How Do You Handle Time Management?
To help you ace your next interview, we’ve gathered 11 expert tips on how to answer the question, “How do you handle time management?” From using the STAR method to providing real-life examples, these insights come from professionals such as Community Managers, HR Directors, and CEOs. Read on to discover their valuable advice.
- Use the STAR Method
- Remote Work Time Management
- Mention Specific Strategies and Tools
- Focus On Energy Management
- Create a Daily Plan
- Emphasize Flexibility and Adaptation
- Implement the Time Blocking Technique
- Highlight Skills and Strategies
- Think Ahead and Prioritize
- Prioritize, Plan, and Communicate
- Provide Real-Life Examples
Use the STAR Method
During job interviews, recruiters or hiring managers often ask behavioral questions, which means they want to hear about concrete, real-life situations where you had to put certain skills to good use. Being asked “How do you handle time management?” is an excellent opportunity to share that type of story, one that highlights your organizational and prioritization abilities.
Think about a time when you had to manage multiple tasks while on a tight schedule and tell the story using the STAR method. Start by describing the “Situation” to lie down the circumstances and give your story some context; then, talk about the “Task” that you had to tackle.
Follow that with the third element, the “Action”, where you explain how you handled the situation, and finally describe the end “Result”. If you can’t think of any work-related experience, it doesn’t even have to be one; the great thing about the STAR method is that it helps to frame your answer in a well-structured and effective manner.
Maja Kowalska, Community Manager, Zety
Remote Work Time Management
Since remote work is prevalent in the modern workforce, one way to answer this question is to focus on how you manage time while working remotely. Even if the job for which you are applying is not remote, there is a possibility that there will be a time when you have to work from home or away.
Showing that you can effectively portion your time and remain disciplined when not under the immediate observation of your supervisors and peers proves you know how to best direct yourself and make the best use of your working day.
If you can master time management remotely, then you can master it in any setting, and leveraging your past virtual work experience as an example of mastering time management can convince the interviewers that you can work effectively.
Grace He, People and Culture Director, TeamBuilding
Mention Specific Strategies and Tools
When answering the interview question “How do you handle time management?”, be specific about the strategies you use to manage your time effectively. Do you use a calendar? To-do lists? Or a productivity app?
If you use a project management tool like Trello, for example, you could say:
“Before I get started on a project, I get an overview of what needs to be done. To do this, I use Trello, which helps me break down tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks. I then set deadlines for each task, making adjustments as needed. I also prioritize my tasks by urgency and importance so I know where to focus my energy.”
Eva Chan, CPRW and Senior Content Specialist, Resume Genius
Focus On Energy Management
I’ve struggled with time management and productivity for the longest time.
Over the years, I’ve tried out several tools to manage time better. I’ve read books and taken courses to improve my productivity. But with limited success.
In 2018, I was introduced to the concept of energy management by Kate Northrup—the author of Do Less. It turned out to be a game-changer.
I took small steps to prioritize my energy. It was challenging at first, but I improved with practice.
Prioritizing energy management over time management has been one hack that has helped me get more done, quicker.
When I’m well-rested with a good night’s sleep and well-fed with a nourishing meal—it seems like time expands. I’m able to work more efficiently—faster, with no fatigue and little or no mistakes. I get a lot done with less time and effort.
Once I prioritize my energy, I then use time management tools such as task batching, time blocking, and coworking. It works out fabulously!
Sampada Chaudhari, Business and Career Transition Coach
Create a Daily Plan
Outline how you physically create a plan for the day either via pen and paper, via the “notes” option on your work device, or by using planning software.
This shows that you are able to plan your time each day competently and that you keep a log of tasks which naturally is perfect for leadership within the company as they can see how you’re mapping out your day, right down to the tasks themselves.
Tracey Beveridge, HR Director, Personnel Checks
Emphasize Flexibility and Adaptation
What I like to hear from interview candidates is that they have a framework for managing their time, but not that they are too rigid to change it. Agility is the name of the game in most businesses, so having a time management strategy that doesn’t allow for a significant amount of flexibility will not be the best fit.
I’d recommend explaining your framework—using tasks in Outlook, keeping an up-to-date list in OneNote, etc.—but then elaborating on what you’ve done in the past to marry that framework with something unexpected cropping up that threw your planning out of whack.
Onno Halsema, CEO, Contentoo
Implement the Time Blocking Technique
One of the best techniques that I have found works for me is time blocking. I designate a specific task or activity for a time block, estimating how long it will take me to complete. It helps to keep me focused, striving to get the task finished before my time block is finished.
Kelli Anderson, Career Coach, Resume Seed
Highlight Skills and Strategies
If asked this interview question, I would respond by highlighting my skills and strategies for managing my time effectively.
I would start by explaining that I believe in breaking down projects into smaller tasks and setting realistic timelines for each task to ensure that everything is completed on time.
To manage my time effectively, I use various productivity tools and techniques, such as time-blocking and calendar management, to prioritize tasks and minimize distractions. I also use project management software to track any progress and stay on top of deadlines.
I understand that unexpected issues and emergencies can arise, so I always build buffer time in my schedule to allow for unforeseen circumstances. I communicate proactively with team members and clients to manage their expectations and ensure that everyone agrees.
Bethan Trueman, Director, The Virtual Assistant Company
Think Ahead and Prioritize
When asking this, interviewers want to know if you are self-motivated and if you will be responsible when working without supervision.
In your response, highlight that you think ahead and know how to prioritize.
You can answer in this way: “I typically start out each day by taking a couple of minutes to write the tasks that need to be worked on that given day. I then list them out in order of importance. This way, I can prioritize tasks that need to be completed first. I check off the tasks as they are completed. By the middle of the day, I look over what still needs to be done to make certain I am on schedule to complete all tasks by the end of the day.”
This response will show the employers that you are an organized person who is self-driven and has no problem managing time.
Liz Hogan, Career Expert, Find My Profession
Prioritize, Plan, and Communicate
When asked the interview question, “How do you handle time management?”, I would respond by sharing my approach to managing my time effectively. Here is my answer:
“Effective time management is essential to achieving success in any role. In my experience, the key to managing my time effectively is to prioritize my tasks and plan my schedule in advance. I typically start each day by reviewing my to-do list and identifying the most important tasks that need to be completed.
Afterward, I then block out specific periods of time on my calendar for each task, allowing enough time for unexpected issues or emergencies that may arise. I also believe that effective communication is important for time management.
I communicate clearly and proactively with my colleagues and supervisors about my workload and priorities, so that everyone is updated and we can work together to ensure that we are meeting our collective goals.”
Brittney Simpson, HR Operations Manager, Walker Miller Energy Services
Provide Real-Life Examples
It’s a great way to show your skills in action, which recruiters find much more interesting than a simple statement that you have excellent time management skills. Specific examples help the interviewer understand how you prioritize tasks, manage your schedule, and meet deadlines in real-world situations.
Reflecting on your time management allows you to show your problem-solving skills as well. Focus on the situations when you overcame challenges, adapted to unexpected conditions, and achieved your goals despite obstacles. It can help you stand out from the other candidates.
Example from my experience [I landed the job then, by the way]:
“As you can see from my resume, education has always played an important role in my life. Combining two full-time MA degree courses at Jagiellonian University in Cracow with an English teacher’s job has taught me to manage my time and duties effectively. It has also helped create positive work habits.”
Agata Szczepanek, Community Manager, MyPerfectResume