Answer, "How Would You Describe the Pace at Which You Work?" Correctly
When describing your work pace, it's not always best to say "fast"
When you apply for a job, 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 from you in terms of work productivity and also how you’ll fit in with the company culture.
This is where doing your homework is important. While all employers want their staff to work efficiently and effectively, and not dawdle, there are some work environments, such as startups and news organizations, that historically are more fast-paced than others.
On the other hand, there are work environments (such as rehab centers) that are historically slow-paced.
Accessing the Corporate Culture
The description of the job that you responded to should give you clues about the corporate culture. If you see keywords such as “fast-paced environment” and “deadline-driven,” you know your answer needs to emphasize speed. Also, spend some time exploring the company website; many businesses describe their work environment and company culture online.
Speed is not always the most important factor to an employer. Instead of a fast pace, an employer might value a steady, consistent pace. Or, an employer might hold accuracy, thoroughness, and attention to detail in high regard. Consider the difference between working in a research library, a TV newsroom, and a hospital. The best approach is to play up your strengths that match the job description to emphasize why you’re the best person for the job.
Here are some sample answers to get you started. These answers play up a strength and then explain how that strength contributes to working at a fast (or efficient) pace. After you describe your pace, it’s always a good idea to give examples from your previous jobs to qualitatively 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, I am able to work quickly.
- Because I am very organized, I am able to accomplish a great deal in a limited amount of time.
Depending on the job, the speed of your work may not be as important as the fact that you are able to consistently 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 speed up when necessary to meet deadline pressures
- 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 making a certain number of phone calls over a specified period of time. In these cases, describe how you plan to meet that criteria and how you met volume goals in your previous jobs.
Suggested Reading: How to Prepare for a Job Interview