How to Answer Interview Questions About Organization

Businessman at a job interview
•••

Klaus Vedfelt / Riser / Getty Images

 

It's not surprising that job interviewers often toss out a question about your organizational skills. The ability to efficiently allocate time, energy, and resources is critical to nearly every position in any industry. Organization is also a necessary soft skill for people who work in fast-paced environments where they are expected to be excellent multitaskers. Before you sit down for an interview, think through your response to interview questions about organization.

How to Talk About Organization

There isn’t a single right way to stay organized, and thus there isn't one correct answer to the question.Talk about your own personal methods, what works for you, and why.

  • Demonstrate that you've thought about your organizational methods and challenges, that they are important to you, and that you have a system that works.
  • Describe your specific methods for staying organized in as much detail as you can.
  • Relate an example of ways in which your system benefited you and others.
  • Stress that you can be flexible to accommodate unexpected new problems and tasks. 

How to Describe Yourself

You may be asked whether you would describe yourself as an organized person. The short answer is "yes," but consider expanding your answer with some details that show the rationale underlying your confidence. You might tailor one of these examples to your own experiences and habits:

  • Absolutely. I like to keep a checklist and make sure that each item gets the attention it needs.
  • Yes, sometimes a little too much so. I make sure that everything is neat and in order.
  • I am a very organized and thorough person, which I think contributes to my success.
  • Yes, I use several online and desktop tools to stay organized. On Monday of each week, I review my calendar and highlight the key things I need to accomplish.
  • I like to plan my daily, weekly, and long-term work projects carefully.
  • I make it a point to set up reminders and write to-do lists. Then I carve out blocks of time to devote to particular tasks, so I have designated steps and the required time allocated to meet those goals.
  • I plan ahead as much as possible, but in reality, things come up at the last minute. Thus, I make sure I can adjust and respond quickly, integrating new priorities into my daily work.
  • I make sure I and my team members know established project deadlines, and then I set benchmarks so that we can track our progress. For most projects, I also set “early deadlines” a day or two ahead of the “final deadline” and do my best to meet that target so that the project is completed ahead of time.

Prepare for In-Depth Follow-Up Questions

Interviewers often follow up an initial question about organization to test whether you've really thought it through. These examples show how detailed your thinking has to be in preparing for the interview.

  • What steps do you take to organize and plan a project?Your answer should demonstrate how you use organizational skills to prepare for a project and then focus on it.
  • How do you accommodate last-minute changes that you have to fit in?Your answer should show that you can amend your plans and integrate new information when necessary.
  • How do you prioritize the tasks within one project?Your response should demonstrate that you know how to plan, analyze various approaches and possibilities, make sound decisions, and succeed with your workload.
  • How do you plan ahead of time for possible deadline changes or unforeseen challenges? Tell us about how you develop back-up plans in case “Plan A” doesn’t work out.
  • How do you handle a situation when your planning was insufficient?Discuss your problem-solving capabilities, your ability to multitask, how you handle competing priorities, and your ability to reorganize as needed.

Provide Examples of Your Skills

As you answer these follow-up questions, try to provide specific examples of occasions where you have demonstrated your organizational skills in the workplace. This will be particularly effective if you can show how your skills solved a problem or otherwise contributed to your company.

Perhaps you were able to eliminate a backlog of paperwork. Maybe you established deadlines and processes for an important project that ensured its successful completion. By describing how your organizational talents have had a positive impact, you’ll be able to impress your interviewers as being someone who could make