Common Interview Questions Answered: “Would You Consider Yourself Organised?”
Would you consider yourself organised? Do you keep your to-do list in a leather bound notebook, or on the corner of an advertisement for a pizza place? Is your calendar a page of A3 industrial pape or a figment of your imagination?
This seemingly innocuous question often proves to be a real challenge for interview candidates. Being organised seems to be either inherent or nonexistent – in either case, being asked to prove your organisational ability is unfailingly greeted with vacant eyes and a mild stammer.
Straight out of the gates, you’ll want to deal in specifics. It’s no good talking at great length about how your days are always structured without ever referencing the thing that makes it all possible.
Maybe it’s a diary or calendar, purchased every year and carried around like a prize possession. Or, because we live in the 21st century, perhaps it’s a neat bit of software: a mobile app like Evernote or the desktop variety like Microsoft’s own To-Do.
N.B: Take notes, ye of little organisation – if you own none of the above, simply explaining that you’re very good at keeping on top of everything using nothing but your memory won’t cut the mustard (as this article from a project management blog so deftly points out). Check out this handy list of the best smart phone apps, and get organised.
Stay on track
Anything that can serve as concrete and recognisable evidence of your organisational talent is fundamental. Do mention the importance of structuring your day so as to get the admin knocked on the head first, but be warned; if you dive down the rabbit hole that is a detailed summary of your daily routine, try to only point out features of real relevance. If you’re explaining when you shower and eat your breakfast, you’ve gone too far.
Of course, a potential employer is going to want to see how you respond to unforeseen variables. Expect a follow-up question in the vein of: “Can you describe a situation where your organisational skills were really tested?”
Choose your response carefully. You want to offer a scenario in which you adapted and survived in the Darwinian sense, not one in which you crashed and burned in the Rutherfordian sense. You’re not going to win any points for trying and failing unless your situation happens to feature totally insurmountable odds.
So you talk about juggling responsibilities, adapting and prioritising your commitments at a particularly manic time of your life. Important periods of your education often work well here when paired with extra-curricular activities and any of your own independent pursuits. “Sure,” you say. “The sport, the music and the study combined to make things challenging – but you’ve seen my CV. I handled it like a pro.”
Don’t actually say that. But you get the gist.
All in all, what the interviewer needs to see is that you are capable of managing a heavy workload without losing the plot. It’s all about creating the impression that you can strike the balance between over-filling your metaphorical plate and cruising without really implementing any organisational measures.
If you can achieve that, you’ve made it home and dry.