How Would You Describe the Pace at Which You Work?

When describing your work pace, it's not always best to say "Fast!"

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When you are applying for a position, a typical job interview question is "How would you describe the pace at which you work?" Your potential employer wants to know what to expect in terms of work performance and also how you’ll fit in with the company culture.

This is where doing your homework is important. Of course, employers want someone who will produce and not dawdle, but some work environments, such as startups and news organizations, tend to be more fast-paced than others.

The job description that you responded to should give you clues. If you see keywords such as “fast-paced environment” and “deadline driven,” you know your answer needs to emphasize speed. Also, check out the company website; many businesses describe their work environment and company culture.

But speed is not always the most important factor to an employer. Instead of a fast pace, the employer might value a steady, consistent pace. Or accuracy, thoroughness and attention to detail. Be honest when you assess where your work pace, and play up your strengths that match the job description to emphasize why you’re the best person for the job.

Sample Answers

Here are some sample answers to get you started. These answers play up a strength and then relate how that strength contributes to their work pace. After you describe your pace, it’s always a good idea to give examples from your previous jobs to back up your answer.

  • I work very efficiently, so I accomplish a lot in a short amount of time.
  • I'm terrific at multi-tasking, so I typically get all my work done ahead of schedule.
  • I am very focused on my work, and consequently, am able to work quickly.
  • I keep a steady pace, and check my work as I go along, to prevent mistakes from snowballing.
  • Because I am very organized, I am able to accomplish a lot in a limited amount of time.

Meeting Deadlines

Depending on the job, the speed of your work may not be as important as the fact that you meet deadlines. Some key phrases to incorporate in your answer (followed by examples from your experience) include:

  • Keep up with the workload
  • Complete all projects on time, or ahead of schedule
  • Organize time well and set schedules to ensure meeting deadlines
  • Pace is flexible, and can be speed up when necessary to meet deadline pressures intensify
  • Work at a steady, consistent pace with great attention to detail to ensure accurate work that meets high standards
  • Set realistic priorities and use time well, or don’t waste time 

Meeting Volume Criteria

Some jobs set volume goals, such as a certain number of phone calls to make or answer. In these cases, describe how you plan to meet that criteria and how you achieved reaching those goals in your previous jobs.

Suggested Reading: How to Prepare for a Job Interview