Describe a Time When Your Workload Was Heavy

How to Answer Job Interview Questions About Handling a Heavy Workload

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During a job interview, you will likely be asked questions about how you managed work on your previous jobs. A typical question is "Describe a time when your workload was heavy and how you handled it." This question can come up in interviews for jobs at all levels from entry-level to executive. Many jobs have times when the work piles up, and your answer will help the interviewer determine if you are a good match for the job.

Sample Answers to Heavy Workload Question

While at the HKL plant, we were faced with a sudden order increase for the j-ball bearing from a new customer. I immediately sat down with the production supervisor, our materials/supply manager, and the union steward. We were able to lay out a workable plan that minimized hourly costs, guaranteed materials were available and, with only a slight adjustment, met the production deadline. While it was challenging and involved long hours, the payoff was a signed contract with a new customer.

When I was working on a software implementation team at ABC Company, we took over another company and had to transition many clients to a new product in a short amount of time. It took a lot of planning, time, hard work, and effort, but we were able to complete the project in a timely manner.

When Judy was on maternity leave, I took over servicing her clients as well as my own.

It was a good challenge to ensure they got the same amount of attention from our company as when both of us were on the job. At times when we had increased demands, I brought in George from accounting to assist in calls and tasks to ensure everyone got good service.

What to Include In Your Answer

The cause of the heavy workload should be stated in a way you aren't blaming somebody else for a delay or incompetence.

If it was due to a coworker being absent for illness or leave, that is acceptable.

Your interviewer is looking for employees who can react effectively to an increase in workload, without drama or haphazard handling of the situation. Explaining how you thought out a plan of action and worked together with others to ensure all contingencies were addressed is a good answer.

If you or your team received a commendation or award for meeting the workload, you should include that in your answer.

What Not to Include in Your Answer

Don't play the blame game in your answer. If the workload was heavy due to mismanagement, procrastination, or another type of failure, pass by the cause or only discuss it if asked further. Starting off blaming someone else is a red flag.

If you were the cause of the problem that led to the work backing up, it's best not to discuss that element unless asked about it directly. "I overslept so I had to do eight hours work in four hours, at least once a week," is not an example you want to discuss.

Avoid too much drama in your answer.

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