Time management is the process of dividing your time effectively in such a way that you get more done in a workday. It’s the efficient use of the limited time that we’ve all got. Get time management right, and you’ll end up working more efficiently and achieving daily, weekly, or monthly targets.
Time management skills are the most sought after in almost all companies, especially now as we continue to navigate the world of remote work. That’s why we created this blog on time management interview questions that recruiters may ask when interviewing for a role.
What the Interviewer Wants to Know
Interview questions about time management tell the recruiter a lot about your time management skills. A hiring manager or recruiter wants to know if you can effectively manage your own time, plan your day appropriately to meet deadlines, and your ability to deal with multiple tasks with different deadlines.
In the article on Interviewing Prep 101: Time Management Questions, Andrea Scully, Commercial Director of Operations at AllPro Recruitment explains how recruiters see time management.
A candidate that’s well versed in time management is preferred since it means they won’t need a lot of hand-holding or guidance once hired. Recruiters are also interested in learning about the candidate’s time management strategies and if they know how to prioritize tasks and resources.
For example, the hiring manager may want to know what you’d do if you have several tasks and aren’t sure what to work on first. By asking these questions, the interviewer gets to understand how efficient and productive you can be at work.
Some of the important areas recruiters expect you to discuss when answering time management questions include:
- Task prioritization
- Meeting deadlines
- How you stay organized
- How you deal with distractions and interruptions at work
- How you handle last-minute changes
- How you manage work-related stress
15 Questions About Time Management and How to Answer Them
Here are some sample interview questions about time management and how you can answer them to demonstrate your ability to effectively manage time.
Question 1: Why is it important to manage your time appropriately?
This is one of the most common time management interview questions. Interviewers want to know if you understand the importance of effective time management.
Sample answer: Time management is essential for any worker to succeed in their various roles and capacities. Apart from helping me get more done in a workday, time management enables me to plan out my days effectively and increases my ability to complete tasks without distractions. With my time management skills, I know how to prioritize work appropriately, be punctual, and improve my work-life balance. In addition, it has helped me waste less time on trivial things and boost my overall productivity levels.
Question 2: How do you manage your time at work?
When an interviewer asks this question, they want to know if they can trust you to perform your duties with minimal or no supervision. They also want to know if you can effectively manage your time without getting overwhelmed.
Sample answer: I usually start by creating a list of tasks that need my attention that day. I then arrange them in order, according to urgency and importance. If I’m not sure which tasks are important or urgent, I communicate with my supervisor or team leader to find out. If I’m assigned more tasks, I’d add them to my list and schedule them based on my availability. I’d consider delegating a few things if I feel the workload is too much.
Question 3: What can you do to avoid procrastination?
A recent survey found that the average Brit spends two hours and 11 minutes a day procrastinating at work. This time wasting habit wastes time, kills morale and impacts your productivity. However, procrastination isn’t just a time management issue. It’s also an emotional management and self-care issue. The recruiter may want to know what you do to stay on track.
Sample answer: Setting realistic goals has helped me to procrastinate less. When handling a big project that will take several weeks or even months, it’s easier to delay starting on it on the assumption that there’s time. To avoid falling into this trap, I start by breaking the project into smaller milestones to help me focus better and set deadlines for each task. As a result, I can start working immediately on these smaller tasks.
Question 4: Describe a time when you demonstrated excellent time management
This behavioral question is intended to demonstrate how you managed time at work, in college, or in any other situation. They may want to know if you value time and know how to prioritize.
Sample answer: A few times in my previous role, me and my team had to deal with a heavy workload. With so much to do and little time to do them, we had to prioritize tasks in order to achieve our goals. As the team leader, I thought it smart to break the project down into smaller tasks and assign each team member a subtask based on their experience and expertise. I then set deadlines for each individual and tracked their progress via a project management tool. This method has always worked for me in ensuring the efficient use of time and resources.
Question 5: Tell us about a time you had to prioritize tasks with so many competing demands on your time
Sample answer: In my previous role, I’ve had many instances when I had to handle too many tasks at a go. In those situations, I usually started by assessing the urgency and importance of tasks. I found the Eisenhower Decision Matrix a great technique to help me break down tasks. I’d then deal with the important tasks first and work my way downward.
After prioritizing, if I discover that it’s a lot to handle, I delegate some tasks or even drop them from my to-do list entirely.
Question 6: Tell me about how you’d create a time management plan for your day or week
Managers want to know if you have experience creating your own time management plan or if you’ll need help. You don’t need to have personal experience to answer the question. Just imagine how you’d do it and provide the best answer.
Sample answer: I’ve found the best way to develop a time management plan for myself is to start by assessing my current situation. I note down areas that feel stressful in my life and list down all the things I want to accomplish in a day, week, or month. I then prioritize the tasks according to what’s important and what I can do quickly. I then set realistic deadlines for each and create a flexible schedule.
Question 7: How do you organize and plan your daily activities?
Time management skills are crucial for whatever role you’re interviewing for. This question is intended to show how you plan and organize your time on a workday to make the most out of it.
Sample answer: As a morning person, my day starts early. The first thing I do is prepare a list of all the tasks I need to do and prioritize them based on importance and urgency. I then break down each task into subtasks and estimate how long it will take to complete each. I make sure I set time for everything, including emails, breaks, lunch breaks, and calls.
Question 8: How does effective time management help you boost productivity?
Effective time management increases productivity, and the manager may want you to explain how it helps you improve your work performance.
Sample answer: Time management is a crucial skill in my career. When I know what needs to get done and when it becomes easier to navigate my day. A schedule makes my workday less stressful and allows me to plan ahead and complete tasks before the set deadlines. Since honing my time management skills, I’ve discovered that my days are more productive, and I rarely miss deadlines.
Question 9: What’s the most effective time management strategy that helps you avoid distractions at work?
A 2018 Workplace Distraction Report by Udemy estimated that 36 percent of millennials spend two or more hours each workday looking at their phones. And as Gloria Mark, Professor in the Department of Informatics at the University of California found, it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus on a task after getting distracted.
Distractions can cost companies time and money. Recruiters want to know if you have a strategy to maintain focus on tasks at hand and stay productive at work without giving in to distractions.
Sample answer: I consider myself an organized person and find it difficult to focus in a messy and cluttered workspace. For this reason, I ensure my workspace, including my desktop, is neat and well-organized. I’ve invested in noise-canceling headphones to mute background noises. I also use apps to block time-wasting websites and have muted email notifications on my phone and desktop. I usually put my phone on airplane mode and out of sight to ensure undivided focus on my work.
Question 10: Talk about how you estimate task completion time
The interviewer may ask this time management question to see the strategies you use to estimate how long projects will take to complete.
Sample answer: I leverage technology to help me manage my time and tasks. I use a time-tracking tool that records the time spent on each task. If I get a similar task in the future, I pull the data collected by the time tracker to determine how much time I need to complete the task. This makes it easier to plan my schedule and set realistic deadlines.
Question 11: Walk us through how you maintain a good work-life balance
A good employer wants their employees to enjoy their work and not be stressed or burned out. Hiring managers aren’t looking for you to say “work is my life” or “I dedicate all of my time to my job.” They know it isn’t healthy and want to know that you can give your full effort at work and be completely present when on the clock and be able to disconnect while at home.
Sample answer: I set clear boundaries between work and personal life. When at work, I shut out any distractions and make sure my to-do list is my top priority. When away from work, I shift my focus to my hobbies and my family. I use the time to recharge and relax so I can return to work fresh and energetic.
Question 12: Describe a time you had to meet a quick deadline
This question is intended to show how adaptable you are and if they can rely on you to deliver on short notice. It’s a common time management question when applying for a high-pressure job.
Sample answer: In my previous role as the sales manager, one of our sales reps quit the day before Black Friday. Being one of the busiest days on our sales calendar, I had to scramble to find someone to fill that shift. I knew it was a challenge, but I believed I could make it work. Fortunately, I had built strong working relationships with our previous sales reps, and they were more than happy to step in and fill the shift. The scenario proved how important it is to value all team members and maintain good working relationships. You never know when you might need a helping hand.
Question 13: Talk about a time you had to leave a task unfinished
Recruiters may ask this question to determine how you’d make a decision when faced with a prioritization issue.
Sample answer: I’ve only left a task unfinished once in my career. I didn’t like the idea since I always complete my work but I believe I did the right thing. I was working on a project when something came up, and I had to leave it half-finished. An unexpected chance to close a deal with one of our biggest clients manifested, and I didn’t hesitate to take it. I deemed it a task with immediate priority and decided to drop everything to focus on it.
Question 14: Walk me through a time you missed a deadline?
This is a trick question that could elicit some negative responses. The recruiter wants to know about a time when your time management skills proved insufficient and you failed to meet a deadline. Admitting that you failed to meet one isn’t a sign of weakness. On the contrary, admitting a mistake can be viewed as a strength but with room for improvement.
Sample answer: This has happened to me once in my previous company. It was on a Friday and I was working on an important task when my boss asked me to take on a task classified as “Very Urgent.” I was the only one capable of handling it, due to its sensitive nature, and therefore, I couldn’t delegate it. The work was bigger than I expected, and I ended up working on it on Saturday, during my free time. Still, I failed to complete the task and made it a priority on Monday, the due date. When the deadline expired, I was partially done, and my manager wasn’t happy about it. However, I knew I tried my best to fit it into my already full schedule.
Question 15: Describe the most challenging aspect of your job from a time management perspective
Recruiters ask this question to learn more about your time management skills and how you’ve overcome time management challenges. It will be helpful to describe the steps you took to handle those challenges.
Sample answer: I strongly believe in single-tasking and find managing multiple projects challenging. For that reason, I’ve learned to prioritize important tasks and tackle them first. I delegate certain tasks of the project, so I can stay on top of my responsibilities and get things done on time.
Additional Time Management Interview Questions
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your time management skills?
- What’s that one time management technique you stand by? How do you fit it into your schedule?
- How do you track a project’s progress?
- What’s the best way to prepare for and schedule a meeting?
- What matters most to you: meeting deadlines or delivering quality work?
- Have you said ‘No” to your coworkers or boss before? Please elaborate on the situation.
Tips on How to Answer Time Management Interview Questions
When interviewers ask questions about time management, they want to know:
- How organized are you in your work? That is, how would you plan your work days?
- If you can tackle multiple tasks with different deadlines without getting overwhelmed or burned out and still deliver quality work.
- Your ability to handle distractions.
- If you multitask.
- If you possess the right decision-making, leadership, and teamwork skills.
Hiring managers look for candidates who possess strong management skills and usually look for these elements in the interviewee’s answers:
- Use of to-do lists
- Task time estimation
- Resource utilization
- Your ability to separate urgent from important tasks
- Communication skills
- Workload management
In that light, here are a few tips to keep in mind when answering time management questions:
Preparation is key. So, start by thoroughly researching and understanding what your potential employer looks for in a candidate. That means analyzing the job position and the company’s culture. If you know someone who works there, reach out to them, and ask questions about the company and what’s expected of an employee. LinkedIn is a great place to find employees of the company. Use your research to create a list of skills, abilities, and competencies.
Develop success stories. Using the information above, you can guess the type of time management questions they might ask. These questions can help you prepare a list of past work experiences and success stories. Be sure to include successful real-life experiences as well as challenging situations.
Use the STAR interview technique: Interview questions about time management are typically behavioral and performance-based. That means recruiters require you to provide real-life situations where you used your time management skills. Using the STAR method allows you to give concise and effective responses. This step-by-step approach walks the interviewer through a situation in a logical manner.
Practice, practice, practice. The only way to master how to effectively answer interview questions is to practice. This will help you fine-tune your communication skills and build your confidence.
Use Traqq for Effective Time Management
Time management is about planning your workday in the most efficient way to get the most done. It’s also about meeting deadlines and knowing what to prioritize. Traqq time tracking software makes your work a lot less stressful. For starters, it records every minute you spend working, enabling you to track your work progress and performance levels.
You can then generate reports to ensure accurate payroll.
In addition, Traqq supports online and offline time tracking, meaning you can monitor performance levels while outside the office. The tool has smart reminders that ensure you don’t forget to turn on the timer when working. It’s a reliable time tracker that gathers helpful data that can help you improve time management.