We All Have Too Much on Our Plate Sometimes. Tell Me About a Time This Was the Case for You and Explain How You Coped


You’ve prepared well for your interview. You know all the common interview questions- and you have top-notch answers on the tip of your tongue. Then the interviewer throws out a question like- ‘We all have too much on our plate sometimes. Tell me about a time this was the case for you and explain how you coped. ‘ Alternatively the interviewer could phrase the question like- ‘How do deal with a large workload? ‘ or “Tell me about a time when you were overwhelmed and how you dealt with it. ‘

This is a behavioral interview question- and your interviewer is asking it because he or she wants to find out how you cope with stress. Will your personal life negatively affect your on-the-job performance? How do you prioritize tasks when you simply have too much to do? The way you answer will reveal if your personality will mesh well with the company’s mission and values.

Needless to say- behavioral interview questions are tougher than your run-of-the-mill interview questions- but they’re also more important because they reveal how you act in a given situation. The good news is that there is a simple method you can use to provide coherent and impressive answers to these questions: the STAR method. Learn more about the STAR method- and take a look at other tips that can help you explain to your interviewer how you cope when there is too much on your plate.

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How to Answer ‘We All Have Too Much on Our Plate Sometimes. Tell Me About a Time This Was the Case for You and Explain How You Coped’ Behavioral Interview Question

Employ the STAR Method. The STAR method is a tried and true technique for responding to behavioral interview questions. First- tell the interviewer about the Situation or Task. Give any relevant background about the incident you’re about to describe. Be specific enough for the interviewer to really grasp what was going on at the time- and bring out any details that will have a bearing on how you acted throughout the situation or task. Next- describe the Action you took. Remember- this interview is about you- so don’t focus on what your coworkers or your supervisor may have done. Make yourself the focal point of the story. Finally- tell the interviewer about the Result. Were you able to deal with everything that was on your plate? Did you learn any valuable lessons about prioritizing or time management?

Don’t Make Yourself Sound Invincible. While you want to make yourself look good during the interview- you don’t want to give the impression that you think too highly of yourself. If you make a situation sound like it was incredibly easy for you to cope with- your interviewer may not think that your answer really relates to a situation when you had “too much on your plate.” Be honest in describing what happened- and don’t be boastful. Be confident- but not overbearing. Sometimes this balance can be hard to strike- but it is important that your interviewer doesn’t think you view yourself as some kind of superhero.

Avoid Negative Examples. Be careful not to pick an example which the stress was your fault- as this can make you look like a poor planner. Its better to describe a situation when external circumstances such as an unexpected absence or a personal emergency overloaded you.

If Necessary Draw From Life Experiences. Perhaps all of your previous jobs have been fairly easy- and you have a tough time thinking about when you were overwhelmed with things to do. Behavioral interview questions like this one- however- don’t necessarily focus solely on your experiences at work. Feel free to draw from other aspects of your life. Perhaps there was a time in school when you were juggling a job and a heavy class load. Or maybe there was a situation when you overbooked yourself and ended up losing out on sleep. Those types of incidents may be what you need to provide a satisfying answer to the interview question.

Sample ‘We All Have Too Much on Our Plate Sometimes. Tell Me About a Time This Was the Case for You and Explain How You Coped’ STAR Interview Answer

I was a full-time student in college- was helping take care of my elderly grandmother and worked part-time at a marketing firm. Once around the time I was preparing for finals- one of my coworkers at the firm fell ill- and my boss asked me to take a few extra shifts so we could meet an important deadline for a client. The shifts conflicted with when I was supposed to go cook for my grandmother.

I accepted the shifts. I cooked meals ahead of time for my grandmother so she could just heat them up when she was ready to eat- and I called her a few times when I was at work to make sure she was all right. To finish preparing for finals- I used a quiz app on my phone- and I studied during my breaks at work. In the end I lost a little sleep and I was exhausted- but I was able to please my boss- look after my grandmother and do well on my final exams.