who show commitment, focus, and love for the job. No one wants an employee with a questionable level of commitment and dedication to the job.

Describe how you schedule your day: Now you’ve described how you make time for work, showed your time management skills, and elaborated on how much you care about your work. Next should be a description of how you schedule your day. In relation, discuss in detail how you manage to navigate your daily work assignment. If you make a to-do list early in the morning, state how you draft your list according to its importance and urgency. This way, the hiring manager will see your ability to effectively organize and manage your workload and your initiative. For example, you can say “the first thing I do when I get to work is to record the tasks I need to accomplish in the order of highest to lowest priority based on the due dates”.

Discuss how you maintain a healthy work-life balance: Having a functional and healthy work-life balance is crucial to productivity and growth in the workplace. Although working hard is important, having a life outside work is equally important. What do you do to ensure that your personal life doesn’t affect your work? How do you balance your work and personal life? When you explain how you set realistic expectations during the workday, the interviewer depicts your capability and aptitude to decide on the tasks that should be completed and when a timeframe can be extended. For example, if you and your team are working on a project or assignment that you are sure will extend for 2 days, share your expectations on what can be finished in a day. This will enable the interviewer to realize that you value productivity and performance at work. Also, it shows the employer(s) that you comprehend the significance of working within your daily time limits.

Connect your answer to the job requirements:  When asked to discuss how you determine priorities to schedule your time during an interview, ensure that you link your response and examples to the requirements of the job or role you applied for. If you applied to be an administrative assistant, for instance, your emphasis should be on how you organize the administrative tasks such as disseminating information for senior executives, communicating with clients, and responding to customers’ emails. This is aimed at demonstrating to the interviewer that you fit the job’s requirements and understand the expectations of the position. Also, make sure that your response depicts the top and urgent administrative tasks.

Describe how you set deadlines: Finally, elaborate on how you set deadlines for every task. Completing tasks and assignments on time is an essential part of any job; the organization wants to know that they can count on you and that you can set timelines for yourself that will accommodate shifting and impending deadlines where necessary. Describe how you set deadlines according to the task’s urgency and give details of how you determine appropriate time frames. For example, you can provide examples of how you discuss due dates with supervisors or confirm important and urgent deadlines. This shows the hiring manager that you are considerate of the organization’s goals and your team’s input on when projects should be completed.


Things to Consider When Determining Priorities in Scheduling Your Time

  1. Collect a list of all your tasks: Pull together everything you could consider getting done in a day or given period.
  2. Assess the value of all your tasks: Completing certain tasks will have more benefits than others. Hence, assess the importance of each task and prioritize them accordingly.
  3. Group your tasks into urgent vs important: Importantly, see if you have any task(s) that require immediate attention. These should be the tasks that if not completed when due, can have serious negative consequences on you and the organization.
  4. Be honest: Try to be as honest and realistic as possible when determining your priorities. Setting unattainable goals will only cause disappointments down the road.
  5. Place tasks according to the estimated effort: If you have tasks that seem to tie for priority standing, check their estimates and start with whichever one you think will take the most effort to complete.
  6. Show flexibility and adaptability: To be able to effectively determine priorities to schedule your time, you must be able to be flexible and adapt to changing priorities.
  7. Know when to cut the cord: Spending too much time on one priority can prevent you from getting other work done. Therefore, acknowledge when you are doing this and enforce strict deadlines to prevent yourself from going down the rabbit hole.

Interview Questions

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