In recent years- traditional interview questions that seek to glean information about the prospective hire’s past experience and skills have begun to be supplemented by behavioral interview questions geared toward evaluations of process and cognitive style. For the average interviewee- this means there are now some questions whose desired answers are not as readily apparent. To effectively answer these complex queries- interviewees need to familiarize themselves with what the questions are asking as well as what their answers will mean from the perspective of the person doing the interviewing.
For the query about your system for tracking multiple projects and its effectiveness- the interviewer is evaluating a few things. First and foremost- they want information about how your system works- including insight into whether you are the kind of person to focus mostly on one or two tasks to completion or a multi-tasker who needs to constantly shift inputs. What they are really looking for- though- is a statement about how your process maintains a standard and delivers effectively- because there are many effective ways to balance a workflow. What they need is to understand that yours will be consistently meeting their standards for effectiveness.
To deliver this kind of answer clearly- focus on structuring your response with the STAR method to ensure that you have an easy plan for delivering everything your interviewer is seeking.
How to Answer the ‘Describe the System You Use for Keeping Track of Multiple Projects. How Do You Track Your Progress So That You Can Meet Deadlines? How Do You Stay Focused?’ Behavioral Interview Question
Organize Your Response: The STAR method is the most consistent and widely recommended format for answering behavioral interview questions- and the reasons for that are clear. It is effective- and it gives you a process for determining whether or not your answer is complete. The structure works with the acronym- and it breaks down like this:
- • S or T: The situation or task at hand. During this stage- you want to describe the situation or the task you’re relating with enough detail to allow a listener to understand the goals of the work- the context it was happening in- and who else was involved in the project with you.
- • A: The actions you took to respond to the situation. The key here is to make sure your actions were motivated toward the goals in the question. In this case- project tracking.
- • R: The results you obtained- explained with clear cause and effect reasoning that puts them into context with other people’s contributions and highlights how they were the results of the actions you took.
Expand Your Context: Part of ensuring that your listener understands the context of your actions means accurately presenting everyone’s contributions- as well as the reasons behind any potential conflicts. While that might seem a little out of place on a project tracking query- keep in mind that part of tracking projects is effectively communicating with other people and coordinating your efforts together- and be prepared to put your system into a wider context where the interviewer can see its effectiveness as part of a larger system.
Practice Your Delivery: The best responses are detailed enough to be understandable because they relate facts clearly- but they also remain concise and refrain from tangents and wandering. To strike this balance- you need to practice until your delivery is smooth- focused- and around the length of an elevator speech. That way- you can be sure that your points stick out and relate to one another clearly without losing your audience or allowing yourself to get distracted with side issues.
Values-Match Your Anecdote: Make sure that as you relate your system for tracking multiple projects- you also discuss how it maintains a high standard of excellence and fits in with the corporate values of your prospective new workplace. Demonstrating that kind of fit is always helpful- not only because it shows how you will operate within the organization- but also because it makes it easier for a behavioral evaluation to identify your viewpoint.
Sample ‘Describe the System You Use for Keeping Track of Multiple Projects. How Do You Track Your Progress So That You Can Meet Deadlines? How Do You Stay Focused?’ STAR Interview Answer
Since my last job was working for myself as a freelancer- this was a major part of my operation. I coordinated my Google calendar with my phone to help put my personal and professional appointments into one layout- and then what I did was I blocked off roughly two-hour segments that were punctuated by my other administrative tasks. That way- if I needed to work on something for much of the day- I still made sure to put some variety into the day and to follow up on important tasks that maintained the business. Most of the time- I tried to balance several projects over the day – too- so that I would maintain my focus and not overtax myself at a single problem- but when the time came to pull out all the stops and hit a deadline- the program flexed with that too.
Answering behavioral interview questions in a way that clearly relates to all the components in your STAR organization also helps meet the length that you wanted to get to.