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Poor Time Management During the Interview Can Cost You the Job

By Gerald Walsh ©

Every employer wants to have employees who can prioritize, organize, and plan their work.

For example, in job interviews, they will ask questions like, “How do you decide which tasks to do first?” or “How do you manage competing deadlines?”

You should always be prepared for time-management questions. But a much better way to demonstrate that skill is to organize yourself and manage your time well during the interview.

You do this by answering questions in a concise, organized way.  

To do this, you must first have an idea how long the interview will be. This is a question you should always ask when someone from the company calls or emails you to book the interview. Once you know the length of the interview, you will be better able to gauge your timing and plan your answers accordingly.

You should always enter the interview with a plan in mind. One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to anticipate the interview questions. A few days before the interview, sit down with the job posting or job description and prepare a list of questions you would ask if you were the interviewer. If done well, you can usually anticipate most of the questions you will be asked. This step will help your preparation immensely.

You should list the top three or four points you want to make during the interview and stick to those key messages. For example, let’s say you do not have directly related work experience to the job you are applying for, but you do have transferrable skills that can be applied in the new job. Make sure those skills are well identified and communicated during the interview. Hopefully, the interviewer will bring these out through their questions but if they do not, make sure you weave them into your answers.

Lastly, you should also watch for signals from the interviewer that you might be going on too long. For example, if they put their pen down and stop writing, or lose eye contact, or glaze over, you have gone on too long. Wrap up your answer quickly.


Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 30 year career, he has interviewed more than 10,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.